Get fat, sick, tired, out of shape, and overweight, really fast
(and how to also not to).
Sending a quick thank you to Dr. Cohen's son and PureClean Performance team member, Ethan Cohen, for writing us this very interesting guest article and also for sharing his story. Enjoy!
"I am not really supposed to be here". I am thinking this to myself now as I look out into that "classic" cloudy and cold Eastern European country side scenery. It's December, and I was supposed to go home back in early November. Why? I last-minute canceled my flight home to stay a bit longer for an unplanned Euro adventure with a someone new in my life (😉); so, yeah, I'm still here. And while I am grateful of having the extra time to go on more adventures, I'm still living out of my suitcase, still away from home, and still fighting the challenges of feeling like "being on the road". So, I'm writing this article to share with you what factors I have witnessed and experienced first hand that can contribute most to how someone (including myself) can become fat, sick, tired, out of shape, inflamed, and overweight, really fast. Let's dig in!
Yeah, this is probably my favorite photo of the "trip"! LMFAO 🥳🤣💪
FACTOR #1: SLEEP
Sleep I think is something a lot of people take for granted, for a variety of reasons, when it comes to health, fitness, and performance. While I have been in Europe traveling, I've slept probably on average 1.5 hours less with a moderate sleep quality. It may not seem like much, but over time this extra "stress" on the body can add up to some pretty ugly consequences. Even after just a few night's poor sleep I wake up feeling tired and stay tired, my recovery much is slower, workouts are not as good and more difficult, and my body is a lot more sluggish--even though I am in perfect health and in my 20's!
SIDE NOTE: The country I am in now is one of the most unhealthy countries in Europe and, guess what, they also are some of the most sleep deprived!
While it may seem more beneficial to wake up earlier and stay up longer because the longer you are up the more calories you burn (and get more done), it just doesn't work like that, at least for me. Not sleeping well makes me fat, sick (twice on this trip actually), more out of shape, and tired. I've even started to get food cravings for more calories and gained some weight, a scientifically proven side-effect. I've also noticed dark circles under my eyes, and go through the day with mild brain fog. My hand-eye and overall coordination (another symptom) slip slightly, too.
Why have I not been sleeping as well? New beds, I've lacked vitamin D exposure (super cloudy), had a unpredictable daily schedule, blue light exposure at night (I haven't been wearing my blue light blocking glasses as much as I should), new sleeping situations, not a dark room to sleep in (sleep mask helps), external noise, and stress.
Things that have helped me "block" against the negative consequences of sleep? Using FUNDAMINOS daily, taking a 20min nap during the day using the NuCalm system, staying physically active throughout the day as much as possible, taking computer breaks more than usual, eating a high protein diet and staying away from simple carbs and sugars as much as possible. Where I sleep now, the walls thin; so, for external noise, I wear headphones and play white noise. I also focus on my gut health and sleep relationship.
In the end, sleep really well, live and feel really well. Sleep really bad, have your efforts to be healthy and fit be like water coming out of a hole in a bucket. Did you also know that sleeping well even helps you start to lose weight, burn belly fat, boost immunity, improve performance, improve mood, and more instantly without even lifting a finger?
*do I look tired? :D ..and two bed time story like dreamy Euro photos.
FACTOR #2: DIET
The easiest thing to do when you are away from home and your "natural" environment (even if you are a health nut like me) is to eat less than perfectly. This can be for many reasons: lacking time for food preparation, too much effort in finding the right food and right food quality, limited to no availability of food, psychological reasons and stress, and so on. But, from my experience, you either let all the combination of lots of "little compromises" dig that hole deeper or you decide to make tactical sacrifices and stick to your guns.
Since leaving home, I've noticed my diet macronutrient ratio has changed given the availability of food. Many times I find myself eating more carbs; which isn't ideal but arguably okay if you are more physically active (it's NOT okay if your not active). I have also started to eat more wheat and gluten, simple carbs of which spike unhealthy insulin and promote fat and weight gain. Initially, I really didn't notice a difference eating wheat but it really does make me more hungry as well (not just for more wheat, but for like anything and wanting to snack more), even more tired. Check out this article on all the sneaky side-effects of wheat/gluten on your brain and body; wheat and high carb diets are also addicting.
Dairy is another thing I've been eating more giving that it's readily available and an easy filling source of protein and fat. The downside is that it is very easy to over eat, along with peanut butter, and it's supposably not as "healthy" as non-dairy products, like coconut yogurt (which does not exist here). Luckily, however, I have been able to avoid the worse inflammatory processed oils and meats, sodas (luckily I don't like) and foods fried in bleached white flours, which all also are important to consume if you'd like to become unhealthy real quick.
SIDE NOTE: Luckily for me, I know what a healthy diet is and have first hand experience how eating "bad/SAD foods" effects health, drastically. It's is the #2 most important thing after sleep for your health. In the country I am living now with some of the worst health in the EU, the average diet consists of nutrientless, empty caloric intake of simple carbohydrates (wheat, gains, potatoes), nutrientless vegetables (red pepper, celery, and lettuce), high amounts of fatty meat and pork consumption, and lots of high-calorie dairy product intake (cheese, sour cream, butter, etc.). Plus this with the heavy smoking and alcohol intake PLUS inactivity and poor sun exposure and you got yourself right there the walking dead; a very easy way to get sick, fat, and unhealthy real quick.
Food strategies I have used to help me "block" some of the negative consequences of not eating perfect? Always making sure to eat more protein. When I get hungry, I try to eat more protein because at least the negative effects is my over eating calories vs. over eating calories AND spiking blood sugar when eating carbs and sugar. Understanding the concepts behind glucose control for performance and health has also been helpful for me; so I eat the protein before carbs as much as possible. Eating as much lean protein. Protein the main part of every meal, a much much larger protein portion than the carbs. Protein, protein, protein! I also try to make as many meals as I can myself, using olive oil when cooking (high heat resistance and healthier), no to very little alcohol, and when in doubt eating more protein. :) Consistent use of DAILY DOSE and CHOCOBERRY have also helped me round of nutrient gaps; however, I ran out a few weeks ago (in place I am eating way more green veggies; which is okay for sometime but be careful of oxalates)
SIDE NOTE: I've realized it's really easy to get "used to" feeling great like it's normal with high quality supplements and sometimes it's even easier to question if they are really working. But, if you go ahead and abruptly substitute them for "typical options" (like I recently have because I have no other options), it's very easy to tell the normal stuff doesn't work. If you are also looking for a way to cut down on cravings and overeating, try some bitter foods or this butter coffee recipe: 1 scoop instant coffee (preferably with UNBEETABREW, but any variety if you don't have works): 1 large slice of butter, 2oz almond milk, 4oz boiling water.
Real quick, let's talk cooking. It may not sound like a big deal but using the right cook wear is important if you'd like to get sick, fat and overweight really fast. Make sure to only use non-stick pans laced with "forever chemicals" (toxic shit that NEVER leaves your body, EVER), copper, aluminum, and Teflon, plastic tea kettles and plastic bottles that leach cancer and hormones disrupting chemicals into the liquid, and plastic storage containers. Don't use glass or cast iron.
*BUMM candy bars are pretty easy to eat a lot of. So are the cakes in Budapest coffee houses. But I couldn't eat Marzipan Michael!
FACTOR #3: PHYSCIAL ACTIVITY
Not as big of a factor as you might think. Why? Well, 80% of your body composition (and arguably more when it comes to your health) is determined by what you put inside your body. That's right, you are what you eat; well, more like 80%. :) That's why I stressed eating more proteins and nutrient-dense foods above...
When you are on a "sightseeing, walking tour vacation", like I have been, it's actually really easy to stay active enough for health and longevity benefits and to counteract the negative effects of a less than ideal diet, like fat and weight gain. But now that I've since stopped touring and am back to work, getting at least 2 hours physical activity (it's a common amount among the habits of many blue zone centennials) becomes much more important. Granted, while I am still out of my normal routine and abroad, there is 1 simple thing I have noticed I've stopped doing that's made a pretty hidden big difference in my health, fitness, and weight...
I have stopped moving frequently and going for my 20-30 min morning and night walks. Big deal? Well, the benefits of frequent movement may be stronger than those of going to gym for an hour, as shown here. Plus less movement also equals less calories burned. And, while there are more factors that come into play when discussing calories in vs. calories out when it comes to weight gain (like food quality, insulin, hormones, eating more energy burning protein vs. fat gaining carbs, muscle mass of the person, etc.), if you consistently eat more calories than you use, that extra energy will get stored inside your body for future use and you'll put on some weight.
SIDE NOTE: Going for walking after eating meals is something you should not do if you want to be fat and unhealthy. Doing so lowers your blood sugar, increases life span, and helps you lose weight and fat. Do you need a gym to be fit? No. Could you go to the gym and still gain weight? Yes, especially if you are just doing LSD and low intensity cardio training. But, I'll repeat, if you want to get fat, out of shape, and unhealthy, remember to never get up a frequently move around.
Personally, I haven't gone to the gym once since I left my home gym. Have I lost fitness and strength from not using heavier weights, probably a little bit, but not very much. My secret to maintaining gains "on the road" is to keep motivated mentally and to use Blood Flow Resistance bands (along with FUNDAMINOS) during my strength training workouts (30 reps x 3 sets with 3 different muscle groups for both legs and upper body, 45 secs x 3 sets with 2 different core exercises). It takes about 45 mins-1 hour to do and allows me to "trick" my body into thinking it's lifting heavy weights plus extra growth hormone benefits. In these workouts, I use bodyweight, any type of weights I can find (rocks, buckets, chairs,) and resistance bands.
I do squats, step ups, and bridge dips or RDLs for lower body; push-ups, pull-ups or TRX rows and shoulder presses for upper body; planks and revere crunches for abs. I also throw in some calf raises and forearm gripping exercises for 5 mins at the end. As for cardio, I've found a nice steeper hill I can run up for 3 sets of 20 second sprints to flush out the unhealthy extra glycogen in my body and muscles, a mimic of the CAROL workout. Afterwards, I do some plyometrics and functional movements at a near by soccer field, maybe do a bit of dancing or shadow boxing. If I'm not doing the CAROL-like workout, I do TRX Tabata workouts (I perform jump squats with pullups holding the handles and/or something like a jump up in unison with a XC ski pull of the handles backwards for 20 secs x 10 secs rest 16 times). I always make sure to keep my cardio workouts under 1 hour to avoid decreasing my testosterone.
*hiking in Austria literally up a cliff, the hill I run up, and the soccer field.
FACTOR #4: LIFESTYLE
This is how we live our lives from moment to moment, day after day. It's our habits, actions and how we CHOOSE to live; how we style everything and every part of our lives. Lifestyle is such an important topic to hit upon if you want to become fat, sick, tired, out of shape, and overweight because you don't get there after 1 "unhealthy" day, but after that day repeats over and over for months. Do you take the stairs or elevator? Walk, bike or drive everywhere? Cook your own meals or eat fast food or the carb-rich easy meals when low on time? Do you eat while you work or can you stop for 10 minutes to focus on your food and destress? Do you sit in a chair all day, everyday? And so on...
How do you achieve a premium, healthy lifestyle? Just do it...most of the time.
SIDE NOTE: Try to focus on the superficial aspect of things if you want to fail at being healthy because this makes it the hardest and most tiring to do the right things. Never focus on intrinsic motivation and the sustainable natural rewards of living right.
*protein bar when short on time, taking the stairs, and fun, unplanned adventures, like going to a cave bath, are also important parts of a healthy lifestyle
FACTOR #5: RELATIONSHIPS
It's a lot easier to eat and live well if you surround yourself with other people who also eat a live well. In our relationships, on an individual, couple, group, community and world-wide level, it's important to seek and foster (very important) relationships that help support you and change you into the person you want to be. Naturally avoid the ones that feel like they are pulling you down and you have to constantly fight back to avoiding becoming the person you don't want to be. Relationships are complicated and have many interworking parts, but the power of relationships are ALWAYS very strong one way or another; so, you if you are feeling let down or struggling to achieve the goals you want, looking for new, better relationships (or perhaps relationship solutions) in your life might be just the ticket you need to go/be where you've always wanted. Not with just your loved ones, but also the relationships with your habits, your food, and your thoughts.
* two new friends I met, an old communist statue reminds me that things and relationships unable to change will eventually fall.
FACTOR #6: LACK OF RESOURCES
When it comes to becoming sick, unhealthy, and fat fast you will also need to lack resources. Namely, time, energy, access to physical supplies, money, and knowledge. Because if you do have these things, the the only variable standing in your way of ideal health and fitness is YOU. Sadly, however, many don't know how or are motivated enough to live healthy, or how easy and quick it can be make the right choices. Even when money and time are sparse, almost everyone can still eat and live healthy; it's the difference of probably a few dollars and a little bit of initial discomfort making some sacrifices to get the job done (exercise is free by the way). However, sometimes you literally just can't make the "right healthy choice" because the options are limited. And , at some times, it's easy to feel" trapped/forced" into making unhealthy choices.
*sunset in Lake Balaton, you cannot get this car made of plastic anymore, plenty of interesting finds in the Hungarian Natural Museum
FACTOR #7: HUMAN NATURE
A part of human nature is to do pleasurable things, stay away from pain and discomfort, accomplish tasks in the easiest and most efficient way possible, and not be in pain or discomfort. Even me, a super health nut, I fall victim to basic human nature. Like, there is this toxic plastic tea kettle I sometimes use where I am staying now vs. heating the water up in a pot on the stove just because it's easier. Sometimes I'll even procrastinate when I know I should do some exercise. I'll eat a sugary thing just because it's sitting out on the counter and was the easiest option. Driving instead of walking. Not saying no to myself to one more slice. And so on.
Yeah, I'm not perfect, and nor are you. But the best solution I have found to winning the battle against the "darker sides" of human nature in a society where we have lots of different competing choices to make at all times is to simply be aware of what you are doing and how it is impacting your health and fitness. And if you really care about yourself and others, you'll eventually find a way to change and do things a better way.
*if you haven't noticed by now, it's also human nature to take and share lots of selfies!
FACTOR #8: THE WORLD
It's clear, for many reasons, the health of both our planet and the billions of people on it collectively get worse everyday. It's clear the priorities of "our world" (the one we are dreaming up now, and the one we can also dream up again) are set in an unsustainable direction. It's clear we really need action. But where do we start, and where do we end if we want to make things better? 1 plate, 1 step, 1 heart, 1 mind, and 1 protein shake at a time, perhaps...what do you think?
*in the mountain of Pecs, cool rock formations, and sunset over Lake Balaton
NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: Thanks again, Ethan, for sharing! We think you've learned a lot from the doc! Why not also checkout the PureClean Performance story and philosophy. And how we've helped thousands reach their health and fitness goals (sometimes coming out on top against all odds) with our physician-designed longevity and health solutions and proven wellness, strength, and endurance boosting formulas.