After being in the Health and Fitness industry for nearly two decades I have consumed a lot of information and learning, which I will always continue to do, I love being able to make seemingly complicated information straight forward to provide answers and solutions for those that need it.
I specialize in what I call “healthy weight loss”.
Which I define by someone wanting to form a healthy long term lifestyle, knowing that trying to eat healthier and add movement are key to lose weight and along the way to improve their health and well being, now and to be able to maintain this for as long as they desire.
The end goal of many of my clients is not necessarily the beach body so to speak or be “lean and ripped” but to lose weight to look better to feel better, to increase self esteem, to fit better in clothes, to feel better wearing less in hot weather or on holiday, to feel more comfortable, more mobile, have more energy and just the piece of mind to know that the risk factors for so many lifestyle and being overweight related illnesses are low.
In relation to these particular objectives what ever the health and fitness question posed on whichever health and fitness subject and for what ever related goal, in the 18 years I have been doing this, there are is always one common denominator, there is always one link, one discerning common thing that binds all the information together…
Or to go further our genetic design.
Over time certainly in relation to my specialist subjects of weight loss and functional fitness, the more information there is, the more it seems to get over complicated.
In the last few decades as our lifestyles have changed we assume the human body evolves to some degree with this change.
Evolution however, does not happen that fast!
When we analyse a lot of the bodies unconscious decisions, they are primarily designed for short term survival.
However for example for most of us, how often are we having “fight or flight” moments? Unless we have a very dangerous job, or a perilous journey to work, it’s probably not a daily thing, yet it exists ready for life preservation.
We know being over weight or more specifically over fat is unhealthy, but if we adopt a bad lifestyle of consuming too many calories and moving too little and some could possibly say combined with bad genetics, one thing I have noticed is the body doesn’t cap body fat storage, instead seemingly continues storing body fat.
The main reason being that over the last x million years the human body has had to deal with food scarcity a lot more than the new phenomenon, certainly in the developed world of food over abundance, when it comes to our eating habits, until evolution kicks in and we all get used to continued abundance it will still be equipped and ready to survive shortage and scarcity.
When it comes to movement, we are designed to move a certain amount relative to our survival, movement previously meant foraging, hunting and escape from creatures that saw us as food, or defending ourselves for instance from other humans who quite fancied taking over our territories.
Fast forward to modern life and survival has now changed, which for a lot of us means being chained to a desk for many hours, travelling by sitting down, enjoying most of our down time relaxation by sitting down, eventually we can suffer posture related problems such as bad backs and general stiffness as the body starts to seize and mould itself into the position it finds itself in the most.
So not so long ago, gyms started to become mainstream, somewhere we could go to as some would say perform movement in an artificial environment, travel without going anywhere on a Treadmill or lift a weight for a short while, then put it back in the same place we found it!
But this was all a step in the right direction to a healthier lifestyle to counter balance our increasingly sedentary lifestyle the rest of the time.
From the beginning when it came to weight loss, we knew we needed to keep an eye on our eating habits.
At this time Fat was the enemy, because we focused on Calories and Fat had twice as many per gram as the other macro nutrients-Carbohydrate and Protein.
We were all lead to develop the belief that all Fats were bad for us and to be avoided if we cared about our health.
The obesity epidemic received more and more press, despite the fact that more and more of us, were trying to keep our nutrition habits in check, the epidemic continued to rise, even for those trying to be healthier, it seemed what we were doing wasn’t working very well.
I remember not so long ago a study being undertaken into exactly what we were eating, it turned out the number one ingredient we were consuming in the most amount turned out to be white flour.
I cup or 455 calories of white flour contains just over a gram of fat!
Could it be that we were over consuming something else?
In our over focus on limiting fat, we turned to the most abundant macro nutrient available – Carbohydrate.
Sugar (the simplest form of Carbohydrate) we had previously decided was OK to consume in large amounts, because it contained less calories than fat.
We all were consuming a high carbohydrate diet an athlete would be proud of! The problem was as our working life and life in general became more sedentary, most of us didn’t need this energy supply, so it was turned into stored energy or body fat, a surplus of energy we then wore on our bodies!
Food in general had become more manufactured and the manufactured stuff kept for longer and tended to taste very good!
Choice and sheer amount increased, in modern times it now isn’t about who knows the most that gets weight loss results but who has the greatest will power!
However if we are looking for the answers as to adopting a better lifestyle and losing weight we could do well to let history be our guide.
Compiled lists of the healthiest foods, also tend to be foods that are naturally occurring, and also would have been on the menu for our ancient ancestors to forage or even hunt for.
Our fuel and energy needs would have been met by consuming vegetation and some fruit, what ever we came across, for example even consuming copious amounts of this type of Carbohydrate would still make it hard to eat more fuel than was needed as vegetation is low in grams of carbohydrate, but incredibly nutritious!
All the foods foraged and hunted for would have contained all the Macro Nutrients – Carbohydrate, Fat and Protein, however these would have been natural, wholesome, vitamin and mineral rich sources.
We wouldn’t have excluded one of the food groups. Firstly because our ancestors didn’t have that luxury!
Secondly there was no need to fear these foods, there was no packaging and because everything was natural, no wondering what hidden or not so obvious ingredients had been added, so different types of foods would be consumed. For example vegetation a Carbohydrate that provided some energy and loads of vitamins and minerals, Fish that when it could be caught provided an amazing source of Protein and healthy Fat.
Movement before was pretty essential, it was a means of travel, the only was to get food or water for your self, or to escape from any serious threat.
Movement now is optional, how much we move is down to personal choice, our average day doesn’t contain much movement for most of us, unlike our ancestors who exercised more every day, but didn’t question wether it was keeping them healthy, it was just necessity.
However, if our goal is to lose weight or have a healthy functioning body then movement is a necessity for so many reasons!
A big reason our ancestors kept their weight in check better than we do today was lack of availability of the stuff that is bad for us!
Even a few generations ago, manufactured foods were not as mainstream as today and people had more manual work related jobs.
That is the problem for all of us, it’s hard to resist the temptation of food we know is bad for us in the long run, but just tastes amazing or makes us feel better better as soon as we’ve consumed it.
The problem is we can’t have a diet rich in junk food and keep our weight in check.
History gives us many answers, we were designed to eat a variety of healthy natural foods and perform a relative amount of movement.
I am asked, or it is presumed as a Fitness Professional, my nutrition is totally clean, actually it isn’t! I am only human and yes a lot of the unhealthy stuff just tastes too good to resist sometimes!
Here is the key though, the more I know, the more I learn and keep learning, the answer is to eat and move as we were designed as much as possible, but depending on our goal and will power, we just need to make sure that the amount and ratio of healthy, natural food we consume is higher than manufactured unhealthy food. I like the good old eighty twenty rule, eighty percent good, twenty percent not so good, so the balance is tipped in my favour.
The naysayers will point out it’s all well and good getting your answers from history and our ancestors and this is my favourite quote; “but they didn’t live very long!”
There were other reasons for this! Infant mortality was higher, we now have better medical advances, we don’t have to survive harsh weather conditions, I could go on!
So history provides us with all the answers to be a healthy weight and have a healthy functioning body, but the key isn’t necessarily having all the answers, it’s the will power and self discipline to integrate it into ones’ own ongoing healthy lifestyle, it is that that challenges to me keep providing constant relevant content for my email subscribers and those that follow my blog.
About Author:During my 17 years as a Personal Trainer I have helped thousands of people achieve their weight loss goals, because I specialise in functional fitness I have combined weight loss with helping people with posture related problems- post pregnancy, office workers and those that do a lot of driving.I am based in the UK and just started helping people online, through Information products and online weight loss coaching.
Copyright Ed Stride 2015. www.