I’ve often thought that my life stages could be defined by the cars I’ve owned. I drove a Honda Civic as a young single professional in San Francisco. As my career and family grew I moved on to a BMW 325 and an Acura MDX. But my very first car, a 1976 AMC Gremlin, is only one of my gremlins and a great analogy for today’s MOJO update.
My First Car
Yes, I did say my first car was a 1976 AMC Gremlin. White with black stripes down the side, and the Gremlin decal on the back panel. It definitely was not the coolest car to own. However, at $900 it was all I could afford.
Looking back, I could tell you it was a 3 speed, on the floor manual transmission. It had a “slant 6” six cylinder engine. When you opened the hood, you could sit on either side of the engine as there was so much room in the engine compartment. I know this because this is where I learned to change the plugs, set the timing, change the oil, replace the alternator, etc. etc.
What I liked about that car was that you knew when something was going wrong. It would get fewer miles per gallon, make a noise, or take longer to start. If you listened, it would tell you there was something not quite right.
Gluten, My Second Gremlin
In my last blog, I described my experience identifying gluten as a problem for my body, and how going off it really made a difference. After eliminating gluten for over a year, I was able to re-introduce it into my diet in limited quantities. With that win, I hadn’t really thought about it over the past year.
Here’s the funny thing. I’ve been battling very dry, itchy skin for the past 9 months. Initially I blamed the drier climate we moved to a year ago. My solution was to use more lotion, and then a different lotion. That didn’t work, so I presumed it was the new soap I was using. But changing that out didn’t work either.
While writing last week’s blog I had an “aha” moment. I was reminded of the benefits I experienced when I eliminated gluten from my diet. In addition to the digestion and brain fog improvements, going off gluten reduced my rosacea. Hence, while not scientific and with different lotions and soaps not solving the problem, I’m now thinking I’ve overindulged on gluten, mainly through drinking beer much too frequently.
So now, I’m reducing my beer intake (and any other gluten items) to check my theory. Stay tuned.
Magic Scrubbers Aren’t the Answer
Back to the AMC Gremlin. I remember when I was looking for my first car, a mechanic told me, “Look at the exhaust. If it’s dark the car is burning oil. Gray or white smoky exhaust shows there is a coolant problem. Go for clear exhaust. It will cost less down the road.” I wish diagnosing the root cause of my body’s ailments were that easy.
Let’s say you have a car with black exhaust and you want it fixed so the car runs better. You would take it to a mechanic. If it’s an older car, they’d start pulling apart the engine, find the specific problem like a worn gasket. They’d replace it, reassemble the engine and get you back on the road. They wouldn’t offer to place a magic scrubber at the end of the exhaust pipe to make the exhaust appear clear and tell you the car should run better. They’d take a step by step approach to identifying and fixing the root cause.
However, we try the magic scrubber solution all the time when it comes to our bodies. We use ointments, lotions, antacids and other digestive aids only to see those same symptoms reappear. We need to go after root cause. For me, the evidence suggests that the types and quality of food we eat can have enormous benefits to our body’s overall performance. And my last year has proven that to me. I guess I’ve had two gremlins in my life; one that I drove and one that I ate. I’ve learned from both.
I’m becoming more amazed at how simple it is to maintain weight even with all the fun I have living in this resort town. The key, as I’ve found, is to hit a minimum of 85% of my meals using real, whole foods. That’s only 18 out of 21 meals in a week.
So, with no calorie counting and no extreme exercise regime, I’m two pounds lighter than at the beginning of the year. I feel healthier and stronger, more mentally acute, and I know that with a stronger commitment to fewer “indulgences” throughout the week, the pounds would come off faster.
This lifestyle change, as opposed to a diet, has provided me with a basis for making better nutritional choices. I think this is where the diet industry fails us. Once you go off a diet, what new habits have you built to continue your progress? My simple formula makes it easy for me to know where I stand each week, and how I need to eat to feel great and improve my performance. It helps me make better eating and nutritional decisions.
We’ll see how I do as the upcoming weeks are full of travel. There are always healthy eating challenges on the road. But I at least have a better framework for health than just trying to eat fewer calories.