Updated: Dec 13, 2022
Yep! You read right! 🤯 Two weeks have passed since Thanksgiving and during these last three holiday season weeks, I sacrificed myself for the sake of science.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would it really make a difference if I relaxed and lived like a typical “healthy” American? I figured my daily routine of exercise, rest, and nutrition was beneficial; but I put that to the test.
I stepped out of my daily eating regimen. I cut back on exercise hours & sessions. I had irregular sleep and even pulled an all-nighter. I ate fast food (Chipotle, taco trucks, Mexican restaurants, cafeteria food). I ate sweets (pie, cake, donuts). I skipped my regular set of supplements & vitamins. AND I FELT IT!!!
A few months ago I climbed Mt Whitney, the highest mountain in the lower 48 states (14,505ft). At the summit there is 40% less oxygen then at sea level where I live. It was a challenge to get a good breathe and it was really rough trying to slog down the top part of the mountain with a 20lbs pack on my back. My body was dragging, because it was lacking the essential fuel it needed to operate: Oxygen!
That sensation of missing a vital fuel is what I started to feel during my three week experiment. I was low on energy, stiff, slow, and tired. I started to get acne rather than complements of how great and healthy my skin typically looks. I was used to running on premium gas and suddenly switched to discount low octane unleaded.
I clearly noticed that I couldn’t get satisfied even after eating way more calories than I typically would. How could I eat a full stack of pancakes then a plate of loaded nachos when each would be more than my total daily calorie intake alone?! Because my body was begging for nutrients and only getting empty calories (sugar, fat, bleached & processed carbs). I WAS EATING, BUT I WASN’T NOURISHING.
The change was measurable. My average active calories burned per day dropped from 1,300/day to barely half (700/day). My resting heart rate dropped from 50bpm to 42bpm (perhaps because my body wasn’t growing while I rested). My average sleep decreased by an hour per night. I also had less patience and struggled with focus.
But I was still living “healthier” than most Americans. So what happened? Well… The human body is incredible at adapting. We can survive on very little, but we thrive when our holistic fitness and health plan includes nutrition, rest, and exercise. Most of us know that exercise improves brain function; but did you realize that fast food is oxidizing (aka aging) your skin, killing your drive, and sapping your energy? You may think the quick fast food stop is saving you time, but you’re not gaining quality time. Have you heard the phrase “work smart”? That’s exactly what you’re NOT able to do when your health is broken.
So what did I learn? A lot! My body quickly adapted to being less active. I lost strength, muscle, and cardio strength much faster than expected. I learned how connected even my mind and skin is to what I eat and how well I rest. And lastly, I am even more confident that during this passed year of devotion to living healthy I have truly gotten biologically younger.
What should you do in response? Know that if you are like most Americans, you may FEEL ok; but your entire being is probably operating in “adaptation mode”. Adaptation to less than optimal. Adaptation to missing vital building blocks to being your best self. You’ve gotten used to living at the summit, but there is a rich nourishing breathe of fresh air at the oceanside.
But really…? Take a step back from your daily grind and think about how you might be depriving yourself. What discount watered down gas are you fueling yourself with? And even worse… What poisons (alcohol, caffeine, processed sugar, soda, dyes, chemicals) are you eating and drinking that are literally killing you? There’s a better life for you and with every healthy change you make, you will feel it like a breathe of fresh air! Here’s to living healthy!
Read my other posts to get a great start on a healthy fitness, rest, and nutrition plan.