Why Wellness Matters

Fitness is big business, am I right? Everyone wants to be fit. Fitness, fitness, fitness. Well I am not too worried about fitness because for a long time now I have been prioritising wellness. Wellness, as defined by the sense of being healthy and well, feeling good and positive, of being fit for a purpose in life, able to carry a burden and so forth. Here are five reasons why.

1. Fitness is unattainable.

When pursuing fitness, when does one stop? Running a half marathon? A marathon? Lifting twice your body weight and the putting it back down again? A triathlon? An Ironman race?

The answer is none of the above, because fitness is relative. To get fit is to be fitter than you used to be. This all sounds very nice but at some point you will reach the terminus of fitness where it clashes with the rest of your life. Then what? You have not yet attained fitness, but now must make a decision, whether or not to chase fitness to your own detriment.

2. Wellness is aligned with purpose.

Wellness is not a pursuit. It is an end in itself. You are either well or not. There are no increments of wellness. Wellness is a target that is not only attainable, but once one achieves it one gains rest from the pursuit and other things can be done.

When I feel well I know what I did to achieve that, and I am able to maintain it. It is the point where I can swim, cycle or run or whatever for the joy of it, and that is a great place to be.

1. One cannot overdo or overindulge in wellness.

We have all heard it: ‘no pain, no gain.’

This phrase is so toxic. We all know what it means right? No, because that attitude causes injury, causes people to continue to train whilst carrying an injury and it promotes the notion that fitness must be paid for with misery and agony. Wellness is not like that. You will not exercise through pain when you wish to be well because you know that a rest is needed. Additionally, because you are not chasing the moving target of fitness you do not beat yourself up when you take time to rest. There is no problem because you know that what you are doing will make you well.

4. Wellness is generative.

I have radically raised my immunity by targeting wellness. Once my perspective shifted towards this as a priority I realised that running, cycling or otherwise training myself half to death is not what I need. So I have been taking vitamin D3 for a long time now. Whilst I occasionally pick up a bug as we all do, now I have noticed that I no longer get it every couple of months. By prioritising being well I have managed my body and it has been a radical shift in my health. Fitness does not cure sickness, wellness does. By working towards wellness I have generated better health, better immunity and a better lifestyle.

5. Wellness is liberty and freedom

It may well be a cliche, but when you have your health you have everything. Wellness allows you to live on your feet rather than die on your knees. Whilst none of us knows how or when the end will arrive, we can do everything in our power to avoid slowly dying of preventable metabolic disease, cancer or similar. I do not want to spend the last decades of my life falling apart. I may be unlucky, who knows, but I can make wellness my lifestyle choice and give myself every chance of a healthy and prosperous second half of my life innings.

Mr T Pities the Fools

I do indeed pity the fools: those fools being those not concerned with Mr T. T as in testosterone. That is correct dear readers, I have embarked upon a testosterone binge, also know as cleaning up and optimising my endocrine system. Having done plenty of reading on the potentially devastating effects of low testosterone on men I decided to get ahead. I did not have low testosterone but I am in my forties, also known as the old age of youth, and so I do not wish to wait until the problem emerges before I act. It is no secret that testosterone rates in men are falling every decade so I hatched a plan to exempt myself from that dubious honour. I have already been long convinced that a whole food, plant based diet is the best for raising and sustaining naturally high testosterone levels. This lifestyle plan is complimentary to that. Below is what I did.

Eliminate Xenooestrogens

Xenooestrogens are substances that the body metabolises as oestrogen even though they are not. I began to take notice of products such as soap, shampoo, shower gel and suchlike in terms of their ingredients and I found something very interesting. Firstly many of these products have an ingredients list that I need a PhD just to understand. That is a bad sign. Not only should there be relatively few ingredients in such products, but also any time there are names of compounds that you cannot recognise or pronounce then the odds are high that you are dealing with things harmful to testosterone production. I have eliminated these. I think that absorption through the skin is probably the biggest source of my exposure to these chemicals so this was a big one to remedy.

Aromatase Inhibitors

I have begun to take a supplement that essentially blocks the uptake of oestrogen. It is non-prescribed, over the counter stuff but I would not recommend you start this without speaking to your doctor. That being said I use them and they are proving themselves to be very effective in terms of clearing my excess body fat, such as it was. Right now I do not know whether or not prolonged use is effective or healthy but thirty days of this stuff has been profoundly transformative. People whom I see on a weekly basis are commenting – unsolicited – on the transformation in my physique. I am also further convinced of the efficacy of these supplements by the fact that I have not lost weight. My body fat content has reduced substantially but I am still the same weight or thereabouts, meaning that I am gaining lean muscle. This is the promised land of male health.

High T Herbal Supplements

There are a few natural substances that are readily available online, very cheap and which will raise testosterone naturally. I have started to take this as a supplement. I plumped for ashwagandha, a herb. I have added it to my daily pill regimen. Aside from prescription medications I now take ashwagandha, resveratrol, lion’s mane extract and aspirin. All of these I have been he back of reading peer reviewed research and taking expert advice. Ashwagandha is for raising testosterone levels, resveratrol is the healthy part of red wine, lion’s mane is found to sustain brain function and even stimulate neurogenesis, and aspirin as a blood thinner is good for my heart. With the exception of resveratrol, the effects of which accumulate over a lifetime, I have noticed positive effects from each of these. Aspirin has been recommended for heart health for decades so that is nothing new. Lion’s mane, which is recommended by the incredible Paul Stamets, has definitely given me a cognitive edge. I have noticed that my intellect and wit is far more powerful after a year of taking it. Ashwagandha seems, after a month, to be generating positive outcomes too.

The message, to me is clear. Take Mr T seriously.

Better, Faster, Stronger – Bonus: Now with Strava!

Below is the dazzling array of data that Garmin Connect very kindly compiled from today’s ride. I have also linked my Strava account to Garmin Connect so I now get segments detailing climbs, speeds and so forth. This is fascinating stuff. I have long known that the way to increase the overall speed of my cycling, and to also get fitter and do it quickly is to put lots of effort into climbs. This yields results at a high rate of change.

The human body is a remarkable thing. Being back on the saddle has brought forth some sort of muscle memory that blows my mind. I can literally feel myself getting better, faster, stronger and it is not taking me long to do so at all. I have only been recording this stuff for a week but already I feel ten times the man I was over Christmas. From last summer where I had a horrendous, sedentary time looking after my son, who had it even worse the poor little fella, suddenly everything is changing. As the kids grow older I find I have more time to myself so I can push harder than I ever did before.

Garmin Data

Time, Distance and Calorie Burn
Time, Distance and Calorie Burn

Garmin Data for Speed and Elevation
Garmin Data for Speed and Elevation

Garmin Data Breakdown
Garmin Data Breakdown

Strava Segments

Strava Segments - Climbs and Blasts
Strava Segments – Climbs and Blasts

What Strava refers to as blasts are segments of flat or downhill cycling. Due to speed limits and traffic picking up speed on these segments is largely impossible, hence the climbing is so important. It’s also useful in the long term because it is resistance exercise. The hills in Lancashire are steep and they are everywhere. There is a reason that Bradley Wiggins trained in the Trough of Bowland – it’s as hard as it gets to ride on a bicycle. Having ridden two 101 mile sportive races through the Trough I can attest that it is just about the biggest challenge ever. If you want to raise your base metabolic rate and build muscle then this is perfect. I don’t mean muscle like weightlifting, I mean muscle mass that does not change your body shape. It is hard to think of a type of exercise that works the whole body better, so if you want to have a powerful core, sinewy, strong upper body and also powerful legs then cycle hilly routes. We all know those ridiculous guys at the gym with torsos like Greek gods and chicken legs - cycling doesn’t do that. life on two wheels will take care of everything below the waste for you.

There is no resistance work like cycling, so get moving on your bicycle.

Workout is Dead – Long Live Lifestyle!

The dumbest thing anyone ever does to be healthy is one hour of workout and then sit around all day. National Geographic some time ago commissioned a study that became a book called Blue Zones. Essentially they studied the places on Earth where the greatest concentration of people live the longest lives and experience the least chronic illness. I recommend the book and the YouTube talks about it. One of the things that was found is that these people never worked out. They had no gyms, they were usually poor and they did not attempt to live long, healthy, happy lives. Of the many factors that were pertinent, one thing they did do is move constantly. This means that their metabolisms never dropped as low as a sedentary westerner. They lived de- convenienced lives. I have been living this way for years. Now that I am once again cycling even though it is a bitterly cold January here in England I am again combining lifestyle and exercise.

I do not work out. I live.

In the spirit of minimalism and frugal living I often take my clothes to the seamstress – a lady I have known since primary school incidentally – to be adjusted or fitted rather than simply throwing them away. Conventionally a person in a UK town would drive there, drop them off and then drive home. I did not. Since I needed to go I cycled. I did not allot an hour in my day to workout. I simply lived. I think that the Blue Zone way is a better one and we all ought to embrace it. Instead of constantly rushing to save time – not that you can put time in the bank – it is surely better to live in such a way that one is never in a rush, to whatever extent one can live in such a way.

Urban cycling is not fast unfortunately. Too many turns, short hills, too much traffic and so forth. You just can’t pick up much speed in the urban north of England as there are few straight stretches of road in an old mill town like mine. However, with a lot of short, steep hills my body got what it needs and loves, which is plenty of resistance and out of breath pedalling, raised heart rate, delicious endorphins and I got outside in the greenery and fresh air, even if it was cold enough to crack a ball bearing.

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