An important part of fitness I don’t talk enough about

Most of what I talk about here is exercise related, moves, reps, holds that are all part of my diverse fitness routine.  The one thing I don’t talk about much is nutrition and diets.

Nutrition in the fitness community is a very hotly contested subject.  I am not going to get on the soap box for one particular diet point of view although I do find this guys pitch to be a fruititarian very entertaining.

So anyway, the only thing I feel qualified to speak about is what my diet consists of and how it has changed over the years.

For years I spent zero time thinking about what I ate, into my early 30’s.  Processed foods, sugary items and all varieties of meat were staples in my diet.  Every meal I consumed, almost without fail included a big pile of sugary apple sauce which I would mix in with whatever other food was on the plate.  Yes, looking back, it was weird.

The end result of this diet was me being kind of “skinny fat” .  Yes I went to the gym a couple times a week , although I did the same routine week in and week out which is one of the worst uses of your exercise time.  At one point my weight was as high as 210 pounds and I had a substantial set of love handles glued around my middle.

Slowly I started to realize that a large part of my problem was diet related.  I started cutting certain things out of my meals, one at a time, including apple sauce.  I paid attention to portion sizes and tried to eat consciously.  One of the ways I did this was by consuming “Healthy Choice” style meals on a very regular basis.

In retrospect, I know “Healthy Choice” meals aren’t a very healthy.  Yes they are an effective way to constrain your portions and the nutritional information is prominently plastered on the front of the box.  I was making my meal selections based on the protein, carb and calorie information alone.  I didn’t consider the tons of sodium, preservatives, and other bad stuff that are in these meals.  Is it better than stuffing your face with fast food? Sure, but in the big picture you aren’t doing your body many favors by eating commercial, assembly line food.

So that brings me up to about a year ago.  My wife had been a vegetarian for many years.  I never joined her in that lifestyle although by osmosis I had dramatically cut down on the amount of meat I was consuming since if she prepared a meal it was going to be meatless.

After attending a local county fair which included a number of livestock on display some switch inside me flipped.  I was always an animal lover yet somehow I managed to keep the meat I was consuming apart from my true feelings about animals.  I was basically being a hypocrite. I made a conscious decision that I wanted to stop eating beef, pork, poultry.  Although the decision had health benefits as well, the vast majority of the move was all about compassion for animals.

I went through a juicing phase.  Juicing is a way to get a super concentrated dose of the best parts of fruits and vegetables.  I didn’t mind drinking the juice, even though depending on what you combined, the taste was less than stellar.  What I did eventually mind was the prep, mess and clean up.  Each juicing session took up a lot of time and always resulted in organic shrapnel getting blown all over the kitchen, no matter how much care I took.

I did however manage to keep beef, pork and chicken out of my stomach without it bothering me much.  I do still include seafood in my diet although not in large quantities.  Since going meatless my diet is always being tweaked as I cherry pick ideas that I am exposed to.  I have not gone full bore clean eating yet, as I always have had the attitude that following a path of moderation in most things is normally the sanest route to follow.   As a result I still consume some bad food items like pizza, a couple Diet Cokes a week and even Pop Tarts on the weekends, GASP.

I have added new foods like hemp seeds, quinoa, almond milk and chia to my diet with positive results.  I hope to keep cleaning up my diet as time marches on.

As far as how my diet changes have affected me physically, as far as I can tell it has been nothing but positive.  I think overall I am in the best overall physical shape of my life despite being 45.  I have set a ton of personal bests in the past calendar year and have no plans of slowing down anytime soon.

So my opinion is when it comes to diet, there are several choices available when you decide to start eating consciously but there is one thing that is not debatable.  If you are one of those typical Americans whose diet consists primarily of processed items, lots of meat, fast food and sugar you are heading down a road to destroying your health. There is no disputing that.

 

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