The following article, albeit first penned in 1998, stems from my earliest days in sport coaching fifteen years early and quite naturally is a product of my upbringing. It offers ‘no scientific evidence’ or clever marketing presentations that could create a best selling book but it provides a common sense approach that if adapted will provide a lifetime of healthy habits.
As of this date in 2018 I have been asked to write a diet book on numerous occasions, far too many for me to recall to be quite honest and despite each offer suggesting vast income from doing such I prefer to give freely. To this I add if I am to remembered for one thing in coaching, I hope it is not about being the ‘grandfather of functional training’, for changing the shape of technical development or even motivating generations but it is to help restore the blessing of the family dinner table.
With that said, I ask each mentor and coach reading today to consider, for all the accolades and great trophies a career in coaching can bring not one can match that knowing you have helped a generation gather at the family dinner table each night.
I give you ‘simplicity’, JKD
Simplicity is a peculiar road to wander down in the fast paced digitally connected world of today. Akin to the quiet old rural route that meanders slowly through every village, with its little riverbed diner’s, the kinds of town where you still find roadside Charles Schultz inspired lemonade stands in the summer, the simple road is rarely ventured today. Our culture seems to have forgotten that along that old route lays hidden treasures, not one of glistening baubles and trinkets but treasures that provide you a deeper knowledge and appreciation of how and where you are precisely going.
That ‘simple road’ seems to have been abandoned for so many generations now and much of the priceless knowledge has been lost to the present and future generations. Of the many paradox’s of the all too often spineless health and fitness industry is one that as it sits high in the ivory tower looking smugly down on the general public for its lack of ‘training motivation and knowledge’, its ideas of ‘fitness’ are perverse and confined to the warm and cozy pristine gym walls. Few in the health and fitness game, in particular the myriad of self appointed published ‘guru’s’ actually incorporate healthy physical activities outside the training room in their life. In a very broad sense physical training is somewhat simplified once you realise a basic premise is that it is to add value to your life and not create poorly aimed obsessions.
Shifting beyond physical training without the slightest doubt the most important area of concern is diet. For the most part though, successful protocols should be extremely easy to comply with and one could hypothesise with the destruction of the modern family unit and values, healthy dietary habits were abandoned along with it. Simplicity is the answer to this area that is all too often over complicated. The reason why the mainstream industry banters around complex dietary notions with slick marketing phrasing in the press with such finite minutia is equally as simple: money, everyone seems more focused upon selling something, including their soul, rather than actually trying to assist with one of the greatest issues of modern living. The enormous diet industry jumps at the crumpled bank note faster than anyone on the pole ever did and the unknowing public is its prey.
One very basic caveat that needs to be mentioned regarding diet is that each and every one of us is slightly different and because of a multitude of reasons, each of us will react to protocols slightly different. Due to this, the one thing scientific researchers hate to hear needs to be adopted; experiment with what works for you and try not to be too biased or draw conclusions based upon marketing terms and photographs of teen models suggesting ‘expertise’.
Secondly, and possibly maybe ‘1b’, if your goal is to look like a model in magazine please quickly analyse why you wish to look like:
a surgically enhanced mannequin a starved model trying to satisfy the needs of a public which has distorted classic ideas of beauty and furthermore understand how you have been become a pawn in this horrible game.
Part three and do please understand; those so focused upon selling dietary ideas are often focused upon selling their diet book. I am not selling a diet book or consultation and I hope to give you knowledge that should have been passed down through the ages. Ethics are worth more than money.
The evolution of the fitness game with all its foul pus and images brought amongst many other things, body image problems in society that tortures each one of us.
Take a step back from modern marketing that is in many concerns nothing more than a propaganda machine that is more than Edward Bernays could have ever hoped for and realise you do not need a business portal to tell you that you are ‘desirable’.
There are many facts and fallacies within the diet world, a Herculean tango between discipline, self-esteem and of course obsessions, intense loneliness and guilt.
Restrictive diets such as low fat or low carbohydrates will be remembered like ‘day glo’ of the 1980’s; best to be forgotten and never to be visited, hopefully, again. Excluding very specific disease issues, in the mainstream public there is no need for ‘dietary control’ it is merely the selection process of within natural choices, preparation and most importantly, embrace the art of dining.
Contrary to popular belief, successful weight management is not a draconian punishment but enjoying the path of cuisine. One does not limit a diet per se but provides the opportunity to eat from the food basket nature provides us. Eat, enjoy and embrace what we have available to us from the most powerful drug in the planet; food.
As I note such I realise most people today have confused ‘food’ with styrofoam boxed gruel from the fast food junk dealers on the corner, pun intended, that is not fit for animal consumption. Therefore the failure of diets doesn’t start from an all too understandable motivational weakness but the basic need to satisfy hunger and fuelling a healthy active life.
Successful health and diet management thus begins with re-thinking how we dine and what we consume, which shall in turn forever change our food source.
Start each day with this centuries old tonic. A simple blend of a few tablespoons of non pasteurised honey from local sources where possible, one to two lemons squeezed in a glass of hot water every morning. Glycogen replacement the easy way.
Eat healthy balanced meals with meat, vegetable and fruit sources with proportions of each roughly the size of your palm and make use of natural marinades that include olive oil as an example. Don’t debate the endless idea of the perfect ratios, simply have balance from the spectrum of natural whole foods and the decision is simple. The best snack food is straight from the earth. Add fruit with every meal as well as real snack food that’ll sustain life such as nuts and olives. Remember to take your time in your meal and relax unless you care to win the race ‘to the end’.
Bring a significant amount of ice cold water (i.e. two litres) with fresh lemon slices in it to the gym / your office and any other environment. One very common fault in our society now is not drinking enough water.
Learn to eat to push away from the table and don’t indulge in uncontrolled gluttony and sloth-like tendencies our culture seems to embrace with pride. There is no pride in second, third or massive heaping portions and showing off table manners fit for a barnyard animal. Leaving a bit on the plate is a ‘good thing’ and you’ll find that performance in every aspect of life improves when you’re not ‘full’.
Slow down to enjoy your meal with family or friends as a moment of fellowship. This is not a ‘flowery’ statement but based in fact as it will have an enormous impact on reducing stress and production of the hormone cortisol. But returning to the original statement, life is meant to be lived and it’s not a race to the end.
Vegetables are lifeblood for living hence insist upon ten to fifteen a day as a minimum and where possible choose from organic sources or better yet, a backyard garden.
Recall the notion of perimeter ‘gathering’. Enter your food store and primarily stay on the perimeter where fresh products are typically available.
Never consume man made items and yes that means no boxed items, soft drinks and the scourge of the twentieth century, fast food. Not once, not ever.
Possibly one of the most important food groups that I need to stress is cruciferous vegetables. They are lifeblood to enhancing protein efficiency and amongst other ‘little’ things are known to radically reduce the incidence of many types of cancer and other health issues.
Emphasise the quality of the meat, fish and produce sources. While more expensive that cheaper alternatives, where possible make use of ethical and hormone pesticide free ranchers and farms. Long term health has no price and when the price is your life, the price is too high. That may sound a bit ‘old’ from a middle aged man considering his own mortality but it is the truth. Live healthy.
The ‘Drive Through’ is a threatening menace to our culture and the biggest smack dealer we need to be concerned of in our work. It is the source of weight problems and the many illnesses that surround it not to mention be apart of complete destroying the notion of fellowship over a nice family meal. The ‘Drive Through’ is a foul menace to our society pure and simple, so next time you see a happy smiling clown pimping and rolling into to the life of your children, realise with it comes a lifelong devotion to garbage food habits, restricts levels of concentration in school and ultimately debilitating illnesses that may kill them before their time is do.
Cook at home. It’s incredible but simple food preparation is both relaxing, enjoyable, allows you to plan out healthier choices with your family and adds value to your life. It doesn’t have to be spectacular and I think I’m a prime example of this but take the time, learn to the best of your abilities. As you will see noted a number of times, life is not a race to the end.
Consider your shopping from many ethical stances. While few have the luxury today but when possible make use of such vestiges of the past such as local farmer markets, true butcher shops with finely marbled meats. Support the core and insist on quality and ethically farmed items.
Control stress in any manner you can. Give yourself personal time, the mobile truly does not need to be on each second of each day: turn it off to enjoy life. Enjoy your meal with family, take time, enjoy a few courses and try something really radical ,talk. Proper dining, no television, not phone calls and just those that matter the most.
Prepared by John Davies
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