The National Academy of Fictitious Accomplishments

The National Academy of Fictitious Accomplishments

I’ve had some exciting things come my way recently. Men’s Journal published my essay, “Life Without Sex,” yesterday The Oregonian featured an Op Ed I wrote, and now I’m so incredibly proud to announce that the National Academy of Fictitious Accomplishments (NAFA) has named me The Healthiest Sick Person in America. I must say, after a rough year, receiving this honor was a wonderful way to cap off 2016.

Ah, okay, all joking aside, sometimes it really does feel like I’m the healthiest sick person in America, maybe even the world. By that I mean I still live a healthy lifestyle despite being in poor health, and all things considered, my physical appearance actually looks fairly healthy. As my doctor recently noted, “There’s always a downside to looking healthy when you feel miserable.”
In the last six years I have gone from being one of the healthiest humans on the planet to being one of the sickest. But even if I am the healthiest sick person, that’s hardly something to celebrate. The truth is, nobody wants ownership of anything with the word sick in it. Well, except maybe a sick new car or sick pair of sunglasses. Anyway. The last thing I want to be is the healthiest sick person, or any type of sick person for that matter, but I suppose it’s better than being the sickest sick person.

2015

Sometimes I feel like I have either had the worst possible luck in the last few years, or I live in some alternative reality, an existence stuck in a weird world where healthy people get sick and unhealthy people flourish. It’s a scary thing when everything you know as true, everything ingrained in your mind by science textbooks and fitness literature — eat healthy and exercise then you’ll live better and longer — is suddenly disproved and you feel like the focus of some cruel experiment.

2009

At times I have to remind myself exactly how healthy I used to be. I have, after all, been at the pinnacle of physical performance. I have lifted three times my body weight. I have hiked mountains and pedaled miles. I have sprinted yards and jogged roads. I have flipped tractor tires and pulled weighted sleds. I have eaten bland food and actually enjoyed it. I have whittled down my body fat percentage to single digits. Yes, I have done all this, but I have done so much more. I have been in peak physical condition and felt like a slow death. I have lifted hundreds of pounds with a faltering body. I have taken steps that were almost sure to be my last. I have sat in doctor’s offices full of fellow sufferers hunched over chairs. I have walked around those doctor’s offices — those cathedrals of health — to see boxes of donuts and large bottles of soda on every counter. I have sat in exam rooms while a borderline-obese doctor looked over my seemingly healthy body with skepticism. I have laid in a hospital bed while an undeniably obese nurse hyperventilated over my motionless, yet seemingly healthy body. And finally, I have laid in my own bed sipping some sinister “health tonic,” nearly catatonic and so incredibly sick, while people who could talk on-damand, people not bedridden, vertical people, ate French fries and bacon cheeseburgers in the other room.

2012

This cruel regression of mine, this awful phenomena, is by far my least favorite paradox. Yet everyday I stick to what I know, what I have come to do as habitually as eating — live healthy. I still down a glass of fresh vegetable juice every morning, I still swallow a bevy of supplements throughout the day, and I still drink kombucha and at least half a gallon of water everyday. But every now and then I wonder: what’s the point? Why do I try to live healthy when I remain sick? Why do I try to do anything? Why do I brush my teeth twice a day? Why do I bathe? Why do I shave my face and cut my hair? Why, on earth, do I get dressed each day? After pausing, I always conclude one simple explanation: because I enjoy it.

 

*Happy Holidays to all the lovely people out there. Thanks for supporting me by following this blog and sharing your comments. It means so much to me.

Five Quick Tips For a Healthy Lunch at Work

For those working a long day, lunch may be the meal that suffers. It may be a problem of improper nutrition, or perhaps even it is the meal that gets skipped regularly. It’s hard to imagine anyone not wanting to enjoy a delicious lunchtime meal. Which leads me to believe it’s not a lack of desire that negatively effects lunch.

Whether you work 20 or 80 hours a week, there is no doubt work takes up a significant amount of your time. Surely you have more pressing things to do than think about what you’re going to eat for lunch tomorrow. All things considered, having lunch on the job can be difficult to maneuver, but with a little foresight and a few minutes of preparation, encouraging changes can be made.

Five Quick Tips for Eating Healthy at The Office

1.    A Little Preparation Goes a Long Way

A few minutes of meal preparation the night before, or the morning prior to work, can be the difference between keeping to a healthy diet, and resorting to a desperation double cheeseburger on a whim. Enjoying a homemade lunch at the office simply requires making your favorite healthy food ahead of time. Simple acts like mixing a quinoa salad, or packing a whole-grain sandwich are much healthier than any fast-food option. What’s more, pairing a complex carbohydrate and lean protein with a healthy and savory dressing can really boost energy levels and self-efficacy for a long workday.

2.    Pack a Snack

Bringing a snack along with your lunch to work is a helpful practice as well. A small portion of food on your daily trek can provide a boost when in need. Something small, yet nutritious, like almonds, or local produce, are perfect bites during a long client meeting, trip out of the office, or bumper-to-bumper traffic.

3.    Preserve Your Food

 

With your food already prepared, it will likely go uneaten for several hours. This is a potential problem – wilted salads and soggy sandwiches are far from enjoyable. Personally, I like to use an ice pack and soft cooler, or the office refrigerator to preserve my food. If you need to heat your food, make sure to utilize the office kitchen if there is one; if not, I advise preparing food that is best enjoyed cold, like a pasta salad.

 

4.    Find a Healthy Grocery Store

In a pinch, instead of running to Burger King, use the same effort to search out a local grocery store with an organic salad bar, or healthy deli. Doing so can be a nutritious lunchtime stop. The amenities of a healthy grocery store usually offer salad varieties, or calorie conscious wraps – far more healthy than any menu item at a fast-food place. Healthy grocery stores also stock food for specialty diets for those who are vegan, lactose intolerant and gluten sensitive. Not to mention, such a trip to the grocery store gets you out of the office. Can’t be mad about that.

5. Find a Healthy Cafe

Healthy and reliable restaurants can be scarce, but like a healthy grocery store, most areas have at least one. With that said, there is a certain amount of trust that should be established with a restaurant (chain or local) before one can give it a healthy stamp.

Supplement Advice With a Grain of Salt

The supplement industry is a billion dollar industry, it’s no wonder the average American spends $30 a month on supplements while some dish out hundreds. The source behind this frivaless and at times, completely useless spending are supplement companies and their pipeline of promoters and distributors. It’s pretty difficult not to come across an advertisement for a dietary supplement these days with claims of “massive weight loss.” These companies share just as much advertisement space as most other billion dollar industries. From billboards to bus banners, supplements are right in front of us everyday. Perhaps, the biggest promotion of dietary supplements comes from individuals, not corporations. Could be your average Joe at the gym telling you how “big” he got from taking an embarrassingly narcissistic sounding supplement, or it could be an “expert” recommending you try a certain product because, unbeknownst to you, she’s getting kick-backs from the company that makes it.

From a trainer’s perspective, it’s hard not to associate with supplements. They are a big part of the fitness industry and for as many corrupt and potentially harmful supplements on the market there are a handful of supplements that are trustworthy and can be beneficial. Recently I came across an article in the NY Times about the popular supplement “Jack3d” made by USPLabs. The article explains how the military is banning sales from the company on their bases and subsequently cutting any ties to the company. This comes after two soldiers died from heart attacks after taking the supplement, which contains DMAA, a dietary supplement with characteristics similar to the drug speed (an amphetamine). Consequently, USP Labs issued a Response, albeit offering very little defense.

Personally, I think it’s important for consumers to realize the potential dangers with supplements. The dietary supplement industry is not regulated by the FDA. As one can imagine companies like USP Labs can get away with a lot. There are a few, however, that are morally responsible in creating their products. Companies like NOW and Source Naturals that make reliable supplements. You won’t find any artificial additives or unnecessary fillers in their products. Another safe supplement that I like is The Ultimate Meal.

In closing, if for one reason or another whole food isn’t doing it for you and you are determined to include supplements in your diet, I suggest treating your supplement intake the same as your whole food intake. In other words, look at the ingredients for potentially harmful ingredients like DMAA or even artificial dyes and additives for tastes. If a supplement resembles nuclear waste it shouldn’t be in your body. Also, pay attention to how you feel after taking a supplement. I’ve talked to countless people after taking “Jack3d” who told me their face itched, or their heart started racing. As someone who has taken many different supplements it is scary to think about the ramifications related to obvious supplementation. When it comes to supplementation, be smart, use your head and don’t underestimate the potency of these unregulated substances.