Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I’ve always been rather annoyed by the shear amount of crap that is constantly bombarded at us from all angles. Drop this pill to loose weight. Drink this shake to gain muscle. Buy this for a larger penis or bigger boobs. Pay this company to help make you more money. Hell, I saw a commercial the other day for a website called SugarDaddie.com. Basically, it’s for rich guys to find hot girls. Even more basically, it’s for douche bags to buy dumb girls.

No thanks.

Let me make something perfectly clear. You don’t need any of that shit. None of it. Not one bit. It’s all extraneous crap that somebody out there wants to make money from. Granted, yes, some of it is authentic, does what it says it will do, and honestly, in the long run, will help you out.

That doesn’t mean you need it.

We are human. We aren’t meant to take in crap like this. It’s unnecessary. And in the last year and a half, I have proved it. Through craptacularly simple life changes, I have made that change that so many people spend so much money on.

Here’s the gist of it: I’m now 32 years old. I’m in the best shape of my life. I feel better than ever, I’ve gone from between 230 and 235 all the way down to 185 at the moment. And still dropping. I’ve gone done two belt sizes, all my pants are too big, every single dress shirt I own now no longer fits, except for the two way-too-small shirts that I bought on accident and couldn’t return. My stomach is damn close to being flat, for the first time since high school.

And that’s not all. My energy has been through the roof. My cycling has never been better, especially the uphill part. Climbing has been outrageously easier, obviously, since I’m carrying less weight up the hill and I have more energy, but I’m also much stronger.

Which is the next part: I am much stronger. I can ride longer, harder and faster than before. My endurance is WAY up.

What can attribute all this to? Simple. Three things:

1. Changing WHAT I eat.

This was a tough one. When I was in college, my diet revolved around pasta, both fresh with my own homemade sauce and boxed and flavored, like Pasta Roni, Hot Dogs usually becoming Chili Dogs, Ramen noodles, fast food, and lots of meat.

The first thing that went when I decided to make this change was the boxed food. Which in itself was a tough transition. I was used to the simplicity of opening the box, preparing the meal, and scarfing it down. It was just too easy. And it did take a while to get it out of my diet all together. But through patience and awareness I was able to kick it out altogether.

The next thing to change was the basic choices of what I was putting in my mouth. Ramen? Out. Hot Dogs and Chili? Out. Salads? In. Natural foods? In. I start my mornings with either Kashi cereal or Oatmeal and tea, whereas before I would either not have breakfast, or it would be something incredible, like a Mountain Dew or candy. Lunch? Some sort of sandwich, like tuna or turkey and cheese with yogurt replaced those chili dogs, ramen, or Pasta Roni. Dinner? Spaghetti or Rigatoni or Penne Rigate (any of them, really) with my own homemade sauce, which by the way, is now made from ground turkey instead of ground beef replaced yet even more Pasta Roni, boxed meals, or massive portions of steak or other meats. Oh, and I’ve added broccoli to the pasta meals, and I start with a small salad with Newman’s Own Light Italian Dressing. (Mmmmm)

The next thing, which may have been the easiest (and I’ll get to why) was the removal of certain foods. Those of you that know me well know I go through the milk. I am more than able and comfortable (pretty happy, actually) with going through a gallon of milk a day. Milk with cereal in the morning. Milk with lunch. (Or FOR lunch…) Multiple glasses of milk with dinner, and multiple more glasses of milk with that late night dessert. At the end of the day, laying in bed, I would not be able to move, being swelled with that wonderful stuff. Now? I go through about 1 gallon every two weeks. At the most. That itself was a huge, outrageously effective change. The second change, very similar to this one, was the red meat thing.

I was at a family barbeque in June or July last year, chowing down on a London Broil. Oh. My. God. Sooooo good. However, it made me think. How would I feel if I took out the red meat? I had heard of people removing red meat from their diet and seeing great results. So, I decided to try it. Granted, it would not be completely removed. Hell, I still eat it every now and then. Had some over Thanksgiving Weekend, had some more on Christmas Day. And that’s ok. Cheating is just fine, as long as you don’t make it regular and fall back to your old ways. So now, it’s gone to the next level. Instead of only eating red meat every now and then, I now only eat Mammal every now and then. Basically, very special occasions or Holidays. As in, MAYBE three times since Thanksgiving. Bird and fish, I eat a lot of. But not the Mammals.

So, that’s the change of WHAT I eat. I stick as close as I can to healthy, all natural, nutritional foods. As close as I can, of course. I cheat all the time. When both symphonies are going, I eat at Taco Bell about once a week. And that’s ok. Because of the next part:

2. Changing HOW I eat.

This was pretty simple, but both aspects took a long time to get used to. The first was not eating after a certain time, so I wouldn’t be digesting as I slept, which is not so great. This was tough. Especially as a working musician. Getting home from rehearsals at 10 or 11 PM, or sometimes later, and needing dinner makes it hard to follow the no food after 10 PM rule. So, I break it. I go to Taco Bell on the way home. And that’s ok. Rules are made to be broken, and if I followed these rules to the “T”, I wouldn’t be successful at all. So I break ‘em when I need to, then return the next day. I don’t fall back to my old ways after. Which, realistically, makes it easier to stay on the bandwagon, since I get these little “rewards” now and then.

The second change here is the amount I eat. Portions. It’s easy to eat till you’re full. Have you ever tried eating till you’re no longer hungry? I now pay VERY close attention to the sheer amount of food that goes down the gullet. The phrase that rattles around in my head (that I still struggle to follow sometimes, and that’s ok) is, “Stick with portions the size of your fist.” If it’s bigger than that, or you can’t fit it in your hand, make it smaller. Simple? Simple. That’s basically my food changes. Not a whole lot of individual changes, but they are big ones. And effective. Then there’s:

3. Exercise.

We all know we need it. But how many of us can realistically say we elevate our heart rates past the comfort zone for 30 to 45 minutes a day? And I’m not talking about walking from your car to your office. Or up or down stairs a couple times. I’m talking about getting real exercise, i.e. cycling, swimming, running, or any other cardiovascular exercise. For 30 – 45 minutes. Every day.

This is what the human body needs. This is evolution. We aren’t designed to sit around in a cubicle. We are designed as hunters and gatherers, as nomads, as outrageously active animals. If we don’t get the activity our bodies need, our muscles wither away and die and get replaced with fat. Lots of it.

So let’s think about this for a second: Food is crazy easy to get. Especially here in America. We get a lot of it. We have the ability to eat until we can’t any more. Whatever we want. All the sweets, fats, all that good stuff the human body craves for its own survival. Only, much more of it. We eat not to survive, but because we love it. And then we turn around and get lazy and snug with sitting around not exercising. Because, well, we don’t really need to. Or we will later. Or we don’t have time.

Guess what, these are all excuses. Don’t even try to tell me you don’t have one hour a day to dedicate to a little exercise. One hour. That includes the warm up, warm down, AND shower. One hour a day. To basically NOT DIE. Simple? Simple.

These changes are easy. But they may be the hardest things you ever change about yourself in your life. But trust me, if you do it, and do it right, you will not regret in one tiny bit.

One more thing that has helped me. One real reason why I was so out of it before all this kicked in was because I didn’t know, didn’t pay attention to, or didn’t want to know what I was putting in my body. Here is where I got a little outside help. It takes a bit of time each day, but it is truly eye opening to be able to see exactly what you are ingesting. The “Daily Table” at www.Livestrong.com. Free. Easy as pie. Literally. Check it out, it could change your life.

Or, it could save it. The choice is yours. After all, one person can indeed change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has. It’s all up to you. It's your choice. Make it.