The only way to truly understand a path is to follow it yourself. To me the principles of healthy eating that are the cornerstone of my personal training program Naturally Intense isn’t mere rhetoric but a way of life that I do my best to follow. Throughout my career as a personal trainer, bodybuilder and martial arts teacher, I have done my utmost to adhere to the same basic eating and training rules that I advocate. Interestingly enough, I receive a number of emails and questions about how I maintain such a low body fat percentage all year round. Many ask what the secret is- is it genetics or some special supplement while the truth of the matter is far less complex and has nothing to do with my parents, pills or my age. It’s just a matter of consistency.
I find it somewhat disheartening to see that so few have faith in their own ability to get into great shape and stay that way. The idea that you need something in a bottle or package to realize your fitness goals is worrisome at best as it takes away the focus from what can be done with good old fashioned hard work and dedication. Nelson Mandela captured it best in his inaugural speech as president of the newly liberated republic of South Africa when he said that our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate but that we are powerful beyond measure. This applies not only to our potential in the field of academic, financial and social success, but equally towards our ability to transform our bodies and our lives if we sincerely put our minds to it and never give up. We are so distracted by pressures put upon us to become consumers, always in need of help from the outside to do things we can easily do on our own, that we forget our inherent potential.
The Secret To Being In Shape Is That There Aren’t Any Secrets
So how exactly do I stay in such great shape and am able to look better today at 36 (if we don’t take the hair loss into consideration) than I did when I was competing regularly as a drug free bodybuilder in my twenties? As I said before the answer is consistency- I never go off of my diet. Ever. Not for Thanksgiving, not for Christmas, not for Valentines’s Day, not for New Years’, not for my birthday, my kids’ birthdays not for World Earth Day or any other time of celebration. To me festivity isn’t about inflicting harm on my body, but quite the opposite- experiencing the joy of being alive in the company of friends and family. Don’t get me wrong, as my the journey to where I am today was incredibly arduous and there were many times when I thought that I would never reach a place where I could shed the burden of wanting to eat junk foods. As a teenager growing up in Trinidad, where partying is pretty much a way of life, I had to learn how to go to a party with my friends, but not drink what they did, not indulge in foods that I shouldn’t and still find a way to have a good time. Did my friends always support my choices? Of course not and I wouldn’t have expected them to do so. This was and always will be my choice and it would be unfair for me to expect others to change their lives just to suit me. Mine is just a different path. One where you really learn to enjoy every moment in life simply by virtue of being. In my eyes it isn’t a bad place to be.
To some, my eating habits may seem somewhat Draconian. I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t drink juices or anything else except for water, but far from feeling in any way that I am missing out, instead I am quite content with things being as they are. I may have some tea from time to time, but that is more of an exception rather than the rule. I don’t eat refined foods or anything that exists only thanks to the machines in a factory, and that includes everything from protein shakes to refined flour products, breads and everything in between. The more manmade it is the further away from my mouth it stays. A simple rule, really, but it does make me something of an anomaly as it excludes the majority of foods that people eat today. It’s ironic in the sense that eating the way humans have been eating for thousands of years is now looked upon as odd, but that’s just how things are. Growing up in the West Indies did have its benefits as most of the innumerable junk foods that are available here in the United States were unknown to us back home. By the time I migrated some sixteen years ago, I was already accustomed to a lifestyle of avoiding processed foods as much as possible and so there are a lot of foods that I never tasted before and I’ve had no inclination to ever try.
You Won’t Die If You Never Had A Snickers Bar
I have never had a Snickers bar, don’t know what an ice-cream cake tastes like, never had lasagna, and I couldn’t tell you what the difference is between a green M&M and a red one. I never ate at a Burger King, nor do I know who or what General Tso’s is or was and what is so special about his chicken. I don’t know what Parmesan cheese on pasta tastes like and I have a hard time keeping up with conversations about things like cheese fries. Some foods I ate so long ago that I can’t remember what they taste like. The taste of Coca Cola is fading from my memory although I loved it when I was a kid and had it just about twice a year. I think I preferred at one point Pepsi but I can’t really be sure as my last soda was over a decade and a half ago. Don’t think for a moment that I am somehow different or special in any way as I spent years working on improving my own eating habits to be where I am today. I started martial arts when I was 9 and bodybuilding when I was 14 and for all that time I have been doing my best to eat better. It didn’t happen overnight and like everyone else, I have had my share of slips. During my bodybuilding days, protein shakes and bars were the norm. As were donuts, pound cake, pizza and KFC- especially after contests- the very thought of it makes me a bit nauseous now but I couldn’t conceive of never eating those foods ever again back then. Many West Indian dishes were hard to give up as well, but over time the desire to eat things that really weren’t that great for me became less and less, until about 8 years ago or so I just stopped.
Willpower Has Little To Do With Eating Well, When the Body Is Healthy It Will Want Healthy Foods
There were no proclamations, trumpet blowing or anything of the sort, I just stopped eating processed foods because my body didn’t want it anymore. I don’t get cravings for any foods that would not be beneficial to my body as a whole as over time my system evolved in such a way that I like what I eat. Some just can’t seem to accept this and if I had a quarter for every time someone said, “You don’t know what you are missing” I would be on a beach in Tahiti right now trying to figure out which island I should buy next! The irony is that I do know what I am missing- the headaches, the stomach aches, the indigestion, the fatigue, the bloating, the blood sugar swings, the mood swings, not being able to concentrate, the joint aches, being out of breath, having a hard time waking up in the morning- I know all of it and I know it well. I simply choose to follow another path. Some studies estimate that by 2015 the number of overweight or obese American adults will go from its current rate of about 33% to 75%. That said, being in the minority and not following the crowd doesn’t appeal to me as the crowd seems to be heading along a path that I don’t wish to travel. More importantly, reducing my risk of succumbing to the slew of diet related disease brought on by eating the very foods that some might say I am missing out on makes it even harder to understand exactly where I am missing out. You might think that having a six pack is the be all and end all, but to be honest I don’t really spend that much time with my shirt off to think about it very much. I don’t have a full length mirror at home and the only time I get to see what I really look like is when I am at the gym. (Where my training partner will attest that I do my best to make up for lost time!) A neighbor of mine happened to be in the audience of a bodybuilding show where I was guest posing and he was shocked. He never had a clue that I looked the way that I do even though he knew me for the better part of 15 years. I have heard the same from co-workers who worked alongside me for years and that’s actually the way I like things to be. Outside of my business as a personal trainer I usually dress to downplay my physique. I don’t and never did define myself by the way I look and I don’t think it is ever healthy to do so in the first place. It’s nice when people recognize me in the street from my videos or from the Internet, but that’s just how I look. It isn’t who I am. A time will come when I won’t look the way I do now, but it won’t change much of anything. I will still eat the way, exercise as much as I do, but most importantly, I won’t miss a thing!
NYC Personal Trainer Kevin Richardson is one of the most sought after personal trainers in New York City, a lifetime drug free bodybuilding champion and the founder of the Naturally Intense High Intensity Training™. Get a copy of his free weight loss e-book here! If you live in the New York metropolitan area and need help losing weight or taking your body to the next level give Kevin and his team a call at 1-800-798-8420 or click here to get started with 50% off your trial personal training session.