Outrageous Health and Fitness 3: Make a Plan


December 9, 2012



We've been talking about how to approach eating, for the long term, not just some short "get in shape" period.

December 2, 2012: Outrageous Health and Fitness 2: Forever
July 29, 2012: The Omnivore's Dilemma

For a "get in shape" period, I recommend three to six months (six is better) of a Raw Vegan diet for everyone. This is because of the therapeutic benefits. Of course, you can continue with that for as long as you like. However, most people will want to do something else for the long term. This is about keeping and building upon all of the benefits you get from three to six months of raw food, and not sinking back into the Standard American Diet, with all the yo-yo consequences.

June 3, 2012: The New World Economics Guide To Outrageous Health and Fitness

I've been talking about laying out an eating plan. This is exactly what you eat, in terms of actual recipes, and the actual pattern and portion sizes of everything that goes into your diet. You can set this up any way you like, using whatever kind of principles that you like. Some people might want a vegan approach, and others might want something that is closer to, for example, a traditional French diet, including bouilliabaise, chocolate mousse, and red wine. Lots of things can work. Some things will work better than others. This is your chance to set it all up exactly the way you want, with all of the results and consequences inherent in those decisions.

In practice, you really need only a few recipes to start. I suggested twenty: five breakfasts, five lunches, and ten dinners. Often, people are even more repetitive than that -- I am -- and maybe they need only two or three breakfast or lunch recipes. You can add more variety later. Don't try too many new things at once. Try a few new things, and do them over and over until you get good at them.

To begin, I suggest making a one-week plan. All your meals for a week. You might have a detailed exercise plan, so why not a detailed eating plan? Have you ever seen a serious marathon training plan?

New Balance Advanced Marathon Training Plan


It lats out exactly what you are supposed to do, every day, until you reach your goal. If you can make a plan like this for exercise, why not for eating too?

It is not that hard to make a plan for a week. Let's make up some building blocks -- actual recipes and meal plans.

Three breakfasts
Oatmeal (organic), with brown sugar or maple syrup (real) and raisins
Black coffee
Orange juice

Two eggs (natural free range)
Two slices of bacon (fried)
Two slices of wheat toast (organic whole wheat, with organic butter)
Black coffee
Orange juice

Fruit smoothie


Three lunches
Black bean and rice burrito (organic beans and rice if possible), with salsa, avocado, and onions
Ham and cheese sandwich (craft-raised natural ham on organic bread if possible)
Potato salad (organic mayo)
Iced tea (unsweetened)

Watermelon, pineapple, grapes, strawberries or other fresh fruit


Seven dinners
Lentil soup with cumin and onions (organic lentils)
Whole wheat bread (organic, make it yourself in a bread maker, add a little butter, jam, nut butter, olive or artichoke spread, etc.)
Green garden salad with raw dressing

Spaghetti with marinara sauce, onions and mushrooms
Green garden salad with raw dressing

Vegetable soup (many varieties)
Whole wheat bread (organic), with butter if desired (consider using raw almond butter or fruit preserves)

Roasted squash
Green garden salad with raw dressing
Whole wheat bread

Large green garden salad with raw dressing
Avocado sashimi

Thai green curry on brown rice (organic)
Green garden salad with raw dressing

Grilled fish (4 oz.)
Mashed potatoes or squash/yams
Green beans with herbs and garlic
Whole wheat bread
Chocolate cake



That is a pretty normal and easy to adopt set of recipes, don't you think?

Now, let's lay out a weekly schedule:

Monday
Oatmeal
Fruit
Lentil soup

Tuesday
Smoothie
Burrito
Spaghetti

Wednesday
Eggs and bacon
Sandwich
Large salad

Thursday
Oatmeal
Fruit
Vegetable soup

Friday
Smoothie
Sandwich
Fish

Saturday
Eggs and bacon
Fruit
Roasted squash

Sunday
Smoothie
Burrito
Thai curry

How could you complain about a meal plan like that. Doesn't it sound delicious? I think so. Easy? You can't get much easier. Would your kids eat it? Sure, unless they need some remedial lessons in not being too picky.

Let's look at some of the characteristics of this plan.

Meat: We eat 4oz of fish per week, four slices of bacon, and two ham sandwiches. That's not a lot of meat. On four days, we eat no meat at all. Did you even notice?
Vegetables: Most of our calories comes from vegetables each day.
Grains: There are some grains, in the form of oatmeal and bread, but they are organic, not combined with a lot of sugar and fats (i.e., baked goods besides bread), and mostly whole grains
Raw fruit and vegetables: Every day has one Raw Vegan meal.
Green salad: Plenty!
Real Food: It is all Real Food. No processed foods. (Real Food means food like it was in 1900. Today, this means "organic" and "craft-raised" or "grass-fed" wherever possible.)
Dairy: There's a little butter and cheese here, but not a lot.
Refined sugar: Not much.
Imitation foods: None. No soy burgers, soy milk, tofu acting like meat, "raw muffins," or attempts to make a chocolate cake without chocolate or white flour
Fried foods: Almost none. The eggs can be fried in the bacon fat, which eliminates the "heating of vegetable oils" issue.
Snacks: Fresh fruits and vegetables such as dates, clementine oranges, carrots, apples, cucumber spears, nuts, dried fruit etc. Better if you don't snack at all. DO NOT buy any processed snack foods in the store.
Sugary drinks: None. If you want to drink something besides plain water, I suggest Japanese barley tea (cold). This is very cheap and can be made without boiling water. Just throw the tea bag in a half-gallon of cold water and wait a few hours. Hot herbal teas are also good.
Rules: You don't have to remember a zillion rules, and try to juggle them every time you eat. Just follow your plan.
Decision-making: None. You did all the decision-making when you made the plan. Thus, there's less risk of "deciding" to eat something you regret later. You might like not having to think about what to eat every day.
Exceptions: If you eat out at a restaurant for dinner, or have some event like Thanksgiving, skip the fish meal. Eat whatever you want, but it must be Real Food and Not Too Much. (If it is Too Much -- because, sometimes Too Much is just right -- cut back the portion size in following days.)
Booze: Up to three drinks per week, all in one go or spread out.
Portion Size: Figure out the calories for each meal -- not hard since there are only a few of them -- and adjust portion size appropriately if you want to.

Yes, you can invent a supposedly healthier plan, but this is pretty healthy as it is. It is far better than what most people eat in the United States -- while, at the same time, being pretty close to what people in the U.S. think they eat already (but actually don't). This plan would provide enormous benefits for the majority of people. You still have to do the six months of raw food, because that's the most effective way of dealing with the health problems you have been accumulating for decades. You can do something like this afterwards for the rest of your life with excellent results.

It is soooo much easier to make a plan like this, and follow it, than to wake each morning with a vague urge to "try to eat healthier," and attempt to do so meal-by-meal on an ad-hoc basis, trying to juggle fifty Food Rules every time you sit down at the table. Maybe you've tried that. Maybe it didn't work so well? Maybe it didn't work at all?

Just repeat it again next week. Same recipes. Same schedule. After about three months, it will become so habitual that you will do it on autopilot. You might decide that you like your new eating plan a lot -- that everything you eat is so tasty, there isn't any reason to want anything else. Over time, you can add more variety in the form of new recipes. Add more when you get bored.

You can also make the plan even simpler. For example:

Monday
Smoothie
Burrito (restaurant)
Thai Curry (make enough for multiple days. Prep salad and salad dressing for multiple days.)

Tuesday
Oatmeal
Fruit (supermarket)
Lentil soup (make enough for multiple days.)

Wednesday
Smoothie
Sandwich (restaurant)
Large Green Salad

Thursday
Oatmeal
Fruit (supermarket)
Thai Curry

Friday
Smoothie
Burrito (restaurant)
Lentil soup

Saturday
Oatmeal
Fruit
Thai Curry

Sunday
Smoothie
Lentil soup
Experiment with a new dinner recipe
Now, you are only cooking three meals a week! Lunches are in restaurants or fruit from a supermarket (convenient for a work lunch). Breakfasts are smoothies and oatmeal, which hardly count as cooking. That is simple enough for anyone, although you could make it even simpler than that by having a smoothie for every breakfast, and eliminating the special meal on Sunday. Use new recipes next week.

You might find that it is also pretty cheap, if you're making it all yourself from scratch, even if you use best-quality organic and "craft-raised" materials.

* * *

Because I adopted my own Raw Food plan, I didn't use the meal plans provided with the DVD workout series I've been doing, namely, Insanity and P90X from Beachbody. However, they are good plans, and well worth looking into for long-term use, not only for a three-month period. In addition to the plans included with the programs, Beachbody offers a "meal plan wizard" that will calculate and customize a plan based on four different frameworks, which includes both a "low carb" (high meat) plan and also a vegan plan. Here's the link:

http://www.teambeachbody.com/eat-smart/meal-plans

These have several nice things about them:

1) It is a definite and complete plan, down to a daily schedule and specific recipes, and also specific portion sizes. (I would replace any supplement meals with Real Food, however.)
2) The only decision you have to make is which of four plans you feel suits you best, so you don't have to learn a zillion Food Rules and try to use these in the implementation of a specific plan with specific recipes.
3) In addition to being Real Food, Not Too Much etc. etc., quite a bit of attention has been paid to things like grilling vs. frying, salt content, and that sort of thing. These are all healthy recipes, so the only thing you have to decide is which appeal to you the most.

Perhaps the only problem with these plans is that they tend to be complicated. I like the idea that you can have a variety of delicious and compelling things to eat that can also be very healthy. It's not all about steamed broccoli. However, trying to put together four or five unfamiliar recipes per day can be pretty challenging, especially if you are also getting accustomed to a new exercise plan. Thus, I would consider using the recipes and proportions suggested, but using a lot more repetition, for example two breakfasts, two lunches, and four dinners per week, instead of seven/seven/seven. But, that is an easy tweak to make. Of course, if you are interested and like cooking, then enjoy the variety.

Sample One Week Meal Plan

Detailed planning is also why the exercise programs work. It is not just about "going to the gym" without any particular idea of what to do, and then doing thirty minutes on a treadmill by default. Rather, there is an exact schedule of which workout to do on what day, and each workout is laid out down to all the particulars of what move to do, how many reps, how long, and how long of a break to take in between. The combination of a very specific workout plan, and a very specific meal plan, both of them tested and proven to produce results, is why these programs are so effective. This is all relatively new, which is why I say that they are a fine example of Post-Heroic Materialist innovation. Huge results and little cost.

* * *

With that said, I think you can also develop a very different sort of eating plan, reflecting different interests and ambitions. It can still be healthy, but with a different sort of focus. For example, let's say that you decided that your eating theme will be Classic French Cooking. You will get all of your recipes from Julia Child's famous book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which is well known for its ample use of butter. Maybe you decide to eventually make all the recipes in that book, as a long-term goal.

This is probably not going to produce the kind of health results of the Beachbody meal plans, and certainly not the results of a Raw Food approach. But, that's OK. It will still be Real Food. Not Too Much. And, Mostly Plants. It might be the way you decide to go after you finish some three-month or six-month "get in shape" period.

So, you go through and pick a bunch of recipes that suit your plan. Focus on the vegetable-based recipes (Mostly Plants). Also, respect that all of these recipes are, to some extent, special-event recipes, and that Traditional French Cuisine might also include something as simple as toast with jam and fruit for breakfast, or a bit of cheese on wheat crackers and green salad for dinner, on most normal days. (Europeans often have large lunches and small dinners.) Think about overall portion size, within the context of how many calories you should eat in a day. (Not Too Much.) Think about relative proportions. You can eat chocolate cake, but don't make these kinds of desserts 20% of your diet. Maybe 5% (roughly two desserts per week).

In this way, you can bring into your life all the wonders of one of the world's great cuisines, on a daily basis. You can exercise in a moderate fashion, but regularly, like those French women who walk 3-5 miles a day just doing their normal thing in train-based Paris. The combination will still be radically healthier than the Standard American Diet and an automobile-assisted sedentary lifestyle.

Is this eating plan "easier" than Raw Food? Because you can drink red wine and eat cheese? I don't think so. There's a lot of cooking involved, and it is ambitious cooking. I'm lazy, so I just eat some apples and dates.

Whatever approach you choose, the key is to make a specific exercise plan, and a specific eating plan, down to all the smallest details. After a while, it will become habit, and will be easy to maintain without much thinking. Over time, it can evolve, as your interests evolve.

If you are happily exploring the wonders of French cuisine, over months and years, why would you go back to Cheez-Pufs and Mountain Dew? It won't even be a consideration.