One type of medicine that’s definitely worth taking

What if you read about a pill that could help to increase your:

  • metabolism
  • self-esteem
  • strength
  • mental abilities
  • physical performance
  • muscle mass, and also,
  • reduce your fat mass.

Would you take it?

Suppose you read further, and it did have a number of side effects, but they were all good. It too can improve:

  • how your cardiovascular system works, reducing your risk of heart disease
  • how your muscular system works, reducing your risk of diabetes, and
  • how your skeletal system works, reducing your risk of developing brittle bones later in life.

What’s more, this pill is perfectly natural, and doesn’t have to cost anything.

Now would you take it?

All the benefits of such a pill exist. They are found simply from doing resistance (weight) training.

Resistance training is not just for young men: everyone benefits. And resistance training doesn’t need to be done in a gym: squats, lunges and push ups are simple examples that can be done in the living room at home.

If you don’t do any resistance training now, what’s truly stopping you from starting as just a 15 minute practice once a week? If you don’t know how to, how can you find out from someone who does?

I think it’s interesting that we are waiting and hoping for a natural, affordable pill that will one day successfully deliver just one of these benefits, without the side effects.

The reality is, there is really no need to be waiting at all.

The truth hurts

But no matter how much the truth hurts, it always seems better than being lied to.

Yes, telling the truth is difficult, scary and risky.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing for us to do.

I forgive you

When we pause to truly think about and tell the story from the other’s perspective, we develop compassion and empathy, and all of a sudden, it’s hard not to forgive.

And when we practice forgiveness, we don’t just heal another. We also start the process of healing ourselves.

What “everything in moderation” really means

Yes, fruit contains sugar, and a high sugar intake can increase body weight.

But increasing fruit consumption to 2 serves a day enriches your diet with fibre, vitamins and antioxidants, reduces heart disease risk by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, decreases risk of early death by 12%, and does not actually lead to any weight gain.

Yes, grains contain carbohydrates, and a high carbohydrate intake may impair weight loss and lower good cholesterol, increasing heart disease risk.

But 40-50 grams of fibre-rich grains a day (only slightly more than 1 slice of wholemeal bread, or 1 bowl of oats) enriches your diet with vitamins, minerals, resistant starch and antioxidants, actually reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and bowel cancer, plus supports better weight management, too.

Yes, nuts are rich in calories, and reducing calories is the most important dietary factor for weight management. 

But just 30 grams of nuts a day (about 20 almonds, or 10 walnuts) provides unsaturated fats, fibre, phytochemicals and antioxidants, lowers risk of heart disease (by 30%) and diabetes (by 18%), and does not promote weight gain in any way.

Yes, dairy products usually contain saturated fat, which increases cholesterol and heart disease risk in comparison to unsaturated fats, and dairy increases prostate cancer risk too, particularly if more than 3 serves a day are consumed.

But about 2 serves of dairy a day (1 serve is 1 small tub of yoghurt, 2 slices of cheese or 1 glass of milk) is widely recommended as it provides calcium, protein, B vitamins and zinc, does not increase cardiovascular disease (it may actually reduces its risk, especially if fermented dairy foods are eaten, such as yoghurt and cheese), and may help to reduce body fat as part of a calorie-controlled diet, too.

Yes, red meat can increase bowel cancer risk, when 120g or more is consumed each day. 

But 120g of red meat (red meat includes beef, lamb and pork, and 120g is about the amount of 1 regular steak) consumed no more than 3-4 times a week provides easily absorbed iron, protein, zinc and B vitamins, does not increase heart disease risk when trimmed of visible fat, and, due to its impressive nutrient profile, may help with both weight management and meeting nutrient requirements on a calorie-controlled diet, positively affecting health.

Yes, coffee is rich in caffeine, which often leads to anxiety, insomnia and palpitations, in excess.

But 2-3 cups of coffee a day is not only safe for most adults, it reduces diabetes risk by 20%, and has no negative effects on long-term blood pressure or heart disease risk.

Yes, 2 or more standard drinks of alcohol a day increases blood pressure and the risk of oesophageal, bowel, liver, breast, prostate and pancreatic cancer, plus stroke and premature death.

But about 1 standard drink of alcohol on most days is not only safe, it is actually associated with a 29% reduced risk of heart disease compared to not drinking any alcohol at all.

Yes, confectionary and highly processed foods contain refined sugars, starches, salt, or saturated fat, directly contributing to poor health and lasting disease in excess.

But when no more than 500-1000kJ is consumed (500kJ is about 2 small scoops of ice cream, 6 small lollies or 1 small doughnut), it is not only compatible with healthy living, it can also provide you with satisfaction and joy, which quite ironically, in this way may actually reduce your likelihood of overeating calories and gaining weight and improve your immune functioning and physical health.

Notice, then, how it is the amount of food we eat, and not so much the food itself, that determines its health effect.

Whilst fad diets talk to us about good or bad and all or nothing, evidenced-based nutrition promotes the concepts of moderation and balance. It argues “everything in moderation” because it demonstrates that it is actually the amount that matters most.

The challenge today is how to separate fad diets from good nutrition, so that we have an informed understanding about where the healthiest ranges actually exist.

So to help make it slightly easier for you: in all my time spent reading the literature, never have I seen the healthiest range for a whole food group or major nutrient exist only at zero.

27 different ways to get a body that you love

  1. Eat less carbs
  2. Eat less fat
  3. Eat more carbs
  4. Eat more fat
  5. But just coconut fat
  6. Do quit sugar
  7. Actually, don’t quit sugar
  8. Just drink lemon juice
  9. And only eat cabbage soup
  10. Eat plenty of chocolate (of course)
  11. But only eat alkaline foods
  12. Eat meat, but never grains and legumes
  13. Eat grains and legumes, but never meat
  14. Exercise more
  15. Or don’t exercise at all
  16. Skip breakfast
  17. But never skip any meals
  18. Just go gluten-free
  19. And dairy-free, and nut-free
  20. Hey, what about some days going almost food-free
  21. Definitely don’t cook
  22. But do eat and cook like the Japanese
  23. Or maybe more like the French
  24. Count every calorie
  25. But because that’s too hard, count ProPoints instead
  26. Maybe it’s best to believe in miracles, or…
  27. Learn to love and accept your amazing body for exactly how it is.

Yes, the dieting industry is painfully inconsistent, unscientific, and, more often than not, damaging to our health and well-being.

The good news is you don’t actually have to follow along.

The single most important thing you can do for your happiness

Is to connect with others.

Connection is likely the most important factor of life satisfaction and emotional well-being.

When we connect with others:

  • we experience positive emotions such as joy, hope and love,
  • we grow as people,
  • our physical health improves,
  • we cultivate greater meaning and purpose within our lives, and
  • we do exactly the same for their lives, too.

I think that one of the biggest mistakes we can make is to spend all our time on work or the pursuit of greater status and power.

Because no matter what we achieve here, it still somehow finds a way to feel insignificant when compared to building a connection with the people we most care about.

7 beliefs that commonly lead to weight gain

  1. I should feel guilty when I eat something I shouldn’t have.
  2. Food is a good way to overcome loneliness or a bad mood.
  3. Eating healthily means I have to give up my favourite foods entirely.
  4. I simply cannot control my weight because I love to eat.
  5. It is punishment to eat certain foods like fruits and vegetables.
  6. I’ve blown my diet once I’ve eaten something bad.
  7. I need to eat the foods that I enjoy the taste of right now.

Our everyday beliefs about food impact our likelihood of gaining weight.

If eating well is a struggle, start by understanding and then changing the story that you are telling yourself.

The true you and the false you: which one are you?

The true you describes the version of yourself that you truly want to be.

It is driven by our hopes, our dreams, our values and our strengths, and brings excitement, energy and purpose into our lives.

The false you is someone else’s version of what your true you should be. It is an edited version that listened and conformed to both the social pressures and our desire to please.

One of the most important questions we can ever ask ourselves is this: which one are we?

Are we being the person that we really want to be, and chasing for the things that we really want to accomplish? Or are we compromising our deeper dreams and values for the ‘right’ or easy path?

Of course, being the true you involves fear, hard work and risk.

And of course, you have a choice.

But the magic about becoming the true you is that the energy, passion and excitement that arises propels you forward. You live with a sense of drive and deep self-satisfaction that remains, regardless of any successes or failures you may have.

And the problem with the alternative?

Is that eventually the day will come where you look back and regret all the time, energy and effort spent in the pursuit of dreams and expectations you were never really excited about.

Should you quit sugar?

As always, it’s your choice.

But whilst limiting our intake of high-sugar, nutrient-poor foods (like confectionary, soft drinks, biscuits and cakes) is obviously important for good health, there are 2 things to be aware of if you choose to quit sugar all together.

First, sugar doesn’t automatically make a food unhealthy. No one became overweight from a banana or an apple, and a small amount of added sugar to a nutritious food doesn’t suddenly make it bad. A teaspoon of sugar can help make the medicine go down.

Second, being low in sugar doesn’t automatically make a food healthy. After all, potato chips are low in sugar, and a sugar-free brownie is still a brownie.

Indeed, foods are an array of different fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and more. Their health effect is based on the combined role of each of these, not just the presence or absence of one.

Using a single nutrient can therefore play a role when comparing two otherwise similar foods, but never in judging the healthiness of a whole food or diet alone. 

This concept holds true for not just sugar, but for calories, carbohydrates, fat, fructose, glycemic index, protein, saturated fat and more.

Understand this, and you’ll understand why a lot of fad diets are indeed just fads.

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