A life of weakness where one has allowed fitness and strength to deteriorate is difficult.
It could be a simple 5-20 minutes without equipment. It could be weight lifting for frail 96-year-olds: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/2342214/. These frail 90-somethings had 50% speed improvements in walking. They had strength and balance improvements, with just a simple 8 week lifting program.
We overcomplicate things, thinking we need 2 hours of strenuous depletion to get anywhere. We buy into the aging mythologies, the victim narratives, the “can’t” word choice. We obsess over scales. We hand over this prudent activity to “fanatics” alone. And as a consequence we opt to do little or nothing at all.
Strengthening keeps you capable. Lack of strengthening ensures you become incapable.
Lifting doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It just has to be. Without it, we find that organs, the brain, and the skeleton will deteriorate.
Improving strength is for all. It doesn’t belong to bodybuilders and athletes alone. It’s not flagrant exhibitionism. It’s conservative life insurance.
Fitness, strictly defined, is capacity. It’s not looks. Don’t let capacity get handed over to superficiality. Capacity isn’t superficial. Training capacity isn’t superfluous. It’s as or more important than saving for retirement, choosing the right health insurance coverage, and putting in the effort for your career. All of those actions we take with the well-founded belief there will be a future return on investment, which, in turn, gives us the capacity to do other things.
Somehow, basic maintenance of our temple has become de-prioritized such that it’s bookended as excessive leisure, despite the fact that “busy” people spend 10-20 times more time on entertainment. If we were to take just 2% of the time we spend on watching shows, games, etc., and allocate it toward a practice of strengthening, we could make a substantial impact on the health crisis in the developed world.
But we have to start with disabusing everyone of the false belief that strengthening is difficult or impossible or “for those types of people”. Strength is a skill. Practice however you can. That’s it. Really.
Take one minute for some bridges and squats. If the motivation strikes you, learn deadlift. Practice. That’s it. Keep it simple. Be consistent. Don’t get weak. Get less weak. That’s it. Really.
There are four chemical and biological truths to understand regarding how red meat cures heart disease:
1.) TMAO is a protective metabolite
2.) We make more when we experience more stress IN ORDER TO PROTECT US
3.) L-Carnitine is necessary for human life/makes TMAO; ergo, we will intuit to eat more IN ORDER TO PROTECT US
4.) Red meat is the L-Carnitine super food (contains the highest concentration)
TMAO is a healthy protective metabolite which combats several negative effects in the body. Without it, we would die. Primarily, we make it from the essential nutrient choline and a building block for healthy cell membranes called phosphatidylcholine. As an organism experiences increases in stressors or pressures, it makes more TMAO: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trimethylamine_N-oxide. We see this in a linear relationship in marine life. The greater the depth at which the creature lives in the ocean, the more TMAO it must produce to protect itself. Literally, there is more pressure on the animal. In order to make more TMAO to offset the effects of the great depth, obviously, the organism must eat more of the precursors which its body will use to make the TMAO.
Another pathway for TMAO synthesis is L-Carnitine, a beneficial amino acid derived from lysine: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnitine . L-Carnitine is used not only to make this life-saving TMAO, but also as a transport molecule to burn fat. As such, L-Carnitine DEficiency makes it very difficult to manage healthy energy balance in the body.
L-Carnitine consumption reduces all-cause mortality by 27%, irregular heart rhythm by 65%, and cardiac-related chest pain by 40%: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23597877/. There is some L-Carnitine in avocados and beans, more in dairy, fish and chicken, and the most in red meat. The role of L-Carnitine in plant life is currently less-understood; but researchers are working on it: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326084307_Physiology_of_L-carnitine_in_plants_in_light_of_the_knowledge_in_animals_and_microorganisms.
To be clear, when stress happens, the animal makes more TMAO. When the animal makes more TMAO, the animal will make/require more of the precursors which make the TMAO. In response, the animal will increase levels of L-Carnitine in tissue. Consequently, if it can, the animal will eat more foods which contain L-Carnitine.
You could flip logic upside down, throw away critical thinking, forget the proven biology, and propose that the causal relationship works like this:
For NO reason, an animal eats BAD foods which contain EVIL L-Carnitine, which forces the body to make DESTRUCTIVE TMAO, which CAUSES heart disease. Lol. There are actual paid scientists who’ve been proposing this for about 8 years. Clearly, they should’ve taken some courses in formal logic and critical thinking.
The precisely wrong way to look at these biochemical facts is to observe an overstressed animal, note that the animal defends itself by making more life-saving compounds, and then conclude that the compounds cause or create the stress, and THEN conclude that the foods the animal eats in order to protect itself cause the stress. That is faulty upside-down logic which ignores the known biological truths.
We can all see and agree that people who are experiencing too much stress will make more TMAO to offset the stress. But if we ignore the science and critical thinking, we can begin to believe that TMAO is the CAUSE of the stress. As we begin to confuse ourselves, it’s then very easy to conclude that L-Carnitine is BAD. As long as we forget the role of TMAO and L-Carnitine, we can use our ignorance to call them both BAD. And then it’s not a big jump to conclude that the L-Carnitine superfood (red meat) is also BAD.
Taking the same faulty logic, we would just as soon conclude that it’s the TMAO, and not the depth, that CAUSES a marine creature to experience more pressure. Stupidity.
It’s no longer sufficient to remind people that correlation doesn’t equal causation. We’ve come to a point where experts are paid to say the causal arrow is pointed the wrong direction entirely.
But each is productive or counter/unproductive toward a goal or purpose.
This is an essential truth. Using terms like “good” and “bad” toward eating is self-defeating, because it begins with a moral framework which invites us to vilify or heroize ourselves through nutrition. That’s the wrong approach. We are neither food heroes nor food villains. Rather, we are in a state of productivity or counter/un-productivity. We are in a state of empowerment or disempowerment. We are not made evil nor righteous through foods. But we utilize them to move toward or away from certain outcomes.
It’s not hair-splitting overture. A youth athlete who is very active and struggling to maintain or gain strength and size requires certain nutritional intake. She will need to be SUPER-sufficient (in excess) on a lot of different markers. That which is productive for her is almost precisely counterproductive for a rapid fat loss client. They may both need enough protein, fiber, vitamin and mineral intake. However, one must OVERdo on average; the other must UNDERdo on average. No food is inherently and always contextlessly good or bad for these two. Type, dosage, and timing of food matters, but in different ways for different goals in different people at different times.
Yes. There are some more-or-less universally true “goodnesses” we might seek in nutrition: nutrient density; unprocessed; sustainability considerations. But even these are slippery slopes toward excessive moralizing.
Is spinach good? What about for those allergic to it? What about canned? What about pesticide content? What about oxalic acid content? What about for people whose blood content of iron is already too high? What about when it has E. Coli? What if it causes the person GI irritation? What if the large farm which produces it uses more fossil fuel for their operation than your local beef farmer? What if the tiny plastic and tin cans for each 4 ounce serving of spinach produce millions of tons more waste material per pound of food than the 3lb pack of beef or the 400lbs bulk quarter cow purchased directly from a local farm?
“Good” or “bad” is too high of a marker. It’s too much for the human brain. It’s too grand. It’s too contentious. And it is folly. It reinforces lies which are tempting: WE are GOOD people; THEY are BAD people. And it’s also precisely why it fails. Always. The insistence on RIGHT or WRONG with regard to food and lifestyle is so egregiously and blatantly wrong. It entirely misses the important question: is this PROductive?
In repeated experiments, my blood chemistry worsens with plant-based eating. I wish I would’ve known this as a teen trying to understand my skin complexion. Now, it’s rather clear (no pun intended). Additionally, I’ve learned that my inflammatory markers worsen with a lot of plant food. My protective cholesterol drops. My non-protective rises. Conversely, when I emphasize animal-based nutrition, skin clears, energy improves, vitality benefits, and my lab values on blood draws optimize. Every. Single. Time. For 17 years.
Notice what I don’t say. I don’t say primal or paleo is GOOD. I don’t say plant-based eating is BAD. Those types of proclamations are woefully inadequate. The individual tolerates or thrives on vastly different approaches. Again, one question rings out: is it productive?
Is it? Is the food PROducing a desired outcome? Is it improving your prospects?
A practical line of thinking like this will never be popular, because it doesn’t capitalize on provocation. It sidesteps the guilt-shame spiral. It lionizes no one. It belittles no one. It just simply keeps returning us to the same pragmatism: is this PROductive?
People eating unproductively have a habit of telling us all how much “healthy and good food” they eat. Instead of focusing on the outcome, they’re intent on moralizing food, looking for a pat on the back or a moment of shame. This is entirely off the mark. Who cares about how “good” or “healthy” a food theoretically is, if it’s counterproductive in practical outcome? Steven Weinberg once quipped, "With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil - that takes religion." His note here would be well-taken applied to many things, especially nutrition. A food religion is what it takes for a “good eater” to have “bad outcomes.” A lot of people intently believe they’re eating GOOD food, despite no improvement in outcomes. That takes food religion, food dogma, food ideology, food politics.
We could just leave the moralizing aside altogether and merely emphasize productivity. In that framework, there is no good or bad food. There is merely one question: is this PROducing the desired outcome?
It takes three consecutive days of high compliance with activity and nutrition to knowingly enter a physical state of fat burn. Prior to that, you’re just cycling in and out of glycogen stores and blood sugar volatility.
Let’s say you get started on a Monday and you absolutely nail it Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. We can be confident that by Thursday you are actually reducing fat tissue. Then, people tend to slacken on Friday, Saturday, Sunday. So the cycle starts over. A relatively high compliance person is netting a single day of overt progress per week when they “buckle down.”
A minor reduction in rigor might happen on Monday or Thursday and land no fat loss for the week. Endurance and strength could be built. But no fat loss.
Then comes a birthday, a long weekend, Valentine’s Day, St. Paddy’s, spring break, taxes, Easter, etc.
By Fall, we’re back to “The Holidays.”
Thus, my encouragement is to gift yourself not JUST three days of strictness here and there, but a good long stretch. When we peer through a year, we soon find that there aren’t many spots for MANY three or more day stretches. Be mindful of that. Focus on getting more than three days per salvo, and many shots at that, not just a 4-12 week season after January 1st.