Daisy Luther, Contributor
If the SHTF, you aren’t going to live off your fat. Trust me on this one. If anything, a great deal of excess body fat just might be the thing that kills you.
If you are truly serious about preparedness, getting into shape is one of the best preparations that you can make. What if you had to bug out through the snow with a 25-pound pack on your back, dragging a sled with your toddler on it? How far could you get before you collapsed? Is your heart in condition to go out and swing an axe for a few hours in order to get wood ready for the fireplace? Will your back go out when you try to clean up the debris on your property after a devastating storm?
You can have all the tools and prepper gadgets in the world, but if your body is not fit and strong you will have great difficulty surviving a real long-term disaster.
If you are more than 30 pounds overweight, you are carrying the equivalent of a second bug-out bag when you head to the woods, causing your expended effort to multiply, which makes fatigue set in faster. Your family’s lives could one day depend on your ability to keep up with the youngsters. Do you want them to have to wait while you haul your out-of-shape butt up the mountain?
The vows to lose weight and get in shape are the most common New Year’s resolutions. The busiest month at a commercial gym is January, and then things taper off as people lose their resolve. Programs like Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and MediFast also rank January as the biggest months of the year for sales.
Fitness and nutrition are passions of mine. This month, I’m going to be writing about how those are two of the most important facets of your preps. We have goals to reach, mountains to climb and disasters to survive! So let’s get to it!
(Whether weight loss is your goal or not, these nutritional tips will help you get yourself into the best health of your life. )
You need to eat to lose weight – not starve!
One of the biggest reasons that diets don’t work for the long-term is that people don’t learn how to eat. A diet is a period of deprivation, followed by the reintroduction of the same old eating habits. This sets the dieter up for a constant “up-and-down” yo-yo-ing on the scale.
Instead of trying to slash calories or entire food groups, start off by simply eating real food. (A really great website to learn about this is The Eat-Clean Diet. Tosca Reno is an inspiring woman in her 50s who transformed her life and body at the age of 40. )
If you purchase ingredients instead of meals, you’ll notice an instant effect on your health and your waistline. You want your food to be as close to nature as possible – unprocessed meat, fruit, vegetables, eggs, grains and dairy products. Any item with an ingredients list needs to contain ingredients you can picture in your head. Like this ingredients list for bread: flour, water, yeast, sugar, salt. Avoid those chemical ingredients that require 2 lines of text or sound like they could also clean your toilet and kill cockroaches!
A word on fat – not all fat is bad! There are many different kinds of dietary fat. If the majority of your fat intake is coming from plant sources, like olives, nuts, avocados and coconut, this is loaded with nutrients like essential fatty acids. Cold water fish like salmon, mackerel and halibut are also great sources of EFAs. You need these fats to maintain proper brain function (there is evidence that chronic depression can be positively affected by the addition of EFAs), the reduction of inflammation, and the prevention of several types of cancer. Find out more info on healthy fats HERE.
You can be starving yourself of nutrients while eating thousands of calories.
There are numerous reasons why processed food makes you fat. First of all, it isn’t actually food as nature intended. During processing, nutrients are stripped away. If this type of food is all that you consume, you begin to suffer from low-level malnutrition. Either you aren’t getting the nutrients you need, or those nutrients are coming to you in a form that your body cannot use. Your body says, “Hey, I need vitamins and minerals!” and compels your brain to continue seeking nutrients. You continue to eat, but if you select more processed food-like substances, instead of actual food, the cycle continues. You are ingesting thousands of calories per day but very few nutrients.
At the same time you are making over your eating habits, begin a vitamin habit. Invest in some high-quality organic vitamins to replace those nutrients you’ve been missing over the years. As you begin to load your body up with what it needs you will notice that you eat far less than you did before. You will feel satisfied much sooner, causing you to naturally consume fewer calories – and you won’t have that feeling of deprivation that a “diet” gives you. You will truly feel full because you have replenished the nutrients your body needs.
Kick the chemicals!
Some of the chemicals in processed foods act biologically to make you hungry. Excitotoxins, like MSG, white sugar and aspartame, stimulate the same area of the brain that heroin does. They excite the brain cells to the point of cell death, as a matter of fact. At the same time, your body begins to seek that same pleasurable stimulation that it received (like a drug addict seeking more heroin) and this results in a feeling of hunger. If that hunger is not satisfied with more of the same food/drug, it becomes a ravenous craving. Think about the cliche of people feeling hungry a couple of hours after a Chinese meal – that is MSG at work.
Another chemical that makes you feel hungry is High Fructose Corn Syrup. (HFCS) Not only is this banned from my home because of the likelihood of GMO corn, but because of the effect that HFCS has on the human body. HFCS is molecularly similar to sugar (glucose) but it causes different hormonal reactions. It does not reduce the amount of ghrelin in your body (that is the hormone that sends signals satiation and fullness to your brain.) Nor does it stimulate as much insulin production as glucose, which also tells your brain you are full. This means when you eat an item sweetened with HFCS, you will eat a larger serving than one sweetened with sugar, because your brain is not getting the signal that you’ve had enough.
Weight loss is a cumulative kind of thing. Am I saying all you need to do to take off 100 pounds is eat clean? No – there’s more to it than that. But this is the ideal starting point. If you begin to nourish yourself instead of just eating, you will begin to reduce your caloric intake naturally. Depending on your goals, this may not be enough to reach them. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, as the saying goes. It was built by stacking one brick onto another onto another.
It sounds contradictory, but deprivation is the cause of obesity. If you are deprived of nutrients you will be unconsciously seeking those nutrients by eating everything in sight. If the things you are eating are not giving you the nutrients you need, you are simply consuming empty calories and feeding nothing but your fat cells.
One of the things that makes this the easiest change you’ll ever make is that it’s a great way to feed the entire family. Seriously – who wouldn’t benefit by eradicating the presence of nasty chemicals from the food they consume? If you are the food-maker in your family, put nutrients on the table for everyone. They may grumble a bit at first but trust me, they’ll get over it. This isn’t a diet – this is nutrition! After eating this way for a while, the cravings for crap will stop. Even the kids will notice how well they feel eating food and how bad they feel eating junk.
Your most important preps are not what you buy. They are your brain and your body. If the SHTF next month, how would you fare with your current body? Is there room for improvement? Start today by nourishing your body, no matter what size you are. That single step will set the wheels in motion to make you a lean, mean prepping machine!
Finally, where do you want to be 12 months from now as you begin another new year? You’ll wish that you had started today if you read this right now and simply think, “Hmm. I should do that.”
Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor. Her website, The Organic Prepper, where this article first appeared, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org