NEWSLETTER #1
EVO.TEE
EVOLUTIONARY THINKING, EATING AND EXERCISING

4th September 2015


INTRODUCTION

Welcome to my health newsletter. When information is cheap attention becomes expensive. So let’s jump right in. 
Average read time: 5.30 mins



THINKING - POSTPONING PLEASURE


For years my weight fluctuated up and down, in a big way. I’d get fit and feel good, then I’d started eating poorly again and get fat. I got sick and tired of this so I started to investigate how I could stop this madness. As a result of my work, I’ve managed to stabilise my weight. Of course it still fluctuates (which is natural) but the waves are much smaller. One of the tools I use is postponing pleasure.

I want you to picture a child’s reaction to being told they ‘can’t’ have something. Mayhem right? You can also think of wet paint signs, that say don’t touch. We all have an inner child (or chimpanzee) and we hate to be told we can’t have or do something. When we deny ourselves something, that thing stays on our mind until we have it.

So how do we avoid this? Instead of denying myself the food I was craving, I would postpone the pleasure until later.

Picture yourself at a party and you’re offered dessert but you’re trying to be healthy. Normally you would say no thanks I’m on a diet.  This immediately makes you feel bad and everyone else around you feel guilty for indulging. Instead, try this:

I’ve eaten too much, perhaps I’ll have some later.

 

This way our inner child (or chimp) doesn’t feel like it’s being punished. By saying we can have it later, our mind becomes settled. Our mind doesn’t keep thinking of the thing we ‘can’t’ have! Later if you want a little you can (if you really want it) but often you’ll find you don’t even want it any more.  

In my experience this strategy is best used only in the exact moment of temptation. In “The Four Hour Body” Tim Ferriss advises using a planned cheat day. The idea is that during the week you write down a list of all the things you deny yourself or crave. Then on a Sunday you buy anything you want from that list and eat it. From experience, this practice works. But it can also hold you back when your cheat day spills over and reignites old habits. For some it may also encourage binge eating. But hey, give it a try, if it works keep it, if it doesn’t ditch it!

For more info on tactics like this, read Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness by Thaler and Sunstein.


EATING - NUTRIENT DENSE FOOD


I had a huge shift in my own health when I learnt that food is much more than calories and macro-nutrients (protein, fats, carbs). The food we eat controls the expression of genes, our health, and how fast we age.  Food also affects our mental performance, our mood and our will power. 

You will have heard the quote “you are what you eat”. The food you eat becomes your eyes, skin and hair. Every healthy cell in your body is in a constant state of flux, cells die and are rebuilt. The idea that we get a new body every seven years, is a bit of bad science but there is some truth in the statement.

In the past, food was scarce and most people were poor. We were also active and there were few labour saving devices. So, we had to fill out meals with cheap, carbohydrate rich foods. Foods made from wheat flour and potatoes have been a staple in this country for thousands of years.

The way I look at nutrition is like the way I’d treat a Formula 1 race car. To get the best from my body I give it the best food I can afford. I replace these staples with more vegetables, healthy fats and protein. 

Eating more healthy fats has made a huge difference to my health in many ways. I am yet to gain fat from eating a serious amount of fat. Most of my healthy fats comes from eggs, oily fish, butter, olive oil and coconut oil. I am no longer scared of dietary fat because I have done my research and tested my findings. 

The basis to all of these changes is that I have switched to a nutrient dense diet. I want my food to pack a nutritional punch. When early hominids (pre homosapien) started eating more animal flesh our brains grew and our species developed into who we are today. We went from being apes in trees to space exploring humans in only 200,000 years!


EXERCISING - MOVE YOUR BODY

The other day whilst in the park, I was stood in the cue to get a coffee. A man with his dog held up a sachet of sugar and waved it at the interested dog, saying “not for you”. My immediate reaction was “not for you either mate!” I caught my harsh judgement and laughed at myself, but immediately began to think about dog owners. My younger sister Jess, works with dogs. People pay her to walk their dogs when they can’t. It’s common knowledge that it is cruel to have a dog and not walk it once or twice a day. Yet the physiology of a dog and a human isn’t too dissimilar. Our separation from nature often gives us a sense of being different to animals. I argue that beyond our intellect we are the same as dogs. Our human body needs walking and so it is cruel not to give us the exercise we need.

Chances are, we have all heard the following benefits brought by exercising more:

  • We are happier
  • We live longer
  • We get sick less often
  • Gives us better sexual function
  • Gives us more energy
  • Helps us sleep better
  • Helps us de-stress
  • Boosts our confidence
  • Improves our posture
  • Our memory improves

But have you heard of the lymphatic system and how exercise helps it‘s function? Without getting too heavy on the science here’s a brief explanation:

  • The lymphatic system, carries a water like substance (plasma) around the body through a network of vessels.
  • It is a part of our immune system which carries white blood cells. It also helps eliminate waste products that are harmful to the body.
  • If you injure yourself and your injury becomes swollen, that is lymphatic fluid.

To give you an idea of its complexity, I drew this self portrait of my own lymphatic system.

http://lipogenex.com/services/lymphatic-drainage-therapy/

http://lipogenex.com/services/lymphatic-drainage-therapy/

We all know that the heart pumps blood around the body. But we perhaps don’t know that when we move, our muscles contract and squeeze blood back to the heart. The same is true for the lymphatic system, only it doesn’t have a built in pump. It relies on you to move to keep it flowing. When the lymphatic system functions well, our body eliminates waste and helps us fight ageing and disease. When we sit all day at work and at home, lymph can remain stagnant which leads to disease and premature ageing. So whether you walk, run, cycle, do yoga, tai chi, or qigong, get moving, it’s good for you! 


And on that note, I’m going to head out and take my body for a walk!


To close...

I hope you have enjoyed reading this newsletter and find my work useful. I love to talk and have years of learning that I want to share. This can be too much for some, so I would love to hear your feedback if this is the case. But if you like it then please share it with your friends and family. It’s difficult being healthy today so the more tools we have in our bag the better. 


Be well
James


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