On a recent trip to Costa Rica, my group and I were paired up with locals, with whom we spent three full days. I couldn't get over how fit they were without ever stepping into a gym.
I spent my life, and my career, observing health patterns, food intolerances and fitness and I came up with four basic principles that most fit, and healthy, people follow. These are daily lifestyle principles which will improve your overall health.
While I was in Costa Rica, I realized that my new friends were following every single one of these rules without even knowing it! There's plenty to debate over whether there's a "right" way to eat or exercise, I've found these four rules to be constant.
1. Eat and repeat.
Pick between three choices for breakfast, three choices for lunch and three choices for dinner. For many rural and ancestral groups, this is a necessity based on availability and affordability. But for us there are TOO MANY choices.
What does this mean for you? Rotate between a few standard meals that are rich in micronutrients (meaning whole foods, fruits, vegetables, nuts) and repeat every day.
Of course, this is life — so special occasions are times to experiment with newness. But in general stick to a routine.
2. Listen to hunger pangs.
This seems so simple, but think about all those times you went to dinner with friends and you weren't really that hungry but you still ate — A lot! We all go through those times — sometimes too often. Eating when you're hungry and stopping when you're feeling satisfied (instead of bloated and tired) is key.
Biologically, there's an intricate hormonal dance that plays out in our bodies to signal the brain when we're full or hungry. These signals are designed to help maintain a healthy body, so don't ignore them.
When your hormones are in sync and you are in tune with your body's signals, you'll automatically become leaner.
3. Move a lot.
Whatever it is you like to do, do it. Traveling to rural areas made me realize how much people move. Kids, young adults, grandparents were all walking and climbing, swimming — just moving. Think about it; how unnatural is it to sit all day at a desk, go a gym and work out intensely for an hour, then sit again? Our bodies, our metabolism, our brains are all wired to move constantly.
4. Know the foods that don't serve your body.
Food intolerances for many include gluten and dairy. But there are also people who don't tolerate soy, or eggs, or nuts.
Don't know your intolerances? I've explained how to do a full detox here.
You can alternatively take one suspect food or additive out at a time to see how you feel after 3-4 weeks.
On my trip I noticed that one of my local friends wasn't eating any wheat products. He had corn tortillas, beans and rice, occasional meat, fruit and nuts. This wasn't by design, but it was interesting to me since I deal with milk, wheat, soy intolerances all the time. I've also visited rural areas in India where vegetarianism dominates, but there was no soy to be found.
With our modern SAD (standard American diet), I notice more and more biological reactions to foods and additives in my office. In my opinion, the major blame likely lies in our processed, modified versions of foods. I urge you to investigate your intolerances — even if you think you have none.
So, in case you are interested I have created a three-day meal plan that is gluten, dairy, and meat free that I wanted to share. It's totally free and includes high micronutrients meals. Just click here if interested.
Sometimes we get blinded by the new and easy shortcuts for everything, so today, like you, I'm going back to the essential principles and leaving out the rest.