Look, before the villagers come a knocking with their pitchforks and torches, let’s get one thing straight: cheesecakes are awesome. So are burgers, chili cheese fries and 40 oz. chocolate milkshakes. Problem is, most people exercise, quite literally, ZERO common sense when making their quotidian food choices, preferring to wing it rather than to consciously map out and adopt intelligent eating strategies.
I get why people choose to eat like shit: it’s easy, cheap, convenient, and most of all, finger-lickin’ delicious; which is all good and well if you reserve the fun foods for the occasional cheat meal, but if your entire week consists of greasy take out and stale beer, not only are you slowly wrecking havoc on your body’s natural resilience against illness and stress, but you’re also shooting yourself in the ass in terms of being able to confidently strut around the crib butt ass naked when you’re *cough* “entertaining company”.
I wish I could sit here and tell you that food choices don’t matter and that the portrait of health comes in all shapes and sizes, but I’m way too much of an asshole to blow smoke up your ass and trick you into thinking that aesthetics and wellness are not joined at the hip. In most cases, the obvious caveats being steroid abuse and contest prep, a “better looking” body reflects a greater degree of health when compared to a fat or an undernourished body. This is not to say that we all have to look like (Wo)Men’s Health models to be considered hot and healthy (the fact that I have to cover my ass with disclaimers such as this one goes to show just how idiotic keyboard warrior trolls are…), and it certainly doesn’t mean that “out-of-shape” people are to be regarded in a disparaging light. It just means that what and how you eat fucking matters.
On the same note, if you’re one of the blessed few that ‘can eat whatever and not gain weight’, first off, I hope you get struck by lightning, and secondly, just sit tight and wait for the day that your genetic palisades come crumbling down under the weight of cardiovascular disease, chronic heartburn and them sexy love handles you’ll be rocking right up to the day your lungs give out. Good times. Take it from me, diabetes sucks balls, and heart surgery, no matter how much chicks say they dig scars, is about as exciting as being caught right smack dab in the middle of an ongoing gang war.
A family history of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and chronic hypertension will certainly shake some sense into a motherfucker, I’ll tell you that…
There are lots of reasons why we should all strive to eat better quality foods besides looking and feeling better: eating well has a massive impact on our overall quality of life as it positively affects everything from satiation to the speed with which we lose fat and gain muscle.
- Satiation and nutrient density: whole foods are not only more nutrient dense, but generally contain fewer calories per portion, making them an excellent choice for those that struggle with overactive appetites and/or nutrient deficiencies. Just for the sake of comparison, 250g (9oz.) of roasted sweet potatoes has roughly the same caloric load of a 50g snickers bar. Yea, nutritional choices matter when one wants to turn heads at the beach.
- Adherence: few and far between are the special people that don’t struggle to stick to their nutritional plan of choice. I’m all for flexibility and variety when it comes to adhering to a balanced, nutritious diet, but the simple truth is that most people can’t handle the wiggle room: the one Oreo you promised yourself as a little post-workout treat can, and often does, open the flood gates of greed – and next thing you know you’re waking up in the garage with cashew butter and Hershey’s chocolate syrup smeared all over your face. Contrary to popular belief, taste and enjoyment can indeed be set aside for the purpose of you know, getting your shit together and establishing a better relationship with food.
- Cravings: cravings are sneaky little bastards – well versed in the ways of ninjutsu and always on the lookout for new and inventive ways of striking from the penumbral depths of the mind, they sneak up on us when we least expect them to. Or do they? In my experience, I have noticed with myself and with many of my clients that cravings tend to get triggered in semi-predictable waves at specific times of the day or in specific (often stress inducing) situations: any time I deviate from my usual “healthy” diet, my cravings tend to bubble up either first thing in the morning or in the middle of the night, which is why I always try to keep fruit and 0% fat Greek yoghurt in the fridge in case my dumb, fat brain decides that it deserves pizza, beer, donuts and enough ice cream to drown a water buffalo. Some of my situational triggers include sleep deprivation, stress/anxiety and aggressive calorie deficits spanning too long a time frame. The way I have learned to address these triggers is by investing in my sleep, stress management skills and mental hygiene.
- Digestion and bloating: at the risk of sounding crass, I feel as if I must address this topic in the most deplorable, shocking and nasty way I know how just because people, oddly enough, don’t often respond very well to advice, particularly when it’s sensible and meritorious in scope. So here goes nothing: anyone care to recall the nauseating feeling that follows Thanksgiving dinner when the meat sweats start to leak out of your skin, basting you in an viscid mixture of natural oils, sweat and turkey fat as you slowly unfasten your pants so as to not cut off circulation to your nether regions? Yea, eating properly will generally help you avoid that shitty feeling; speaking of shitty, have you ever tried excreting an ultra compacted chunk of fecal matter the size of a fist out of your butt hole? Yea, that’s not good either. Eat your goddamn vegetables brosky, and stop grubbin’ like it was xmas eve when it’s not, you know, xmas eve…
- Vitality: this one is a little ambiguous and vague, but the bottom line is that what goes into your body affects a myriad of lifestyle factors such as energy levels, cognitive function, sexual health and even mood. Eating too much shit too much of the time only leads to food hangovers and we all know how much fun that is. You ever wake up after an epic day of food, wine and general merriment only to feel 1. disgusted and 2. in the mood for bacon grease? I highly doubt that’s what nature intended for us to feel like on a regular basis.
So there you have it guys and gals, it’s time to start taking nutrition seriously so you can go forth and kick all manner of ass. Stay tuned for the follow up article where I’ll detail the types of foods that you should be eating more of in order to support your fitness and lifestyle goals.