Alex Yarde looks at stereotypes, fitness and healthier living for Geeks.
Like a majority of Americans, I’m not as healthy as I could be. When I was a younger I had no problems keeping fit, I led a very active lifestyle. Being a wilderness instructor lent itself to rigorous training & leading expeditions so on my downtime, I ate and drank whatever I wanted. Today, I’m older, a stay at home dad, a writer and “professional entertainment enthusiast”. I’m no longer kidding myself, staying healthy has got to be a priority.
Here’s the thing about health. Unless you’ve got some pre existing issue, it’s mainly about your priorities and the choices you make. It’s a personal issue you’ve got to come to terms with that effects your quality of life. There is an overload of information and a multi billion dollar industry geared to make you feel, whatever you happen to look like, uncomfortable in your own skin. Currently, there’s a lot of discrimination against the largest of us out there. I have to spring for upgrades when we fly. I’m 6’3, my shoulders are wider than the seats in coach, I physically must use both armrests (and then some), my legs are so long that the person in front of me absolutely cannot recline their seat. I always book an aisle seat and stick one leg out that constantly gets hit by drink carts. I just don’t fit.
Big people are ALWAYS scapegoated on planes, I know personally larger people bend over backwards to be as courteous as possible. I know people who literally never used a plane armrest as to not invade others space. The largest domestic carriers have been installing smaller seats with less cushion and thinner materials for years and at the same time reducing the maximum recline to 2 inches from 3 to pack more passengers on flights. So blame them. If you don’t know what it’s like to be marginalized because of your body type, here’s a recent sobering medium.com article entitled “What it’s like to be that Fat person sitting next to you on the plane” Geeks inparticular tend to get a bad rap about our fitness levels and I’m here to tell you, there are ALL kinds of geeks, super fit to super not and all that’s in between. Newsflash: If you have a marginalized body type it doesn’t mean you aren’t healthy. The reverse is also true. It’s about health, not body type. Those are two separate entities.
There are studies that may be a huge surprise to some that found no increased risk of death for overweight people (those with BMIs of 25-29.9) this suggests that folks with extra pounds can be relatively healthy. I’m not to saying improving your habits, primarily eating more healthy and regular exercise wouldn’t hurt anyone. Being physically active helps prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some forms of cancer and osteoporosis, elevate your mood, help you manage stress and keep you mentally sharp. Plus, as you get older, extra muscle mass burns calories even when at rest.
The bottom line is, scientifically, your fitness level seems to be more important than your weight in the long run.
Now, my priority is being healthy for myself and my family. I’ve got two super active youngsters I need to keep up with and a household to maintain. I had major knee surgery a few years ago, I’m not getting any younger and a wiseman once said “time makes ruins of us all”. I have a family history of high blood pressure, diabetes and my mother died of Alzheimer’s so for me, the obvious benefits of exercise go far beyond burning calories. I decided to be proactive and make affirmative changes before my health becomes an issue.
Like many others, I was looking for something extra in my commitment in maintaining and improving my health. The old workout routines I remembered weren’t working and frankly, were boring. That’s where this book I discovered, Fitness for Geeks by Bruce Perry comes in. It’s a great informative read for all the techies, engineers, athletes, adventures, makers, gym rats, gamers, anyone who wants to take a cerebral approach to their health. The “measure mantra” (“what gets measured gets managed and fixed”) it central to success, with all the web connected gear, apps and social media available, can help you take affirmative steps toward your personal fitness and health goals.
I found I was most interested in the expert testimonies, it’s filled with interviews from quite an eclectic bunch, NFL players, to an MIT scientist that studied m TOR pathways to a former Israeli soldier who studied the diets of Ancient Spartans, Greeks and Macedonians. It covers indoor and outdoor fitness, nutrition, sports and protocols (for resistance training and sprinting) and a suggests a host of apps that will help keep you on track. This a fitness book geared for geeks that brings science and technology into fitness and nutrition routines. It’s the cornerstone of my healthier regimen and I’m actually seeing and feeling the results. Here are some cliff notes-
Top 5 Tips from Bruce Perry, Author of Fitness for Geeks
- Sleep – Sleep a lot, and consider monitoring your sleep to work out the rough spots with gear like” the Zeo Sleep Manager. Or the Alcatel watch & app (right) I use, it does everything a more expensive FitBit does and more! We all know life intrudes on sleep, the idea is maximize your sleep when you have the opportunity. Go to bed early (yes, turn off the phone and your online clan mates may have to live without you…Priorities!) You catch those awesome restorative deep sleep growth hormones that repair your body before midnight, and don’t skimp on the final long REM Sleep in the early morning.
- Exercise -Choose exercise that makes you run faster or physically stronger over long slow exercise that breaks down your body. 30 minutes of effective resistance training twice per week (with experience lower reps and higher weights), interval training as opposed to moderate jogging. A recent study discovered 30-second bursts of cycling (4-6 times per session with 4 minute rests in between) was as effective as traditional exercise but required 90% fewer miles.
- Eat.-Eat food that’s grown or pasteurized locally. Americans eat out and eat processed food more than any other people on earth, and our health suffers from it. Find a local farm or farmers market consume pastured eggs higher in vitamins & minerals, grass fed meats & seasonal veggies. I needed a morning shake and a post workout & recovery supplement. I personally use Vega Proteins and Greens gives your on-the-go snack or breakfast a boost with 20 grams of plant-based protein. Made from real whole food ingredients, SaviSeed (sacha inchi), hemp, pea and sprouted whole grain brown rice protein deliver all essential amino acids you need. Plus it makes tasty smoothies!
- Fast– Fast once in awhile (adults only not for growing kids) consider narrowing the window of eating to around 8-12 a day. An intermittent fast a couple of times per week (fasting overnight then extending it to about 15 hours) can help with blood glucose metabolism and reduce inflammation. Important for pre diabetics. When you are ready to eat. Document. It’s super easy with the LoseIt app. Lose It! helps you set a daily calorie budget, track your food and exercise, and stay motivated to make smarter choices and achieve your goal.
- Challenge– When you can, do something that represents an actual challenge. (Meaning it scares the crap out of you then makes you laugh and tell stories later). Squeamish of blood? Donate. Learn First Aid, Volunteer at your local First Aid Squad. (Driving an Ambulance is nerve racking but trust me it’s super cool! ) Scared of heights? Take that trapeze class or go rock climbing with a certified outfit or a friend you trust. Anything that takes you out of your comfort zone. The reason wilderness treks are so gratifying for city slickers is because they seem to stimulate built-in instinctive pathways, according to the author Lawrence Gonzales’ Deep Survival. (Another book I highly recommend) Although unproven, maybe they represent hormesis or “good stress.” Bring along self tracking apps like Endomondo or Backpacker GPS Trails Pro. I suggest learning how to read a map & compass going old school. (Orienteering is an actual sport) It’s a life skill and might get you accepted to a Zombie Apocalypse Group!
My last suggestion is getting support from like minded folks to keep you motivated, honest and informed. Health Geeks.Co is a terrific on line community or look for fitness classes in your area. A friend and college of mine Sandy Roffey wrote about Geek Fit Classes offered in her area that were non judge mental, body positive and fun. It’s about your well being physically, mentally and spiritually if you believe in that sort of thing.
Ultimately, it still begins and ends with you and your priorities. What’s your motivation to get healthy or maintain your health? For me, it’s easy. If being a Geek is an obsessive appreciation of something you love, my biggest Geek is my family and I’ve got promises to keep. Two padawan learners I love more than life itself and who worship their old man & a beautiful, intelligent, loving spouse I hardly deserve who want me to stick around.
I want to teach my kids all I’ve learned, from appreciating the woods & going off trail to the minutiae of the DC universe (Pre-Crisis of course). I want to dance at my daughter’s wedding (if she chooses to wed) grow old with the wife, sell it all & retire in Barbados, share a few laughs with friends and if we’re lucky, play with my grandkids. Sadly, my parents weren’t able to do these things for me so my choices need to match my priorities.
I’ll keep you posted on my progress and drop me a line about any discoveries you’ve made in getting and staying healthy.
Geek long and prosper my friends!
photo credits – Oreilly Press/the author/Sandy Roffey/Lose It