Foundations of Good Health, Fitness and Physique

Good health, fitness and physique, realities for some, goals for others and for many it would seem just far-off dreams.

In fact you may be surprised to know these attributes are actually attainable by most people regardless of their current condition except in very extreme circumstances.

Let me make an important point right from the outset by stressing that there is no magic method for doing this in the long term. People looking for shortcuts and fad diets fall short of their goals or create problems for themselves in other areas of their health and well being.

The good news however is that if you are prepared to mentally set yourself to the task and are serious about achieving these goals then a methodical approach, some patience and a little bit of application will serve you well.

Continued progression and gradual but noticeable improvement also helps encourage you to continue for the long term. The decision to start down this path needs to be viewed not as a 'diet' but rather as a change of lifestyle, a change for the better, a permanent change.

The information given to you below is suprisingly not as widely known as it should be for the most part. In nations affected by the obesity epidemic governments are still very slow to saturate correct information to the public through their marketing machines. It is my belief that basic knowledge such as this should be pushed out there for FREE to people so they have the knowledge and power to help themselves.

This article is aimed at the average person wanting to know some solid basic truths, I will not go into too much technical detail but rather present information and techniques that can be used as guidelines for achieving your goals.

The Misinformation Minefield
Modern society is a media and internet minefield of misinformation, outdated thinking and unscrupulous marketers selling a variety of 'magic' solutions to those who are seeking help. Attitudes today are about easier and faster lifestyles, processed packaged foods, eating on the move and high levels of stress. The human body is tuned to eating basic unrefined foods where some work needs to be done to process the food into useful energy. Today's overabundance of easily attainable, highly refined foods and an increasing trend towards a sedentary lifestyle are the main reasons people become overweight and unfit.

The Fat Fallacy
I believe it is important to start by debunking the fat myths as this topic tends to be the one misunderstood by most people. Eating fat will not make you fat! DIETARY fat does not directly turn into BODY fat. Does this sound like it goes against what you have previously learned, or rather been told? If it does it is because it goes contrary to popular beliefs and even some outdated nutritional thinking. It is your body that controls how much fat you will store via the actions of hormones, specifically insulin and your body does not secrete insulin in response to fat laden foods. The food industry who have a share in the low fat / no fat market would like you to believe it will. Yes fat is an energy dense food, but a healthy body also needs certain amounts of fat for energy and essential nutrients, dietary fat is used by your body to help manufacture tissues and hormones. The simplistic approach of counting and cutting out the fat content in your diet will lead to your body missing out on important energy and nutrient sources. In fact a certain amount of fat in your diet can assist you in becoming leaner than if you had cut that fat out of your diet altogther.

The Importance of Dietary Fibre
Not only is fibre an important part of a balanced diet, it will also help to temper spikes in your blood sugar caused by your body's response to carbohydrates in varying degrees of refinement. In recent years it has been trendy to categorise foods according to their rating on the GI scale. While this is helpful if you happen to be a sufferer of diabetes, it is a very simplistic approach and does not take into account that foods when eaten together as a combination will temper the spike in blood sugar that would have occured if that food was eaten by itself. In very basic terms the less of a 'spike' the less chance of converting to storable body fat. Combining again with portions of meat and some healthy fat source will slow this even more, and again this is an excellent reason to remember to keep a balanced diet and not to follow any fad diets that promote cutting out sources of good nutrition.

The Official Auki Henry

The Sugar Complex
The above explanation of the importance of fibre makes a point that will help readers to understand the significance of this next one. Fruit is a necessary part of a healthy diet, if possible it should be consumed daily in moderation, however it is important to make a distinction between eating WHOLE FRUIT and drinking squeezed FRUIT JUICE. All fruit contains sugar, mostly in the form of fructose, whole fruit also contains a lot of fibre, as explained previously the presence of this fibre will temper the body's blood sugar reaction to the sugar content and therefore will not secrete so much insulin to regulate it. Fruit juice however is sugar rich, basically many pieces of fruit with all or most of the fibre removed, regardless of whether its freshly squeezed or re-constituted, the misconception people tend to make when validating drinking fruit juice at every meal is that it must be ok because it is 'natural sugar'. Here's the deal, sugar IS natural sugar, no matter what level of refinement it comes in. The body can use sugar in the form of glucose as immediate energy, excesses of glucose or other sugars however will be stored as lipids ( fat ). Put in the most simple context fruit sugars are fructose and need to be converted to glucose for use, the extra stage of this process will usually mean it will not be used as instant energy when the lifestyle of most people is taken into account and will then tend to be stored as fat. The lifestyle tip to remember here, eat whole fruit rather than processed fruit juice.

'Fad' is Bad
Don't fad/crash diet! Just don't. Fad diets tend to make wild promises about easy weightloss, obviously this is a huge temptation to anyone looking for a quick fix to their problems, it is also a huge mistake. If you are interested in losing weight seriously make changes to your lifestyle, long term ones. Ask yourself this; do you want to try to lose weight only to pile it on again (sometimes even more than before) after your diet is finished? Or would you like to change your lifestyle gradually so the new, leaner, fitter you is permanent and manageable? Marketers of fad diets will point to testimonials of fast weight loss and great results, with the standard disclaimer of 'results varying for individuals'. The truth of the matter is that while some will deliver a certain rate of weightloss it comes at a cost. I will use the well known Atkins 'diet' as an example. The Atkins method centres around the process of ketosis where a carbohydrate depleted metabolism attempts to use fats for its energy source, the initial rapid weightloss experienced by Atkins dieters is really a loss of water retention in the muscles due to depleted glycogen stores, further stages of weightloss include fat stores (albeit inefficiently) and also muscle wastage. The muscle wastage in itself hinders further fat metabolising as maintaining lean body muscle helps to boost your base metabolic rate, your body is also losing out on essential nutrients gained from other food sources that are left out of the diet. Statistically speaking it is reported that only around 1% of all fad dieters will actually achieve their goal and be able to maintain the levels they have reached. This is quite possibly due to exceptional circumstances in their physiological build rather than the merits of a diet that excludes so many foods that a healthy functioning human requires. If you are like me and do not like those odds, steer clear of the fad diets. Simply put, a diet which encourages you to cut out good sources of nutrition is not a healthy option.

Regime Versus Routine
I use these two words in a different context when it comes to exercise. An exercise regime can be a list of things you do to exercise, for example your gym program, your running schedule, days or times you go swimming, cycling or walking. This is a positive thing, every human needs to exercise. To see good results and to gain the most benefit, your regime should be varied, not just in exercise type but also intensity. This is where I will explain why in this context the word 'routine' can be less useful to your goals. The human body is an adaptable machine, when you exercise particular muscle groups the same way regularly they quickly become used to that and your body will begin to do that particular exercise more efficiently ie it will expend less energy doing it. If you repetetively do the same exercises the same way every time you will find that whether its fitness, strength or fatburning as your goal you will eventually reach a plateau in your gains. Varying the intensity of your workouts regularly is the key.

To Weigh or Not to Weigh?
This point is mostly a psychological helper. For the first couple of months of a new regime at least I normally recommend to people that they 'throw away the scales'(you dont physically have to throw them out, just pack them away 'out of sight out of mind'). If the objective is to get leaner or fitter, standard scales can be a mental hurdle to most and indeed one of the main reasons people will give up an otherwise promising regime. Weight is just one measurement out of many that will change if a body is in a state of flux, weight as a single measurement can also be deceiving as you may be gaining lean muscle weight at the same time as losing fat. Expect your body to change weight sometimes and not others, people who 'scale watch' tend to fail primarily because their body will at times level out on plateaus and they become disheartened watching their weight stay the same but not noticing their fitness increasing and their waistline decreasing. Gauging progress by weight alone can be the psychological hinderance that causes a person to give up their hard work under the false impression that they are not making gains.

The Spot Reduction Myth
I am approached quite regularly for advice on how to lose fat from specific body areas, the short sharp answer is 'You can't spot reduce'. This myth seems to be particularly leveraged by marketers who aim to get you to buy machines designed to 'tone' the abdominals or thighs, the truth is that while these machines may exercise the areas they target you will not see specific reductions in fat around those areas to get the 'toned' look the equipment is bought to achieve. Fat loss occurs uniformly over the body, if you want to lose fat from around the abs or thighs you need to have a total fat loss strategy to achieve it. The types of exercises that burn the most fat are those that stress the larger or compound muscle groups such as lifting weights or high intensity interval type cardio.

- Auki 


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