Thursday, December 03, 2009

Food Meets Gym (or Food, Meats, Gym)

The movie Food, Inc. marks what was a turning point for me. The movie, while very good, wasn't shocking nor did it tell me anything new. Instead it was like the straw that finally broke the camel's back. It was the first drop that overflowed the cup. What is shocking to me is how much I like the resulting ring on life's coffee-table.

Since the movie I have changed some shopping habits. I'm simply buying more organic (biologisch) products and more whole foods and vegetables. And once home, I'm actually taking the time to cook proper meals with these great ingredients.

A few weeks ago I also added an "indoor bicycle trainer" to my sports equipment. It clamps the back wheel and allows me to ride my bike at home. At the end of the summer my outdoor riding stopped. By mid-November I had gained 2 kg and I wasn't pleased.

After three weeks I'm lighter by about 3 kg, and that's really nice. But there's much more going on than just weight loss!

The part that surprises me is that I'm exercising at a much higher intensity level than I thought I could do. Years of exercise have taught me my limits. For example, exercise the day after a karate class just isn't possible. Or is it? Indeed, I've been cycling every day while also attending karate regularly and weight lifting. And I suspect it is the food that is making it all possible.

Inflammation is normally the limiting factor, closely followed by pulled muscles. I've got some knee pain, some sore muscles, bad tendons; I'm not superman. But I know that I'm doing more than normal, and feeling less stress on my body.

Exercise is its own reward. This I know. But I'm learning that good eating is also. My motivations were largely principle-driven but the rewards are touching me in other ways. I honestly didn't expect to feel healthier. I didn't expect how much better my food tastes. And I certainly didn't expect to be able to exercise more while seeing both improvements and weight loss.

Is it partly mental, partly a placebo effect? Of course. That's the feedback mechanism. Small improvements in the body have big effects on health and happiness, which in turn motivates results and further small improvements.

What it means to me is that I'm about to hop on my bike for a while. For later, I'm considering hitting the weights then the grocery store. And while shopping, I'll be choosing whole foods and organic sources. Such a simple difference and yet the results are worth much more than I originally imagined.

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