A Long Grim Battle
For a long time I have been fighting a long grim battle with extreme moodiness and drastically fluctuating energy levels.
Last summer, everything came to a head. I had a number of extremely stressful events last summer– and my energy totally collapsed. I was in bed for a full month. After years of trying to live healthy, I was extremely frustrated.
I went to a (holistic) nutritionist and got a battery of tests (hormones, brain neuro-transmitters, vitamin and mineral levels, etc..)– and the results were disastrous. In her words, I had the body chemistry of an 80 year old man!
After a bit more frustration I did what I had to do… I started again. I threw out all of my assumptions about health, energy, vitality, and mood. For the past 7 months my entire focus has been on mood and health. I have read countless books and articles on nutrition. I have experimented with many ways of eating and many supplements…. and many approaches to fitness.
And I have finally figured out the answers (for me anyway)!
Answer 1. Sugars & Grains are The Enemy
I have completely stopped eating sugars (other than organic fresh fruit/berries). I have completely eliminated all grains from my diet (wheat, rice, barley, oats, etc.). I get my “carbs” solely from fresh vegetables and fruits (including sea veggies). Because diabetes is strong in my family, I limit my fruit intake to a minimum (and focus on veggies).
Answer 2. Nothing Processed (at all)
I call this the “Jack Lalanne Rule”. Jack famously said, “If it’s made by man, don’t eat it!”. I agree. I eat nothing from a box or can now.
The positive way to state this rule is:
Answer 3: Eat Only Real Primal Food
“Real” means unprocessed. “Primal” means “paleo”… in other words, foods that hunter-gatherers ate prior to agriculture. No pastries, no pasta, no rice, no other grains, no bread, no processed drinks,….
Answer 4: Fat is Awesome, As Is Protein. Carbs Only From Veggies/Fruit (& In Moderation)
I’m eating a very high fat diet… and losing fat pounds at a nice steady rate. I’m also building muscle (very gradually) thanks to higher protein intake. While my eating could be described as “low carb”… I’m happy to eat carbs from fresh vegetables (and fresh fruit/berries in limited amounts). In terms of fat, I avoid highly processed vegetable oils. I eat LOTS of coconut oil, virgin olive oil, raw cheeses, fish oils and ghee.
My blood sugar is now extremely stable throughout the day… even when I miss a meal. As a result, my mood is also much much MUCH more stable, as is my energy level.
My body composition is changing in a positive direction too– body fat is very gradually going down, muscle is very gradually going up (as is strength).
In a month, I will have my blood chemistry tested again to compare with the initial results (7 months ago). I expect to see significant improvement, based on how I feel.
One key lesson for me (a reminder really) has been this: be extremely wary of conventional wisdom (which is usually driven by the corporate media). For me, the conventional wisdom of “base your diet on lots of whole grains” was a complete disaster. Is this true for everyone? I don’t know. But clearly the high-grain (processed) and high-carb diet of mainstream America is disastrous…producing epidemic obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
To find peak health, energy and fitness… I had to experiment with my own body- through direct experience. You can find a diet book and research to support nearly ANY kind of approach to eating and exercise. It’s not the research or opinions that matter– it’s direct experience– what happens to your body, mind, emotions and energy when you eat a certain way? When you exercise a certain way?
Through lots of experimentation, I have finally found a way that is leading me back to peak health and fitness.. to a body leaner and stronger than I had in high school and college. Just as importantly, it’s leading me to happier more stable moods… every day, throughout the day.
At age 44 I’m taking up new, fun and exciting activities. My newest hobbies are Kite-surfing and Stand-up Paddleboard. I do very little “training” anymore– preferring to just be vigorous and active every day (by walking, snorkeling, kite-surfing, paddling, swimming, and doing a few basic calisthenics).
I can’t promise that this approach will give you tremendous results.. but I do encourage you to experiment with different methods to eating and moving your body.
Give this approach a try for 21 days and see how you feel. Here’s a great book to get you started with this experiment:
(PS: 21 days is a good standard for your nutrition and fitness experiments. Whatever approach you are testing, give it at least 21 days in order to really feel the results (good or bad))