The lean glutton

Your body wants to eat a certain amount of food, so dieting and starving yourself doesn’t work because sooner or later, something’s gotta give. Unfortunately, because we’re surrounded by junk food these days, the odds are very good that your willpower will tap out right at the moment when you need it the most.

So, I take the opposite approach. I fill my belly with good food as often as possible to ensure that I never experience the kind of hunger that deludes me into thinking that garbage is tasty. And I really go for it. I pour olive oil onto my salad, eat a tablespoons of natural peanut or almond butter after every meal, and snack on carrots and hummus like there’s no tomorrow.

Everything in my fridge is strategically chosen to ensure that I experience maximum satisfaction with a minimal number of calories and little or no sugar. From the two greasy eggs (slowly-digested protein) and giant pile of beans (slowly-digested fiber) that I eat every morning to the salads swimming in olive oil that I have for lunch, to the dense yogurt I eat for dessert at night, all my food fills my belly and satisfies my soul.

If you fill up on healthy food there’ll be no room in your stomach or your life for garbage. Develop a monogamous relationship with healthy food and she’ll reward you with so much pleasure that you’ll never dally with the skanky whores of junk food.

Fish with chili-garlic aioli and avocado salad

People who think that eating healthy is difficult or expensive need to think again. See this delicious meal? I prepared it in about ten minutes for less than $5

Tastes as good as it looks

Making it was easy: I fried the fish with some olive oil for about five minutes on each side while I made the avocado salad. To make the avocado salad, I simply chopped up two avocados and one tomato and tossed* with olive oil, sea salt, and a few drops of balsamic vinegar. The chili-garlic aioli is just a tablespoon of mayonnaise mixed with Huy Fong sriracha sauce, available in any good grocery store.

Tilapia costs about $5/pound, and there is about a 1/4 pound on this plate.

I got the avocados at 5 for $1 at my local Mexican grocery. (Btw, never buy ripe avocados — they’ve been manhandled too much. Buy them when they’re hard and let them ripen on your counter. Putting them next to bananas will speed up the process, because of the ripening gas coming off the bananas).

The price of a tablespoon of mayonnaise and a tablespoon of sriracha sauce is negligible.

Total cost for two people (have a double portion if you’re single and hungry. It’s all healthy food):

Fish(1/2 lb): $2.50

Avocados(2): $.40

Tomatoes(1): $.25 or less

Mayonnaise: $.30 or less

Sriracha: $.25 or less

Total: $3.70

This even strikes me as a little on the extreme end of cheap, so let me clarify that I didn’t set out to make a really cheap dinner. I actually just threw this together from what I had on hand. And the point of this is not that you should eat only cheap food. Sometimes good food costs a little bit more, and it’s worth the expense.

No, the point of this is that eating delicious healthy meals is not complicated or time-consuming.

And a side benefit: does the picture above look like a meal that a girl would really appreciate? Of course it does. Women have more refined palates than we do, and they love to eat fresh food, tastefully prepared and presented. Learn to cook like this, and you’ll have them eating out of your hand.

And you’ll be a lot healthier, too.

Notes: Try to find a mayonnaise with no trans fats or added sugars. And if you’re unable to find Huy Fong sriracha sauce in your grocery store, you can get a sample pack for $8 plus shipping at Huy Fong’s Web-site.

*Toss, in the context of salad, means to stir around in a bowl. It does not require you to toss anything into the air.

 

Sleep is the first sacrament

The importance of a good night’s sleep really cannot be overstated. Nothing in your life will fall into place if you’re not well-rested. Think you can resist junk-food cravings when you’re sleep-deprived and cranky? Think again. Think you can be clever, witty, and charming if you’re exhausted? Not a chance.

“Beauty sleep” is not just for women. A study published by the British Medical Journal found that “sleep-deprived people appear less healthy, less attractive, and more tired compared with when they are well-rested”. (http://www.bmj.com/content/341/bmj.c6614.full.pdf#page=1&view=FitH)

And you’re less likely to make good decisions if you’re sleep-deprived. A study in the Journal of Neuroscience found that sleep-deprived people were more likely to make risky decisions. (http://www.jneurosci.org/content/31/10/3712.full.pdf#page=1&view=FitH)

So, knowing the importance of a good night’s sleep, how can we get it?

  1. Make it your number one priority. Realize that nothing else in your life is going to work correctly if you’re not well-rested. You are the means of production. Take care of your machine.
  2. Make it a habit. Go to bed at a consistent time every night.
  3. Make your environment conducive to restfulness. About an hour before I go to bed, I turn down all the lights in my house. It helps if you have dimmer switches, but if you don’t, just turn off the bright, overhead lights, and switch on a couple of soft lamps. This won’t do you much good if you go into the bathroom right before bed and get hit with a bright light, so put a soft light in there too. I also have an orange light bulb in the bedroom for when I want to read in bed, because I find that reading is a great way to fall asleep.
  4. Make yourself go to sleep. Ideally, you would lie in bed in the dark and just think about nothing until you pass out, but it’s really hard to just lie still and do nothing because we’re all so overstimulated these days, so here are some compromises:
    • Lie in the dark and listen to classical music or an audiobook. Nothing to exciting or stimulating
    • Read with a soft light. I’ve got an orange light bulb in my bedroom because it blocks the blue spectrum of light, which has been found to improve sleep (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071112143308.htm)
    • If you absolutely must be on the computer within an hour before your bedtime, download F.lux (http://stereopsis.com/flux/), which reduces, but does not block, the blue light coming from your monitor. It’s available for Linux, Mac, and Windows, and it’s free.

     

Sleep well and prosper.

You are what you eat repeatedly

“We are what we do repeatedly. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” — Aristotle

Who you are is determined by the millions of little choices you make everyday. If I perpetually go around acting like a total asshole and then make one charitable contribution per year or give a homeless person a handful of change once in a while, does that make me a nice guy? No. You become a nice guy by being nice every hour of every day.

The same is true for being lean and healthy. You can’t get lean and healthy by following a fad diet for two weeks and then eating garbage the rest of the year. You get lean and healthy by making the right decisions about what to put in your body every hour of every day.

Do the math: if you eat crap all year round and then go on a crash diet in January because you made a new year’s resolution to eat healthy, congratulations. You ate (sort-of) healthy 1/12th of the time. You’re 8% healthy, 92% fat-ass.

To be 100% healthy and lean, you’ve got to eat healthy 100% of the time.

Does the thought of eating nothing but healthy food fill you with dread? I used to feel the same way. This is because we have a lot of fake shit in our society that not only masquerades as food, but has the nerve to trumpet itself as healthy. You know it when you see labels like “low-fat” or “lite”. This stuff tastes worse than the garbage it’s meant to substitute. It’s full of sodium and sugar, which means that instead of satisfying you, it leaves you feeling empty and craving more junk.

What is healthy food, really? What I’m talking about here is real food, not processed junk. Real food tastes better and satisfies your body and soul in a way that junk food doesn’t. And, for the most part, it’s less calorically dense, so you can eat to abundance and never feel hungry while consuming fewer calories.

Other benefits of eating real food are:

1) Simplicity — Fad diets are complicated. Eating healthy every day is not. You don’t have to keep a food journal, count “net carbs”, or go to a support group every week.
2) Eat as much as you want. Real food makes you feel full and satisfied quicker than processed food does.
3) Better nutrition — Have you noticed that every week they discover a new vitamin, mineral, polyphenol, or antioxidant? If you’re eating processed food, you literally don’t know what you’re missing.
4) Better health — Increased energy, better moods, better sex, less frequent illness, better sleep.
5) Saves money — Eating out all the time is a gut-buster and a wallet buster. If you know how to cook your own food, you can save a ton of money.
6) You can indulge periodically without “wrecking your diet”. I’m not a Nazi or a vegan. I make exceptions to my eating habits, but only when it’s really worth it.

The catch is that you have to do it all the time. Every day. You must eat right as a matter of principle. This is not a quick fix. It’s a permanent lifestyle change. You must become the type of person who does not eat junk food. Which of these two sentences sounds more manly and confident?

1. “No thanks. I don’t eat that kind of stuff.”
2. “Oh that looks delicious but I can’t eat it — I’m on a diet this week.”