The Mark Divine BLOG: Overhauling Your Diet


Overhauling your diet is not an easy task—the availability of cheap food and the ingredients used to make that food make it tough. Consider the statistics that shed light on the uphill battle: some 45 million Americans each year try a diet, spending an estimated $33 billion on weight loss products.

So in winning the war in your mind first, it’s critical to have a visceral grasp on your why.

If you’ve read my book, The Way of the SEAL, you know how much value I put in this step. You must know your WHY.

Here are the core reasons why it would be worth your time overhauling your diet.

Improve your body composition. Improving body composition means either shredding off unwanted body fat or it means increasing lean muscle mass. Or both.

Improving body composition drives a large part of the fitness magazine industry. Editors put models with great abs on the cover because they know it boosts how many magazines they’ll sell. The primary interest here, obviously, is the “I want to look good in bed” interest. Or look good in a way to attract potential mates. Hey—there’s nothing wrong with this. Evolutionary biologists will be happy to explain to you how all-powerful the drive to procreate is.

Reducing the Risk of Disease. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute reports that too much body fat can cause or contribute to the following severe health problems: Heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type-2 diabetes, cancer, osteoarthritis, infertility. A person who is overweight, with the chronic cellular inflammation that is associated with metabolic problems, can decrease these risks in tremendous ways. In other words, everything your grandmother told you about why eating well can make you healthy is basically true. I’m not telling you anything new here.

Genes—the hand of cards you were born with—are the keyboard that your diet plays upon. Some folks can eat a bad diet and smoke a pack of cigarettes every day until their 90. Others who follow the same routine might have a heart attack at 38. You can get a decent idea of where things stack up for you by looking up your family history. Founder of the Zone Diet, Dr. Barry Sears, was motivated to apply his biochemistry and medical training toward figuring out this interplay because his father and uncles died from heart disease, all around the age of 50. “I knew I was a ticking time bomb,” he says. Sears ultimately embarked on a journey to try to repress the heart-disease genes he was born with by eating a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet. It’s working so far: Sears is now 70 years-old.

Fitness and Athletic Performance. Generally speaking, athletic superstars are athletic superstars not because of what they eat but the genes they were born with. Training is a help, and so is good coaching and other factors. Only in recent years have top athletes in major sports been working with nutritionists in droves. There may be a lot of reasons why this is so, but surely one of them is that some athletes have dismissed the need to worry about diet as long as they exercise a lot.

The question that we really want to drill into is this: Can nutritional dieting be used to improve physical performance? The answer, unsurprisingly, is yes. Research is now clearly showing that by eating a diet that takes it easy on your insulin system, you can, over time, transfer a sugar-burning metabolism into a fat-burning metabolism—allowing you to access stores of body fat for fuel rather than being restricted to the limited supplies of liver and muscle glycogen.

Energy. Do you have a problem with energy and mood throughout any given day? Waking up tired, going to bed exhausted, and just grinding through the day?

If you do, know this: It doesn’t have to be that way. By overhauling your diet, resetting your metabolism and building in a sustainable approach to food, you can look forward to waking up refreshed and full of energy—an energy that stays high throughout the day, until you start to wind down for a night of good, replenishing sleep.

Cognitive performance. People tend to think of Navy SEALs as physical studs capable of incredible acts of stamina, endurance, and all-around athletic prowess. They would be right. But the work also requires superior levels of cognitive performance—even when it’s pitch black out, 0300 hours and you’ve been going all-out for hours or days. (Attend one of our SEALFIT Academies or camps, and you’ll notice how much emphasis we put on mental acuity and high-performance thinking in stressful situations). Poor nutrition practices can sap brain cells of the nutrients needed to perform routine mental functions, like making good decisions and committing things to memory. Good nutrition, on the other hand, can have you humming along at high-speed even late in the afternoon after a long, challenging schedule of work.

Emotional resilience. Emotional resilience is the heart of mental toughness. In our Unbeatable Mind Academy, we teach a process for changing mental habits so that dark thoughts and emotions don’t pull you under water into the jaws of the Fear Wolf. By interdicting these thoughts and feelings through a process of awareness and redirection, we learn how to transmute the energy of these feelings from a negative to a positive. There’s a lot of biology involved here as well and food is a major player. When things get tough, if blood glucose is low and you don’t have the metabolic machinery to access alternative fuel sources, a negative, self-defeating thought can trigger your brain to start shutting things down. Perceived exertion goes way up, thanks to this action by the brain, and everything feels a lot harder. The option of quitting begins to look good, as you weaken physically, mentally and emotionally. While there are ways to override these forces through training, if your nutrition was optimal—you will have a lot more psychological staying power in the bank to draw upon.

These are the major reasons why you might be inspired to do the work to replace a scattershot, junky diet with a high-test, sustainable nutrition program. So, what is your why? What’s most important to you on that list?

There is no one perfect nutrition plan that suits everyone, so if you want to perform at your peak you need to use your own body-mind as a test lab. One way to experiment right away is by joining our 6 Weeks to Cleaner Eating Challenge that starts on February 1st. This is a terrific program to help reset your system and challenge you to examine what foods affect your performance and energy levels.

I hope you take your fueling to another level and we stand by to help. In the meantime, train hard, stay focused and eat for performance, not just pleasure!

–Mark Divine

P.S. If you’re ready to make some true changes to your diet, join the 6 Weeks to Cleaner Eating Challenge that begins on February 1st. We’ve got coach Melanie, the SEALFIT team and of our favorite fitness and nutrition experts to help you get lean, clean and become a fat burning machine! CLICK HERE to learn more.

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