Tag Archives: common sense

Back to Basics

As I incorporate more exercise into my daily regimen, I notice that food takes a back seat to most things.  If you exercise regularly, eating a perfect diet seems undoable and even unnecessary.

I simply dont have time to prepare my own food and perhaps this is a blessing in disguise.  The basic thing with trying to lose weight is to count carbs and calories.  This is essentially the Atkins diet.  There are variants of the low carb approach like ketogenic and paleo, but they make you go out of your way to eat certain foods and not eat other types of food.

If you exercise a lot and really understand sugar restriction, you don’t need much more knowledge.  All food is atkins food, it’s just on a low carb diet you emphasize some food groups and diminish others.  You don’t need to buy all your groceries at Whole Foods or eat at special needs restaurants.  Atkins food is real food.

So as I continue getting better with age, I will emphasize exercising regularly and not be so picky about food.  Just remember, Protein and Fiber are the two most important nutrients, and starch and hydrogenated fat are the worst nutrients.

That means you should emphasize the protein in any meal, eat a lot of vegetables of all different colors for fiber, and use a high quality cooking fat to make it interesting.  Some carbs are better than others, and it is impossible to live without some form of sugar and starch on a regular basis.  I find that adding some rice to a meal, or eating an apple as a snack is a good way to incorporate some good carbs in your diet.

Without some good carbs in your diet, and being overly strict with counting carbs, one might feel depleted and tired, and sugar cravings may arise.

When you are a young child, you can eat anything and not get fat from it.  Kids have faster metabolisms and have more energy in them, so they move around a lot.  As you age, your metabolism slows down, and you are too preoccupied with responsibilities like work, school, and taking care of your own children.

So dont obsess about the perfect diet or be orthorexic.  Incorporate some light exercise into your daily routine and don’t overthink nutrition.

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Home Cooked Food

To me, there is nothing better than the satisfaction you get from cooking and eating your own dinner.  Cavemen did the same thing thousands of years ago, and it still rings true to modern man.

One of the big reasons home cooked food is better than restaurant food is that when you make food yourself, you know exactly what ingredients are going into it.  The biggest difference between home cooked food and restaurant merchandise is the quality of the cooking fat.  The quality of the cooking fat can make or break the healthiness of a meal.

In restaurants, they use cheap fats and vegetable oils in order to maximize profit margins.  You can practically smell the soybean oil when you walk into a typical Chinese restaurant.  And who knows what they use in a diner or fast food joint.  Really, capitalism ruins everyone’s day.

The best cooking fats to use at home include ghee or butter, olive oil, coconut oil, and there are other lesser known oils that go rancid very quickly.  Refined vegetable oil is crap and a big influence in many diseases.

The reason we like fatty foods is because fat is sweet and contains the most amount of calories per gram.  A successful hunter or shepard naturally wanted the food with the most nutritional and caloric density, because in olden times food was scarce and people weren’t confused about what to get at the grocery store.

But back to home cooked food.  Not only can you use a higher quality cooking fat when you prepare your own food, but you can use higher quality ingredients, or even give or take layers of preparation.  Frozen vegetables and canned beans are a big time saver.

In the end, cooking quality food may be no cheaper than buying shoddy restaurant food, but the non fiscal advantages are a distinct improvement.  When you cook and eat better, you get the satisfaction of preparing your own food.  Also, you eat healthier food, which when repeated over and over again, will save your health and save you money on medical bills as you get older.   Another example is that you set a good example for your offspring, who will take on the eating habits of their parents which they’ve learned in youth.

The disadvantages are that it takes time and effort to cook, but really, is anything worthwhile easy?  Once you empower yourself with knowledge of nutrition and cooking, and you have the right tools of the trade, I see no reason why not to prepare your own food.  That restaurant/diner/deli/fast food stuff is poison and it’s only benefit is that buying ready made food is convenient.

So ultimately, you can choose between health, satisfaction, and doing the right thing, or convenience and cost.

Living in Harmony

The way to last a long time is to not wear out.  And you do that by doing whats required of you at the right time.  Do a little bit every day, that is the Taoist way.  Excess leads to disease and disaster.

Benjamin Franklin once wrote, ‘if you would be happy, you would do what you should, not what you want.’  That means do what is right for you to do, not necessarily what is most indulgent or gratifying.  I myself like to neglect exercise and eat too much, and in the short run this feels good, but in the end it will bear bitter fruit.

To be happy, think about how the present moment will influence the future.  Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.  If you work harder now, the future will be easier, and if you are lazy now, the future will be very difficult.

A lot of the diseases we suffer from are diseases of neglect.  Falling into a good routine or habit is actually a good thing.  Wake up the same time every morning, eat at the same times every day, do your job with zeal, and spend quality time at home during the proper times.  Don’t become obsessed with one particular thing.

One of my problems are, and you may notice this if you read my blog, is that I obsess about the perfect diet too much.  And the causality is quite clear.  Diet is the one thing I seem to have complete control over in my life, and food gives me great pleasure.  But obsessing about which foods to eat is pointless in the end, and a grave waste of time.  As long as you have enough to eat you are doing fine.  I’m not thin but i’m not morbidly obese either.  I can sit, stand, and walk, and praise Jah.

So when it comes to being physically healthy, and living in harmony, examine your own habits.  Diet and exercise is a big part of it.  This is something you have control over.  Don’t blame genetics, environment, or chance completely, take responsibility for your state of health.

When you have an illness, there are only two possible outcomes, either you will cure yourself of the disease, or you will die from it.  Sometimes just learning to be healthy and living with whatever problems you have is good enough.

Comparing Different Starches

I learned a long time ago that every part of the world lives off of a different grain or staple (a source of starch eaten every day).  In TCM literature, it says, ‘of the five grains, the bean is the most nutritious.’  Beans are a humble food that provide a lot of protein, fiber, and starch.  They are a powerhouse of nutrition.

A lot of people around the world live off of rice, the majority white rice, the minority eat brown rice.  While it is popular and it does sustain life, it is rather high glycemic and not particularly dense in nutrition.

I once read in an old book, ‘the main foodstuff of the African is the sweet potato.’  This tuber is a good source of starch, and you could easily eat them everyday to good result.

Wheat products, like bread and pasta, are a big problem.  While the middle east and Europe have been living off bread for centuries upon centuries, it is not the best crop or staple.  Gluten, the protein found in wheat is allergenic to many, and the wheat itself absorbs a lot of toxins from the environment.

Corn is special.  Some call it a grain while others call it a starchy vegetable.  While not being particularly dense in nutrition, it is a good source of starch and fiber, and it was the mainstay of the native american diet.

Quinoa is a pseudo-grain that is really a flower seed.  It is a lot like brown rice, except it has more fiber and twice the protein content.  It used to be grown in Bolivia and Peru, where it was called ‘the mother grain’.  The protein in quinoa is just as good as any animal protein, balanced in all 8 essential amino acids, and it’s increasing popularity is not without merit.

Potatoes also grow in abundant varieties in the mountains of Peru.  There are over 80 varieties there.  While one does best to avoid idaho russet potatoes, since they are a nightshade, there are other varieties which are much healthier.  Red potato is my favorite.  Yukon Gold is good too.

There are other lesser known staples out there.  But the reason I wrote this post is to remind people that complex carbohydrates, or starch as it is known in its pejorative term, are actually quite important, and one can’t live off of protein and vegetables for very long.  I know sugar restriction is useful for short term weight loss and reordering a bad diet into a healthy diet, but starch will always be the main source of fuel for the human body, and living off of ketone bodies for the rest of your life is not a good idea.

It’s an alarming trend to see Americans cling to low carb dieting without really understanding human history, physiology, nutrition, and the importance of the ecology.  There is a good way to do dieting and there is a wrong way.  Don’t look for quick fixes or slimness in a bottle or Paleo Pie.  They don’t exist.  Human nutrition hasn’t changed in thousands of years, yet science, agriculture, and the media want to lead you astray.

People living outside the West are suffering from food shortages, have no need for nutrition lessons, eat a lot more fiber, and have to walk to get anything for themselves.  The American man doesn’t realize how good he has it, and I hope those who read my blog gain something from my philosophy.

 

Comparing Different Proteins

Protein is of primary importance.  While no one who eats regularly is really deficient in protein, the more you eat protein, the stronger and more energetic you feel.  In this essay, I will try to give my view on the best protein.

Beans, peas, and lentils, and other legumes like peanut, are actually really good.  They’re vegan, so no one was injured in their production, they’re cheap, and they’re easy to store.  The downsides are the gasiness one might get from eating too much of them, and the general boredom from getting all your protein from them.

Seeds are a good source of vegetarian protein, but it’s not wise to eat more than a small amount per day, since they’re loaded with fat and calories too.

Quinoa is a pseudo-grain that is actually a flower seed but cooked and eaten like rice.  Quinoa is the best plant protein, containing an optimal balance of all 8 essential amino acids.  The problem is it doesn’t taste like anything.

Then you have the mighty chicken egg.  This is the optimal protein, the best one for human nutrition.  Even vegans sometimes don’t mind compromising their standards and eating an egg or two.  They’re that good.

Then you have dairy, like milk, cheese, and yogurt.  I find that these aren’t the best proteins in the world for a slew of reasons.  For starters, cheese is loaded with salt and fat.  Milk has lactose in it, a sugar that causes digestive discomfort and diarrhea.  Yogurt is good protein, can be found in low fat versions, and has less sugar in it because the fermenting bacteria have eaten away most of the lactose.  But i’ve come to the conclusion that the egg is superior to the dairy product in most respects.  There’s no downside to eating eggs, besides animal rights you might say, but there are tremendous downsides to eating milk/cheese/yogurt.  Some science indicates cheese has opiate effects and is therefore addictive.  Other scientists say that the protein in milk is inflammatory and can lead to autoimmune disease.

The fish is the best animal to eat.  I’ve never seen an old fish.  The reason why fish never get fat, old, and wrinkly, is because they are constantly swimming, eat a sea vegetable and smaller fish diet, and the fat underneath their skin is fluid, not solid like lard.  That makes for a healthy animal and a healthy dinner.

Then you have meat, and it doesn’t matter if it’s chicken, duck, cow, pig, sheep, or goat, or anything else.  Meat can be really good or really bad depending on how the animal lived and how strong and healthy it was.

So really, there’s no point in writing this essay, it’s all common information.  My suggestion is to always go lower down on the food chain rather than higher up.  This is better for everyone, you included.  Animals are above birds, birds are above fish, fish are above unfertilized eggs, eggs are above beans and seeds and quinoa and so on.  The lower down it is, the less toxic it is.  The most toxic animal is the human being, because we are the apex predator.

Human beings in the western world often have a choice about what they’re eating.  With a proper education, one can live quite well.

Philosophy, Religion, and Diet

In this era, anything goes.  But some people still adhere to dietary laws as entailed by their religious views.  Observant Jews don’t eat pork, shellfish, or meat and dairy together.  Muslims don’t eat pork or drink alcohol.  And most of the religious traditions of the Indian subcontinent advocate a lactovegetarian diet.

Veganism is growing in the USA.  The biggest reason people do it is because of sympathy for the animals and also environmental concerns.  Veganism is not a religion.   But if one examines history, it is the Ancient Hebrews who first considered vegetarianism a lifestyle choice.

Kosher vegetarianism is a very sane, moderate view of diet.  Meat symbolizes death and decay, while milk and dairy products symbolizes life and growth.  Fish and Eggs are considered Parve, or spiritually neutral.  A kosher vegetarian eats plant foods, dairy products, and is not against eating fish or egg.

In the east, amongst people like the Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus, and Jains, lactovegetarian is reccomended.  Some Bengali vegetarians consider fish and seafood to be ‘fruit of the sea’ and therefore still eat it.

And amongst the Taoists, no food is taboo.  It’s about eating the right portions and proportions of food relative to each other.  Christians too say any food is clean to eat.

My view is to do what is best for yourself.  Don’t tell people about your eating habits and don’t bore them with your list of abstentions.  I like dairy products, so I’m not giving them up.  I do what is best for myself.

I believe meat, fish, and eggs was originally natural and good, but capitalism, consumerism, and overpopulation ruined everything.  Applying the factory line production method to agriculture was a grave mistake by humanity.  Animals are not machines, every animal, from insect, to cow, to dog, to monkey, to man has sentience.

In this era, it’s not hard to go to a supermarket and get anything you need, all year round.  I live in a part of the USA where there are few natural disasters.   Veganism and Vegetarianism is a vote for the environment, for animal rights, and reverses many diseases.  Only in this country is it easier to get restaurant food with animal foods in it than without.  I’ve decided to stop going to restaurants, unless its for a slice of pizza or vegetarian sushi.

I think kosher vegetarianism is the most sane way to go as far as diet.  Dairy is very nourishing, in some cases too nourishing, and fish and eggs should be an option for people who don’t have the time or inclination to prepare their own food.  The main thing is to eat what’s available and not obsess about diet.  But in this crazy society, even the nutrition textbooks are wrong, let alone the media and public perception.

At the end of the day, gaining or losing weight is about calories in and calories out.  But also at the end of the day, looks and weight don’t matter so much.  You don’t need the body of a bodybuilder to be healthy.  And a six pack of abs means nothing.  Judge your health by how you feel, how long you live, and the state of health you’re in.

As an aside, remember that years upon years of weight fluctuation on the atkins/paleo/ketogenic diet causes insulin resistance and liver derangement.  A doctor can’t invent a crash diet that violates everything we know about nutrition and get away with it.  Bodybuilders and boxers use the low carb approach before contest because it causes a rapid decrease in water weight.  Don’t think the atkins diet is a lifelong diet.  No one in Asia, Africa, or South America is adhering to this philosophy, because they have no obesity problem.  They eat a lot of fiber and walk a lot.

 

Good Carbs

Not all carbs are bad.  That should be clear.  In fact, one could live off of starch if one had too, it’s been done before.  But in the short term, sugar restriction is the best way to lose weight.

Some of my favorite foods are carbs, and I eat them every day.  Things like brown rice, apples, oats, lemons, bananas, etc… are all good carbs.  The real trick is to eat wholesome, unprocessed foods and not man made garbage.  Just eat natural food and your health will return.

Since the low carb diet is popular now, that is how athletes and bodybuilders get ripped in the short run, people are avoiding carbs entirely.  But that is not smart.  Carbs like whole grain and fruit are actually full of fiber and antioxidants, and since grain is cheap, it is easy to sustain yourself on very little money.

It is a precarious balance, between ingesting sugar/starch and burning it off through cardiovascular exercise.  It is important to get in enough water too so you are not low energy and sluggish.

Ultimately, it’s about calories in and calories out, and fat has the most calories per gram.  The low carb fad will die out, and people will realize that any natural food is good food, and all these restrictions are just academic in the end.

Reinventing the Wheel

Life is getting to the point where functional fitness is not what i’m looking for.  I just want to look young again.  While that is impossible, I can look better than I do now, and age with integrity.  And that is where weightlifting comes in.

The way a real athlete gets in shape is by doing cardio and bodyweight calisthenics.  But I’m retired now, and I basically just want to improve my appearance.  And what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

So I’ve started to lift weights, with only two dumbbells in compound exercises like the squat, bench press, deadlift, and military press.  That is all one needs initially.  Compound exercises involve many different muscle groups, not just one or two, so more muscle fiber is recruited in the lift and more strength and proper proportion is built.

Remember that one shouldn’t overtrain, three times a week is enough for weightlifting, and that the low carb diet is important here.  Cardio should be light and regular, but it should be for everyone anyway.

The high protein, low sugar diet is best for bodybuilding.  Remember to moderate salt and fat too, and drink a lot of water.  That is all.

 

Who Wants to Live Forever?

Not many people are really interested in longevity and the possibility of immortality.  Benjamin Franklin said, ‘nine in ten men are suicides.’  That means, most people bring about their own destruction without even knowing it.

But there is that one in a hundred or so that really wants to live, and not just for hedonistic pleasure.  They want to live because strength and longevity is also virtue, and there is joy with strength and longevity.  We don’t simply live to eat and procreate.

There are few who like to constantly make progress and also learn about the world around them.  Getting to know Creation is the best way to know the Creator.  And you’ll never know it all.

The ancient Chinese said, ‘longevity is merit.’  The longer you survive under the sun, the more worthy you are.  To really be immortal, you have to put aside the mundane things of the world.  To live forever, you have to be worthy of living forever.

The secular, capitalistic, ordinary world is very depressing.  Even celebrities commit suicide because they feel life is empty.  The spirit is bigger than the body, and the higher life of a seeker is more fulfilling.  Of course, as a human being, one needs food and sex to live and be healthy.  A spiritual man aims to fulfill his gross biological needs in a loftier way than the crass worldly man.

In the Baghavad Gita it says, ‘each one becomes a slave to his own activity, if you want to be truly free, perform all acts as worship.’  This means we are all stuck in the same condition.  If you really want to live happily and for a long time, do your mundane earthly activities with spirit and zeal and selflessness.

 

Priorities

It’s important in life to realize what’s important.  Get your priorities straight.  The wise man plots his course.

The first thing is health.  Without basic health and fitness or even being able-bodied, it is hard to enjoy other things.  And the Creator wants us to live in joy, not in suffering.  Make health your first priority.  Eat well, move around every day, sleep regularly, bathe yourself of your uncleanliness, meditate, do yoga and train your mind…

The next thing is money.  Money is a real issue.  There seems to be nothing for free.  Money is survival, and even Solomon in the bible talks about money and its significance.  While clinging to money can make you unhappy, pretending like it is no issue can be even worse.  Money isn’t just survival, it’s power, and living in society means dealing with others.  So be productive and be results-driven.

Once you got your health in order and are pulling down a livable income, then look for love to complete you.  Love and friendship gives us a reason to live, and makes us feel alive.  Sex is physical love, but really emotional love is the most important thing here.  Find someone who cares.

There are other things in life, but those are the top three.  Health, Money, and Love.  I wish you well.