When I first started out, I didn't entirely understand what was happening to my body - or why. All I knew was that I was exercising more than I had ever exercised before in my life and that I was eating healthier and far less often than I used to. But everybody knows that in order to lose weight you have to diet and exercise; that much was clear.
What I wanted more than anything was to understand precisely why these changes were occurring. What was I doing that triggered my body to shift gears? Could the same results be achieved by just anybody - or was I special?
In my pursuit for answers I inadvertently discovered a great deal about how we were actually designed to live our lives. As you might have guessed by now, it is drastically different from the way most Americans are choosing to live. Here is a bit of what I have learned thus far.
Humans have survived this long by following a simple set of basic human principals. According to Abraham Maslow's theory, our most fundamental human needs (from least to most important) are as follows:
Many people - myself included - happen to agree with Maslow's theory. And I would bet that the early humans who roamed this earth would have likely lived in accordance with these same basic principals.
Notice how at the bottom of the pyramid, Maslow suggests that the most important human needs are; breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis and excretion. The next most important are the security of our: body, employment, resources, morality, family, health and property.
The more time I spent thinking about Maslow's theory, the sooner I realized that I had taken my physiological (basic) needs completely for granted. I had selfishly made my friendships, sexual intimacy, esteem and employment a top priority over many other things that truly mattered to me.
I had let myself go - in more ways than one.
But the reason that my body (and life) were transforming was due to the fact that I had instinctively already begun rearranging the priorities in my own life to better fit who I was and what I valued most as an individual.
I had given up my car in exchange for bicycle transportation that was not only far less expensive; it also provided me with enough daily exercise to keep me energized for the entire day. I stopped living my life trying to impress everyone around me with fancy materials and instead started appreciating the things I already had.
I replaced the junk food that I was putting in my body with fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables. And instead of drinking sugar-packed energy drinks and soda, I chose to drink only water. Instead of staying up all night and partying, I made sure that I was getting to bed at a decent hour and logging at least six hours of sleep every night.
Rather than gripe about how much money I was making, I started focusing on doing work I actually enjoyed and that was in line with what I valued.
In short - once I had my basic needs balanced and at a level of homeostasis - my: fitness, place of employment, level of resources, sense of morality, family life, health and appreciation for my belongings all started improving and balancing out synchronously. And so it went until every one of my needs leveled out naturally.
What you eat makes all the difference
We have all heard the saying, "You are what you eat."
After seeing a lot of different documentaries, reading a lot of books, and spending many hours studying - and losing over 100 pounds - I can conclude that this is an absolute fact.
On my quest to explain why my body was changing, I learned a great deal about nutrition and why changing my eating habits had played such a significant role in my weight loss.
In a previous post titled how to lose weight the proper way, I explain macro nutrients and how your body makes use of them:
· 1 gram of a Carbohydrate or 1 gram of Protein is made up of approximately 4 calories.
o Carbohydrates break down fast in the body and are used to supply your body with quick energy/fuel.
o Protein is broken down more slowly than carbohydrates in the body and helps to rebuild damaged muscle tissue.
· 1 gram of Fat is made up of approximately 9 calories.
o Fat is broken down very slowly in the body and is primarily used as a form of energy storage.
To help you better understand the differences between the three, I found this chart that will help explain the importance of eating a well balanced diet that focuses primarily on eating a variety of whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
As you can see, 400 calories of Oil (fat) will not take up very much space in your stomach, nor will 400 calories of Chicken (protein). This is the primary reason that obesity has become such a huge epidemic in this and many other countries around the world.
As Charlotte Gerson of the Gerson Institute once stated, "Obesity is a problem of hunger."
We are simply eating too many calorie-dense foods that are failing to fill us up, and are certainly failing to properly nourish our bodies. By eating these foods, we are getting more than enough calories to survive but we never feel full; our bodies are still craving nourishment. Consequently, this cycle will perpetuate until we feed our bodies the nourishment it needs.
As you can see from the chart above, by eating a plant based diet not only will our stomachs get fuller on fewer calories but we will also be receiving significantly more nutrients from these plant based foods than from the animal based foods.
So this pays off two-fold:
- Our bodies are adequately nourished.
- Our stomachs are full and we are far less likely to over eat.
Mark Twain once said:
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."Andrew W. Saul said in the film Food Matters:
"Why not be healthy and happy? Why not? You change your life, you do some exercise, you eat right. You feel better, that's good. You look better, alright that's good. You live longer, that's good. You save money, that's good. And you have the enormous satisfaction of having done it yourself."So may you have the courage to take control of and save your life. If there is something about the way that you are living that is in-congruent with who you really are, may you have the wisdom to recognize and put a stop to it. May you stand up for who you want to be and have the strength to change your life for the better. And may you one day feel the satisfaction of knowing you did it all yourself.