Thursday, May 26, 2011

Petrol, Natural Gas, Hydrogen, Ethanol...Food?

I bought a new-to-me car back in October.  It had a turbo engine in it.  The manual specified premium gas and pure synthetic oil.  One month, and less than 1,000 miles later, that turbo engine had to be replaced.  We were told the previous owners used inferior gas and oil in the car which caused sludge in the engine.  I'm no car expert, so I have no idea if that's the real reason the engine went kaput or not...but it makes sense to me.  Every engine, mechanical or living, requires proper fuel to run efficiently.  If I were to feed my cat fish food, he might not live long.  If I were to put cat food in my lawn mower's gas tank, it wouldn't start.


Knowing this, I can't understand why I would go to the pool yesterday at 11:30 and think I could swim a ridiculously hard-for-me workout having eaten only half a banana in the previous 17 hours.  Can you say BONK??  No wonder I was exhausted.  No wonder I couldn't finish much less finish strong.  No wonder I battled a headache the rest of the day.

Our bodies need fuel...more than that, they need PROPER fuel...to operate optimally.  Just like my car's engine was made to function with a certain octane gas and viscosity level of oil, my body was designed to perform at its best on certain kinds of food.  And, just like my car and my husband's car require different kinds of fuel, so too do our bodies.

I'm not a doctor and I haven't yet learned the why behind the what...but I'll tell you what:  You MUST listen to your own body and learn its needs in order to determine what fuel will keep you in top working order.  Yes...there are guidelines out there (eat carbs before exercise and a mix of protein and carbs afterwards) but beyond that you can not simply follow a plan developed for someone else's "machine".

I found out about a year ago my body has an immune response to a list of foods.  I hesitate to call what happens an "allergic response" because most people think that means anaphylactic shock.  My body's responses to the various foods on that list range from sinus issues, to intestinal distress, to a subtle shortness of breath, to joint pain and inflammation.   When my diet is clean, I feel, and I am able to function, MUCH better.  When my taste buds' desires override my long term focus for overall health and wellness...my body pays a price for about a week.  LONG after the memory of the delicacy has died, I continue to feel the effects of putting inferior fuel into my engine.

If you intend to drive a race car, you better be prepared to learn how to drive it, to learn how to maintain it, and to learn the proper way to fuel it...or you better be prepared to park it in the garage.  In that regard, keeping in mind no one can give you specifics on exactly what will work best for YOU, here are some tips that might help:

First and foremost-pay attention to your body.  I have a terrible "connect-the-dots" type brain.  I'm one of those people who continue to do the same things expecting different results.  One of the best ways to pay attention is to keep a detailed diary that includes what and when you eat and how you feel.  Food intolerances can last for up to a week after the food is eaten, so although a reaction might be immediate (instant headache every time you eat tomatoes), and it may take a few days to manifest, if you keep a diary you should notice patterns.  This process has always overwhelmed me because it requires diligence I haven't been able to muster.  ((I said it was one of the best ways, not the easiest.))

Be willing to try different things and keep an open mind.  I have found my body seems to be happiest when I eat mostly fruits and veggies.  Pork sits like a brick in my stomach whereas I tolerate fish easier.  I need to eat before I exercise whereas some of my friends must run on an empty stomach to avoid intestinal distress.  There are no cookie-cutter answers.

Lastly...be patient.  Remember, it's a process.  For people who have been life-long students of their own body, training and fueling can seem effortless.  Observant people will recognize what works/doesn't work much faster than someone like me.  Be kind to yourself as you learn to understand the language your body is speaking.

Thanks for stopping in...come again soon.
:D

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