For a while now, I've been at a crossroads, and I don't think that I'm a lone - I should say I know I'm not. I watch as a parent keeps their child from eating the donut on the table of the coffee shop, only to replace it with an apple juice and then to start chugging down a froka-mocha-choka latte while eating a "whole grain" bran muffin.
For my entire life, I've been one of those people who was always very interested in and challenged by the health & wellness industry yet never applied - or was interested in applying - the principles that I sparingly learned.
My wife and I would go for a run or long hike and then run into Penn Station subs and grab a 6- or 8-inch sammy with bacon and plenty of meat. And fries, to boot. We would justify it and would even admit to people "We're those people who workout so that we can eat what we wanna eat - We're total foodies."
Meanwhile, the voice of my best friend Alex, was speaking into our lives and saying that this was an excuse because anyone can change or grow in any way and all we needed to do was to change our mindset about food. My reaction? I was defensive and cocky, shamelessly justifying our bad habits to Alex. But he was a true friend, and he told me that day something that I've heard 1000 times since then, "Matt, do you eat to live, or do you live to eat?"...I doubt if he remembers the exact moment, but I remember it well and have heard it repeated by many of our spiritual and business mentors in life.
Being that Alex was a personal trainer, I listened...or I thought that I did... I started applying the plethora of wives tales, addages, and truisms that I knew about dieting or living a healthy lifestyle. If you would have asked me I would have said that I had an everyday habit - But if you followed me around with a telephoto lense, you would've seen differently: Starbucks, Pizza, Wendy's, Five Guys, Gas station junk food, the free cake in the office...you get the picture.
I was essentially an opportunistic binge eater of the worst kind. We would soon learn another principle that was unavoidable, as much as I hated to admit it: EVERYTHING COUNTS. And just because you count everything doesn't mean that you're changing your habits and retraining your instincts and appetites. The snack before bed that you just have to have, the mass quantities of bread thoughtlessly consumed with a token fruit or vegetable added to soothe the conscience.
After a couple of years, I was 40 lbs heavier than the day that I met my wife on August 13, 2009. Nearly 200 lbs and proud of my running and eating habits still. I certainly better than I ever had before, which was likely held at bay by the quality supplements that I was taking, but inside my body was beginning to reap the consequences of my late night trysts with Pizza, Ice Cream, chips or even some "healthy snacks" that should've just been eaten earlier in the day.
It was just a few weeks ago that my brother-in-law Brian sent me a book that he had started reading a few weeks before that seemed to hold all the answers. I was 100% skeptical, but the proof is always in the puddin', and I know Brian has already experienced some pretty ridiculous results in the first couple weeks of changing his lifestyle. I'll let him reveal the true numbers upon completion, but it' seen amazing.
The book's title caught me by the brain "Eat to Live." I'm not all the way through it yet, but I wanted to take a moment to share it with the Interwebs and potentially change your life as ours has been changed, and will continue to change.
To edify the book without destroying its punch line, the questions that it answered were as follows:
1. How come I am exercising and "eating right" and still not losing weight?
2. Why do I eat better than everyone else and still have trouble balancing my weight?
3. Why does it seem perfectly healthy seeming people who eat right and exercise seem to be getting heart disease and cancer?
4. How can I avoid chasing every diet and trend and magical pill that pops up on my Facebook feed and truly live a healthier lifestyle?
5. What am I missing? What is my doctor missing?
6. What happened to the way that my elementary teacher taught to eat? Where did that food pyramid even come from?
7. Can I really afford to be healthy?
8. Will I be able to eat well and have palatable well balanced meals rich in nutrients AND flavor?
9. Do I have to be a vegetarian to have longevity of life?
10. Can I have cheat meals? What do they do to my long term health?
These are the days of having everything that you want in food every single day and still losing weight through your diet program. You may lose weight, lots of it in fact, but the question you should be asking yourself is "What will give me quality of life AND longevity of life so that I can leave a good example to my kids and grandkids?"
Please, if you're skeptical of the book, read the first couple of chapters and see if you can't put it down. That is exactly where I found myself, which is why I am sharing this before I've completed it. I think it will be a blessing to your long healthy life and will drastically change the way that you view food.
Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor, paid endorser, or "hype guy." Our family believes in results and truth, and if you have comments, positive or negative, either way please share.