Feeding the Machine
-Or, it's time to cut the crap.
Think: We’re back to pushing boulders.
If you are new to Think. Read. Write. Repeat. we have been talking about getting better at getting better by viewing our lives through six Lines of Effort (LOE).
Body, Mind, Spirit, Purpose, Relationships, and Responsibilities. You can read more about that here.
The Body LOE covers Sleep, Exercise, Nutrition/Hydration, and General Health care.
We should be devoting at least 33% of our life to this LOE. But this is often where we try to steal time. We shortchange ourselves. This is a fool’s errand.
If we get the 33% right, we can get the most from the other 66% (and extend it.)
So far, we have talked about the criticality of a minimum of 7 hours of good sleep for health, mental performance, muscle growth, and recovery.
We’ve hit on the bare minimum of 30 minutes per day of exercise.
As far as general health care, go to the doctor. Get regular checkups. Keep the machine functioning as it should. If you don’t have health care, now is the open season. Enroll, get yourself straight.
That leaves us with nutrition and hydration. Feeding and watering The Machine.
(I must make my obligatory comment that while I am not a registered dietitian I do get to work with some amazing ones, and they approve this message.)
I feel that talking about nutrition is apropos since we have entered the season that began in late October with fun-sized Snickers and ends on January 1st with pork, collard greens, black-eyed peas, and cornbread (if you’re southern) and has copious quantities of alcohol and everything delicious in between.
The best overall eating advice probably comes from author Michael Pollan who said, Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.
But wait! What about the guy who is super awesome and only eats meat, or that gal who kicks ass and only eats plants, or Steve Jobs who only ate fruit until he died from only eating fruit?
First, it’s not true that Steve Jobs died from eating only fruit. And yes, it is true that there are some amazing athletes who excel while excluding meat, vegetables, carbs, or whatever, but−and I hate to break this to you− chances are pretty good that you are not one of those people.
*Of course if what you are doing is working for you, stick with it.
I would offer that the best litmus test we can use to determine optimum dietary choices is to look at what world-class athletes, who can eat whatever they want, are fed. The best place to go for that answer is the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. The sign above the door leading to the OTC cafeteria gives three commandments:
1) Get more veggies, nuts, and seeds in your diet.
2) Adjust the amount of carbohydrates you’re eating based on activity level.
3) Add a lean protein to every meal.
I would add: Drink at least 8-12 glasses of water per day (more or less depending on training and heat)
Of course, refining your diet can be hard, and expensive, and meal prep can be time-consuming.
But you can make some changes.
The first step is to figure out what you eat during an average week. Carry a notebook and count everything. Every stolen forkful of mac and cheese, every fistful of holiday M&Ms, the after-dinner beer or three.
I use the My Fitness Pal app to track my nutrition (The pay version offers more functionality, but I am fine with the free version) It can also synch with Garmin devices to incorporate exercise calorie expenditure.
I don’t expect you to forgo Thanksgiving dinner or the pumpkin pie that follows but look for places to make swaps, incorporate better choices, and cut mindless eating out of habit.
Next week we’ll start talking mind over mind - or matter over mind. It really doesn’t matter as long as you don’t mind.
Read: Food Rules by Michael J. Fox’s brother-in-law, Michael Pollen
I had several comments asking about running ultra-marathons. Most were something to the effect of: “100 miles! I don’t like to drive that far.”
First, that is not original. It is literally the thing that everyone says when they meet someone who runs ultras.
Second, I don’t like to drive that far either. My butt goes numb, and gas is expensive.
Third, I don’t really like to run that far, but I like being someone who can run that far.
I also love being around other people who can run that far. I had almost forgotten how much I love it because it has been a while.
But last weekend I had the chance to volunteer at the Tideland 24 twenty-four-hour race in the Croatan Forest near my home. I was in awe of each of the nearly eighty folks who showed up to participate. Some crushed it, running well over 100 miles. Others met the goals they had set for themselves. Everyone walked some. Some walked a lot. One mother pushed her daughter who can’t walk as a member of Ainsley’s Angels. An eighty-something year-old doctor managed to complete a 50K.
Everyone had a great time we raised a bunch of money for my favorite charity the Marine Raider Foundation.
But my favorite part is watching people who clearly want to stop, continue with some combination of determination and discipline. The grit to do one more lap. To clean out your shoes, grab a grilled cheese sandwich, turn on your headlamp, and head back out into the darkness. The resilience to face problems and challenges, to address them, and to continue. To push through the lows and ride the highs. To keep going when absolutely no one else will care if you quit.
You don’t get that from driving 100 miles.
Registration for the 2023 Tideland should open early next year.
Repeat: Words of wisdom from those who said them best.
“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” – ~Adelle Davis
I saw few die of hunger; of eating, a hundred thousand.” ~Benjamin Franklin
“Those who think they have no time for healthy eating will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” ~ Edward Stanley
When reading, only read. When eating, only eat. When thinking, only think. ~Seung Sahn
“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need”. ~ Ayurvedic Proverb
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I’d love to hear your comments unless they have to do with driving a hundred miles.
I enjoy every part of this JD! Thanks for sharing man!
What a lovely piece of work JD! Lots for me to work on, in there.