Eventually this idea of balance and moderation will come into play. AKA is your life worth living without bagels or wine. This is a very real question and it strikes at the heart of personalization. When you start the process of looking into your health it can get really daunting. I need to filter all my water, buy a new mattress and start doing this thing called being quiet. Ewww. Then months go by and you feel better but isolated. Your life feels so difference and you just want to go back and take the blue pill and feel that delicious corn fed antibiotic feed lot steak sink through your teeth.
One of my favorite sayings is
“Health is not incessantly worrying about your health.”
So how do we find out if balance or moderation will work for you.
Can you go back to having some coffee or even a little damn ice cream now and then? Could you eat a croissant while traveling in Paris? Well to know…
Number 1: we need objective testing to really assess where you are
Number 2: then we need to assess where you want to go.
Say you are prediabetic and you do not want to be diabetic. Power to you as diabetes costs about 25,000 per year inside the conventional model. But, this is going to mean finding the right amount of carbs for your activity level and the amount of muscle mass you have on board. For someone who is sedentary and insulin resistant this is not going to very much and bagels are definitely out. Now this person has to ask the question is it worth it. Some old schoolers from East Texas would break out the shotgun for such talk of no pancakes or pies on Thanksgiving, others who have seen the destruction and cost of diabetes in a family member or loved one may be more apt to make these changes in their diet and lifestyle. Is one piece of gluten pie going to kill you? Probably not but gluten pie over time very well could, it’s called creeping normalcy and it is the hardest thing for human to combat mentally.
I usually have no problem getting buy in with these clients. They feel pretty bad, have some type of intrinsic motivation, and if they are seeking me out very likely already have the underlying feeling that something has to change.
But what about someone who wants to have wash board abs for a trip to Dominican so they can have a non-stop flex off on the beach. This sounds superficial and it is, but it would be lie to say many aren’t chasing this “look”. Dr. Berardi wrote one of the best informational pieces on this titled The Cost of Getting Lean. Google it. Read it. It’s amazing. Also, take into account it will be harder for some. If you have never been naturally lean it is going to be really difficult and possibly unhealthy for you to maintain.
I always like to point the finger inwards so lets take my wife and I for example. Steph loves food, she enjoys it, has a very healthy relationship with food and eats better the 99.9999% of Americans. She has never ever had a problem with her weight and is extremely comfortable in her body. She should be, she looks fantastic. Now she maintains this while occasionally eating ice cream and brie. She hates fitness modeling, bodybuilding, and has no inclination to be that girl who annoyingly talks about how she can’t have this or that because she is on some new diet. She just orders and eats.
Now would it be at all advantageous for me to recommend carb cycling and other calorie or macro counting endeavors for her?
NO. Number one, she didn’t ask me to, and two she doesn’t care about being some percent body fat percentage, let alone doing all the type A stuff it would take to get there. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. And she definetly ain’t broke. But I have convinced her to do some Cyrex testing and work with a functional medicine practitioner to see what might be best for her long term. What she decides to do is up to her, not me! My job is just to support her and if I do ever give advice it needs to be in a non-patronizing manner.
Now let’s take me for example. I am the experimenter of experimenters and in college I tracked everything that went into my body for 6 months straight. Everything. I got super lean, like 6%, abs everywhere. I loved taking off my shirt but I was incredibly unhappy and avoided social situations because I couldn’t control everything. I also learned that for me to maintain this type of look I had to go be hungry. That may not sound like a big deal but hunger pangs for me aren’t worth anything ever, especially now as I am married and don’t really really care about my abs and am not naturally super lean. All my ancestors are from really cold weather climates, so I have come to accept that this is not a coincidence.
This calorie counting control thing is not uncommon and a large percentage of RDs and nutritionists likely have quite unhealthy relationships with food. It somewhat goes with the profession as it attracts these type A folks.
I have had to learn to find the ability to accept that this wanting to control will always be there and then I just have to be able to watch it and assess when it is productive and when it is most definitely not. This comes down to the reason I train and eat the way I do is because I promised myself I would always represent the ideals I preach and of course, I also want to feel good and look good. But this also means maintaining a healthy relationship with food and those I love. Thus, over time I’ve figured out I feel my best at around 9-12% body fat and I can maintain this fairly easily without any more restrictions on my diet and lifestyle that I have already. If you know me this is already a lot compared to most folks. I also go in and out of experiments as I love this side of things and if I ask someone else to do something I want to have gone through that entire process.
The first key to figuring out all this stuff out is getting a real idea of where you are and where you want to go. Then once you have that information you need to asses if it is worth it because everything has price. And that is a question you alone can answer, no one else.