The Hierarchy of Health, part 3

Today’s post is the third installment in a series I’ve humbly entitled The Hierarchy of Health. This hierarchy is, in my opinion, as follows:

1. Sleep

2. Hydration

3. Nutrition

4. Exercise

You can click on the hyperlinks above to get to posts 1 and 2 in this series. It should be stated, that this hierarchy is based almost exclusively on my own personal experience of having a body these past 44 years, my experience working with this body, both as a fitness professional and as a human being, and a thorough reading of Google searches to back up my opinions and give them at least some measure of credibility.

That said, the most important piece of advice I can give you is - Your own personal mileage may vary. What works for me may not work so well for you, just as what worked for me ten, twenty years ago might not do me much good now. Everybody is different. Our needs vary according to our own particular circumstances.

Have a dialog with yourself. Listen to your aches and pains, the burbles in your stomach, how you feel after a particular meal, or after more or less sleep. Listen to your body, do the things that make you feel better and avoid the things that make you feel bad.

There, that’s not so hard, is it?

Now, today’s post is on nutrition. I know you probably have a ton of questions and you don’t want to hear this but the answer to most of your questions is, “It depends.” Yeah, I know. I’m sorry, but sometimes that’s how life is. I don’t make up the rules.

Everyone has an opinion on how, what, and when you should eat. The sheer volume of thought put into this subject is absolutely maddening, because for every guideline you find there’s a contradiction right around the corner.

For every person who says fat is bad you can find someone who says it’s good.

Carbs are bad, or not.

Meat is bad, or not.

Fruits and vegetables even come under fire. Are they organic? Canned? Frozen? Fruit? No you can’t eat fruit, there’s too much sugar in there.

Then there’s fasting, actually not eating. Some say it’s good, while others say it’ll wreck your metabolism. “You gotta eat six meals a day!”

Then on top of the food there’s supplements. Are you taking vitamins? What kind? Food based? Protein powder shakes? Do you need them? If so, what kind? Whey? Soy? Don’t forget your fish oil!

Lewis Black has a great schtick about this and it sums up my opinion perfectly.

The people who told us about sun block were the same people who told us, when I was a kid, that eggs were good. So I ate a lot of eggs. Ten years later they said they were bad. I went, "Well, I just ate eggs!"

So,  I stopped eating eggs, and ten years later they said they were good again! Well, then I ate twice as many, and then they said they were bad. Now I'm really f*cked! Then they said they're good, they're bad, they're good, the whites are good, th-the yellows - Make up your mind!  It's breakfast, I've gotta eat!

It’s all madness and at the bottom of it are not a few people making lots of money on your confusion.

Here’s a news flash. You already know everything you need to know to eat healthy. Don’t believe me? Fine, let’s do a test. Which is the healthier meal?


Beef Lasagna

French Fries



Grilled Chicken

Sauteed vegetables

Roasted Potatoes

White Wine

No brainer, right? We know healthy food when we see it. And we know the not so healthy stuff, too. So who are we kidding?

We’re trying to kid ourselves. The real problem with not healthy food? We get addicted to it.

Some research suggests that crappy food feeds different kinds of bacteria in our gut. This bacteria takes over and begins craving the crappy food. It actually takes over your brain and tells you to want more of the bad stuff.

Luckily, good food works the same way. It sucks in the short term as you wean yourself off Krystal burgers and Twix candy bars. That bad bacteria puts up a noble fight, pushing your craving into overdrive, but once it’s starved out it’s not so bad. The cravings go away and the good bacteria takes over. You begin to actually enjoy the taste of real food and you can’t imagine how you ever ate that other crap.

This is where you get to be like big boys and girls and make decisions that are good for you later as opposed to the ones that feel good right now. Yes, I know I said to make choices based on how you feel, but you should make those choices based on a criteria that lasts more that five minutes. Is five minutes of taste good really worth twenty minutes to an hour of lethargy and bloating?

Honestly? Every once in a while it might be, but once it becomes chronic you start having real problems.

Remember when you were a kid and they told you, “You are what you eat?” They weren’t f*cking around. That’s for reals.

The stuff that your muscles and bones and organs and tissues are made out of is the stuff you eat. What do you want to be made of? High grade, organic, chemical free goodness? Healthy, happily raised meats, fresh vegetables and fruits raised in the sun? Or Happy Meals, pizza out of a box, Captain D’s, and Taco Bell.

It’s your choice. And you make it multiple times a day.

I get it. Sometimes life just sucks and we want something that will make us feel better. More than once I have sat on my couch with a pint of ice cream staring at the TV trying to eat my feelings away. Sometimes that’s just what you gotta do. But not every day.

Have your pity party. Balm your soul with Ben and Jerry’s and then get up and get to work. No one can do this for you. Love yourself enough to make more good choices than bad ones and you’ll begin to see life tip in the direction you want. It’s called adulting and we all have to do it sometime.

Yes, there’s a lot more about diet out there. Some of it is useful and some of it is quite dubious. There are details and all of them relate to your personal goals and what you want to achieve. Portion sizes, macro nutrient ratios, Paleo, low fat, Mediterranean, dairy vs no dairy and gluten vs no gluten, intermittent fasting, supplements, none of it matters, however, if you’re still eating mostly processed foods.

Eat like an adult. - Dan John

  • If every morning starts with a breakfast that comes from a box with a cartoon character on it, you’re not eating like an adult.
  • If the majority of your meals are passed to you through a drive through window, you’re not eating like an adult.
  • If you qualify ketchup as a vegetable, you’re not eating like an adult.
  • If you can’t remember the last time a raw fruit or vegetable passed your lips, you’re not eating like an adult.
  • If your kitchen is just a place to house the refrigerator and you use the microwave more than your oven or stove top, you’re not eating like an adult.

Learn to cook. Take lessons or watch the Food network. Google some new dish you’d like to try. Don’t be afraid to screw up.

Michael Polan’s, Food Rules, is a great place to start. In it he offers several strategies for eating better and more healthily. One of his strategies is to allow yourself any indulgence you want, provided you make it from scratch. It’s a brilliant idea. The Twix bar you make yourself will be ten times better for you than the one you buy off the shelf. Plus, consider all the extra calories you’ll burn just making the damned thing. Cookies, caramel, chocolate? That’s a good two, two and half hours of work.

You got this. It's not as hard as you think.

And if you need more help? We've got your back. Come in for a private consultation. We'll go over strategies and resources to help you reach your goals.

To our perfect imperfection,​


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