Wellness means different things to different people but to me it basically comes down to how much stress you have in your life and how you deal with that stress. Practically speaking, to attack stress we need to look at fitness and nutrition.
I couldn’t possibly offer a panacea for everyone because we are all so individual. This post is not about offering some magical new diet plan or fitness regime. I’ll simply tell you a little about the experience I’ve had, framed in the context of showing you how to explore these options for yourself to find the best and most effective fit. As usual with Less Doing, the goal is to integrate things into your life to make it easier, that doesn’t mean starvation diets or daily marathon runs. I’ve looked at achieving the most efficient workout and nutrition possible and this is what I’ve come up with.
After competing in several triathlons, including Ironman France, I can tell you that it’s one of the most incredible experiences in the world. It also takes half of your waking hours each week to train for it. I was looking for a program that would provide me with functional strength for things I did everyday. It had to incorporate constantly varied and natural motions to keep me interested. It needed to provide good cardio work without requiring me to do the same motion over and over for a long period of time. It also couldn’t take more than 30 minutes for the average workout. That’s when Jameson told me about Crossfit.
Crossfit was created by Greg Glassman and there’s no better way to describe his fitness philosophy then to simply quote him on what he considers to be World Class Fitness in 100 Words.
“Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports.”
Crossfit is universally scalable so it works for 11 years olds just as well as it does for 28 year olds and even 59 year olds. It’s well rounded and incredibly efficienct since most workouts are done as fast as possible with some taking less than 5 minutes and yet providing all the benefitis of much longer workouts. It’s also a community since everyone in a gym performs the same Workout of the Day (WOD) which helps keep you motivated. It can even improve corporate productivity.
My story with nutrition is a long and painful one which you can find out about on my TED talk if your interested. After a lot of Quantifed Self style self tracking and self experimentation I was able to find a solution that worked for me, and maybe only me. Then I started experiment with other diets and other people to get a broader sense of what was most effective. I needed something that I could reccomend to everyone that would be healthy, be easy to start and stick with, and maybe even save money. In the end it’s all about knowing how food affects you and maintaining balance.
It’s actually a more simple concept than you might think. Using tracking methods ranging from iPhone apps like The Eater app or even pen and paper, you should track everything you eat for a week. You may be surprised at what you discover. In addition, write how you feel at the end of the day, just a general good mood or bad mood kind of metric. Now try to focus on unprocessed foods, minimizing sugar and increasing good fats like olive oil and avocado. Try not to have huge amounts of meat and no vegetables, or have an all carb day. The issue with any diet really is that it’s not sustainable in the long term because diets are restrictions and are therefor stressful. Maintaining balance along with cooking home cooked meals or at the very least meals where you know what all of the ingredients are is the key to a healthy food profile.
Above all remember that there is no one size fits all for fitness and nutrition, but this is a really good place to start.
In the vein of the 80/20 Rule, if you want to get your first taste of self tracking and enter the movement of the Quantified Self, I highly recommend checking out InsideTracker. After arranging for blood work to be done, Inside Tracker provides you with a dashboard on yourself. They track dozens of markers from cholesterol to creatine kinase to testosterone. They will also make specific nutritional recommendations and meal plans customized to help you reach your goals. You can track and monitor the results over time and see your progress. Use code ARIMTM10512 to recieve a discount on any of their plans and listen to my podcast interview with the founder of the company to understand more of what they offer.
Finally, I think it is essential that we always look at improving ourselves and never give up the pursuit of knowledge. Whether it’s taking a class or learning a skill, the benefits will be greater than you could ever imagine. Here’s a great example from a previous post.