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Thoughts On: A Short Guide To A Long Life


Once again it's time to pick a book from the health and fitness section of the library, read it from cover to cover, pick it apart, and take away it's main points to provide an objective opinion for you to use at your disposal! Today’s book is titled A Short Guide To a Long Life by David B. Agus MD, a succinct look at key areas of a person’s lifestyle that should be looked at for long-term health sustainability. You can pick up a copy here.

Today we will look at nutrition (obviously), sleep, posture, detoxing, goal-setting and more.

Time to get stuck in!

In our age of information, where health tips are dispensed like candy by the media, the work of being healthy has gotten complicated.

It’s no lie that with the daily amount of information being pumped out on the internet, social media and news outlets; people have become confused.

Should you intermittent fast? Go vegan? Paleo? Low Carb? No carb? All the carbs? Because weare bombarded with different diets, different stances and different extremes on how to achieve our goals, the ultimate problem is the human brain is not designed to take on all of this information at once.

The internet creates more information on a daily basis than in the entirety of data in our human history. Whether this is true or not begs the question if we should tone down on the consumption of health and fitness tips, lifestlye tips, stress reduction tips and instead get information from one or two trusted sources.

Be objective. A 25 year old bikni athlete giving advice to a 40 year old mother of two. Is their advice relevant to the mothers curent life situation?

Your best bet is to find someone in the industry that you resonate with, who you understand where their journey through health and fitness started and have a sense of trust with them.

[Your body] craves for a regular eating routine...in other words if you don't eat when your body anticipates food, it will sabotage your efforts to lose or maintain weight.

This is a bold statement and is not necessarily true. Meals can't always be planned like that because... well... life happens. You might have to suddenly drop all of your plans for something unexpected and won’t be able to fit in that meal you planned to eat. What then? Does that mean skipping a meal will cause you to gain a load of weight and life as you know it is over?

Of course not. If you don’t eat when your body is expecting a meal you WILL get hungry but remember, hunger comes and goes in waves. Sometimes skipping a meal is no big deal and might actually be a benefit for your digestive system by gibing it a breather to digest food, as well as create an accidental calorie deficit. Remember, its overall caloric intake that will determine weight loss.

If you are someone who does not have a good relationship with food, e.g. if you skip a meal and then binge at the next meal, then yes you’re probably better off creating a routine so that you wil stick to your diet. But don’t panic that by missing a meal, you are screwed. You’re not.

Should you eat gluten free? Low carb? Vegan? Raw? Low fat? Follow Weight Watchers? In truth, it really doesn't matter as long as you enjoy what you’re eating

True that. Research shows again and again that the diet you can stick to for life is the diet for you. Some people like to eat more carbs than fat, some people prefer to eat more fat than carbs. Others like to eat 2 big meals per day, while others prefer more frequent and smaller meals. It’s all about finding what works for you.

If your diet is not providing you long term happiness and adherence then consider changing it to better suit for lifestyle, goals and preferences. Otherwise you sill stay stuck in a yo-yo state of affairs!

Moderate alcohol intake, especially from red wine, can reduce one's risk for heart disease

Go red wine! Who knew right!

But in all seriousness, if you enjoy the occasional glass then feel free to. This is the same for most treats like chocolate and coffee. Just ensure that you are ACTUALLY progressing with whatever goal you have and that you are not finding that you are reliant on certain foods for comfort. Enjoy the treats sporadically in your diet.

Always aim for about 80% single ingredient whole foods and the remainder of your diet can be for the stuff you enjoy. So meats, veg, fruits, nuts, seeds, grains, dairy.

This of course does not mean that you can drink an entire bottle of wine every other day or indulge in a massive binge session. We all have big nights out on occasion, so if you have one planned; a good plan is to restrict your weekly alcohol intake for the special occasion. Eat a ton of protein and veg intake on the day to ensure your calories are on track and enjoy your night out on the town.

If you're like most people, you spend a great deal of time sitting as a result of your desk job, long commute, penchant for the couch, or the mere fact that you're getting older and sitting more seems inevitable...

...which is bad, because the human body was designed to sprint, walk, crawl, twist, turn, lift stuff up, put stuff down and carry things. The human body has not evolved much beyond our cave man days and so it is still imperative that we move about and remain active to reduce chronic health problems such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

If you currently do no exercise, then start with walking daily for 30 minutes for 2 weeks. Once you have created this habit throw in 1 or 2 resistance training sessions per week and build from there. If the thought of joining a gym is not appealing to you (if you need more reasons read out guest blog post here) than do some home workouts like a circuit or buy some cheap dumbbells.

Use it or lose it. Its as simple as that.

Consuming coffee in moderation has long been shown to confer positive benefits on our health.

There’s no denying caffeine’s ergogenic, performance benefits. Mental clarity, focus, concentration. But from a health perspective I would be a bit more cautious.

If you start to rely on caffeine to; wake you up in the morning, get you through your work day or help you to crunch numbers through the night you lose out on quality zzzzzz’s which is a terrible idea if you want to lose weight, gain muscle or generally perform better.

True, coffee can assist with fat loss as it’s super filing and low calorie, but if you are tired then you are more likely to make poor food choices which crews up your progress anyway. True coffee can help you in the gym, but if you don't get enough sleep, how are you going to recover properly? Remember we grow outside of the gym. So support your lifestyle to ensure growth happens.

Ok if you have a new born I’ll give you get a bit of leeway, but do as much as you can to create a supprotive lifestyle. Naps, taking turns on chores. Don't use it as an excuse!

For more info on caffeine and to how to tell if you should cut down check out this post.

Devise a plan and then work backward. Come up with little milestones you can achieve on that path.

You have a goal to lose weight, build muscle or run a further distance which is great. But you don’t really have a target to aim for. Without a specific goal you have nothing to motivate you and no finish line. Why run a race with no finish line?

If you have a specific goal, not only will it give you something to focus on, you can actually see how you progress. You are tracking your progress like weight, body measurements and such right?

Remember to follow SMART goals by following the criteria listed here:

Specific (is it specific to my goal?) Measureable (can I measure the goal?) Attainable (will I be able to achieve it?) Realistic (is the goal too hard for my current lifestyle?) Timely (have I got enough time to complete it?)

You can also create goals that spread over different periods. So short, medium and long term. An example of how to set this up could be as follows for fat loss:

Short term – Ensure that I attend the gym at least three times per week and do moderate intense cardio 3x 30 minutes per week. Medium term – Measure my weight on a weekly basis and take monthly body measurements. Lose a stone in 3 months. Long term – lose a stone for a holiday [insert date].

Remember to create goals that are REALISTIC. Don’t try to lose 2 stone in 2 weeks. If you set this as your goal and fail (which you will) then you will feel bad that you failed and give up completely. Set a target and shoot for it.

Correct posture may be one of the best-kept secrets for achieving a longer, healthier, and more enjoyable life. Poor posture can lead to a wide assortment of neck and back problems.

All true... and people think deadlifts are bad for your back. More like NOT doing deadlifts are bad for your back (that's for another time).

Desk job jockeys should try and be aware of posture throughout the day. Most corporations offer assessments to check that you are sitting correctly with good posture. So make the most of this incentive. Otherwise, set a timer to go off every hour, get up and move your ass. Add some stretches, loosen up and carry on with your day (you may get some weird looks but who cares?)

Hope and optimism are powerful forces in our lives. Whether or not we have faith in our health has everything to do with whether or not we have a healthy body. If we believe we can be healthier, guess what: we will be...

…And if you believe that you cannot be healthy and are destined to be fat for the rest of your life, you will be. Your ability to control your emotions and your outlook in life will probably account to about 70% of success in your goals. As spiritual or woo-woo as that sounds, it’s generally the truth. What separates you from the person next to you achieving their goals in life is they believe in themselves and work toward it every single day.

How can you change your mind set? Eliminate the word can’t from your vocabulary. I can’t go to the gym, I can’t make food the night before. I can't do this. I can't do that. Change your outlook and make it happen!

A great book to check out is Martin Seligman’s Authentic Happiness who teaches you how to re frame your pessimism into optimism. It’s well worth the read if you’re someone who always finds the negative in things.

Cold-water fish, such as salmon, sardines, tuna, trout, anchovies, herring, halibut, cod, black cod, mackerel are excellent sources of high-quality protein, healthy fats, and naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.

Oily fish also contain the essential fatty-acids EPA and DHA which have shown to improve heart health, cognitive function and provide an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. They are essential because the body cannot create them on their own and have to be consumed in the diet and so should be a staple of your diet.

Aim for at least 2 servings per week. On days that I do not consume fish, I supplement 2-3 grams of fish oil. Just make sure you check the label for total EPA and DHA, otherwise you may be taking up to 8 pills a day to hit 2-3 grams.

Never skip breakfast. After fasting all night long, your body needs a metabolic jump-start to begin the day. Front-loading your eating in the early part of the day will prevent you from over consuming later, help you burn more calories, and allow you to get a wallop of nutrients when you need them.

If you enjoy breakfast then feel free to take on this advice. If you don’t feel hungry in the morning then read on.

To stay never skip breakfast is neither practical or useful, especially if you do not have much of an appetite in the morning or you need to be the office early doors. There’s nothing wrong with delaying your first meal until you actually feel hungry. Your metabolism doesn’t require a ‘jump-start’ (whatever that means) and to force food down is just unnecessary.

I had a discussion with a client the other day who was told to eat a big bowl of oatmeal as soon as he woke up. He is a truck driver who wakes up at 2:30 am and said he had zero hunger in the morning and hated the fact he had to do this every morning because someone told him breakfast was necessary for their goal of fat loss. Pure nonsense.

As of writing I prefer to have my first meal of the day at about 10:30 to 11:00 which can be 3+ hours after I have woken up. I generally don’t feel hungry until this time and stick to water in this period.

Again, it’s all about your lifestyle. As long as you are getting enough good quality nutrients throughout the day, and you are eating the right quantity for your goals then eat whenever you want! Let’s leave behind this paradigm of needing to eat at certain times of the day or you will get fat.

Your body is expertly designed to detox naturally thanks to your kidneys, liver, sweat glands, lungs, and digestive system. You don't need to take drastic, sometimes dangerous, measures to detoxify your body, and this includes the use of supplements and detox formulas marketed to clean you out. They are nonsense. Many of these protocols have few or no studies to back up their overpromising claims.

Do people still do this? Detox diets and cleansing? Maybe it was popular at time this book was published. But if this is you, please stop buying detox supplements and hope it will magically fix your health. It won't.

Utter nonsense.

Your body is designed to filter out toxins. It’s how it’s survived throughout history and will continue to do so. Don’t be fooled by the marketing hype that a magic pill will somehow cleanse you. Save your money.

[A lack of sleep] makes us moody, mentally foggy, unproductive, uncreative, insufferably tired, and oddly uncoordinated.

Back to sleep! And why? Because it’s so damn important.

Get enough sleep AND get good quality sleep. You’ll thank me when you’re able to stick to your diet because your hormones are out of whack and you feel awesome throughout the day.

The consumption of red meat in moderation isn't necessarily bad, but studies have shown that eating more than three servings a week can increase your risk for certain diseases and chronic conditions.

More on this here. But this is a pretty good plan to stick to in all honesty if you are unsure of the health implications but enjoy red meat. If you eat good quality, grass fed sources of red meat, then you are probably ok to add a few more portions. There is simply not enough evidence to suggest red meat creates a health risk.

In regards to processed meat (bacon, sausage, hot dogs) this is should definintely be limited. Maybe a couple of portions per week if yor diet is already full of goodness. In comparison to red meat they are not as nutritionally dense and are generally higher in calories so be wary.

So that’s my take on A Short Guide To a Long Life! Some interesting points and take-homes for you to implement in to your diet and lifestyle.

For more life-long tips and tricks on health and lifestyle head on over to Angel Nutrition on Facebook!

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