Your Body is a . . . Wonderland?

John fucking Mayer. This blog is about John. Fucking. Mayer.

False. This blog is most definitely not about John, fucking, Mayer. Sorry to let you down. However, side note; if you don’t think that Gravity and Repair are gifts from the songbird of our generation, then I absolutely need you to exit stage left here.

In the words of John Mayer, “your body is (most definitely) a wonderland.” Actually, I’m not quite sure what I’m about to get into is on the same page as what he was talking about, but we have the same idea going on. I think? Maybe? Not really. I just say stupid shit from time to time. Ya know? Yeah, you know. For this blog we’re heading back to November so we can get the full back story. From there we’re going to work our way to where I’m currently at now––in the process of training for two marathons within a four month time span, taking on two different diets along the way; keto, and vegan. So, to November we go.

T’was a beautiful fall day in November and I had just downed a “natural” energy drink as I was making my way over to go rock climb. Pretty much all of November I was on a mobility/flexibility kick and would usually take a solid hour just to stretch out before any sort of workout. While in the middle of stretching my hamstrings, that’s when it happened. That’s when I had my “aha” moment. Whether it was a combo of the energy drink and some good tunes, or something was in the air that night, the result was still the same. Looking down at my leg, I had this almost out of body experience where I realized, this body was responsible for getting me to the finish line. And in return, I was responsible in helping it get there as best as I could. It had almost felt like my leg wasn’t even mine and this thought of “you better take care of this thing while you have it” rang loud and clear. That aha moment came with an immediate shift in perspective; I needed to start watching what I was putting into my body and how I was treating it. And let’s be clear about one thing real quick, just because I had this immediate shift in perspective doesn’t mean that I instantly started turning my whole world into kale shakes and wild caught salmon dinners. But what that immediate shift in perspective did do, is it made me start evaluating everything that I was eating in a way that I rarely would have considered before hand.

Over the next couple of months I turned into a mad man. I started to run everything that I was eating or drinking through a strict judge. I turned into that guy reading nutrition labels any chance that I got. Little by little I actually started to understand what I was looking at. I started paying real close attention to any diet related (keto in particular solely based off all the hype that’s surrounding it), or nutritional related podcast. Or if I wasn’t immersed in the world of podcasting, I was soaking up any information that I could from books. I knew next to nothing when it came to nutrition. I barely even knew what carbs were if I’m being honest here. The idea of actually taking time out to understand nutrition on a deeper level seemed like a daunting task. It still does and still is, but it’s getting easier in time. It was one of those things that I  always told myself that I needed to start doing. But it wasn’t until that aha moment where things really started to shift for me. And before I move on with the story I want to breakdown these aha moments and my theory about them.

Every once in a while we all experience one of these aha moments, where the things that we’ve known all along that are good for us––eat your greens, move the body more, maybe lets not heat up fish in the microwave while we’re at work–– finally clicks. This, my friends, is what we call a glitch in the matrix. It’s where the ego drops off leaving you susceptible, for a brief period of time, to a moment of pure, uninterrupted awareness. That cliché that you’ve heard 100+ times before? Yeah, well this time around it just bitch smacked you in the face and there was no denying it ever happened. It’s in these moments that it becomes absolutely critical in how we choose to handle what comes next.

I can’t speak for everybody, but I feel like there’s almost no going back or ignoring one of these moments. And I’m not saying that once you experience one of these moments you’re magically fixed and now all of a sudden you’re a wizard. Absolutely not. There’s hard fucking work that needs to be done after that realization. Because now, now that you’ve finally became consciously aware of this realization, you either follow through, or you go back to sleep pretending it never bitch slapped you into the third dimension. And more often than not, this is what we do. We deny it ever happened because accepting it means that we now have to accept full responsibility over it. And once we’ve done that, that means change is the logical runner up in this scenario. Even if it’s good change, or necessary change, it’s still change and that scares the fuck out of us. That means a piece of who you are at this very moment––a piece of your identity––has to die off in order for there to be new growth. Do we continue to hold on for dear life, or do we finally decide to put our big boy pants on and step up to the plate?

“Uncertainty is the root of all progress and all growth” – Mark Manson

And this is where we jump back into the story . . .

One day, a few months after the aha moment, I found myself in the parking lot of a Trader Joe’s. To say that I was a little more than out of place would be the understatement of the year. Regardless, I showed up week after week fine tuning my grocery list. Ask anybody that I work with and they’ll tell you that I’ve been eating the same big ass salad almost everyday for the past couple of months. From the second of the aha moment, to that first trip to Trader Joe’s, I continue to accept the responsibility of the outcome of my health. It’s something that I own up to and wouldn’t want to leave it in anyone else’s hands. This journey has been fucking hard, man. But at some point, or another it needed to happen. Probably one of the few things that I’m actually qualified to write about, that have yet to actually do, is massage. From the four and half years that I’ve been a massage therapist, one of my biggest take aways that ties into this perfectly, is the need to take care of your body. It’s one thing when I work on someones in their 70’s and they’re having a rough go at things, but when I work on someone in their 40’s or 50’s and they’re already breaking down, it’s incredibly upsetting to see. We don’t all have to become health gurus, but why hobble across the finish line? Listen to your body and let it tell you what’s going on. Always in pain? Brain fog on the daily? Does a good night of sleep sound too good to be true? Mobility to that of a plank of wood? As you read that, were you actually jealous of the fact that a plank of wood might have better mobility than you? Well same here. All of these are our version of check engine lights turning on . . . but yet we continue to ignore them. I don’t have to tell you what happens next in this scenario. But I mean, while I have the platform . . . shit hits the fan and we fucking break down. And then we have to pay 5x as much to fix the problem whereas if we just would have listened to these damn check engine lights, we wouldn’t be on the verge of scraping our ride for the newest 2018 model. The only thing is, we don’t have that option to trade in our ride for the latest 2018 model––at least not yet. Give or take 100 years before we’re all turning into cyborgs.

 

So where does that leave me today?

Diving into a strict ketogenic diet during July and August, and will be running my first marathon on September 9th. Then for the months of September and October, I’ll be taking on a strict vegan diet and running another marathon on November 10th. I already know what you’re thinking. . . so let’s go ahead and break this down in sections.

Why keto? Why vegan? These are the two diets out currently with the most health benefit claims. But no matter how you look at it, both sides of the two camps are going to push that their diet is the superior one. And as they tell you this, there will be contradicting studies from both sides on the same subject! Let’s just use saturated fat as a quick example from two people who I greatly look up to; Aubrey Marcus and Rich Roll. It just so happened that I was reading both of their books at the same exact time and came across contradicting information about the saturated fat craze. And although they’re not technical health professionals, they’re still very much on the in among the world of nutrition. So let’s take a look at a section from Aubrey’s book Own The Day, Own Your Life:

“There are studies showing that even in the elderly, high cholesterol can be protective. In these older populations, the higher the cholesterol, the lower your risk of heart disease. Not to mention that cholesterol levels that are too low are actually associated with increased risk of death . . . from other causes, like cancer and suicide. This likely has to do with the fact that saturated fat and cholesterol are the starting point for the production of many important hormones, including testosterone and estrogen. Whether you’re male or female, having robust hormone levels has been linked to the most aspects of healthy living: mood, body composition, libido, and energy level. Without good fat in your diet, without enough cholesterol, you will be setting yourself up for some serious problems.”

Now onto Rich Rolls book Finding Ultra:

“The animal protein push is not only based on lies, it’s killing us, luring us to feast on a rotunda of factory-farmed, hormone- and pesticide-laden, low fiber foods extremely high in saturated fat. Despite the current populist fervor over high-fat, low-carb diets, the science is convincingly clear that eating this way is a significant contributor to our epidemic of heart disease (the world’s #1 killer) and many other lifestyle-induced infirmities that have rendered our prosperous nation one of the sickest societies on Earth.”

So, who’s right? I don’t fucking know, man. Even the top leading health and nutritional experts can’t come to a consensus on what’s good/bad for us. But the idea is that my body will let me know. As I think this should be the ideal for any diet, alongside blood work. I’ll be doing follow up blogs on the marathons and diets themselves and will dive a bit deeper into the saturated fat debacle among other areas in those blogs to come. But from my understanding of it now is that a high fat diet shouldn’t be pursued by someone who already has cardiovascular issues, is overweight, or without proper blood work before, during, and after the diet. Something I will not be doing; the first variable that you can call me out on if you want to. I actually will be getting blood work, but I wasn’t able to get it before the start of this to see where my levels were already at. There’s a ton of variables in this, yes, I’m aware. I already know some of you are reading this making a bulleted list pointing out every which way this can go wrong. Would I have had more time to get the ball rolling on things, I would have done so. But we’re out here trying to make it happen with the time we have got. Simple as that.

From an athletic stand-point and an over-all stand-point, I want to listen to my body through the five months of the two diets and have it tell me what fuels it best. It’s too easy to get caught up in these diets for the wrong reasons. Examples: If you’re eating a vegan diet solely for ethical reasons, more power to you. But if you’re killing yourself in the process for the sake of the diet, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Whereas if you’re killing yourself trying to keep up with intermittent fasting, or starving yourself because you don’t want to eat carbs, you’re also doing yourself a disservice. You should never compromise your health for the sake of a diet. I should know because before I dove all in to keto, I was doing precisely that. Not eating when I was hungry for the sake of trying to fast, or the food wasn’t high enough in fat. If you want to try any diet, always make sure that your life is stable enough to get the job done adequately.

Marathon time

Now for this “whole two marathon’s thing.”

“You’re suppose to wait a whole year before you run another marathon.” Maybe. But is it gonna kill you? No. There are people out there running marathons every weekend, running ultra marathons every two months, and any time I get into the swing of things on a thru-hike, I’m hiking a marathon plus some in bonus miles on the daily. Not the exact same thing, but 26.2 miles is 26.2 miles whether you run, walk, or hike. You can choose to believe that you should only run one marathon a year, but if you start to go down that rabbit hole, then you need to ask yourself what other areas in your life are you limiting based on the opinions of other people?

So then you must be a runner? I absolutely despise running. I always joke around saying how I hope I wake up one of these days with a new-found love for running. Most likely isn’t going to happen though. Sorry, Charlie. For a lot of people though, a marathon is one of those bucket list items. For me it is, alongside a 100-mile ultra-marathon, but that’s a story for another blog. I declared that this year was going to be the year I run a marathon and with everything lining up with my sudden interest in nutrition, I thought why not hit this from an athletic standpoint, a journalism standpoint, and an overall health and wellness standpoint for myself to see what my body is capable of when really pushed.

Throughout the course of these couple months (this blog should have been released in the beginning of July, but again, I’m a slug and have been lazy) I’ll continue to write about my progress. Specifically a blog following both marathons that will cover the two months leading up to it, the entire diet, and the marathon experience itself. If you’re particularly interested in these areas and have any questions, feel free to ask; or if you have any tips about diet and running that you think I absolutely need to know, hook it up. Otherwise, I’ll talk to you guys in a couple of months.

 

Edited by: Patrica Hendriks

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