02 Mar Eat Simply and Reclaim Your Energy: Skinny Bastard
I know what you’re thinking…”What on earth is Reading For Your Success doing posting a review on a book with a title like this?” How could that possibly be related to true health or success? Well, as my mom taught me early on not to judge a book by it’s cover, it took me a couple years but I finally got past this one. And I’m glad I did. The books written by Rory and Kim have turned out to be incredible wealths of information. Useful, empowering tools that can dramatically change the way you feel and look–as they have for me. Not to mention they’re about as entertaining as a nutrition book (or any book) can be.
After some deliberation, I decided to post the review. I wrote this based on having just read Skinny Bastard but it fits just as well for this book’s testy older sister, Skinny Bitch, too. They’re equals, just one for the ladies in your life and one for the guys. The message is the same (which I’ll get to in a minute). After reading them, I believe the Skinny books are one of the most useful and easy to digest books on health that I’ve seen. In Defense of Food takes the cake but these gals are a relatively close second.
They obviously chose these titles to ruffle some feathers–and you know what they say, it takes something out of the ordinary to really break a pattern. This book will likely disturb you, maybe even disgust you, but in an informative good way. It’s a very in your face way of saying something pretty simple–eat your fruits and veggies and stay away from just about everything else. That’s the skinny.
This approach to eating first hopped on my radar at a Tony Robbins Unleash The Power Within event. He spent one full 12-hour day dedicated to energy, health and vitality. After 30 years of research he found that the diet most consistent with high energy, low disease and longevity is one that involves nothing but whole grains, fruits and a lot of veggies, especially the leafy green type. After two more years of self study and a few personal experiments on my body, I must say the data is pretty compelling. And this is coming from a guy who didn’t use to be able to have a meal without some form of meat on my plate. I will spare you all the details for now but there is plenty of science behind this stuff both in the 1,000+ sources these girls cite and the books listed below.
“But what about getting enough protein??”
This is the first thing 99.9% of people ask in response to someone who labels themselves as a vegetarian or a vegan (which I am neither). If I had a nickle for every time I heard that, I’d be laying on a hammok in Tahiti somewhere. This was my major limiting belief before switching to mostly plants and I believe it is the biggest roadblock to sustainable eating for most folks. Guys especially are convinced that they need a ton of protein to get through life and especially if they want to pack on a bunch of muscle.
I couldn’t have agreed more. I was as skeptical as they come. So what did I do? I decided to test it. One of my goals last year was to put on a few pounds of muscle–5 to be exact. So I picked a pretty rigorous program, P90X. I did the full program–13 weeks straight (I highly recommend it by the way–perfect workout for at home too). But I decide that I wouldn’t eat any meat and next to no dairy during the program just to see what was possible.
I set out to gain 5 pounds of muscle, and at the end of week 13 I had put on 9.8! I was sold. Society has brainwashed us on this whole protein myth. Try it for yourself if you don’t believe it. And don’t worry, even if you stop your protein shakes and 20 oz of white chicken breast a day, you will still get your fair share of protein from all the things no one pays attention to–legumes, veggies and fruit. What are you afraid of anyway–suffering from protein deficiency? Have you ever even heard of that problem in our country?
If you’re stuggling with what “your plate after meat” will look like, take advantage of the dozens of delicious recipes in this book. You’ll never know the animal is even missing.
And if my little anecdote wasn’t enough, you would not believe the list of vegan olympians, pro athletes (including NFL players) and body builders that these girls list. There must be a full page. There is comfort in numbers–especially big, fit and strong ones.
Here are the main things to keep in mind:
1. Keep your food sources simple: Think about where most food and meat really comes from. It is scary if you ask yourself too many questions. If you can pull it from the ground, it’s not too hard to figure out where it came from. The graphic descriptions of the sources of some of our foods and meats will make your stomach churn.
2. Trust no one: We spend our lives reliant on others for health advice–doctors, commecials, FDA, food industry. Every one of these either has a huge conflict of interest or has little to no nutritional training. The only one to trust is yourself. Do your own research and know exactly what you’re putting in your body and where it come from. You’ll find whatever program you choose much easier to stick to if you understand what’s behind it.
3. Alkalinity=Health and Energy: The pH level in your body has a great deal to do with your health and energy levels. Your body thrives in an alkaline environment. Most fruits and veggies (especially leafy greens) are incredibly alkaline. Dairy and meats are very acidic. According to the studies, in an acid environment your cells retain fat to protect themselves from the acidity. Diseases and viruses also thrive in acidic environments. Why do you think most cancer patients are told to adopt a vegan diet?
4. Sugar is the devil: This shouldn’t be much of a surprise. The stuff jacks your body up like crazy and leads to a ton of health problems, not the least of which is major weight gain. Avoid added sugar (especially high-fructose corn syrup) whenever possible, and stick to the natural stuff like stevia, molasses, honey or agave nectar when you need a fix.
5. Don’t drown yourself in protein: I think this was covered plenty above. Ask yourself why you believe you need so much protein. Who taught you this? Have you ever tested whether or not it’s true?
6. Moderation in moderation: This is my favorite. While these girls are hard asses about what to put into your body, they spend plenty of time letting you know that everything in moderation is crucial. Including moderation. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t follow everything perfectly–no matter what you’re tackling, life’s just not that fun when you totally stick to the rules. When in doubt, just adopt Pareto’s famous 80/20 rule. Do what you know is right for your body 80% of the time and the other 20% just go with the flow. Before you know it you’ll be so accustomed to and enjoying that 80% lifestyle, that it will become the norm and flow of the rest of it.
So what do you say you take the time to explore your body a bit? It’s our most magnificent and powerful tool. When nourished properly it can be unstoppable. Test some things out and let me know what you learn. And of course, moderate your moderation.
What have you learned while exploring a mostly-plant diet? What surprised you? How did you feel? Share a fun story (or recipe) with us.
~Reading for Your Success
Other books and articles you might enjoy:
- In Defense of Food
- Eating Our Way to Death, Literally
- The pH Miracle for Weight Loss
- Skinny Bitch
- The China Study
- Food Rules
- Your Bodies Many Cries for Water
- The Omnivore’s Dilemma