40 Lessons in 40 Years

I just personally hit the big “4-0” recently and wanted to take some time to look back and observe what I have learned along the way. It’s actually a dual celebration as the IF Life also just turned 4 too (my first official post here was 2/20/08). Here are my “40 lessons in 40 years” (in no particular order…just as they came up in my head). Hope you enjoy!

  1. Building muscle is more about steady progression than quick gains (unless you are in a state of under-trained). There are people always looking how to build muscle in 12 weeks…and then those building it year after year slow and steady.
  2. I was never supplement “deficient”, only distracted from eating more “real foods”. A lesson that cost me $1000s on everything I bought up over the decades.
  3. Understanding hormesis allowed me to be aware of how the body can get stronger through small amounts of stress. It is the basis of why I do intermittent fasting/2 Meals, short intense “burst” workouts and enjoy more “down time” doing less.
  4. How my body handles stress and recovery is much different now than it was at 30…and certainly when I was 20. I’ve adapted my simple eating and lifestyle around it.
  5. Breakfast is a personal choice, but highly overrated.
  6. Chronic stress overload (too much exercise, mental worry, lack of recovery/sleep, low glycogen replenishment for liver/muscles) seems to be the dominant factor that can derail any attempts at using IF, and much overlooked until one really “burns out” (chronic cortisol, lowered testosterone, muscle loss, down-regulated thyroid, etc).
  7. The modern diet advice to eat more often (6 mini meals compared to 3 larger ones..and calories/nutrients are the same overall) has NOT been proven to speed up overall metabolism, control hunger better, nor have very good long term adherence for many.
  8. “Real” carbs aren’t evil, and I personally do better with more of them in my diet…however minimizing gluten is looking to be a good idea.
  9. Calorie restriction has always shown promise for increasing longevity, but seems miserable to do. Intermittent fasting appears to have many of the same benefits (and then some), without the added misery. I’ll take that option instead thank you very much.
  10. I move with resistance to challenge my muscles. I run to embrace power and speed. I walk to relax my mind and body. I stay “active”…I don’t do “cardio”.
  11. Put 10 “experts” in a room and you will get 10 different “opinions”. I don’t blindly follow any expert, just look for information to digest. Then the only truths I need to worry about are the ones I come to on my own terms.
  12. I picked a terrible business/marketing strategy by showing people to simply eat less, exercise without complexity, understand how it can work and not need to buy anything else in the process. If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t change a thing.
  13. Most everything I read about how to eat from fitness magazines growing up was “misleading”. I’m glad I eventually did my own research on how to just simplify it all.
  14. Less is more…well unless you are still doing all the wrong things.
  15. Eat to be healthy and have a high quality of life, not obsess over perfection, 6 packs or to live forever (which no one does).
  16. Eating less often was the greatest awareness tool in understanding and prioritizing what I was actually eating in the first place.
  17. If I ever told anyone they had to give up their morning cup of coffee/espresso…I apologize. I was confused and insane.
  18. The 2 Meals philosophy is just a simple eating plan, what you do eat (food choices/calories) and your lifestyle also matters.
  19. Unless you are a competitive athlete needing immediate glycogen replenishment for another workout in a few hours, the post workout shakes are not that vital.
  20. I’ve realized that I don’t need as much protein as I’ve have been “told”. Now I eat less but also focus on the quality of what I do eat.
  21. People are not overweight due to not going to the gym, and need to understand that. Simple exercise/movement and eating less happens wherever they are right now.
  22. If you want to show your children how to be healthy, teach them how to cook. If you want to show them how to be self sufficient and intelligent, teach them to question everything they hear.
  23. If you have time to watch a TV show, you have time to do pushups during commercials. It’s all a choice. Being “fit” is a lifestyle, and need not be that complicated.
  24. “I’ll start tomorrow” is the biggest disease most people really suffer from.
  25. I don’t like diet “labels” on how I eat…other than just eating “real food”. Nutrients…not calories.
  26. People who live long and healthy tend to have varied diets, many don’t exercise (other than being “active”) and some may even smoke/drink (not in excess)…but they all tend to be happy/smile, feel like they have a purpose each day and surround themselves with a good relationships/community support.
  27. I don’t worry about perfection in how I eat. Perfection is an illusion. In reality stuff happens. I move on with my “next best step”. No self guilt or looking back, just going forward.
  28. I train fasted to get the best responses from exercise (hormonal) and because it feels more natural. The benefits of exercise include stress-responses (hormesis at the mitochondria…or mitohormesis) to improve insulin sensitivity and natural defenses against harmful oxidative byproducts (ROS), something that supplementing with antioxidants seems to lower or negate.
  29. The word “detox diet” is more for marketing and supplement sales than understanding that your body is always detoxing.
  30. It’s more important to get in daily amounts of nutrients than worry about the timing of it all. The body seems to have ways of adjusting and compensating.
  31. The only real prevention is staying healthy in the first place. The extra money you spend now on good food may be a fraction of what it may cost you later on if you get really ill.
  32. Being happy is a daily exercise in just being detached, observant, compassionate and appreciative.
  33. N=1 (statistical sample group of 1). That means making any kind of eating plan is a personal journey for you. You can start from a “base” but it’s up to you to find what does work (and know what doesn’t in the process) as there are many individualistic factors.
  34. I’m a constant reductionist/minimalist test dummy. I find what works, then ask myself how I can make it even simpler.
  35. I’m not here to force my ideas on anyone or expect to save the world. I just want to present what I see as important facts and allow people to save themselves through understanding and awareness.
  36. The greatest thing an individual can do to make a difference is to vote with your fork and wallet. If you want to promote local food business, eat local. If you want more healthy choices, don’t spend money on crappy ones. The power of the spending habits of masses is where the big changes come from, and it all starts with one person at a time. We’re all in this together.
  37. “Playing” in nature is something I think our bodies crave and reward us for doing. Get out and get some more vitamin “N“. Less gyms, more playgrounds.
  38. I define 2 Meals (and IF) as: A choice to eat on your own terms. To not be a slave to dietary advice that complexes your life. To enjoy how and what you do eat without guilt or shame. To take your own journey for health without judgement. To dismiss anyone else as an expert that does not help you hear your own inner voice. To get on with living without becoming obsessed over eating. A simple and enjoyable (sustainable) way to just eat less.
  39. There is no final destination in your life, other than the absolute end. So learn to enjoy the journey, embrace change/challenges, and live in the moment…as that is all you ever really have.
  40. Eat less, move more, smile often.

To end it off, here are a few of my favorite quotes I’ve used on the IF Life:

Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own ~ Bruce Lee

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction ~ Albert Einstein

To rise at six, dine at ten, sup at six and go to bed at ten, makes a man live ten times ten.~ 16th Century Proverb

The deviation of man from the state in which he was originally placed by nature seems to have proved to him a prolific source of diseases ~ Edward Jenner

There’s lots of people in this world who spend so much time watching their health that they haven’t the time to enjoy it. ~ Josh Billings

Our life is frittered away by detail… Simplify, simplify, simplify!  Simplicity of life and elevation of purpose… We are happy in proportion to the things we can do without. ~ Henry David Thoreau

Do or do not, there is no try ~ Yoda

If you liked this post, you may also like my one from many years back called Trainer Tells All (many of the same insights).

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