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Save yourself a bunch of hassle, a small fortune, and years of poor health – JFDI

This post, in a nutshell:

  • I was a fat yo-yo dieter for 20 years, in and out of obesity, trying fad diets and fad bouts of exercise
  • I finally ‘figured it all out’ and lost 101 pounds of fat, or 7 stone 3, or 46 kilos
  • Now I have spent 11 years obsessed with health and fitness and read 847 books and research papers on all-things-health related
  • I have spent the last five years trying to teach the best of what I learned – no gimmicks, no fads, no selling snake-oil supplements, no bullshit, just the truth
  • Most folks don’t want this truth, it’s too boring. It’s not very sexy, it doesn’t sell
  • Ugly as it sounds, the reality is that ‘most’ doctors and ‘experts’ are disinclined to teach healthy diet and lifestyle modification as preventive medicine. Instead they wait for people to mess themselves up, then when they come for help, they prescribe drugs or surgery
  • And most ordinary people are turned off by honest advice to eat healthily and exercise more, and instead they prefer to live the hedonistic life, wait til shit goes wrong, then take those prescription drugs in the hopes that can fix things
  • This strategy falls apart when the NHS goes bust and everyone has type-2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer
  • The solution? Follow my boring and sensible advice, follow the 12 Core Principles of Mother Nature’s Diet, and stop using food and alcohol as cheap thrills and anxiety drugs to make up for the fact that other areas of your life are less than fulfilling

The size of the problem

If you follow this blog then you know my back story and there is no real need for me to go through it again. For those who are new to this blog, here is the super-short version. I struggled with my weight from age 14 to age 35, yo-yo diets, exercise fads, in and out of obesity. I smoked for 20 years, drank pretty heavily for 26 years, had skin problems, nasal congestion problems, took prescription meds for 17 years, and fought low self-esteem my entire life. Mid-30s, I started to learn about nutrition and turned it all around. Lost 7 stone 3 (101 pounds, 46 kilos), got fit, ran a bunch of marathons, had some injuries and accidents (including every running injury in the book, knee surgery, fractured spine, busted some ribs, bust a few bones) and then studied and became a Personal Trainer. Long version here.

Along the way, I read hundreds of books, hundreds of research papers, attended dozens of training events, seminars, conferences and more. I learned a ton about health, nutrition, disease prevention, fitness, training, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, weight loss, mindset, personal development, farming, agriculture, the environment, history, anthropology and a whole lot more. Along the way I got really pissed off with all the confusing and conflicting research and advice.

  • Meat is good for you : no, meat gives you cancer!
  • Dairy is good for you, it’s a superfood : no, dairy is full of pus and gives you breast cancer!
  • Running is good for you : no, running trashes your knees and hips!
  • Low-fat is the secret to losing weight and avoiding heart disease – so just eat less fat and more carbs! : No! Fat is essential…it’s the carbs that cause heart disease and make you fat!
  • Coconut oil is good : no, coconut oil is bad!
  • Put butter and fat in your coffee : no, coffee is already bad for you, it’s worse with butter in it!
  • Weight training is good for you : no, weights will make you bulky and you’ll end up damaging your joints and taking steroids!
  • Calories are all that matter for weight loss : no, calories don’t matter at all!

And so it goes on and on and on. I read every book, paper and blog on every topic for 27 years and it all drove me nuts. Every expert disagrees with every other expert! And today, if anything, it’s only Read more

Every master was once a disaster

Every master was once a disaster…it’s worth remembering, that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and few people are great at anything the first time they try it.

I was listening to one of these personal development guru types the other day, a great speaker and author called T.Harv Eker who teaches people how to get rich, and he used the phrase ‘every master was once a disaster’.

The phrase came back to my mind the very next day when I was training with a PT client who was really struggling with the challenge I had set for him. This guy is around 40 and he’s let himself get out of shape; you know, bit of a belly, let the fitness go, not done any strength training in years. He is in perfectly good health, has no heart problems and not morbidly obese, so I was pushing him pretty hard to get through this workout challenge, and he was swearing and cursing and flagging big time.

I could see he was reaching exhaustion, but on each exercise I was pushing him to go one or two extra reps, just to get the best out of him, the best he could do that day. He was swearing at me, sure, but he was mostly swearing at himself.

When we finished the workout, he was hard on himself, berating himself for doing poorly, for being unfit and out-of-shape. He was ashamed, maybe that word is too strong, but he was disappointed by how few push-ups he could do, how few burpees he could do, how few dips he could do. I told him, ‘every master was once a disaster’ and he shouldn’t be so hard on himself now, but instead understand that he has work to do to move from ‘disaster’ to ‘master’ and he should be proud that right now he is taking the necessary steps, doing the work, pushing himself forward, and starting to make improvements.

I do a lot of push-ups, I guess 200 to 500 per day most days. In fact on a good day, I think little of doing 1000 in a day. But it wasn’t always like that. When I first decided it was time to get fit and healthy, I couldn’t finish a single set of 20. I was only 20 years of age. Let’s be absolutely clear, failing to complete even one set of 20, flaking out at less than 15, as a young man aged just 20, that is very poor. I was at ‘disaster’ at that time, but I didn’t beat myself up too much for that. I just said ‘OK, it’s 14 today. OK, let’s shoot for 15 or more tomorrow’ and started making progress from there. Now I do 1000 in a day, no big deal.

The lesson to learn is this: often no one is as hard on us as we are on ourselves. Don’t beat yourself up too much, instead take pride from the fact that at least you are here, you’re reading this blog, you’re trying to live by the 12 Core Principles of Mother Nature’s Diet, you’re working out, even if it’s starting with just one push-up, well done you, that’s one more than yesterday. Just start, and keep moving forward. As I wrote last week, the road to ‘master’ is seldom straight, upward and easy; instead it’s fraught with setbacks and trials and tribulations along the way, but you have started, you have made a move from ‘disaster’ and you are on your way. Master awaits, you just have to keep making forward progress.

Exercise, diet, lifestyle. Keep making progress. Don’t be too hard on yourself, the journey is long, stay the course. Rather than emotionally beating yourself up for errors in days gone by, mistakes you have made that cannot be undone, keep going consistently now, keep making forward progress, and never look back. Consistency is where so many fail. Stay the course.

Whatever your goals, keep chasing them, keep working; and as you move towards mastery, one day at a time, just remind yourself that every master was once a disaster. Keep going, you’ve got this.