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You Are What You Eat, a New Perspective

Four Vital Lessons About: Fuel and Stuff

The "other" cellular network

In every one of my books, programs, and seminars, you'll find my reliance upon a word I've used to coin the essence of the foundation of physical change. That word is synergy. If you've known me for any length of time, you've no doubt heard me explain that "synergy," as I coined it, is the vital implementation of three synergistic elements, the right nutrition, moderate aerobic exercise, and a concern for muscle. Synergy is perfect, at least in its relevance as a foundational principle. If you seek physical improvement, and any one of the three synergistic pieces is missing, you're going to wind up frustrated, disappointed, or in a state of unjustified self-blame.

In this article I'll share four simple mini-lessons, four lessons that should be simple to grasp, four lessons that when complete will help you understand why an alternative to synergy doesn't exist, at least not as a fitness or weight loss solution.

Lesson #1: A neighborhood of cells

Your home is a unique environment. In it you have air that is different than the air outside. What maintains the unique environment of your home is a combination of perhaps brick or stone, plaster or drywall, and insulation. Consider that the "barrier" that allows the air inside to stay cooler or warmer than the air outside. Of course, the air isn't stagnant. It moves as the result of a powered mechanism that creates energy flow.

Much as your home maintains a unique environment, different than the air outside, and different than the other homes in the neighborhood, every cell in your body maintains a unique environment, and together, those cells make up the organs and structures of what you see in the mirror. The cell is complex, which is likely why I hated studying biochemistry, so we'll discuss it in simple but accurate terms. In each cell is the "power center" and the "stuff" you're made of. Simple enough?

The cell wall maintains the environment in the cell and is programmed to know what to let in and what to send out. As long as the cellular structure, the "stuff," the power center, and the programming are all at their best, healthy active vibrant cells combine to form a healthy active vibrant you.

Let's get just a bit more scientific. The power center is the mitochondria, the part of the cell in which fuel is burned and energy is created, or perhaps better said, its the place where ingested nutrients in their cellular form get burned as fuel. The "stuff" is called the cytoplasm.

Run to the mirror and you'll see and feel the combined effect of cytoplasm and mitochondria. In a very simplistic overview of the effects of exercise, we can surmise that lifting weights develops muscle and aerobic exercise increases energy capacity. If we want to better understand the process we'll reframe the statement to say, lifting weights causes the body to synthesize proteins differently and reshape cellular material to create more lean body mass and aerobic exercise creates greater power production in the power center of every cell.

So far the lesson should be simple, as promised. When we stimulate physical change, ultimately, it takes place at the cellular level. If you want a beautiful neighborhood, beautify the homes in that neighborhood. If you want a beautiful body, optimize the cells that call that body home. First lesson complete.

Lesson #2: Garbage in, garbage in

Now that you can envision the source of your performance and aesthetic as a neighborhood of cells, you have to consider the three cellular components I mentioned. The membrane of the cell, as the walls of your home, must be well constructed if the internal environment is going to be protected. The material you use to construct the cell membrane comes from the food you eat, and one of the primary roles of "the good fats" is to serve as the raw material for cellular membrane.

The structure of the cell is primarily protein, and guess where that comes from? Yes, from the foods you eat. Eat proteins that have been damaged in processing and your cellular material is built from flawed material. Fail to eat enough protein and you are going to break down cellular structures without enough material for adequate repair.

The mitochondria produce power and energy in the presence of oxygen using fat and glucose as fuel substrates. If you fail to take in "good fuel," or if you fail to take enough fuel, energy suffers and protein will be used as a fuel source. The power center can literally cannibalize muscle tissue.

With this basic understanding of fuel and material, you can surmise that if you fail to take in the good fats, quality proteins, and optimal protein-sparing energy substrates (good fats and unprocessed carbohydrates) the membrane, the cellular structure, and the energy production all suffer. Exercise from here to eternity. If you're ingesting garbage, you cannot possibly find the thrilling positive change you seek.

Fail to take in adequate nutrients, and the degradation of the cell continues. Cells still exist, but their walls become permeable, their environments become infiltrated with toxic invaders, and energy production begins a gradual and significant decline. If you put hydrogenated fats, chemical preservatives, processed foods stripped of nutrient value, and toxins into your body, your cells take them in and hold them. The entire structure is modified and the garbage you've consumed becomes part of you.

Lesson #3: Deciding what goes where

Exercise might not have been necessary as a frequent regimen hundreds of years ago, but realize that the world was different then. People moved. They didn't move around in cars or reach the far corners of the planet using a computer and Wi-fi. Foods weren't processed. They were grown and eaten. Livestock ate real grains and moved freely through fields. Fish weren't raised on farms and fed pellets. We weren't exposed to chemicals in our air, food, and water.

Today, thanks in part to medicines (which is an issue all to itself), and to developments in surgical procedures and science, our lifespan is extended, but why settle for a longer life with a reduced quality. You MUST exercise if you are gong to maintain any control at all over the way your body looks, feels and functions.

Even if you eat the better foods, you take in good fats, good proteins, and ideal energy substrates, unless you require the burning of the good fuel, and unless you ask the building material to be turned into strong cellular tissue, the excess will be stored as fat, the power centers decline due to an insufficient demand, and after the age of 30 the body begins its own deterioration through degradation of the cells.

Exercise gives you control. By asking the body to rely upon the mitochondria, and by challenging muscle and asking the body to resist, you program the cellular network (nothing to do with your phone service) to develop new healthy metabolism-supporting muscle. With enhanced demand you get good at moving quality food through the digestive system and the hungry cells absorb and use what they need.

So far here's what we've learned. We become the sum total of our cellular structures and those structures contain stuff and a power source. We must put quality fuel into our bodies if we're going to provide the cells material and fuel to deliver optimal health and fitness. We must challenge muscle frequently so our bodies become programmed to develop and maintain muscle and to keep metabolism youthfully stoked.

Lesson #4: Pump it

Meals break down to nutrients, and nutrients become cellular matter and fuel. Nutrients are transported out of the digestive tract and into the bloodstream, and then . . . they've got to move. The cellular delivery system is the bloodstream. Much as the turtles in Finding Nemo rode the Jetstream, proteins, fatty acids, and energy substrates have to travel and they're moved along powered by the cardiovascular system. When waste products are released from cells, they too are moved to be excreted. We expel waste through breath, we excrete wastes through the intestinal and urinary tracts, and we cleanse internally through a network of organs including the liver and the lymphatic system. Failing to ensure optimal performance of the pump leaves a broken delivery system, and in that hungry cells are left wanting, toxic cells are left holding more than they'd like.

Doing something specific to optimize the efficiency of the heart and lungs is another "must." We can call that aerobic exercise. Interestingly, while serving the nutrient delivery system and waste removal system, aerobic exercise also works to repair damage to the mitochondria. Good food, muscular challenge, and aerobic exercise. Synergy. A perfect formula.

With these four lessons shared, Synergy should make perfect sense. We become better by eating the right foods with optimal frequency. We control the use and distribution of those foods by asking the muscles to do a bit more than they're used to, and in that we're rewarded with aesthetically pleasing lean bodies with the ability to perform at high levels in whatever arenas the owners of those bodies choose to pursue. We ensure the cells are well fed and well cared for by doing something aerobic to take care of the heart and lungs. Put it all together and you get it. Synergy is the key to positive physical change.

Are there other lessons? Sure. I can talk about how important it is to incorporate rotational action in an exercise program to ensure ease of movement at any age. I can talk about how important it is to breathe deeply and to manually stimulate health and immune function by moving lymph through the body. I can talk about the hamstrings, the lumbar spine, and the challenges that come from neglect of those areas as we age. There are many lessons . . . which is why, if you haven't read them yet, you should download and read my Seven Letters. They're outlined below.

Introducing ALIVE

For those of you who live in South Florida, if you are not at your best and you want to be, if you struggle with an unfulfilled wish for fat loss, if conventional medicine has you medicated for issues related to thyroid, blood sugar, or blood pressure and you're not sure how to be proactive, or if you're simply not living in the body you'd like to inhabit, I'm presently accepting clients to go through my ALIVE protocol. It's a 28-day strategically aggressive program aimed at restoring wellness and health. If you have interest, email me at phil@philkaplan.com and share no more than a paragraph describing your present condition and your want to improve

Always Better,

Phil Kaplan


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