In the past few months, I’ve reached the best shape I’ve ever been in. And I’ve still got plenty left to go. As I reach my late late 20s, (I’m officially over 27.5 years old now) I’ve become more thoughtful about my health. There have been many times when I’ve been told, “just wait until you turn 30”, which has been plaguing my mind recently. But you know what? Fuck them. When I’m 30, I will be even healthier than before.
So what have I been doing? And how am I improving?
To start, I’ve been avoiding seed oils where I can. Seed oil is high in omega-6 and having an imbalance between omega-3 and omega-6 levels is shown to cause inflammation. It’s no surprise that the rise in seed oils in our diets correlates with the rise in heart, kidney, liver and many more diseases. The problem is that seed oils are in almost everything. Whatever you eat, it likely contains sunflower oil, rapeseed oil or one of the many sinister seed oils there are out there. By paying attention to these nefarious oils, I’ve become conscious of the ingredients in my food. Rather than looking at the nutritional contents, I read the ingredients and asked myself, “should this have this many ingredients?” And by doing that, I’ve cut out most processed foods from my diet.
As a Brit, I’m exposed to alcohol everywhere. It’s part of our culture, and I used to be a fiend with it by often drinking a couple of pints a few nights a week. But now, I drink much less, and I’m on the road to cutting it out completely. The benefits are crazy. Not least the fact you save a lot of money here in London, but you also get better sleep, skin, concentration and more. The turning point was listening to a podcast with James Smith, an online PT, who said that he cut out alcohol because he enjoyed what he’d do in the mornings. Mornings he’d otherwise not get had he drank the night before. I have felt smug waking up, after sipping on lime and soda the previous evening, feeling fresh in the morning. It’s nice not having to drink poison to have a good time.
In July, I started doing Barry’s Bootcamp, a HIIT class that combines strength and treadmill training. At first, I could barely last on the treadmill. I’d often have to go on the slowest speeds, but slowly my cardio performance got much better. And now I notice my resting heart rate is lower (a measure of athleticism). I combine classes with gym training, with the gym accounting for most of my exercise. It’ll take a lot of convincing to believe cardio exercise is better than strength training, but it’s certainly better than no cardio.
None of these habits are ones I plan to drop anytime soon. I like the idea of doing health experiments, so here are a few I’m looking at:
- Daily ten-minute meditation to improve mindfulness and heart-rate variability
- Cold water swimming for conditioning and blood circulation
- Jiu-jitsu for mindfulness, cardio and self-defence
- Probiotics for gut health, we know so little about the gut apart from that it’s super important for our health
- Cutting caffeine so that my energy levels aren’t dependent on if I’ve had coffee or not
I’m unsure how these experiments will pan out. Meditation is something I’ve tried before and have struggled with. But that’s the beauty of experiments. Some work, and some don’t. If they make me feel even the slightest bit better, it’ll be worth it.