I’m writing this for myself. Or at least people who think like me. This is for people who want to be the very best version of themselves. Those willing to step outside their comfort zone and try something new. People who understand there is happiness in knowledge and joy in progression. I’m writing this for people who want to be healthier.
Currently (Aug 2014) I am 25 ish years old, my wife Jessica, our daughter Dorothy Seven, and I live in Provo, Utah where I play soccer for Brigham Young University and run my own business, Scan, a mobile software company that my friends and I started when when I was a Freshman.
I was born in Utah as the 5th of 6 kids. Our father was an orthodontist which maybe explains why our home never had candy except for the disgusting black licorice kept in his office cabinets. Whenever the opportunity presented itself (friends’ homes, bike rides to the gas station, read-a-thons) I would splurge on sweets. Grape soda was my favorite soft drink and Peachie O’s were my favorite candy. Oh, and I believed Sunny D was actually orange juice.
My progression towards my healthier self began when I was 12 years old. My soccer coach, David G Woolley, challenged me to stop drinking soda for 21 days. I accepted his challenge and successfully completed the full 21 days. I didn’t really see much of a difference in my energy or health so on day 22 I bought my usual can of grape soda. The carbonation burned my throat! I couldn’t even finish the can. It’s been more than 10 years since, and to this day I still haven’t taken another sip of a carbonated beverage. 21 days wasn’t long enough to see extreme changes, but it was long enough to form a healthy habit. And it is our healthy daily habits that result in long term benefits.
Since then, I’ve become addicted to that feeling of healthy progression and energy. I love pushing my body to feel and look better. I’ll try anything if you tell me it’s healthy. That’s why I switched to a vegan protein shake. That’s why I eat my oranges whole. That’s why I brought a Magic Bullet with us to the delivery room for the placenta (don’t worry..I chickened out when I saw the nurse’s face).
I’ve continued to experiment in the progression of my health by subtracting something unhealthy from my diet for a few weeks, or by adding something healthy. Sometimes there’s no effect but most of the time, I’ll see/feel both short term and long term benefits. It’s those benefits that keep me going and make the decision to eat clean easier and easier.
7 REASONS I CHOOSE TO EAT HEALTHILY
– Youth : I reeaally enjoy being young and I want to capture and maintain as much of my youth as possible.
– Ability/Performance : I currently play collegiate soccer for BYU. Of course, there are 100 things that influence my performance on the field and diet is just 1 of them. But it is 1 that I have complete control over. I don’t spend hours every day on the practice field just so I can throw it all away on worthless food.
– Freedom : Many people tell me it’s better to eat whatever you feel like and just be “free”. But, how free is a person who needs to take a breather after walking up a flight of stairs? How free is a person who needs to nap after a hefty cheesy pasta lunch? How free is a person who can’t wake up in the morning without their cup of caffein? My healthy diet includes no addictions or undesired dependencies. That is freedom.
– Looks : There are endless cosmetic reasons to eat healthily. Inside and out. Skin, teeth, hair, body shape, and more. You can spend hours at the gym but eating unhealthily will only mask your hard work. You can buy expensive teeth whitening formulas, or you can remove coffee and carbonated drinks from your diet. You can spend money on skin and facial creams, or you can add youth and health to your skin from the inside by eating fresh produce.
– Energy : This is a big one for me. There is so much I want to do every day and that doesn’t include sleeping in. For me, healthy energy doesn’t just mean being able to exercise for a long time or work long hours, but also having a clear, attentive mind and just feeling alive, inside and out.
– Spiritual Health : As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon), I follow a divine law of health called The Word of Wisdom. Just like we all have our physical and mental health, I believe we also have our spiritual health. I believe that all 3 of these highly depend on what we do/don’t put into our bodies. I don’t know how else to explain it other than when I’m eating healthily, I literally feel lighter, happier, and cleaner.
– Gratitude : I believe our bodies are a gift from God. I’m very grateful to have a healthy, able body and I believe the best way to fulfill my gratitude is to take care of my body and help it reach its full potential.
THE NUTRITION GRADIENT – MY PERSONAL GUIDE TO A HEALTHIER DIET
A friend challenged me to design something that would explain my nutritional diet to help him make better eating decisions. This is what I’ve created : The Nutrition Gradient
The laws of a healthy diet are not black and white. That’s why I designed the Nutrition Gradient as a colorful progression from worst to bad to good to better to best. Using this chart is simple : anytime you eat, do your best to choose foods with the most nutrients. Because that is what healthy eating is, a choice. And our choices should be focused around nutrients.
The Nutrition Gradient is laid out in a simple progressive chart. The far right (green) includes nutrient rich foods in their natural, virgin states as nature intended. The far left (red) is the complete opposite, man’s attempt to recreate, replace, or artificially enhance natural nutrients. Here are some insights from each level of the Nutrition Gradient:
The green area is where you will find the healthiest foods. Some of the unifying traits of these foods include : uncooked, not processed, no preservatives, organic/natural, and of course nutrient rich. Juicing is a great way to include fresh, uncooked produce into your diet. Whether part of a total juice cleanse, or just part of your daily diet.
Some of my favorite foods in this area are fresh berries, avocado, watermelon, peaches, green juices (kale, spinach, and other greens), almonds, coconut, bananas, and carrots.
As soon as you even lightly steam vegetables, you can begin to lose live enzymes and other important nutrients. Foods in this zone are still be very healthy.
Some of my favorite foods in this area are eggs, acai bowls, sweet potatoes, grilled or steamed vegetables, sushi and other seafood.
The orange zone is full of “convenient foods”. Today’s culture loves these foods because they are cheap, fast, and super pleasing to our taste buds. Unfortunately, these foods have been preserved and processed leaving them with little to no nutrients. These food are useless and most often harmful to our bodies. More harmful than we are aware.
I do my best to avoid foods in this area including fast food, chips, candy, and other junk food.
The red zone is for man-made alcohol, drugs, and medications. I definitely understand the importance of Western medications, BUT, I personally feel that they are waaay too overused. In too many cases, I think we try to use man-made medications to replace God-created cures. Instead of drinking adequate water and getting proper nutrition to make a headache go away, we are way too quick to reach for the Ibuprofen. Soar throat? What has God placed on the earth as a natural cure and what has man created to mask it? Most of Western medicine is just a mask and not a cure at the source.
What breaks my heart the most is when I see people taking one medication to help mask the side effects of another medication! Next time your doctor prescribes you some medication for an illness you should ask yourself 2 questions : 1) Will this medication cause me additional problems or side effects? 2) Is there a more natural remedy I could try first?
WHY NUTRIENTS MATTER
When it comes to diet, your body has 2 main functions :
1) Absorb the nutrients needed to be healthy.
2) Dispose of harmful or unnecessary substances.
For this reason, it is more important to eat healthily than it is to not eat junk food. Believe me it makes sense : ) For example, if your breakfast is packed with nutritious foods like fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts and healthy granola and then you also have an unhealthy muffin, then your body will 1) receive all the nutrients needed from the good foods which will then allow it to (2) dispose of the muffin and everything else unnecessary. Without those nutritious foods, your body will literally be deprived and starving for nutrition and as a result will store anything and everything you eat, including that unhealthy muffin. It will continue to save and store those foods until it receives the nutrients it really needs. This is a key principle for unwanted weight gain.
Start observing your food throughout the day and see how much of each meal contains fresh, uncooked, nutrient-rich foods. Make it your goal to have over 50% of each meal rich in nutrients. That way your body can comfortably dispose of everything else.
LOSE WEIGHT BY EATING MORE NUTRIENTS (LESS SUGAR!!)
This simple principle explains why eating healthy, light meals can be very filling, while big, heavy fatty dishes often leave you wanting more and more. MSG, unhealthy fats, and sugars literally act as drugs that tell your mind you are still hungry and your body needs more.
People assume the most basic way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you partake. But actually, for long term healthy weight loss, the better approach is to avoid sugar and other processed foods and give your body the nutrients needed so it can shed everything else that it has been holding on to.
3 SIMPLE STEPS TO GET STARTED
1 – NO Sugar : sugar is addictive and is the root cause for so many illnesses, weight gain, and mental issues.
2 – Focus on the GOODS : There’s endless bad foods to avoid, but try and focus on the GOOD stuff. Here’s a long list of the best stuff for you : THE GOOD STUFF
3 – Learn Your Body : Every body is different. How 1 diet works for you will be different than how it works for your sister, your best friend, and your parents. We all have unique reactions and intolerances to specific foods. That’s why it’s so important to listen to your body.
If you want to take it to the next level and reeeaaally get to know your body, you can actually get your blood tested to specifically learn which foods your body has high and low intolerances for. These tests can tell you which chemicals or foods are causing inflammation or weight gain and which are not. There are a few different ones. Here are 2 of the best :
ALCAT Test : http://goo.gl/x3jcXK
Alletess Test : http://foodallergy.com/tests.html
MY CURRENT STATUS
My current health goal and personal challenge is putting on muscle in a healthy and natural way for both performance and looks. I’m currently 6 ft tall, 155 lbs, and 7% body fat. I’m excited and interested to see what my body is capable of when I put in some serious hard work and eat as clean as I possibly can. I’m still researching and putting together my plan but it will mostly be using vegan proteins, tapering 6 meals a day from big to small, and then working insanely hard at the gym every day.
Health has most definitely become an addiction for me. I can’t live without it ; ) But really, it’s fun to see what the body is capable of at its finest. I love progression and trying new things. If you have any favorite tips, foods, or practices that I can try PLEASE let me know! Hit me up on Twitter, email, or on Instagram.
****MY BEST LINKS AND SOURCES*****
Here are some links to things mentioned above and other favorite health sources:
GOOD FOODS (there’s a TON of bad food out there. Here’s a long list of the good stuff.)
David G Wooley (my youth soccer coach, author, and health expert)
PH Miracle (introduced to me by David G Wooley)
Hungry for Change (my favorite health documentary. Find it on NETFLIX)
Jamie Oliver (celebrity chef on a mission to change public school diets)
The Schwarzbein Principle (what I’m currently looking into)
Bulletproof and the Upgraded Self (my daily health podcast)