“A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his thought to derive benefit from his illnesses.”-Hippocrates.
Optimal health is easy and hard.
Abs, fat loss, weight loss, improved blood markers, longevity, and everything else that people go after in the name of “health”—and spend billions on—is simple if you do the right things. On the flip side, it is impossible if you are doing the wrong things.
It’s often said that 80% of body and health is derived from food. I say it’s at least that, probably more.
I know it’s at least this much because I’ve seen it in myself, friends and family, and hundreds of clients over the years.
Nutrition is everything.
Sure, there are other variables of your health that you must account for, like sunlight, exercise, sleep, and stress mitigation, but I’ve learned over the years that these are all low percentage factors in the total sum of your body and health.
It always comes down to the food and drinks you put into your body. Always.
I’ve had clients in the past that were stuck at stubborn fat loss plateaus. They always swore they were eating “clean” and doing everything right. Sometimes their lack of results racked my brain. I’ve learned two things from this.
First, most people have no idea what “clean” actually is. Or, they overestimated just how clean they are eating. A ton of cognitive biases determine why this is so—in short, we all lie to ourselves.
So when clients would tell me (and themselves) that they were eating so “clean,” I would ask them questions. Invariably, their version of “clean” was not equal to my version of “clean.”
The lesson here is you have to aim to be completely objective with yourself. Your brain will try to trick you every step of the way. If you want an accurate picture of your eating, start tracking everything you eat and drink for a month. You will be surprised. (This is also an excellent technique for figuring out how you spend your time. In both cases, it’s incredible how perception doesn’t match reality.)
The second thing I learned from clients struggling with stubborn plateaus is that it can take a long time to bust through stagnation.
The human body aims to maintain homeostasis. Homeostasis is your body’s attempt to keep what it currently has as a means of survival. If you are presently fat, your body tries to stay fat. Your body will try to keep fit and lean when you are fit or lean. It’s your body’s natural survival mechanism for keeping you alive.
I’ve seen that it can take as much as 90 days to break through this homeostasis plateau. Unfortunately, most people give up after a couple of weeks because they start wondering what’s the point of eating well and going to the gym if they don’t see results.
Sure, people want instant results, but it’s incredible how people will give up even when they understand how long the body takes to build muscle and burn fat.
One of the reasons this happens is they go into the process from the point of blind motivation. Then, when their cause wanes, they are stuck with the harsh reality of how hard it will be.
Here’s a simple way to gauge if you are breaking through homeostasis to get too fat loss that I often tell people: You have to skip a hunger craving once a day for 30 days.
You have to eat nothing when you have a snack or eat a small meal because you are “kinda” hungry. You have to beat those cravings. Recognize them as your body trying to maintain homeostasis. This is your body urging you to consume calories to maintain homeostasis. If you want to break homeostasis and force your body to survive less by shedding fat, you must break these cravings long enough to let your body adapt.
Listen: I could go on about this for another 100,000 words. But I won’t. The fact is, food is your medicine. It is the best weight loss pill or the vehicle that will keep you the same/make you worse.
Here is my advice in its most simplistic form: Stick with real food made from natural ingredients. And if you are trying to lose weight, skip a regularly-scheduled snack or meal at least once a day.
Colin Stuckert, Founder/CEO, Wild Foods