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A brief exploration of what we deem “healthy”

I developed a mantra during my sophomore year of college that has helped shape my view of the world socially, professionally, and philosophically. It goes like this: “people behave rationally within their own realities.” I came up with this not-so-revolutionary phrase as a result of being involved in a schizophrenia research lab. Being in an environment that closely examined the etiology and experience of schizophrenia altered my idea of how we explain reality to one another.

Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and debilitating mental illness that is incredibly disabling and widely misunderstood. While we have medication that can help treat symptoms, once someone develops the disorder, they enter into a lifelong battle of how to manage it. One thing that was important for me was understanding why people with schizophrenia often behave in ways that seem strange to other people: not getting out of bed for days, not leaving their house, mistrusting lifelong friends, family members, spouses. And it all appears to occur “out of nowhere” often around the ages of 18-24. When I began to delve into both qualitative and quantitative research, I was exposed to more of what it is actually like to live with schizophrenia, and all of a sudden, these strange behaviors started making sense in context of the thoughts that lead to them.

Would you trust your best friend if you were 100% convinced she was plotting against you? Would you leave your bed if you felt that you were not in control of your own behavior? Would you feel comfortable walking down the street if it appeared that everyone you walked passed was staring at you?

It occurred to me that there was something biological altering what these people believed to be reality. So, within that altered reality, they behave rationally.

I use this example because this mantra has helped me navigate any kind of stressful interpersonal situation possible from family, friends, colleagues, to strangers. And every where in between. I also think its important to understand in the context of fitness and nutrition. If someone’s world tells them that health means monitoring only their mental health, that that is health to them, then that’s what health is to them. You can’t argue with that. If someone’s world tells them that obsessively counting calories and not nourishing themselves all for the goal of maintaining a certain physique, then that’s what health is to them. It’s honestly crazy how passionate and almost enraged people become when their paradigm of health is challenged. But, when you consider how much people attach it to their sense of belonging and perhaps even their own identity, it starts to make sense.

So my charge is two things: 1) welcome people into your world. You might have come across things that they aren’t aware of that is helpful for them. 2) However, you might learn something from them that works best for your body. So before you immediately question the validity of another person’s lifestyle, maybe do something as simple as asking them why they do it or where they learned about it.

I figure we might as well open ourselves up to another person’s world at the risk of missing something that could have been a game changer.

– Liv

Motivation and tangible goal setting

I am lucky enough to be able to spend time with smart people from different backgrounds, ages, races, genders, and professions constantly. Between working part time in a medical research setting and being part of a fitness community, at this time in my life I have a pretty eclectic sample of opinions coming at me from different directions. And most of the time, it’s in fun settings. This Saturday was no exception. Standing at a holiday party with the best people in the world, I got to talking to a dear friend about fitness, health, and aesthetics. The conversation started pretty normally – we scanned the venue and commented on how lucky we are to be in such a wonderfully supportive community, agreeing that what we like to call “social fitness” has to be the best and most important part of seeking a “healthy” life. I put “healthy” in quotes because that ended up being the crux of our conversation.

A lot of people come to a gym for aesthetic reasons. We can all agree that fitness is a good thing and that as long as the behavior persists, some would say it doesn’t really matter what idea it was born out of. Hell, one of our athletes just wrote about this a few weeks ago! And I’m not here passing judgment on anyone’s self-image or internal motivation to seek out a healthy behavior. What I can say through personal experience and hundreds of studies on fitness, body image, health seeking behavior, and any permutation thereof, is that what gets you in the door is not always the motivation that keeps you there.

Let’s put it this way. A friend told me that one time a good friend of him came to him saying he wanted to join a gym. When my friend asked why, his friend replied that he wanted to “get bigger arms.” “

“That’s it? Just bigger arms?”

“Yes.”

“So, what is big enough?”

Was it diameter? Was it circumference? Was it the amount of weight he wanted to be able to lift with his arms? Ultimately, this one, specific outcome, wasn’t actually specific at all. And the goal, while presumably attainable, was actually useless because there wasn’t a logical progression of work-to-outcome.

The problem with this kind of perspective that no one can really be blamed for having is that it paves the way for a person to measure their ability to achieve a goal on the way they physically appear. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned since joining Deuce gym it’s that looks can be incredibly deceiving.

And while, again, I am not trying to say that people should be shamed or stopped from caring about aesthetics or being proud of how they look in any form, I think it is important especially in this time of year to be cognizant of how we are told that the vehicle to our dreams is through aesthetics and not achievable, measurable goals.

And even more so, what would really happen if we suddenly reached our aesthetic goal? Will you really feel happier if you have abs? Is your thigh gap going to all of a sudden make you love yourself after 20 years of self-hatred? Will there suddenly come a day when you feel you have done it?

If that’s the case, then that’s awesome. Like I said, I’m not here to judge you or your motivation for anything you do. But if not, maybe take a second to re-examine why you are doing what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with.

– Liv

 

This is what moves us

We hear a lot about changes in “diet fads” here at ORIGINAL. It seems like each year there’s another new, “groundbreaking” study showing that you should eat more of this, less of that, all of it generalizing to the entire population when it might not necessarily fit an individual’s need.

We aren’t here to tell you what the best way to eat is. We aren’t here to tell you what the best way to live is. We’re here to provide top-grade, third party tested products that fit your needs. To fuel your needs. That’s what moves us. That’s what inspires us to be better as a company and as humans every single day. We don’t subscribe to one die-hard philosophy about what it means to be healthy (except maybe to eat real foods), but rather we work to provide the best possible products to help you perform at your absolute best. In every aspect of life.

So, athletes, what do you need? What are you looking to add to your life that we might be able to help out with? Humans adapt to their environments, and so do we.

Help us adapt.

#PinkyUp

– Liv

Gratitude

Often times when I come to my gym, I like taking a moment to reflect on how lucky I am. It isn’t always a fully formed thought, but being at this special place with these special people, I have a short lived moment of bliss. It’s the kind of thing that makes you realize that you don’t take enough time to express gratitude for the little things in your life.

But today it isn’t about the little things. We don’t spend as much time as we should thanking each other in general. But even more so, we don’t spend enough time thanking those who sacrifice their lives for us.

I really have no idea what it means to be a member of our military, and so I’m not going to pretend like I do. But I know that there are a lot of people who face the most extreme dangers in our world every day so I can sit here, sipping on coffee, hanging out with my friends, with not a care in the world except for my workout tonight and my schedule tomorrow.

To the veterans. active duty members, and family members, here’s to you. Thank you for everything.

– Liv

What makes you ORIGINAL? series: Nate Harris, ORIGINAL Athlete

The ORIGINAL Nutritionals team is excited to launch our “what makes you ORIGINAL” series. This series is aimed at celebrating individuality, innovation, health, fitness, movement, and joy in our local and global community. Keep an eye out for profiles of athletes, scientists, doctors, and community members in the future. Our first blog is courtesy of Nate Harris, our most recent ORIGINAL athlete writing about how “#JiuJitsuSavedMyLife” 

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#JiuJitsuSavedMyLife.

It’s a hashtag I put on all Jiu Jitsu related social media posts. Some may see it as just a catchy tagline, but for me it is an authentic declaration of gratitude. Now, I’m not saying I was literally on the verge of death, or that when I magically ended up in my first Jiu Jitsu class I was set forever on a path towards prosperity and happiness, but… well, no, I am saying that.  My reality was not far off.

Before Jiu Jitsu, my diet was comprised of whatever was fastest, easiest, and tastiest with zero regard to the effects that anything I ate had to my body. I also drank heavily and smoked cigarettes. I was decidedly slovenly, not salubrious.

So it comes as no surprise, given my sloth, that it was vanity that prompted me to join the gym in the first place.  I was tired of being the fat guy so I started working out and quit smoking just to look good and maybe get some girls. When one of the fighters at the gym encouraged me to try a Jiu Jitsu class, I thought, “Ya know, learning a martial art might be pretty cool.”

It was maybe my 2nd or 3rd class when I had the realization that, yep, this was going to be something I would be doing for the rest of my life. My coach, Tait, once told someone, “I think Nate had come to 3 classes when he started to walk just a little bit differently through the world.” He was right.  I’d begun to discover a confidence and purpose that I had not had before.

I’d say it was after my 2nd tournament that the switch was made from being a Jiu Jitsu hobbyist (albeit a very passionate one) to a legitimate competitive athlete.  In this tournament I not only achieved my first win, but I won four matches.  Getting a taste of what it felt like to win prompted me to have a different reason WHY I trained, which led to a change in HOW I trained. Everything had to be methodical, especially diet. For those unaware, when you compete in a Jiu Jitsu tournament, you are placed in a weight division and, of course, everyone wants to have the size advantage so everyone cuts as much as they can to get into as low of a weight class as possible and still be able to perform. (The irony being that you end up having to lose a bunch of weight just to compete against people your own size.) I got EXTREMELY fortunate in having Tait Fletcher as a coach who taught us how to cut weight safely and intelligently. Eating a bunch of junk and trying to sweat out 20lbs in the last couple of days is most definitely going to affect your performance in a drastic way. Our bodies are machines and we must take care to make sure they operate at the most optimal levels.

My first step towards eating to perform was going on a strict paleo diet for 30 days. When I started, my thoughts were along the lines of, “Ok, it’s gonna be really hard but I’m gonna be able to work harder, recover faster, and be more shredded. Sweet!” And ya know? All that happened. What else happened, though, which I didn’t expect, was that my mood was better, my energy was higher, and the anxiety attacks that used to be a daily occurrence were now completely gone. It may seem obvious now, but recognizing in such a visceral way that the stuff I put in my body affected me physically AND mentally/emotionally was a crazy concept.

Over the years I’ve continued to learn, experiment, and evolve in how I eat and train. I don’t say “I eat paleo” because I’m far from perfect in my diet (I’m definitely guilty of having a weakness for corn chips), but “primal” is the blueprint for how I eat and live. My life is now free from foods that are overly processed, refined, or just straight up fake. There hasn’t been room for alcohol for 3 years. Every day starts with a shot of fish oil. Every cup of coffee is blended with MCT oil.

I started eating right to be a better athlete, and I am now profoundly grateful that my training has led me down the path of becoming a better person – I’m healthier, I’m more disciplined, and I’m always surrounded by a supportive community. Thanks to Jiu Jitsu, I found health and, with it, a better life. At the age of 21, I was told that due to my family history I’d probably have my first heart attack in my 30’s without a change in my habits.  It was a daunting prognosis and I didn’t look forward to a life battling a slew of ailments.  Now, I look forward every day to grappling with life. I look forward to growing older because I know I’m never going to stop learning and improving my health, fitness, and athleticism.

So I can say, with all sincerity, that #JiuJitsuSavedMyLife.

 

– Nate Harris

IG: @nastynateharris

 

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What’d you think? Let us know. @onutritionals

 

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Trust your gut

How do you feel?

 

Isn’t that a nice question to hear? From your doctor, your partner, friends, coworkers, parents, children. It’s nice to feel noticed, and to then have your feelings hopefully validated by someone who cares.

Let me ask you this, though: when was the last time you asked yourself how you feel? I don’t mean when was the last time you felt something or had an opinion (I am posting this on social media, after all, so chances are we’ve all expressed some opinion today), but I mean really taking the time to sit down, take a breath, and ask yourself “how does this make me feel?”

A common trend in pop psychology is mindfulness, which is a pretty well-named practice if you ask me. It basically is an empirically supported method to do what so many of us try to do in our daily lives – be present. A lot of people use it in yoga or meditation, but it has also been used in treatment settings for basically every single mental illness you can think of. And most of the time, it’s effective.

Why do I bring up mindfulness? Because I want to stress that it’s important that we all take time to ask ourselves how we are feeling. And I don’t just mean emotionally – I mean from every nook and cranny of our bodies.

You have a problem at work – how does that make you feel? It might make you feel angry, but does your anger also find a home in your body? In your stomach, your chest, your fists? You go through a breakup or experience grief or loss – how does that make you feel? You might feel sad or confused, but you might also feel physically empty, drained, or sluggish. These feelings are all real, and we owe it to ourselves to treat each feeling we have with respect.

Trusting my body has been one of the single most important metrics that I have grown to follow in regards to my personal health and nutrition. It has taken me some time to realize that, for example, dairy and grains put a lot of strain on my stomach. I started having pretty severe stomach pain during the fall of 2014 and had a hunch that it may be due to diet. So I went to a doctor and got blood tests. Nothing. Not lactose intolerant, not gluten intolerant, nothing. But the pain persisted for almost a year until just a few weeks ago when I started the whole life challenge. The whole life challenge is a wonderful challenge that helps users track sleep, activity levels, mood, and nutrition over the span of 8 weeks. Part of the nutritional aspect is following a paleo strategy. I pretty much stopped having stomach pain altogether, with a few exceptions being a trip to Vegas, a best friends birthday, and various other occasions here and there. I was happy to take part in celebrations (have your cake and eat it too type scenarios), but I noticed that as soon as I ate foods with added sugar, grains, and dairy, that the pain came back.

But why? I didn’t test positive for anything?

But here’s the thing – I didn’t stop and ask myself how I was feeling. I didn’t allow myself to be autonomous with my doctor and ask for real advice for what I was really feeling.

I’m glad that I took the opportunity to shift my lifestyle enough that I noticed drastic changes in how my body was feeling, because it made me realize that I can and should take more ownership over how different foods make me feel. And I happen to think that this is a pretty bad ass way to tackle most uncomfortable situations in your life.

 

There’s a reason they say “trust your gut.”

 

Tell us how you’re feeling on Twitter. @onutritionals || #PinkyUp

– Liv

 

Instagram: @liv.r_

Twitter: @oliviarussak

Inquiries: [email protected]

To MOVE is to LIVE! | #CleanAthlete

To MOVE is to LIVE! | #CleanAthlete

How did I get here?

There’s a line in one of my favorite Talking Heads song called “Once in a Lifetime” that goes “how did I get here?” I was listening to it as I was driving home from the West Side to Pasadena, a commute that will always feel like a chore, and I decided to pass the time by taking a moment to ask myself this question.

How did I get here? I asked, as I drove on the 101 with the whole valley illuminated before me. It was one of those rare clear nights; that quality we only rarely get after a rain when all the smog has been washed away. It reminded me of Colorado, where I went to college.

The thing about having just graduated college in May, is that this question of how did I get here? can in the same minute elicit feelings of anxiety and euphoria, thoughts of paranoia and wonder, and memories of sadness and joy. I like this question, though. I think it can be an important and valuable prompt to some serious mindful reflection.

I think about my parents and sisters, I think about my friends from high school and college, I think about my professors and mentors and coaches and colleagues. I think about how lucky I am to be able to return to my hometown and feel loved by the people who have been there forever, but also to feel welcomed by a new community, one that fosters not only silliness and play, but also serious mental toughness, creativity, hard work, and camaraderie. I think about how grateful I am that my sister Emily found Logan, Lindsey, Danny, and everyone in the Deuce and ORIGINAL Nutritionals family. If it weren’t for that, I would probably still be searching for a way to “fit in” in a place that, before college, I never thought I would feel not “in”.

But, lucky for me, I found a new place inside of the one that used to be so familiar. I get to be part of a company that I have followed from a distance since I met Logan, who is someone who trusts me to follow my gut, treat our clients with respect, and, probably most shockingly, has given me a platform to write blogs??? Watch that one bite him in the ass, am I right?

I digress.

The point is, I realize that I would never have gotten where I am today if it weren’t for everything that I have learned from everyone in my life, and a big part of that has been about nutrition and health. I can’t begin to describe how excited I am to work for a company that stresses function and wellness, doesn’t shame people who have been unsuccessful in various health related goals, and doesn’t talk about dieting, counting calories, avoiding fat (!!!!!!stop doing this!!!!!! fat is not bad!!!!!!), and other fraudulent and altogether ineffective nutritional paradigms. Learning that nutrition is not just something that means “food’s relationship to how your body looks and how much fat is on it/if you eat this people will think you are hot” is something that has been huge for me, and I’m not even really sure Logan knows this. I like being able to look at a plate of food and think about how it will fuel my brain cognitively, developmentally, and emotionally, how it will help my heart beat longer so I can keep laughing and loving with my friends, and keep my joints nice and juicy so I can swim in the ocean, do a whole bunch of squats, and drop it low in the club with my goofy friends…all in one day. This mindset has allowed for me to find a common-sense way reject a lot of pressure that all of us face – regardless of age, gender, race, status – to just be “thin” or “fit” or whatever body-type fad is in at that time. It means so much to me to represent a brand that will remain authentic as long as it is around, and I can’t wait to share my experiences as a member of the ORIGINAL team with all of you.

 

If you have the time, ask yourself how you got to where you are right now and share your responses with us on Twitter! We want to hear from you. @onutritionals|| #PinkyUp

– Liv

 

Instagram: @liv.r_

Twitter: @oliviarussak

Inquiries: [email protected]

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