These are some of my notes, personal thoughts and experiences on the book Healthy as F*ck by Oonagh Duncan (2019). This is not a book review or a synopsis. These are literally the things that I bookmarked when I was reading along. Things that I found interesting and valuable for navigating through life.
This book resonates with people because it's written like a good friend slapping some sense into you when you get out of line. The actual advice of this book is pretty straight forward but the delivery of Oonagh Duncan's message is exactly HOW people need to hear it.
To me one of the main concepts of this book is about changing your mindset and lifestyle in order to have a successful weight loss journey. On the surface, people think that they want to lose weight and get lean but what they are really trying to achieve is happiness.
There are many diets to follow and they will enable you to lose weight. Say you had to be super restrictive and miserable lose all the weight that you set out to lose. You lost the weight and you're much leaner now. You feel good about your physical state in the moment but how sustainable is this if the method to achieve this look is making you miserable? It's not. If you can't reasonably sustain the restrictions you've imposed on yourself then you will slip back into your old ways. Happiness will once again elude you. I believe that one of the things that this book teaches is to find a middle ground. If you want to get fit and be happy... if you change too little or make the wrong sorts of changes then you wont see the progress towards your desired body(or it will be progressing too slowly). You will start to feel discouraged and are more likely to abandon your efforts. You remain unhappy.
Conversely, if you follow some restrictive diet and end up looking like orange people (bodybuilders lol) then you will achieve the physical side but it's not sustainable and will also make you miserable and fail. I believe that she is suggesting to find the sustainable middle ground. This resonates with me because I've lost weight and managed to sustain the weight loss and be happy with how I live and eat. It's not too restrictive and it takes a comfortable amount of discipline. So I believe this to be true.
She touches on an important thought about body ideals.
"Before you decide to change your habits in the name of hotness, it’s worth considering that the body ideal you are striving for is probably just a fashion trend that is exaggerated by highly processed and Photoshopped images. Fashions change and so does the ideal body."
The things we see online can easily place us into a state of lack. Naturally, we've got this idea in our head on what we want to look like. What we want to look like is usually based on what we've seen online. That difference between where we currently are and what we've seen online brings feelings of inadequacy and lack. You feel like you don't have something you should. You feel unhappy with your present self because you're not that image you've conjured up. To make it worse...the conjured up image is constantly changing over time.
Your Genetics & Your Habits
Oonagh Duncan says that our body is the result of: 1. Your genetics 2. Your habits. She says you can’t choose your genetics(I don't completely agree with this). But you can absolutely choose your habits and therefore change your body. Which is what this book is about. And in consciously choosing and creating your habits (rather than defaulting to your norm) you are consciously choosing the body that is right for you. It might not be the body that society thinks you should have. It might not be the body that you had once for about fifteen minutes at the peak of doing some completely unsustainable diet. It will be the body that is the result of your genetics and your chosen habits that you can cultivate and sustain for life. The habits that actually make you feel good. Because here’s the deal: It’s not that hard for most people to move from having an unhealthy amount of body fat to having a healthy body composition. But it might be a serious pain in the ass to go from a normal amount of fat to being super "cut" (depending on your genetics). You get to choose. Not society or fashion trends. You must choose. Or you will be fucking miserable
Losing Sight of What we Truly Want
It’s the feeling that we really want— not the actual weight loss. This is one of the most misunderstood things about goals: we usually lose sight of what we truly want. We are really chasing the feeling of happiness and freedom that will come from weight loss. Not the actual weight loss.
Take any goal you have and ask yourself why enough times, and you will always get to happiness.
Example: I want to win the lottery. Why? So I can buy a geothermal biodome and live in the country. Why? So that I can feel in harmony with nature and hang out with my family. Why do you want to do that? Because it will make me happy.
Work on being happy NOW!
Triggers and Rewards One aspect of getting Healthy as F*uck is that you must destroy your bad habits. Its more than following a meal plan. Most bad habits are caused by boredom or stress. To break a bad habit loop you must interrupt the trigger or the reward. She asks you to contemplate what the reward is that you are getting from your bad habit. Are you bored? Looking for an energy boost? Avoiding something uncomfortable? Are you feeling down and need to feel loved and treated? You need to figure out what triggers you and what rewards you need.
If your trigger is environmental these are a bit easier to deal with. In real life this might look like this: Don't stop by the bakery/coffee shop on the way home.
Don't hit the pub with with buddies for a Friday night drinking session.
Don't stroll aimlessly down the snack isle at the grocery store. Stroll the veggies, fruits, and meats and ponder up some REAL food ideas.
If you snack mindlessly in front of the TV at night. Brush your teeth. Get cozy in bed and use your phone for a bit. Making Good Habits
Choose the good habit you want to cultivate.
Choose your trigger. It needs to by specific and non negotiable. It must be logical.
Figure out the reward. Its going to take time.
Reward must be health positive and fairly immediate. If you go for a morning run and tell yourself that your reward is an afternoon nap your brain wont make that connection and create that habit loop.
Some examples of rewards:
Track your progress so that you can see a streak. (I do this and it works)
Listen to an audiobook while you walk. (I do this and I look forward to getting my daily 10k steps)
Take a nice peaceful sit after your run.
Here is real example of a habit I've chosen and a poor trigger that didn't work for me. Habit: I want to meditate everyday.
This is flawed because it is not specific and the trigger "everyday" is pretty weak.
In real life I was trying to do a 40 minute meditation everyday. The problem is that because it was 40 minutes I would put it off for the entire day. Then right before bed I would try to meditate I would just be tired.
It should really look like this: Do my Blessing of the Energy Centers meditation everyday at 6AM before making my morning coffee. The habit (Blessing of the Energy Centers meditation) is specific
The trigger is specific (everyday at 6AM before making my morning coffee)
Definition of Wellness
She mentioned this definition of wellness which came from one of her textbooks
Wellness is the search for enhanced quality of life, personal growth and potential through positive lifestyle behaviors and attitudes. Certain factors influence our state of wellness, including nutrition, physical activity, stress coping methods, good relationships and career success. Each day we work toward maximizing our level of health and wellness to live long, full and healthy lives. The pursuit of health, personal growth and improved quality of life relies on living balanced life. To achieve balance, we need to care for our mind, body, and spirit. If any of these three areas is consistently lacking or forgotten about, we will not be at our optimal level of health. We are constantly challenged with balancing each of these three areas throughout life (G. Anderson, 2008).
It focuses of quality of life. Its a growth journey...not an end point.
The 7 Habits of Highly Healthy MotherF*ckers
Oonagh Duncan lays out these 7 habits of healthy people. They are pretty common sense things but like I mentioned earlier...her delivery of this message is possibly what resonates with people. Based on other books I've read and my personal experiences I don't agree with everything she's written but I do think that these basic concepts will help set people along the right path.
Habit 1: Fill Half of Every Plate with Vegetables.
Difficult to binge eat veggies
Packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
High in dietary fiber (keeps you full).
She mentions something about overconsuming proteins and it being a part of the paleo/keto movement. I do think that this is an over simplification she really glazed over this topic. She says a gram of protein and a gram of carbs have the same amount of calories BUT she doesn't talk about the hormonal impact of each of those nutrients. Habit 2: Go the Fuck to Sleep
Lack of sleep causes raises cortisol
Lack of sleep causes motor and cognitive impairment which leads to poor decisions
Good sleep boosts your immune system
Sleep releases growth hormone
She offers these tips:
Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday. Even on weekends.
Reduce your caffeine intake and make sure you consume it before 2pm. Do your workouts early if possible
If you cant sleep get up, change your scenery and do something that doesn't involve a screen.
Step away from your phone at night.
Lay off the booze
Habit 3: Back Away From the Booze
High in sugar and triggers insulin response
Decreases quality of sleep
Makes you less inhibited around food
Habit 4: Chill Your Ass Out and Meditate
Meditate 20 minutes each day.
It's a gym for your brain.
Reduces stress and increases emotional regulation
Habit 5: Eat it All but Eat Less of it.
Many people are unintentionally overeating.
She recommends filling half the plate with veggies. Protein the size of your palm. Carbs....the size of your fist. Fat: the size of your thumb.
Stop buying processed foods. Make your own food.
Don't eat until you're legitimately hungry. Learn to experience hunger so you can differentiate between craving and hunger.
Ayurveda says stop eating when you're 75% full
Slow the fuck down when you're eating.
Habit 6: Prep and Plan Ahead
If weightless is your goal it is way more efficient to not eat those calories in the first place
Find the time. Skip a workout if you have to and meal prep.
Habit 7: Exercise Consistently
Get moving! Aim for 10k steps a day.
She says HIIT and strength training is optimal BUT you don't have to be optimal...just get moving and stay consistent.
Doesn't Always Have to be All or Nothing
She had this funny quote: "If you can't do something right...do it half assed. " She's basically saying that you can have a small win. Sometimes life is going to throw shit at you and you just wont be in the right mind state to go hard toward your goal everyday. Choose the smallest denomination of your habit so that you cant make an excuse for not doing it. Personally, I have a portfolio of good habits. One of which is daily yoga. I usually do 25 to 35 minutes of yoga a day. When I am really not feeling it...I will do a quick 10 or 15 minute video. Originally when I started my bare minimum used to be 5 to 7 minutes of yoga per day(my smallest denomination). One thing yoga (Adriene from Yoga With Adriene) has taught me is that the most important thing you can do is to show up at the mat. I might be feeling drained and really not feeling a 40 minute flow...but I can certainly commit to 10 minutes. This also ties into something that is discussed in Chapter 10 of the book....let the "Fuck it" phases become shorter and less frequent. Nothing in life trends perfectly upwards in a straight line. You don't set personal bests every day. You'll have good days and bad days. Make sure your progress trending upwards. Try to make sure that the highs are higher and lows are higher. Personally for me this looks like this: Highs are higher - My yoga practice getting longer and longer over time. I am getting flexible and moving with more integrity.
Lows are HIGHER- Even when I am REALLY not into it I do at least 15 minutes of yoga. I used to do 5 to 7 on my low days.
This way...I am always trending upwards.
Experiment. Learn the Lesson. Gain the Knowledge. Get on With Your Life. Sometimes when you're seeing good results and you're feeling good about yourself you might start thinking....do I really need to have this sort of discipline ALL the time to feel this way? So you test.
For me it looks like this. I got great results from keto. After I lost close to 50lbs I wondered....can I eat a bit of rice and maintain the way I look and feel? So I test. When I have a few spoons of fried rice at a family gathering...no biggie. If I have more than a few then I don't like the way it makes me feel. I found my limit. This allows me to eat fried chicken on keto even though its breaded...its within my allowable limit to still feel great and look the way I want to look. I am happy and that's what matters.
Efforts vs. Results Choose the effort you want to give and make your peace with the consequent results OR decide on the results you want and accept the efforts required to achieve your goal. In yoga there is a saying that each asana(pose) should have a mixture of sthira (strength or structure) and sukha (softness or sweetness). Your lifestyle should be this way.