I used to walk into McDonalds and often times I wouldn't be charged for my food. Why? Because I went there so frequently and brought so many friends, that they knew I was good for business. My favorite meal was the Fishwich, a mighty sandwich made with a bun, american cheese, a deep fried fish patty, and a generous portion of tartar sauce. To fully sate my appetite I always supersized.
My parents had always encouraged me to eat healthy. I just didn't see the point. I felt good, I wasn't fat, and I never got sick. Why fix what isn't broken? I was thankful for my good metabolism and assumed that eating healthy was for people who didn't have it so good.
Then a couple years ago I watched Super Size Me. I watched it for entertainment, but it was the first time I began to believe that what I ate actually mattered. If you haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend it. When subjected to a McDonalds only diet, the creator became depressed, lethargic, and generally didn't feel too well. That was the day I stopped eating fast food.
It was a step in the right direction, but for almost a year I didn't take it any further. I was still eating pizza, deep fried food, sugary items, and other health bombs.
My favorite way to travel, as I'll probably write about in the future, is by cruises. I love getting to see a lot of different places at once without having to move my stuff, I love life aboard the ship, and I like the isolation from cell phones and computers. But most of all, I liked the food. When cruising you are barraged by meals throughout the day, and they're all fantastic. The meals are gourmet, and thus, rather unhealthy.
I went on a cruise with my friend Hayden and a couple others. Hayden was reading a book called Fantastic Voyage : Live Long Enough to Live Forever written by Ray Kurzweil. It was a radical book filled with blasphemous ideas like "sugar will kill you" and "so will flour". I made fun of him and ordered huge plates of bacon on a daily basis.
After the cruise I went to Massachusetts to visit my family. I won't say that it's boring there, but there is a lot of time to sit around, read, and play cards. My grandmother is very health oriented and is in her late 70s, so I bought her a copy of the book, thinking it may benefit her. Really, it was a selfish move. I really love her and don't want her going anywhere.
One lazy day I picked up the book and started reading. I couldn't stop. By the time I had finished I realized that I could never eat poorly again. I did even more research on the internet and completely changed my diet. I estimate that 95% of the foods I used to eat were been eliminated, and many of my new staples were foods I didn't even like before. White flour, and later wheat flour, were completely cut out along with sugars of any sort.
I stuck to the diet for about a month before I started noticing changes. My body fat percentage had gone from 16% to 9%, and it showed. I had moderate acne that would never go away, and all of a sudden it had vanished. Several people told me I looked better than I ever had before. I noticed that I could taste flavors I had been previously unaware of in everyday foods.
I stuck with the diet for seven months, and even wrote a practical guide to eating healthy using a pseudonym.
After seven months I found myself in Vermont with my family on my dad's side. The curious thing about them is that all of them always seem to have some illness. Serious ones too, like cancer and diabetes. My father was the only exception, and I could never understand why.
Well, it all made sense when I got there. None of the food they had was remotely healthy. I was forced to break my diet. And so, for the first time in seven months I ate pizza, had a croissant, and ate a caramel coated apple. What was interesting is that they were good, but not as good as I remembered. I didn't miss them. In fact, after just two days eating that way I couldn't wait to return home and eat healthy again. I had changed.
I really thought that I was eating as healthily as possible. I figured there was no way to improve my diet, and I was satisfied.
Then I learned about raw food dieting from my friend Elisia. A raw food diet means that no food consumed can be cooked over 118 degrees. That's the temperature at which certain enzymes in the food break down, without which your body must produce enzymes. Wonder why you feel tired after a huge meal? It's because your body is churning through its energy producing the enzymes to digest that meal.
I could go on with the theory of raw food, but I'm no expert yet, so I'll spare you. It makes a lot of sense, though - our bodies are not evolutionarily designed to eat cooked foods. Sure, they adapt. But then again, a diesel engine will run on regular gasoline as well - just not at peak efficiency.
Unfortunately, I stocked up on food right before learning about this, so I have about 10 boxes of cereal, 2 gallons of soy milk, 6 things of jelly, 4-5 loaves of wheat-free bread, and a bunch of other supplies. I don't want to waste the money spent on them, so I'm going to finish eating them, but only purchase raw food from now on. That includes food eaten at restaurants, too.
Today I went to Whole Foods, my favorite store, and bought a bunch of raw foods. It was actually pretty fun. I've also signed up with an organic delivery service that brings fresh vegetables to my doorstep every friday.
I'll keep you guys updated with my progress and let you know whether or not it's worth doing. If you're just now starting to eat healthy, definitely read the book I mentioned earlier in the article. It will give you a good background on WHY it's important to eat certain things and avoid others.
I love this blog. Unfortunately, it reminds me of all the people that tell me I should write a book about my own awesomely inspiring life. Keep it up. BTW, this is a little less drastic than the aforementioned ideas, but have you tried the 'Zone' diet by Barry Sears? It equally changed me life with similar effects. I love it!
I personally enjoy hearing about the things you love to do, regardless if the "typical" people aren't doing those things. I feel it gives others something to work towards and makes it seem that much more within their reach too. I can't think of anything Tynan has said that hasn't inspired me. Please continue to fill us in on all the cool things you do and dont censor your writings so that you appear more "average." :)
Bender, the truth is that I do live a pretty outrageously great life. But at the same time, it's definitely possible for others to have an even greater level of success. Coming soon is the story of how I started earning money. Thanks for reading and taking the time to post a comment - I really appreciate it.
Also, my goal isn't to be a textbook on personal development. I hope to lead by example and show people what happens when you dedicate your life to being as awesome as possible.
Look Ty, if I had a chance I would spend my time on cruise ships, health food resorts and buy school buses for fun. I would probably be exactly like you but living in a small Balkan country I just cant. Why I'm telling this? Well if you hope to make an impact on people, help them make a change like Pavlina or Robbins, you cannot tell us: "I spend my time doing fun things and cruise the world, be like me and you will be happy". Doh! I do believe that this blog is great, and that you provide valuable information (for no cost no less :) ). I would however advise to be aware of a readers perspective, if you come off as a kid with extra time and money, you risk loosing readers that actually need the most help.
I'm actually meeting with my personal trainer in the morning to setup a new meal plan to coincide with my increased work-out schedule. This is something that intrigues me, I'm going to look into this very seriously as my health and fitness have become of upmost importance since beginning my polyphasic routine. Great post!
Wow, this is so cool!
I took a couple of raw food "cooking" classes a couple of years ago and one of my very favorite restaurants is all raw. But I totally hate being in kitchen when there's a whole world out there with other things to do so I haven't tried going all raw as I would like. When I started reading about the polyphasic sleep thing I thought "Aha, then I would feel like I have time to do the raw food preparation!" Definitely keep us up to date on how it works out.
Ray Kurzweil spoke at my church about 5 or 6 years ago - really cool speaker. I like so much hearing about the future rather than only talking and thinking about the past.
You should read the other Ray Kurzweil books as well. I liked "The Age of Spiritual Machines."
I've converted to a mostly skinny snob diet with some exceptions. Living with my parents, (ugh) I have a very poor selection of food while I'm at home, but I manage as best as possible. That said, I've had probably the worst diet ever.
When I was in college, there were times when I'd eat mcdonalds or fast food all day. I'd have take-out food like 2 or 3 times a day and almost never was it healthy. Like you Ty, I had always thought healthy food was for people who needed it.
However, I've still got perfect vision despite being on the crap diet for nearly 2 years. So that makes me really curious, Magnus, what you've based your claims on? I only ask this because I heard about how eating sticks will make your bones stronger, and I'm afraid to try it.
Thanks for this excellent post Ty. You've got a really awesome blog here.
I dunno... I've been off sugar for at least 7 months now and haven't noticed any diffrence.
That raw retreat thing sounds awesome... I'll definitely have to come check that out.
My housemate here in Ibiza was working on a raw food retreat here in Ibiza for a while - http://www.wintersunretreats.com/catering.php
My diet is becoming increasingly raw. Today I had a bananana with live yoghurt and Agave Nectar (awesome stuff, get some) for breakfast. Then a salmon and avocado salad before my Spanish lesson. Dinner is pasta or lentil or chick pea based, which isn't very raw, but still very healthy.
In London I took to occasionally eating raw vegetables. I really like raw broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, courgette, baby corn, asparagus. Just chop'em up and eat'em. Yum yum.
Raw is the future. If you eat raw for 18 months your eyesight goes crystal clear and your teeth regrow so all your fillings fall out.
This is really true. It's all the artifical sugars that make the liquid in your eyes expand, only slightly, to elongate your eyes and make you shortsighted. The extra chewing stimulates your gums and teeth to regrew and grinds them down until the fillings are literally ejected from the tooth.
Ok, I officially LOVE raw food. I started eating raw about five weeks ago, and have been 99% raw since (my trespasses? a tiny brownie, a few sprouted grain english muffins, and a stupid eggplant pizza). Let's do the math on this baby :
First I ate 100% of whatever I wanted. I loved fried foods, desserts, and pizza. Thanks to miraculous metabolism, I never gained too much weight. Then I read Fantastic Voyage : Live Long Enough to Live Forever, hacked away at my diet, and cut out probably 70% of the foods I used to eat. Later I researched more and cut out 90% of those foods, leaving me eating about 7% of what I initially ate. I wrote a book called The Skinny Snob about that. Going raw eliminated at least 70% of those foods, so now I'm down to about 2-3% of the foods I ate a year ago. Based on my daily diet I would consider that wholly accurate.
Now... that is a wild change. Especially coming from me. I would constantly mock anyone trying to go on a diet and explain that you should just eat whatever you wanted. No amount of logic would get me to change. What did get me to change was my inclination to try things for 7 or 30 days, and the accompanying drastic results.
Humans need food to survive, as such it has always been an important part of our existence. Since the 1900s, advances in farming and food technology led to the mass production of processed food and commercial farming. By the 1970s we were drinking instant coffee and eating rehydrated powdered potato and pot noodles. Food had become 'space-age'. With the invention of the microwave oven, the market for convenience food was born. The Food industry worldwide is now worth trillions of dollars. Food producers spend billions annually on advertising. Driven by profit, farms resemble factories and efficiency gains are made at the expense of ethics, common sense and safety. Researchers make more and more discoveries about nutrition. Initially their findings were published in scientific journals, later in the mainstream media and now anyone with something to say about food can post their opinions on the internet. We have more nutrition information at our fingertips than ever before. Our culture's continuing obsession with thin and healthy, the obesity epidemic and companies competing to sell you food products means there is no shortage of advice on what to eat to be 'healthy' and how to lose weight. The common thread in much of it is there are 'good' foods and 'bad' foods and a food that makes it into the good list, can later be demoted to the bad. For example, tuna is low in fat and high in protein until they found it contained poisonous mercury. Apples were the original 'superfood' but now with high levels of fructose and pesticides have fallen out of favour. Whether eating for health or to lose weight, we no longer know how to eat 'normally'.
The amount of information available is vast and often contradictory, and if like me you love to read and love food, then there is plenty to hold your interest. Over the past 20 years, I must have spent thousands of hours reading and re-educating myself on food. Growing up in the 80s I remember eating Findus Crispy Pancakes for dinner with chips followed by Angel Delight for pudding without a thought as to how it was produced, or what was in it - like many teenage girls at the time, I was more interested in the number of calories on the packet. When i left home, I wanted to learn how to cook properly and so started my collection of cookbooks. Later, I wanted our children to eat 'proper' food at the dinner table, so we ate home-made chicken and leek pie or lasagne with garlic bread. The focus was on 'natural' ingredients without preservatives and additives and of course, taste. Animal welfare didn't cross my mind.
It was Jamie Oliver's 2008 campaign to turn the spotlight on battery-farmed eggs that finally opened my eyes to the welfare of the animals I was eating. I was horrified to learn the grim truth about intensively-reared pigs squashed into tiny pens, living stressed, miserable lives before slaughter. I discovered the cruel treatment of dairy cows that have to calve every year to keep producing milk, the sores they develop on their udders, the culling of male calves at birth. Some of the websites are truly shocking with disturbing video footage enough to bring you to tears. Overfishing hit the headlines warning of popular species of fish being fished to extinction, the seas emptying of cod and tuna. As someone who loved to eat cheese, steak, tuna and had enjoyed many a full English breakfast at the weekend, I couldn't imagine life without eating dairy, meat and fish, but I knew I could no longer in all conscience keep buying factory-farmed meat or endangered fish. Free-range, sustainable and organic was the way to go. We went so far as to grow our own vegetables (with limited success) and we kept three chickens in the back garden who each laid an egg most days. Reading about food and what to eat almost became a daily obsession.
There are thousands upon thousands of articles about what to eat and what to avoid: pesticides in fruit and vegetables, bad fats, plastic leaching into food, mercury in fish, genetically modified food, processed food, the effects of gluten, red meat and dairy, salt, sugar, bleached flour, most of which either increase your chances of getting cancer or heart-attack or both. In 2005, the top 10 superfoods promising health benefits were still recognisable as food and relatively inexpensive: apples, baked beans, wholemeal bread, bananas, brazil nuts, olive oil, broccoli, salmon, green tea and yoghurt. Then more exotic, unfamiliar and expensive superfoods came along: spirulina, acai and goji berries, chia seeds, kombucha, even bee pollen and some of the original superfoods had fallen from favour.
Armed with all this information, you risk becoming a food snob or a food bore, and deciding what to eat becomes confusing at best. Summing up all I've learned I can safely say there is no clear-cut right or wrong answer that works for everyone, you have to make the best decisions you can about what you feed yourself based on your own beliefs and the information and resources you have.