In the mid-90s, I was at a listening station at a bookstore, tuning in to an artist I had heard good things about. His name was Nick Drake and the song I listened to that day was called “Way to Blue”. Before the chorus finished, I was crying in the middle of that store. Music has always had a grip on me that movies and books could never quite hold a candle to.
Many years later, I took the cue from a book called “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die” by Robert Dimery, and listened to every album in the list that I wasn’t already familiar with. Not surprisingly, Nick Drake’s album made the list.
While lists like these are subjective, I knew it would be an aggressive undertaking. When I removed all of the albums from the list I already was acclimated to (let’s say a mere 25%), I still had several hundred albums left to cover.
I loaded them up on my iPod, decade by decade, and started to dive in.
The original book starts in the 50s and works its way into the 2000s. While I didn’t listen to every album in the order it was listed, I did cover each decade at a time. So, I didn’t touch the 60s until the 50s was complete, etc.
It took me about a month of daily listening to cover the list in entirety.
As someone who is fiercely passionate and opinionated about music, I had always kept something of a distance from certain artists who are considered iconic in music history. Artists like Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Leonard Cohen, and even bands like Joy Division stayed further than arms length from me. I knew their importance as artists but I had no perspective to approach them from. As a result, much of my life I steered clear, for the most part, and let my tastes guide me other places.
There is an opinion, I don’t know who to credit it to, that “nothing new” in music was created beyond the 70s. After delving through the list, I am inclined to agree.
While certain styles of music may have evolved into the following decades and improved with advances in studio engineering, there is actually little (if anything) that became a pioneering achievement beyond the 70s.
One of the things that I found fascinating by approaching the list in the way I did, was that those same artists I kept my distance from now “sounded” different when you heard them amongst the landscape of other artists at that time. Some bands/musicians were a true product of what was happening socially, geographically and politically at the time. If those same artists would have been placed anywhere else in history, they may not have had the same impact.
So, when I got to Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and the other aforementioned artists, the lightbulb kicked on: Now, I understand. Now, I “get it”.
And that understanding led to me completely embracing those artists, all of whom, save for maybe Cohen, I am still listening to routinely today. I respect Cohen but I really have to be in the mood to listen to him.
As much as I love music, and I love music down to my bones, I couldn’t really appreciate the icons and the legends of rock history without understanding the framework from where they came.
Once I did, it was a revelation.
It got me thinking about how the average person approaches nutrition and exercise.
What many people know about food and training is what the population at large has shown them. They are victim to the trends of the moment. Much like music, if you don’t take the time to delve past what the radio (the public) plays you, you’re going to miss some very important areas. You might only be exposed to fad diets, misinformation and you never really understand why so many of the available options don’t quite work for you.
As a result, you might hear about things like intermittent fasting and all of the supposed (and actual) benefits of it but it doesn’t mean that it applies or would work for you. It only has those benefits for certain people. Keto is interchangeable in this conversation, as is veganism or any other diet that is defined by a name.
We (collectively) hear what people tell us about health but we don’t look beyond the surface of it. With music, if all you know is Bob Dylan, maybe you get no further than Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Donovan or Woody Guthrie. That’s not a bad thing but your palette sure is limited.
When people hear about the value of temporarily tracking their food, assuming there is not a psychological barrier to doing so, maybe they dabble in it but they don’t practice the skill enough to see how effective it is. They kind of “get it” but not really. That’s not saying you need to track but if you’re going to do so, commit to it for awhile. Educate yourself.
Or maybe people hear about the importance of a macronutrient like protein. With the inclusion of resistance training, they might not take the time to develop the skill in adding that nutrient, (animal or plant-based), consistently into the diet to see how transformative it can be.
We could argue over the merits of intuitive eating, flexible dieting, very low calorie diets, etc. and there will never be a shortage of dietary methods to experiment with and learn from (just like there will never be a shortage of bands to fall in love with or detest).
What I’d like you to do is to dig deeper and learn more about food and how you nourish yourself. Just a friendly reminder that food documentaries and fad diet books are not a good place to actually learn about food.
With training, maybe you’ve heard about the advantages of sprint intervals, high intensity training or “metabolic workouts”. They sound good on paper, maybe even with magical results, but you don’t take the time to understand the efficacy is in the dose (more is not always better) and even if certain types of training might be contraindicated for your body.
And, if you’re inclined to agree with the notion that nothing new has been accomplished with music in the last few decades, I would argue that the very same could be said about food and exercise, too. Most of what we know about has been the relative truth for decades now.
My challenge to you is to learn more.
Learn what make your body feel good.
Learn what portions of food make you feel satisfied but not stuffed.
Learn the amount of food and the style of training your body performs its best at.
Learn what foods make you feel bloated or tired.
Learn what style of exercise leaves you empowered to “fight another day”.
Learn what foods can stay at close proximity in your home without being triggering.
Know that the foods that make me feel great may not be the same foods that make you feel great. We are allowed that individual response.
Much like taste in music is subjective, so is taste in food and training and how our body responds to both.
Truth be told, you don’t have to take my word from it. The “lightbulb moment” has happened for many of my clients at RevFit, too:
From Pam H: “Things clicked for me when I learned to hit the calories my body needed for fat loss and to dial in my protein. I lost 40 pounds this way. I know exactly what I need to do I just need to commit to doing it.”
From Mary W: “My lightbulb moment came when I realized that everything I wanted to accomplish for myself and my body was at least 75% mental.”
From David L: “I can’t run from the fork. Meaning, one can train vigorously for five days a week, but not maintaining a reasonable diet will sabotage that effort.”
From Rachel H: “I know that personal bests come slow for me. I made a vow to myself that I wouldn’t miss a training session for 12 weeks and I train 3x/week. During that time, I only missed two sessions, making it in for 34 of 36 sessions. By the end, I had hit a new personal record in my trapbar deadlift.”
You don’t learn these things by playing a cameo role in your health. You learn them when you commit to programs that resonate with you.
When you experiment and “listen” to the cues, you’ll learn things about yourself that may not have been apparent before.
So, take that journey. Look beyond food for sadness, food for solace and food for fear that you may not see the next meal (assuming you are of the privileged who are not without).
Look beyond training for fat loss or training as punishment for something you ate. Learn to appreciate what your body is capable of and the circumstances under which you’re at your best.
Pay attention to the framework you approach your health from and once you find that context, you’ll “get it”.
Just like our clients did.
(Pictured below, Nick Drake’s “Five Leaves Left” which originally featured “Way To Blue”)