This week off treatment has proven overall to be -meh-, not feeling as well as previous “off treatment” weeks. The following is far less of an update and far more of “this is Bob feeling decent but confined to the indoors and desiring to practice an hour of writing habit.” Some of you may be interested in reading introspection on nutrition and others may want to skip it. Thank you for even reading this far ; )
Where there is a diagnosis made of -any- range of health complications large or small, you hear a LOT about nutrition. I have always been a firm believer that what we put in our bodies is important, and sooner or later, is reflected in our health and performance. However, I have ascribed to and promoted the idea that we do not need specific and laborious diets or supplements if our habits and behaviors lead us to eat mostly non processed foods most of the time, and include a variety of plants.
I had not taken a supplement other than protein powder and (intermittently) creatine since my mid twenties. For well over 10 years I took no medication other than intermittent over-the-counter pain medications and one episode each of prednisone (disc herniation) and decongestants (noninfectious but stubborn ear pressure). So yeah, pretty healthy dude.
This was not always so. In my late teens through mid twenties, I would tightly control my diet as advised by the books, magazines, the dude working at the supplement store, AND scientific journals of the mid to late 90s. I read the International Journal of Sports Nutrition at breakfast and the American Journal of Nutrition at night. Yeah…ask my parents if you don’t believe it. : )
If that wasn’t enough, I had access to the veteran “bros” at no less than three gyms. One of them was a bodybuilder named Vance. I won’t list his last name, but that alone should have been a warning that my first exercise with him should have been CAUTION. For a span of 4 or more years, he had me convinced that contrary to the advice of my own family to use balance, a high carb, low fat diet, specific supplements, and a six day per week weight training and “cardio” schedule was THE key to being huge, ripped, and adding velocity to my fastball.
By my mid twenties, I finally realized the whole thing was not working nearly as well as suggested. With seven years of college and simply observing my own experience as well as many fellow athletes and gymrats, I gradually came out of it and improved my critical thinking skills. Scientific study slowly progressed, began showing the cracks in the old modeI. I developed personal relationships, worked under, and even trained with a handful of Slippery Rock professors who I truly respected as people and sources of valuable direction.
Amy and I married during the last year of college, and immediately afterward had a job, house, and desire to be active at our church. I lifted weights 4 days per week and played rec basketball twice per week. I trained a few high school basketball prospects under the supervision of coach and athletic director Kirk Smallwood at Harrisburg Highschool. Seeing a few of his guys gain the size they needed and a few others resolve their knee pain, he was the first person who wondered why I didn’t “do this as a job.”
Needless to say, my time and interest in reading about, much less practicing -any- type of diet plan flew out the door. Having a taste of actual “real world” non academic experience provided some much needed perspective about a lot of things.
*****It was liberating to actually experience that not only are many “diet” practices (even those focused on getting huge and jacked) unnecessary and unhelpful, but they were also detrimental to the physical and mental well being of myself and those around me. ***
More recently, I have only sporadically given attention to developments in nutrition, and have simply observed. My profession has afforded a unique and (nutritionally) unbiased opportunity of nearly 20 years of listening to the stories of like-minded others, their successes and failures, what methods and means helped and failed them. I have wrote little about the lessons of my own journey, but here are a few encouraging perspective, simplicity, and thankfulness regarding what we eat.
The Perspective Diet
Saying Little About Diet/Something About Diet
So many seemed to live by extremes, as if there were no options between the “standard American diet” of sugary drinks, daily fast food meals, and fried snacks and sweets -or- the latest fad specialty diet of zero carb, sugar, or other magic that is the answer to every malady. I strove to live by example what I (still) believed applies to the far majority of us. If we “eat like adults and not children” 80 to 90% of the time, get a reasonable amount of daily movement, and invest in body maintenance and repair, just 2 or 3 days of structured exercise per week, we would maintain good health and not have to be -so particular- about our diets.
Those beliefs “worked” for me for a long run. I know it has helped a handful of others. But of course there were gaps. Did I truly take my own advice? What actual science was I not aware of, or undervalued? In my current shoes, it’s extremely difficult NOT to practice hindsight, thinking long and hard about where, how, and why, a “very healthy” 43 year old suddenly comes down with aggressive cancer.