This article serves as a general overview of some of my personal ideas on how to be healthy. While I am by no means an expert, I have done a good bit of research, I am in good personal health, and I have exercised for years including playing Texas varsity football.
- Randomization, and Not
1 – Exercise
Exercise is a must. Variety in exercise is important. I recommend lifting weights, doing cardio, and stretching. Doing something like pilates or yoga is great, but I would consider that intense stretching. I recommend at least a little of each, but the area you focus on will be optimized depending on your goals.
For most people goals including bulking, losing weight, or toning. In all of these cases I would argue that lifting weights should be prioritized over cardio and stretching. For recovery, stretching is most important and to combat certain health issues cardio can be very important.
Cardio will help burn calories in the short run, but in the long run you will burn less calories. Most of the calories you burn come from your resting metabolic rate, which means the calories you burn while you are not active. Raising your resting metabolic rate is the key to burning huge amounts of calories over time, and the RMR is significantly raised by building muscle because muscles require more calories to maintain. This is related to the Afterburn Effect that Mike Chang is always talking about. Other activities or substances such as nicotine or caffeine consumption can raise the RMR.
Another consideration about exercise is whether to go it alone, go with a partner, or go in a group. My answer is that different people have different personalities and whatever motivates you to is probably the most important consideration. I like to exercise with a single partner because if I go solo I worry about not being able to have a spotter and attempt heavier exercises, but if I go with a group I feel like other people are holding me back.
2 – Diets
How you eat is a huge component of being healthy. That being said, I don’t think there are any particular diets on the market which are super amazing. Consuming the right amount of calories, the right quantity of nutrients, at the right cost, with as little toxin and as much flavor as possible is the goal, but it is much easier said than done. I recommend using a decent calorie counter to start with, but use a scale and watch how your changes modify your weight over time.
I also think the opposition to GMOs is fantastically overrated. GMO food is clearly superior in many cases, and it is also much cheaper which makes getting the nutrients you need more feasible.
Lastly, I am a huge fan of fasting. If you want to break the psychological problems of habitual eating, to lose weight quickly, to detox, or to engage for spiritual reasons, fasting in any sense from intermittent to juice to water can be a great tool. See the video below for more info:
3 – Randomization, and Not
There’s an idea when it comes to working out called muscle confusion. Disclaimer: Some people think it’s a big fat lie while others continue to debate. Personally I’m a fan. I think it helps keep the body healthy in a well-rounded way and it makes working out more fun. I also think it can help break a plateau, but that part is debated. I recommend giving it a try anyway.
I also recommend dietary confusion. That is, rather than sticking with some particular diet try changing things up frequently. It may or may not actually dampen metabolic adaptation, but it can just be flat out fun to try new things. Importantly, it will also help you find what works for your particular body.
The opposite of randomization is also important. When it comes to lifting, this is called progressive overload. That means sticking with one exercise and regularly upping the weight or reps. When it comes to dieting, the opposite of randomization is sticking with a single diet. One form of dieting which always works to some degree is caloric restriction, but based on your particular body there may be some better diet. This is why I recommend randomization and its opposite.
Basically I am recommending you mix it up until you find out what works for you then stick with that. Keep in mind, though, that many things will work for you a little while until you plateau. It may be that you progress by “pushing through” which may mean staying the course on a regular routine even if the gains become smaller, or you may progress by “switching it up.” Again, it may be that this varies by person.
4 – Supplements
Supplements boost performance. This can be a good thing in many situations, but sometimes they give an unsustainable boost which can only be maintained by continuing to use. Depending on the kind of supplement this can be positive, neutral, or negative for your health over time.
I think supplements such as vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, other nutrients, and other dietary supplements are often good and even good for sustained use. Weight loss supplements and workout supplements can be good for short term use but I would not recommend them for sustained use. If you are in bad shape, use a weight loss or workout supplement to help get close to your natural optimum quicker. If done correctly, you can come off of the supplement and sustain the weight loss or strength gain by healthy living and maintenance. If done incorrectly you will crash right back to where you were. In my opinion, sustainable weight loss and exercise comes from healthy living, not supplements.