Tag Archives: longevity

Hedonism vs Stoic Discipline

‘Do not go to the pot for every thirst, and do not go to the doctor for every ache.’  Benjamin Franklin wrote this in ‘Poor Richard’s Almanac’, a book of wise proverbs he wrote himself.  And it still applies to life today.

Hedonism means to indulge in anything you want, and to do it until it loses it’s fun.  Discipline, or Stoicism you might say, is the opposite, denying yourself pleasure and luxury in order to be more tough.

Obviously, moderation is the best way between these two extremes.  And everyone gravitates more towards hedonism and less towards spartan-like discipline.  It’s just easier to indulge.

I often say in my writings, ‘less is more’.  And it turns out I’m right about this. There is something in philosophy called, ‘the law of diminishing returns’.  What that means is, everything is fun when it’s new, but the more you do it, the less valuable it becomes.

And after a while, even fun things get boring if you do it too much.  That’s why less is more.

But obviously human beings lean towards pleasure and away from self-denial.  It’s just natural to be that way.  How this relates to diet and fitness is that the more indulgent you are with food, the heavier and less conditioned you will be.  Indulge too much, over a long time, and you will come down with the chronic, degenerative diseases that plague the modern man.  This is a simple demonstration of karma in life.

So while a healthy dinner might be chicken and brown rice, everyone wants chicken in a gravy with tomatoes, salt, sugar, and who knows what else, over white rice.  And who knows what else they’re eating throughout the day or night.

The point is, indulgence will make you softer, and discipline will make you harder.   An athlete has to discipline himself in every way, not just diet, to perform at his best.  We should all take a lesson from competitive athletes.

Less is more.

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Diets Don’t Work

Don’t define your eating style as one way and one way only.  Neither low carb, ketogenic diet is really built for the long haul, and neither is veganism.  It’s temporary action which builds temporary results.

The main thing with diet and exercise is, we’re all unique.  In fact, you don’t have to define yourself in general.  No matter how many words you use, you’ll always be missing something and your theory won’t be accurate.

The basic premise a severely overweight person needs to know is that calories in vs calories out is the main thing.  You have to be in a caloric deficit to lose weight.  The easiest way to reduce calories is to reduce sugar.  And if you keep protein high at every meal, your muscles won’t atrophy as you reduce in weight.  My idea of high is like 30 grams at each meal, nothing crazy.

You should also plan your day around regular meals at regular times.  9am, 12 noon, and 5pm is the best.  Sometimes you can sneak  in the mysterious fourth meal at night.  Try not to graze all day long.  That’s not good for your blood sugar or your pancreatic enzymes, which are limited.

In Spain, as in many European countries, people eat and drink light during the day, and on the way home from work, they stop by the food market or farmer’s market to buy what they will cook that night.  This is truly natural living, to integrate work, sleep, rest, play and eating into one cohesive lifestyle.

Americans are not so lucky in that sense.  They don’t get to have a leisurely, harmonious life.  It seems like their priorities need working on.  But I digress.

 

The First Shall be Last…

And the last shall be first, and the meek shall inherit the earth.  This is a quote from the Christian Bible, Jesus said it to his followers in the sermon on the mount.  And it has tremendous import for this generation, and even this article, which is essentially here to tell you that beans are a essential food.

What Jesus was trying to say, is that the ones who are wealthy, famous, handsome, and young now, will not enjoy the world to come.  The downtrodden, the lost, the outcasts, the rejects, they’re the ones who will be comforted by the messiah and the end of days.

Similarly, in any situation, the sage/rishi/wise man goes to what the masses leave behind, because a sage knows what is popular and loved now will be laughed at in future times.  Don’t change your beliefs to fit in.  Be a rugged individual.  Believe what you want to believe.

I wrote this post thinking of an analogy.  Beans are considered low, humble plebian food, while something like sushi or tempura is considered fine stuff that is worth extra money.  But that’s not the case.

Even in diet, the sage goes to what the masses leave behind.  Beans are essentially vegetarian meat, since their protein content is so high, and they include a lot of fiber and complex carbs and trace minerals too.  In one Taoist manual it says, ‘of the five grains, the bean is the most nutritious.’

Nowadays, I got tired of defining myself as a low carb dieter or an aspiring vegan, or anything in between.  Labels are just tools to oppress you, they’re neither accurate or effective.

The ultimate comfort is knowing that the rich and famous are enjoying their consolation now, and the end of days will prove to be a good thing for good people, and a terrible visitation of wrath on the wicked, the worldly, and the materialistic.

So keep eating your beans and vegetables, enjoy meat and sugar and salt in moderation, and never give in to the majority rule.  The masses are asses, and the usual thing in this world is mob rule.

 

 

How Important Exercise Is

When it comes to the whole fitness debacle, one must realize that a perfect diet is not everything and not even feasible or practical.  If you lead an active lifestyle, eat mostly vegetables, and don’t spend too much money on food, you will be fine most of your life.

When you exercise rigorously, you will find several changes in your life.  First of all, you wont have so much time to prepare food yourself unless you cook in batches on the weekend for the week ahead.  Also, if you exercise regularly, your appetite will increase, especially for starch.  Higher levels of activity and fitness require higher complex carbohydrates in the diet.

When you exercise a lot, your body warms up and a lot of toxins are purged through the sweat, heat, and breath.  What I am trying to say is, even if you are health conscious, exercising more and worrying less about diet will help you.

Usually, when people are busy, exercise is the first thing to be neglected. Exercise, especially strength training, increases your metabolism by building the size and density of your muscles.

So if you really want to get and stay healthy, don’t over obsess about diet and do some regular exercise.  Maybe find a sport you both enjoy and is age appropriate for you.

At the end of the day, the old saying, ‘less is more’ is the answer.  Intense, regular exercise can burn away excess sugars and other toxins so you wont have to be perfectionist in diet.

 

Every End is a New Beginning

While it might be sad news for some, the fact that this blog domain name is expiring soon should not be bad for everyone.  Since I don’t really monetize this blog, I can’t afford to keep it going.

But as this blog name fades away within days, I plan on changing my approach to helping people and helping myself.  First of all, I will stop working for free.  The knowledge contained in this blog is enough to write a good book, and it’s all quality information.

Also, I’d like to get out more and teach students in a face to face type encounter.  Being sedentary and sitting infront of a computer (even for a short time) is not healthy or fun.

I hope those we enjoy my work should keep following my career in writing, art, and music.  Taoism encourages the creative arts, diet and exercise, and the practice of Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and Kung fu.  Taoist medicine is about empirical observation and the stored knowledge of hundreds of generations of Chinese people.

I’m sure anyone can benefit from my teachings, in whatever form it takes.  I am simply trying to make some good out of my education and experience.  Thanks.

On the come-back trail…

I haven’t posted in a couple of months or so because I kind of ran out of things to say and new things to offer.  But now that I am back in the game, I might as well share what insights I have attained.

First of all, it is not so important to be strict with your diet.  Ultimately, it’s about calories in and calories out.  The easiest way to reduce calories is to reduce sugar.

I noticed over this passed time that perfect diet is not really necessary.  As long as you are watching portion size and timing of meals, it’s not really necessary to bother people with your dietary restrictions.

The only two really heinous food groups are dairy and grain, and yet, there are exceptions.  People literally could live off of bread and cheese, and in some countries around the world, they actually do.  But a real healthy diet includes a lot of protein and a lot of fiber and is low in sugar.

Also, I’ve noticed that it’s not easy to eat protein foods all day and never eat anything sweet or starchy.  Carbs should be part of your diet, it’s just choosing the best carbs is the trick.

Vegetables is man’s primary foodstuff, and on a low carb diet, it’s easy to neglect them.  Also, high quality cooking fats are important.  Olive oil and butter come to mind.

So as I continue my health and recovery journey, I will try to strike a balance between exercise and a doable version of the low carb (or Bi-Gu) diet.  Grain really is the first junk food, and health increases when you stop eating starchy grains.

Bi Gu

Dr. Atkins didn’t invent sugar restriction diets.  The ketogenic diet has been around for over a hundred years in the west, at the onset of the rise in obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer that was coincidental with the introduction of refined sugar and grain into the western man’s diet.

But eating no grain or artificial starch goes way back to Ancient China, and to the Taoist alchemists who sought longevity and aspired to be immortal.  The word Bi-Gu is a combination of Chinese words that mean, ‘without grain’.  This diet would seem controversial and eccentric to a people that lived off of rice and millet.  If you don’t eat grain, and dairy is not really available, what do you eat?

Taoists in China were responsible for many accidental discoveries in China which led to progress for the human race.  To Taoists, science and religion is not irreconcilable.  Taoist masters were often experts at science.  This is similar to scientists in the west like Isaac Newton and Copernicus, who were scientists and Christians at the same time.

Like I said in my previous post, the first thing in longevity is eating a diet free of grain.  There is a whole lifestyle of longevity in Taoist Culture, and nutrition is the first thing.  It’s not everything, and obsessing about the perfect diet will cause you mental harm.  But nutrition is the foundational knowledge.  Start there.

 

The Origins of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine used to be called, ‘Taoist Medicine’ but they changed the name to avoid any religious or spiritual connotations to the science of it.  Really, it all comes from The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine.  Huang Di as the Chinese call him was a Taoist adept and sought immortality.  In the first chapter somewhere it says, ‘to live forever, one must eat a diet free of grains,’ or something to that effect.

Chinese Medicine is Taoist Medicine, and although no one ever succeeded in becoming immortal, besides in folk legend, many have led better lives with greater health and vitality.  That is the promise of TCM and the wholistic lifestyle, a longer life with less pain and illness.

The first thing in changing your life so that you increase longevity is not just to reduce carbohydrate, but to reduce grains like wheat, rice, and corn.  These foods are just empty filler and feed cancer and raise blood sugar.  There are benign starches, like quinoa and sweet potato and beans, but that’s a different story.

Nutrition is the beginning.  Changing your life for the better also includes external exercise, internal exercise, meditation, psychology, rest, hygiene, etc…

The Taoist masters wanted to live a long time.  I do too, because I’m not banking on the afterlife.  The more wholistic health knowledge you have the better off you are.  And the first thing in turning your life around is changing your diet.  That is why the subject of this blog is Taoist Nutrition.

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.

 

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.