Everyone has an opinion on diet and exercise it seems, and it so happens I have some of my own; so after having shared some opinions on spirituality, why not diet and exercise too? I’ll start with diet. Some diets are much healthier for you than others, but the truth is any diet that gives you all the macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) and is consumed in the quantities needed to put you at the weight where you look your best is adequate. In practice if you’re trying to lose weight (the goal of the vast majority of dieters today) all you really need to do is eat what you like but less of it.
There are wrinkles to this good old “calories in, calories out” method, such as the fact your diet influences your metabolism, and thus your “calories out” rate, but brute-force reductions in calories, if sufficiently drastic, always work to take the weight off. You might end up feeling hungry a lot, so seeking out low-calorie but highly-filling foods might be a good idea.
A (mostly) Paleolithic Diet rich in Fat and Meat
If you want to optimize it further, you should eat foods rich in nutrients, that are less-processed, and that human beings are designed to eat. This is more or less the Paleo diet, whose central claim is obviously correct, at least as a general rule; coffee, chocolate, tea, red wine, and (if you’re lactose tolerant) milk, cheese, and butter are very good for you, despite not being present in the ancestral environment. On the other hand dropping refined grains for whole grains or, better yet, nuts and seeds is a good idea. Your diet should also be heavy on meat, comprising most (but by no means all) of the calories you eat.
Your diet should also be high in fat; fat nourishes the brain and the nervous system, which is of paramount importance, as evidenced by humans being the only species that sees subcutaneous fat as sexually attractive. A woman with a lot of fat in all the right places, a voluptuous beauty, is a woman who will give a baby plenty of brain-nourishing fat; the same principle, that fat is good, applies to adult brains too.
The Ketogenic Diet: not worth the Hype
Some take high-fat diets to an extreme with the ketogenic diet, which reduces carbohydrates down to a minimum and forces the body to burn fats for energy, i.e. “ketosis”; originally discovered in the 1920s as (of all things) an effective treatment for children with epilepsy, it has in recent years become a fad diet. Some swear by it, and for all I know might have peculiar physiologies that respond well to it, but in general it doesn’t seem any more effective than comparable non-ketogenic diets. Worse yet, it often disrupts women’s menstrual cycles, never a good sign, and has other deleterious health effects. No surprise for a diet that’s so restrictive fruits, a food group hunter-gatherers eat all the time, have to be largely cut out. That’s not how humans are designed to eat.
A good diet will keep you healthy and at the level of fat needed to look your best, but what about fitness? That’s another key part of your health, and that demands exercise. So what kind of exercise?
Less Cardio, More Dance!
The perennial debate is between cardio versus strength training, and strength training is honestly the better of the two. Building muscle makes you fitter and stronger and changes your body so you burn more calories all the time. Cardio’s calorie-burning is often touted, but you can get the same net effect for much less work by just eating less. Cardio offers other benefits, and people should get a variety of exercise, but I can’t help but think one’s regimen should be biased toward building strength.
Cultivating a fine level of control and discipline over one’s own body should also be a focus, as should greater flexibility. Ideally I would think a form of exercise that engages the whole body relatively evenly would be best for health. Most importantly of all, exercise ideally would be fun, would be social, and would permit you to express yourself creatively.
I’m referring, of course, to dance. Being a ballroom dancer myself might bias me, but it really is the best form of exercise, along with the other creative and social physical disciplines. When you move in time with music you forget your troubles, you forget your body’s exertions, you forget the chore of exercise, and you start to just have fun and express yourself artistically, unifying body and mind in one ecstatic ritual.
Strength through Dance
Dance isn’t normally optimized for strength training, but many dance moves, particularly those used in show dance routines, exist that require exertion against one’s own body weight, which corresponds to body-weight strength training. More straightforwardly, lifting up or putting down your dance partner involves lifting or supporting at least a hundred pounds or so, which is a heavy enough weight for anybody to build strength with. In general, dances that involve going down to the floor to do moves there, jumping up and down, and lifting or dipping your partner will serve as surprisingly good strength training. The more acrobatic the moves are the better.
Dance is ideal for building discipline over your body, and when combined with flexibility training, e.g. yoga (as an aside, there apparently are blends of dance and yoga that are currently rising in popularity) or gymnastics, could serve as the basis for a thoroughly comprehensive exercise program to build any kind or level of fitness one desires, while making yourself look beautiful in the process; far better than conventional exercise in the gym.
Admittedly this isn’t always practical, and some people just don’t like to dance that much or that intensely. Such people can e.g. pursue a sport; there’s no shame in preferring a e.g. a football field to a dance studio. But it seems dancing is a lot more popular than running on treadmills or lifting barbells, yet the latter are the standard forms of exercise instead of the former. Weird. Maybe if people thought of lifting others and being lifted up on dance floors to heart-pumping music and creative choreography when they thought of “exercise” the concept would be a lot more popular.
I would add that ideally all this dancing, yoga, and gymnastics would be performed outside in fresh air and illuminated by the natural light of the sky and sun.
Strength through Lovemaking: the ultimate physical Discipline?
Closely related is the art of lovemaking. Kylie Jenner (of all people) counts the calories she burns from sex, and for good reason: sex had by typical people today counts as moderate exercise! Not bad considering how unathletic most people’s lovemaking technique is. More acrobatic sex positions that demand, as in dance, one or the other partner be held up, resist their own body weight, or be lifted or dipped burn a lot more calories and build a lot more strength than normal. If you have such sex for perhaps an hour a day a few days a week that could serve as a high-quality workout routine!
More speculatively, ideally this all would be combined, with the athletic dance, yoga, and gymnastics accomplished while intensely making love and having sex for hours a day every day in fresh air and natural light. Sounds like some erotic pornographic fantasy, and perhaps it is, but the libido required can be worked up to if your playmate is actually attractive and seductive, and the actual intercourse need not take place in full public view anyway (such outdoor studios would need to provide private alcoves, perhaps via curtains). It’s one of my more out-there ideas, but it seriously sounds like a lot of fun.
Putting it all together!
This perhaps could be coupled with integrating dance and music into the rest of the day as well. One’s every walk and run could be a dance in time to music, either ambient from the environment or through headphones. Even when standing you can still move your whole body to some extent; I’m thinking standing desks would be good for swinging those hips and doing stretches in time with some slow relaxing music while doing desk work (physical work could obviously be done rhythmically, a very old technique). Even when sitting or lying down you can still move your body to a rhythm to some extent, even just breathing in time with the ambient melodies. The latter would be especially helpful for massages, which one would ideally get (and perhaps give) every day for optimum health, where the masseur would work on your body in time with the music, a dance of arms and hands sending you to blissful relaxation.
Admittedly that might be a bit much, dancing literally all day every day, just in different forms, but it does illustrate the extent of what’s possible. I’m a dancer and I don’t even remotely approach this in my own life, but it would probably be really good for people to be in motion to some extent all the time; the music and creativity of it all, not to mention changing up the routines, would make it easy and fun.
Another way to make it easy and fun would be for the meals, snacks, exercise, dances, and physical disciplines to be done in a beautiful environment; dancing outside in a leafy tree-lined cobblestone plaza filled with classically beautiful marble statues and reliefs in the sunlight with your friends is a lot more fun than than lifting barbells or running on a treadmill alone inside some grey fluorescent-lit warehouse.
Strength through Childbearing
It’s also worth noting that childbearing can help out a lot with building strength and endurance; carrying one child on the shoulders, one at your hips, and one in your womb is a great workout, not to mention a very wholesome kind of exercise for women. All the sex you’ll be having under the aforementioned erotic workout plan will give you the house full of children you need to do this before you know it! 😉
Fertility Awareness; or having your erotic Cake and eating it too!
Of course not every woman is able or willing to have a big family, but in that case you can still have as much sex as this plan calls for: just avoid vaginal sex on your few fertile days each month (you can still have other kinds of intercourse even!). Fertility awareness with the symptothermal method is as effective as hormonal contraception, 99% with perfect use (98-99% even with typical use!), only without any of the deleterious effects on health, making it the optimal form of birth control. New information technologies and even smartphone apps have helped make this method easier to use, so there’s really no excuse for fertility awareness not being the standard form of birth control by this point.
Fertility awareness is rapidly growing, though, marking a promising cultural turn toward repudiating the fundamental premise of modern birth control: that the feminine body is bad, that its natural functions must be altered or suppressed artificially in order to make women upstanding members of society, that fertility is a disease, that women are fundamentally inferior and defective versions of men. In the near future we’ll look upon the time we put every teenage girl on birth control pills like the time we used to remove children’s tonsils at the slightest sign of trouble, the time we stuffed implants up into the wombs of women like the time we used to lobotomize the mad. Once that happens and we view women’s bodies and their fertility like the natural blessings they are I’m sure the high and rising levels of tokophobia, the fear of childbirth, that bedevil today’s young generation of women will disappear.
Anyway, I suppose the upshot of all this is eat whatever natural whole foods you like in small enough quantity to avoid fattening, and build strength and flexibility through creative and enjoyable physical disciplines that integrate as many wholesome aspects of human life as possible into a single unity of pleasant sensation.
Am I demanding everybody do all this? Certainly not. I mean, I don’t do all of it myself, and I’m the author of this piece! But if you’re going to optimize your diet and exercise for health that’s the way to do it in my view.
More importantly, you don’t have to rearrange your whole life around being some kind of wine-sipping Whole-Foods-eating balletic courtesan to get benefits from the strategy I outline. A great deal of the fitness benefits from any exercise program may be captured by going from doing nothing to doing any significant form of exercise at all, even just a few minutes per day most days of the week. Diet is harder, but you could switch from soda to coffee, from white bread to whole-grain bread, and reap significant benefits. Instead of walking around the block you could dance freestyle around the block. Instead of having sedate sex once a week you could have acrobatic vigorous sex once a day. Instead of keeping baby in a buggy you could carry baby at your hips everywhere you go.
Easy wins like these are likely legion throughout your life if you clear your mind and open your eyes afresh to the opportunities you might be missing. So reach out and touch them!