Diet vs. Exercise on Obesity: Salads or Marathons?

I’ve always been a somewhat cynical individual. I meet people and tend to make up my mind on someone too early. This was especially true of fat people earlier in my life.

I believed what society told me- or more specifically, the government- in that, if you wanted to lose weight, you just had to exercise more and eat according to their pyramid. Also that you were probably stuffing your face and being a piggy.

Many recent events in my life have completely changed that notion. For the past two years or so, I have been through periods whilst very sick and the medication I was put on had me craving very calorie-dense, unhealthy foods. And a lot of them. Because of my very large appetite, I tried eating healthy. Salads, fruits, lean meats, grains, and very little processed foods. This would be the “healthy diet” you’ll hear from the USDA and most people interested in health. Too bad it doesn’t work; I gained more than a little weight. The first time around I gained 70 pounds, the second time was 55 pounds. Oh and did I mention? I was exercising extremely hard. High intensity interval training, long runs, weight lifting, taking the stairs rather than the escalator, and it was all for naught.

Granted, I was consuming large quantities of food, which means even with the best of diets, I couldn’t have done much better than break even. But 70 pounds in 9 months is a staggering figure, as is 55 pounds in 6 months. But I have also shown a resiliency to lose this weight and this is why I have a slightly different perspective on obesity. Anyway, I don’t mean to focus on my 2012 and 2014. Let’s focus on fat people.

Survival Instincts are What’s Killing Us

I’m not going to get into calories here, simply because the math doesn’t work by itself. The sheer amount of calorie deficiencies and exercise to drop a pound of fat is considered an absurdity in the online health community, and to be honest, I agree with them. That’s not to say that calories are completely irrelevant, but it’s far more important of the qualityof the calories you consume the calories themselves.

Ridiculous! You might exclaim. Your food is “fortified” and has all sorts of vitamin & mineral additives, how could it not be as healthy as eating a tomato? Not that Ramen Noodles are fortified at all, but one drastic story to explain my point is the teen who had been living on solely Ramen for 13 years, since the age of 5. Her health at 18 is being described as as poor as an 80-year olds.

Ok, fine. Cheap shot. You don’t eat Ramen every day, but do you really feel safe consuming large amounts of dairy, meat, grains, and processed food products every day? Your brain loves it, sure; it simulates all that we humans used to look for in survival. Salty, fatty, and sweet (SFS) tastes encouraged our survival, simply because they were denser foods through which we could subsist on in the wild. Was it an everyday occurrence that early humans found a deep-fried sugary donut in the morning, a peanut butter jelly sandwich for lunch, and a slice of pizza with a salad for dinner? Impossible.

So our brains are hardwired to seek out these SFS foods, as our bodies are still in survival mode. And because these incredibly heavy foods are very nutrient-poor, we are hungry more often. Our stomachs also don’t fill up nearly as much from 400 calories in pizza as they would be from a salad:

So, to recap: we’re hardwired to seek out processed, calorie-dense foods (i.e. addicted) and they don’t fill up our stomachs fully (we go hungry or we get fat). Let’s move on to exercise.


I have already written on exercise in the past as a means of becoming fit, however it is not necessarily needed to become skinny. Anyone running every day will of course slowly lose weight, but as it compares to diet’s impact on overall physique, the results are unmatched. No amount of exercise can compete with my current diet, especially for people who are not fit and don’t have the energy or stamina to put in 3 hours at the gym every day. Most scientists I’ve seen online say it’s 80/20 or 75/25 between diet and exercise in terms of effectiveness. One even went on to say “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.” Another said, “It’s much easier to cut 500 calories than to spend an hour at the gym burning 500 calories every day.” While I think calories oversimplifies the issue, it provides helpful images like the one I shared above and can equate food with exercise in simplistic terms.

What exercise will do for you, however, is:

  • Strengthen your core
  • Improve bone density
  • Improve your mood and mental health
  • Drastically improve your circulatory and respiratory systems
  • Maintain existing muscle mass
  • Prevent injuries
  • Improve sexual performance
  • And even prevent cancer (although diet does a far better job if you’re strict enough)

Without it, you will lose muscle and bone density alongside fat as you eat well. So there is a great deal of value to being physically fit (through exercise) as there is to trying to lose excess fat (through diet).

However, as I indicated in my simplistic description of exercise on diet, obesity is caused almost exclusively by poor eating choices.

Okay, Let’s Blame The Excess Fat on Poor Eating Choices

Calling obesity a choice implies a level of education and ability to actually choose the right foods for consumption. In many cases, this is simply not the case.

First there are children who simply eat what their parents feed them. This is hardly the kids’ fault, and in fact, parents need to be held far more accountable. Next in line are those who are too poor to afford a proper alkaline meal. I don’t need to represent the numbers here but unless someone is incredibly careful about their expenditures, it is far easier to eat unhealthily than healthily from a cost perspective. Lastly are those who did not receive a proper education, or rather, self-education in wellness, as our government has completely screwed up dietary recommendations since the FDA issued its first version of the food pyramid around 1940:

This is nowhere near a prescription for an optimal human diet and reeks of either poor science or potential industry influence, even right around WWII. The recommendations continued southward from here, however, and the food pyramid I grew up was perhaps the most backwards:

With grains (sugar) at the bottom, the effective recommendation is almost half of your daily consumption to have no nutritional benefit. This is hardly a productive recommendation, and yet it was what I grew up with believing without question.

So before going too far into how poor a job the FDA has done for the average citizen, one can only imagine what seeing something like this does for their mindset on eating. Additionally, as they peruse the internet for low-fat diets, low-carb diets, and various diet fads like a cayenne pepper/lemon juice/syrup cleanse, it’s likely they will try a few things, find poor results, and quit.

The educational piece is what I’m trying to drive home here. Fat people are not a function of their choices in all circumstances. Yes, some chose McDonald’s over salad places, not arguing with that, but given the sheer quantity of misinformation on eating properly from the federal government on down, I have trouble blaming fat people for their choices. It is likely many of them are highly frustrated and I doubt very many would choose to remain that way if they knew how easy eating right can be. I simply think of them as uneducated and likely unwilling or unaware of the ability to educate themselves and pull out of the hole they’re in.

And of course, there is the rare occasion its due completely to something out of your control, such as awful medications or other health concerns. I’m inserting this plug for myself of course, but not every obese person can be blamed for it.


RJ’s Dog: Much Healthier Than Pavlov’s

A lot happened today. I’ll try to keep them short, as I have an exam tomorrow morning and am not well-versed on tax accounting just yet.

RJ’s Dog Story: A Look Inside The Body

dogRJ was asked to house sit for a family who had a dog of medium size. It was a very hyper dog, always nipping at people and pulling the leash on walks. The family left the traditional bagged dog food and told RJ so many scoops per day. Him, being the Zen master, chose a different route.

He blended up a number of greens and other vegetables, thinking it would improve the dog’s health, and put it in the bowl. Of course, like most Americans, the dog refused it. But then RJ did something profound: he mixed in peanut butter and the dog couldn’t get enough. He also then ran the dog every single day, about 5 miles, which was far more than it normally got.

The result was spectacular: after just one week, the dog no longer needed a leash and stayed right at his side (this without any sort of disciplinary actions or sternness). The dog was calm and at rest during the day, even before his daily run.

To me, this is remarkable in a number of ways. The body can rebound and heal far faster than most of us realize. It’s possible to get mentally healthy alongside physical fitness, even after eating crap for your whole life. And if you make it taste good, which is very possible on a vegan diet, you can get just about anyone to consume the food.

This is why I want to learn to cook. I want to share it with those who are addicted to the best-tasting foods in the world, and no matter how much they destroy their bodies, they have groupthink pushing them to feel like it’s okay. Let’s change that paradigm, and I’m not talking some random blog; a business that is based on real science and gets people healthy quickly. This is my goal: something real I can bring to the people.

Diseases Can Be Cured

My post yesterday was about Forks Over Knives, which instilled in me the idea that cancer is a disease we do to ourselves and that it can be reversed, or at the very least halted in its tracks. My cat died this year of cancer; I can’t help but think the cancer came from her food. We should be like a car- we break when our pipes break, whether its transmission fluid leaking or the turbo shutting down. But to rust from the inside out is just poor ownership; it’s not possible given the way the car was made. Everybody is rusting in the U.S. and yet nobody seems to care or feel how sluggish and diseased they’re becoming. Everyone chalks it up to genetics, as if the level of health and wellness in their lives means nothing.

Cancer is like rust. Let’s take better care of ourselves. Start feeding our pets and our loved ones real foods; we feed our lizard kale and I didn’t actually know kale was edible until I started living with RJ. I just figured it was pet food.

2 Partially Finished New Sources

ph miracleToday I started reading the pH miracle, as per RJ’s request, and I’m absorbing so much knowledge. I’d highly recommend it to those who want something to read, although I haven’t gotten too far into it yet. There’s also a video of him here on YouTube, explaining the basic necessity of fixing your blood so that it fixes your body. It’s a great thing to know.

The other is a documentary called Fathead, recommended to me by someone who had seen FSND. I didn’t know it, but it’s a documentary trying to debunk being super healthy, almost making it seem ridiculous and old fashioned. At one point he asks 10-15 people if they like carrots and every single one said no; it kind of annoyed me. Anyway, he went out to do 30 days on McDonald’s and other fast food to prove he wouldn’t gain weight on it; basically that Morgan Spurlock lied about his results and should be exposed for what he really is. I’m 35 minutes into it currently and just unable to believe what I’m seeing. I’ll be posting a full rebuttal sometime this weekend. Don’t watch this one as fact folks!

A Semi-Gross Anecdote

bathroomI ended my juice fast today after going to the gym hard. I ate salads all day and it was delicious. I no longer crave most shitty foods and I had no trouble today at all on 80-10-10. I passed my first bowel movement at 12:30 AM, which after eating at 2:30 PM and not having gone #2 in 4 days, was pretty surprising. Depending on the source, you will see anywhere from 33-70 hours as being about average for an American today, so for me to pass my first meals of the day in 10 hours is pretty cool. My body doesn’t have to work hard to break it down, it gets more nutrients and less calories than the normal diet, and it allows my body to focus on healing itself from all the food I’ve eaten my whole life. Pretty cool stuff.

That’s that for today. Off to an 8 AM exam tomorrow and then a full day with the people I care about here at school. Should be a great weekend. Going hiking tomorrow if it doesn’t rain.

Also, I wrote this post but didn’t add pictures/links yet, and while studying, I drank 1 German beer with 5.6% alcohol proof and I had a nice buzz for about an hour. 1 beer. I don’t need to poison myself with 10-15 drinks to have a good time.

Being healthy will help those who help themselves.

Great Documentaries!

Today I watched a fabulous documentary- Forks Over Knives- and I’d like to share that with you, as well as another I watched recently. I don’t want to make it a habit of putting up long posts or short posts only; I figure a good mix depending on the content is the best approach. For this one I’ll keep the descriptions short so you can explore for yourself.

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead

This documentary got me into juicing, which has completely altered my body and mind in so many ways. It’s a powerful story of two men that are just as the title implies- FSND- and how juicing changed everything. Although I’m not the most fit person in the world- even after my 2 juice fasts I’m still not where I should be- the sheer healthiness of what I’m putting in my body has given me an aura. Girls look at me now, whereas even before I got sick and fat last year, I wasn’t healthy so it wasn’t noticeable despite being skinny and toned. Now, on the other hand, all the beta carotenes and various nutrients I’m putting in my system has given me a bit of a glow. I’m not shining like RJ (my zen master roommate) just yet, but the glow is starting to come out. I hope to keep it going and see my progress!

Forks Over Knives

This is, quite simply, the greatest documentary I’ve ever seen. It’s about the importance of eating the right way and it was passed along to me by a friend who saw that I started this blog. The blog is paying off already! I can’t think of a better way to spend 90 minutes of your time and learn something you can use for the rest of your life. Happy Gilmore or Saw IV can wait- try to do something real with your time this upcoming weekend. You won’t be disappointed. And rather than comment on all the themes it covers, I want to explore all the subjects brought up in it further before writing. Anyone can watch a documentary and write about it; I want to go that extra step and learn more.

The good news: both are on Netflix! Happy learning!

As An Aside

open closeYesterday I went to the bar with my best friends and we did open to close: 11 AM to 3 AM. It was a great environment to study during the day and celebrate at night as we approach finals later in the week. You’ll see us there with our computers out around 2 PM here. My buddy set up a live feed on YouTube, which was hilarious to send to my family & friends so they could watch us at the bar. It’s on the TV above us; we really did make a scene yesterday. They required us to buy a drink every hour, so I consumed quite a lot of alcohol, and above all else I could feel the negativity immediately. Our bodies are equipped with so many senses to let us know when something is wrong. Most people interpret them wrong- I will write about this sometime- but I’m especially in tune with it now that I’m healthy. Alcohol is something my body detests, but I’m on a juice fast so it rebounded quickly. I was able to get work done all day while my two close friends both sat around the TV or slept.

RJ tells me I’m underestimating just how bad alcohol is for me; I’ll have to look into it more but I can definitely feel it. I have no defense of any sort of unhealthy behavior now that I know better, but I won’t miss out on events like yesterday- which turned out to be one of my favorite days in college- just to be perfectly healthy. Everything is a choice, everything is in your hands, and it’s up to you to decide what to do with your body. A lot of people simply don’t know any of this stuff though, so it’s important to at least share it with them so they can make their own choices.

But it’s important to keep in mind- if you don’t take care of your body, where are you going to live?

(On the lookout for more documentaries, let me know if you have some recommendations! I’ve also seen Super Size Me, but that’s common sense; nobody really needs to watch it to know the story)

An Introduction

Photo on 4-29-13 at 12.38 PMAllow me to introduce myself: My name is Andrew Schneck, I’m 21 years old, and have a number of diverse interests. I’m going to graduate college in 3 days with a business degree from IU Bloomington, originally hail from Pittsburgh, PA, and am headed to Raleigh, NC for a job full time in August.

I ran 2 blogs, one after the other, on investing the past few years. I’m taking one down soon, but a link to my old one is here. I also have a research site where I post my portfolio and research. A sample can be seen here if you’re interested; currently I’m up to over 200 “files” just like this one.

I like to read. A lot. I educated myself through college on all aspects of finance and investing. Malcom Gladwell wrote a fabulous book, The Outliers, which stressed the importance of dedicated practice in order to become an expert. 10,000 hours to be exact. I officially hit 10,000 hours sometime between February and March of this year with stocks, which I am quite pleased with. The book says it should take about 10 years; I did it in half the time, which means 5 hours per day on average over that time. As I said, I’m a pretty intense individual.

I’m not bored with investing, don’t get me wrong, but I want to start a new 10,000 hour project. I decided on health and wellness. My roommate is the zen master of the universe, or at least in my eyes he is, so I’ve looked to him for guidance and education this school year. He’s had me watch a number of documentaries, read books, and try different health experiments to see how my body reacted. I will be posting about much of the education I’ve gotten so far and I’ll then pick topics that interest me. I figure it’s great to learn in the public spotlight and get connected with other like-minded people. But if no one checks my site, so be it; I know from experience the benefits of writing about what you love.

Why Health & Wellness?

I got sick in 2012. I left school, spent 6 months at home recovering (having left school for spring semester) and gained 70 pounds. I was in great shape, approaching six pack status, so 70 pounds on top of 190 was crippling. I increased my weight by 35% and life changed drastically for me. Not only did my medication slow my mind and body down, my weight kept me out of the gym because of the sheer difficulty of activity.

My zen-master roommate changed all of that around, however. He introduced me to juicing, organic foods, and basic education on the differences between the American and paleolithic diets. From January 5th of this year, the day I came off my medication, I’ve dropped somewhere in the range of 50 pounds (I’m on a juice fast currently and part of my ritual is to not weigh myself until it’s over). So while I’m not fully back, I’ve made significant progress toward my goals. I’d say about 20 were just medication-related, but about 30 were hard-earned juicing & exercise pounds that I shed through sheer determination.

Not only that, it was easy! I was never hungry over that period, I actually felt healthier than I ever did eating normal meals, and I started to view food differently. Rather than something that sates a craving, it was something I put in my system to fuel myself. The difference is huge, but most McDonald’s customers wouldn’t understand the distinction. I still am becoming acquainted with it.

Educating Our Youth

I will likely post on this at some point, but I believe our education system has utterly failed our kids. When it comes to health and wellness, it’s egregious. Lobbyists are protecting their respective industries, the amount of money in Big Food is so much that you have to be careful of what you say, for fear of being sued, and so we have a food pyramid forced on us that is nowhere near reality.

I finish school this week after 17 years of “education” and I don’t know how to prepare a meal for myself, let alone know the difference between a cheeseburger and hummus with pita. I’m now getting there, but it’s not because of our schools. We shouldn’t have to go to culinary school for a basic wellness education. But that is where we are today.

childhood obesity education programsWe have the most obese country in the world laden with the most illnesses- nearly all preventable- and a lack of awareness of our bodies. Most Americans believe they have healthy diets when it’s anything but. I’ll get into more detail in its own post, but some of things I have seen have shocked me to my core. And it’s all easily preventable! Weight Watchers isn’t the solution, nor are any of the major weight management programs in the country. They preach discipline but not education; they want to hand you a fish but not teach you how to hook them on your own. They say cake is still okay, as are many other things so long as in moderation. I believe if people truly knew what was in a slice of cake, they wouldn’t touch it except on birthdays. And therein lies the rub: with a focus on profits, nobody is truly helped by the industry.

The answer does not lie with even more regulation, but rather education. McDonald’s can fight the government, but they can’t fight abandonment. If people choose to stop poisoning their bodies, there is no way around it for Big Food.

Recipes, Recipes, Recipes!

2013-04-04 13.11.17I want to start learning to seriously cook and prepare foods- mostly raw vegan- to nurture my body and also taste good. I think most people would be turned off to this type of rigidity, but if you could make it taste good, I doubt many would complain. So for my future romantic relationships, or even perhaps a business someday, I want to learn to prepare food the right way. Salads are great and all, but creativity and new food combinations excite me.

I will be sharing my personal cooking experiences as well as juicing recipes I find or come up with. I’m not into smoothies as much, but maybe that will change. I prefer to eat my fruits and juice my veggies. Be prepared for pictures and my thoughts on some of the foods, in addition to my commentary on topics like pasteurization, mass-produced food, V8, composting, sustainability, and organic vs. regular produce.

That’s Enough Already!

Okay, okay, I know. I can write for a long time, the issue is getting people to read more than a page! So I’ll cut this off here. I just want it to be clear why I’m writing: I was sick, I was introduced to a way of life I want to explore further, and perhaps people can learn along with me. I encourage people to get in touch as well; idea exchanges are highly valuable and I’m always interested in new points of view.

So with that, I’ll say thanks for visiting and I will begin posting more upon graduation.