Health and fitness is a huge part of my life; in fact health and fitness is a huge part of everyone’s life. The problem is, people sometimes feel they have to put health and fitness into some special category, that it’s something they must do or one day will get around to doing. At its core, health and fitness simply is our daily being; our actions, habits, mainframes, outlook, efforts, that combined together, can be the difference between our success and failure. You don’t have to run a marathon before breakfast or lift the entire gym to achieve success, likewise eating one sugar cube or a slice of birthday cake won’t cause you to fail. I hope my view point inspires you to recalibrate your thought process and encourages you to begin or continue to take care, pride and respect of yourself throughout each moment of each day.
Throughout recent press interviews, I discovered how surprised people were in relation to my eating and fitness habits; I do not follow the common trend, although for many years I’ll admit I did. Most people assume that they know the basics of what one needs to do in order to get in shape; one must workout like a madman, for numerous hours at a time, day in and day out, eating only protein and never having fun. This is not true. The pressures that I had allowed to build up over the years in pursuit of my own fitness goals, had become so great that the margin of error was impossible to avoid and sooner or later I was destined for failure. I had become so focused on all the advice and tips that saturate the internet and fitness market I was desperate to latch onto something that would keep me from my inveitable failing.
In my task master manner, my mind had fixated on the constraints of fitness and not the liberation of health. I needed to find a balance and a way for it to be enjoyable and sustainable. I went back to the drawing board and started over. I did what has served me well in the past; I read, I studied, I tried, I failed, I learnt and did it all again. What I found was a concept that is age old but lay covered by all the new fads and trends; the concept was fasting.
The following isn’t about me preaching, nor is it about me trying to summarise the wealth of knowledge is out there in its many forms. I have set out below references to professionals that I have found to be hugely informative.
Fitness has always been important to me, and my ability to manipulate my physical appearance to portray a character is fundamental in the authenticity of my varying roles. In my most recent role, Samson was a man whose strength came from God, yet he suffered from the oppression of the Philistines in the giving of their harvest, resulting in constant hunger and starvation. If I was too big and bulky, the strength from God would be questionable, and the topic of starvation laughable. Samson had to be lean but powerful. The transition from Taylor to Samson was actually easy.
For most of my day, I fast. On average this fast lasts between 18-21 hours, but may be extended to 24-36-44 and even 120 which is my longest fast to date. Fasting is not starving, fasting is choosing not to eat in order to experience the mental, physical and spiritual benefits. Without diving too deep into the scientific process, when a person fasts their body goes through a process of autophagy. Autophagy is a natural regulated occurrence that allows the orderly degradation and recycling of cellular components. In layman’s terms, our cells create membranes that search, seek and destroy damaged worn out cells whilst gleaning the reusable sections for fuel and repair. Shorter still, it’s our own recycling set up.
For the purpose of enjoyment and sustainability, the inclusion of fasting into my lifestyle was one of my best decisions. Freeing myself of the pressures and constraints that had built up over time and allowing my body to do what it does naturally in the direction of positive, is incredible. Being liberated from the worry of “when and what and how much” to eat, I see things more clearly. On a daily basis, after I reap the benefits of fasting, I focus on the importance of nutrition; a balance of protein, fat, fruit and vegetables, always being mindful that “variety is the spice of life”.
With the correct fasting and nutritional foundations in place, the physical body is primed to be built.
I like to train six days per week; cardio on some days and resistance training on others. Over many years of trying various fitness methods, I have learned that to make fitness sustainable it must be enjoyable. For some this may mean the latest class or fitness trend, but for me this means traditional bodybuilding and steady state cardio. Admittedly, over the years, my training threshold and volume has increased so that each workout is somewhere between unpleasant and violently unpleasant but ultimately I love what I do.
Understanding that health and fitness is already a part of our lifestyle, and that one program does not fit all, I urge you to try and fail on discoveries formed from your own research and preferences. In doing so, while it may take longer than following the latest Instagram fad, it ensures that you succeed in attaining your optimal level of health and fitness.
For further reading, listening, watching.
Dr Eric Berg
Dr Jason Fung