When I meet someone new and we exchange pleasantries, part of that usually includes what we do. When I say I’m a personal fitness trainer, the most frequent follow-up questions have something to do with what to eat, with diet or nutrition or weight loss or calories. This always puzzles me. I’m a physical movement guy.
Yes, to earn and maintain national certification, I’m required to have a thorough knowledge of basic nutrition. And yes, I think basic balanced nutrition is important. Essential even. But why do so many people immediately go to that topic and seem to think it’s the most important aspect of improved health and fitness? It is not. It’s one factor. That’s all. Please continue reading because I write these columns with the intention of helping readers make better decisions that’ll have positive effects on health and fitness even if that includes some uncomfortable information.
I think folks go to that topic first because it’s a lot easier to talk about and make plans to alter future food choices than to confront what really is unquestionably needed. Not in the future but now. Today. Needed, that is, if living healthy with minimal discomforts and plenty of energy is the desired plan. But before I go to what’s needed, to be polite and to address that persistent diet/nutrition topic, I have a framed quote by my desk that says “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” It’s advice from Albert Einstein, who obviously had a sly sense of humor.
So, let’s keep it as simple as possible: Stop eating and drinking everything you already know isn’t beneficial. Today. Stop. I’ve heard all the excuses and cute little quips but I’m not listening. If you haven’t turned away yet, it’s clearly and repeatedly proven that fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, beans and lean meats are beneficial. Limit dairy. Don’t eat processed foods/meats or red meat. That’s it. Can most people plan to do that? Of course. Can most people do that? Sure. Will they? Will you?
OK, if I’m reducing the value of diet and nutrition planning, what am I suggesting is “unquestionably needed?” I’m not “suggesting” anything, I’m saying as directly as I can: Our lives involve way too little movement and physical effort. It’s way too easy with all our “labor-saving” conveniences. Most people sit too much. At work and at home and in their cars. A lifetime of that just doesn’t prepare us to be fit and healthy. I’m saying if you’re not committed to and actually being far more active than is required, don’t inquire about which diet or eating changes you should make. That’s a waste of time.
We all start losing lean muscle tissue in our 30’s unless we work to build new tissue. Inactivity, for however long we’ve lived beyond our 30’s, replaces that naturally given lean muscle with fat. Women also lose estrogen so they lose even more muscle and lose bone density too. Hey, I didn’t make the rules, I’m here to talk about what to do about it. I assure you it’s not as simple as a new diet/nutrition plan. Especially considering it’s probably not going to be strictly executed anyway.
Find ways to be far more active. Do more, move around more, go for daily (that means prioritize) long walks, find a new active hobby that doesn’t include sitting, do all you can and the amount you can handle will increase. Learn how to safely build brand new lean muscle tissue and increase bone density. At any age.