A reader asked
I like what you said about the body being a reflection of how we live our life. I also agree about the genetics; its too much of a cop out to say that you can’t help being obese.
I do have a question though. Your photos show that you are in shape but you have previously posted that your workout regimen consists of only a minute of burpees twice a day. As someone who works out an hour a day to stay in shape this blows my mind. Are you rationing calories as well or just watching what you eat? Do you have any before/after photos showing the progress made after 6 months on this program?
The short response to that comment grew to a post, which then grew to a series of posts. I didn’t feel I could write about just my eating or exercise behaviors without context of the beliefs, environment, emotions, and reward that go with them.
Everyone has beliefs and behaviors on fitness, health, food, eating, exercise, and balancing them for themselves. I don’t see anything special about mine, except to me that they’re mine, like yours are for you. Well … I can say that mine work for me — they create rewarding emotions, a body I like, and take little energy or attention to maintain. That diet and exercise books sell so well implies many people’s beliefs and behaviors create punishing emotions and bodies they don’t like. So maybe mine have something of value to others.
Maybe not everyone writes theirs out, which helps your awareness of something important — your body and what goes in it — so I’ll share mine. I hope it helps you think about yours.
I don’t mean to imply anyone should adopt my eating or exercise practices, as healthy as I feel. I’m just sharing what works for me.
How I regulate my physical condition
If I don’t exercise I put on fat around my belly within a couple days. Then I feel like something important in my life is out of balance for my tastes and I increase my exercise until it goes away. So belly fat had long been my barometer and motivation to regulate my physical condition.
Since starting my burpee routine I haven’t put on fat though, so I don’t have a barometer and my motivation is the feelings of friendship and freedom I’ve written about before.
For me food and exercise are about emotional reward, friendship, joy, exhaustion (a fantastic feeling), and related feelings. Also freedom. If I ever seem in this series to write about anything else, I’m not. I’m always writing about creating those emotions.
I’ve come to conclude that
- type of food and
matter more than amount of food or number of calories. I eat a lot.
When I have fresh fruits or vegetables around, I eat as much as I want. I’ll eat a pound of cherries, spinach, celery with peanut butter, carrots, or whatever fresh fruit or vegetable is around without a second thought. I’ve learned to love the flavors and textures of unprocessed foods.
I’ve written before on how I’ve made exercise about friendship, freedom, and motivation, so I rarely have problems acting. Since starting burpees almost seven months ago I haven’t missed a single burpee. Some people might think I have extra motivation that helps me exercise, but I find the cause and effect goes the other way. When I’ve slacked on exercising in the past, my discipline in other areas dropped. With the twice-daily burpees, I find myself much more disciplined and motivated in other areas. For example, I started flossing daily, which I’d been meaning to do for decades.
I strongly oppose counting calories or keeping track of what I eat, which would impinge on my freedom. I figure out what works for me, use the method to make what works create rewarding emotions, and I’m done.
I also strongly oppose pseudo-scientific jargon. If someone starts talking anti-oxidants, beta-whatever, omega-whatever, I assume the person is trying to sell me something, was sold something and is trying to justify to themselves what they bought, or doesn’t know what they’re talking about. I draw the line at once-scientific terms that have made it to the mainstream — alcohol, calorie, vitamin, protein, carbohydrate, and a few others.
I consider the body’s complexity too great that talking about one or a few chemicals out of context ignores too much. Yet I’ve found a simple solution to nearly any problem — to eat more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- My fitness beliefs and habits, part 2: Food and Eating
- My fitness habits, part 3: Exercise
- My fitness habits, part 4: Nothing special about what I did
EDIT: There is an “after” picture in my Boracay post.