Alright, 2021. Who’s ready for something beyond the standard, “Eat Less, Move More” ideology?
Outside my window, silver-haired runners are shuffling to Riverside Park in their fleece and sweatbands the way they’ve been doing since the 50s, and all I can think is — dang, son. That’s the kind of motivation they write books about.
I see it, too, when working with younger generations — fandom folk in particular. If you take a creative soul and let that creative soul decide that they want to be Plus Ultra Super Saiyan for the next (virtual) Comic-Con, and you can bet your Plus Ultra Super Tuchas that it’s going to happen.
But Super Saiyan or Silver Sneakers, nothing will stick if you don’t see and feel change in your body.
And I’ve been there. I started out like anyone in the early ’00s, flipping through health magazines at CVS and wondering why I still had a really weird-looking stomach flopping over tight, sad hips — even though I was eating healthy and resting regularly, while running, stretching, dancing, strength training, and doing abdominal exercises with near-medical adherence like a good, well-adjusted college kid.
Some might say, “Oh, well she was eating carbs. That’s why.” (I tried with and without. Same difference.)
Or, “She was exercising too much.” (Not true, go back and look at “resting regularly” and tack on “near-medical adherence” with a side of autoimmune condition and doctors’ orders.)
I didn’t find out what was really going on until years later.
It was my tissue.
I didn’t sneak in “tight hips” because it sounds good in a sentence. It’s a stale, awkward, typical physical defect for anyone with a working pelvis. Here’s an internal look at your hip structure:
Now imagine that structure being knotted up around your spine and hip sockets from dutifully resting and running and stretching, all that good stuff. (Yes, even stretching. Pulling on a muscle is pretty literal: it doesn’t get rid of snarled-up tissue, it just winds the knots tighter. Check out Exposing Yoga Myths if you don’t believe me.)
The fact is that circulation gets cut off in daily living patterns, no matter what.
Our bodies are still 70–80% water on a good day — what’s going to happen if that water is stuck?
Flabby body parts and sad college kids, for one. But more relevantly, circulation directly affects any chronic inflammation, because inflammation manifests as pain and swelling in the body, the kind that doesn’t go away when you ask nicely.
Some familiar examples:
- Need I go on?
Luckily, college is over, and so is the idea that calories are the only thing that matter when you’re trying to physically change yourself.
“Calories In = Calories Out” can be a problematic thought model because it treats the body like a mysterious, untouchable Instant Pot. It doesn’t allow you to directly engage with your equipment in a meaningful way — and actually see the change while it’s occurring.
That’s why I’m going to be explaining nutrition and fitness in the following articles with hands-on concepts, so that you can see, hear, taste, smell, and most importantly, feel the experience of manifesting whatever change you wish to create in your body — ever noticed that “manifest” comes from the Latin words for “hand” and “make or do something”?
“But what about the science!” you might exclaim.
Spoiler #1: Tissue manipulation has been around since the dawn of humans deciding it was a good idea to start touching each other. It’s completely founded in the science of changing your cells and tissue to support your goals, and wicked awesome.
Spoiler #2: It starts in the kitchen.
Since the dawn of Schwarzenegger, ancient bodybuilding bros have been saying, “Abs are made in the kitchen.” Here’s the addendum for 2021: Your whole body is made in the kitchen.
Spoiler #3: It’s going to be pretty hard for your body to absorb and use anything you make in the kitchen if your tissue is messed up.
How does “messed up tissue” affect nutrition?
I’m so glad you asked. Here’s a list of checkpoints that are automatic clues when circulation isn’t optimal:
1) Energy levels.
- Do you feel sluggish, wired, or up-and-down throughout the day? This lets us know how efficiently food and nutrients might be moving through your system.
- Do you feel like you can immediately handle unexpected stressors if they slapped you in the face, or do you feel like you need to grab a snack in order to have the strength to get stuff accomplished? Some people do better pre-loaded if they have a high metabolism or want to gain weight/muscle, while some people do better by unloading energy before meals if they have a slower metabolism or want to lose weight.
2) GI comfort.
- How does your stomach feel before, during, and after a meal? Gas and bloating aren’t great things to experience, and could point to things like stress or lack of exercise constricting the pathways in your system. (Luckily, one of these things fixes the other, which fixes the initial issue. Everyone wins.)
- Do you feel that things are “moving along,” or is it a bumpy ride? I won’t elaborate out of respect and consideration, and you’re welcome to whisper this one to yourself as well, since I’m not quite sure what the neighbors would think otherwise.
3) Hunger patterns.
- When do you get hungry or thirsty? Time of day is important, as are surrounding circumstances — dealing with Zoom is a wicked trigger for the munchies, since dehydrated tissue from looking at a screen all day can masquerade as hunger pangs.
- How hungry do you get? There’s quite a difference between being “peckish” versus “I WILL EAT THE WOLF AND HIS GRANNY TOGETHER.”
4) Brain function.
- Are you thinking clearly? Do you feel that your thoughts and emotions run together in a jumble, or do they form a straight line of Point A to Point B? Food affects our brains more than we realize! You can have all the energy in the world, but lack of focus and cognition can be intimately related to hydration and macronutrient deficiency.
So when to use these checkpoints?
The information I’m laying out for you here might resonate. It might not.
But if you come along for the ride, you’ll be setting yourself up for the rest of your life — not another diet plan or pharmaceutical bill in 2022. And who doesn’t like saving time and money?
Alrighty! Enough background story. Let’s start with protein in our next chapter. You can’t change yourself if you don’t know what your building blocks are made of.
Stay tuned, space cowboy.
Thank you for reading! Feel free to follow me and my company, Work Life Fitness, on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. You can also check out my shadowboxing memoir, The Miracle on 98th Street, on Amazon and Goodreads. Peace!