The Jumbled Mess of Modern Life

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In our culture, and in other similar ones, there is a jumbled mess of factors contributing to overweight and obesity,  with the broad ones being that modern life demands less movement and offers nearly unlimited calorie-dense food.

There are socioeconomically disadvantaged places in the United States with little to no access to fresh, wholesome food, restricting choices to an overabundance of pre-packaged and heavily processed food. But even in moderate- to high-wealth areas, conglomerate economics put a slew of processed food even on the shelves of high-end “wholesome” supermarkets.

We also move less. Our environment, technology and work generally give us little reasons to move. Our entire salary can be earned from a chair. Our meals can be hunted, prepared, and served to us while we sit, sipping on chardonnay. We can play an entire game of sport on 3 dozen cable channels, all from the comfort of our own couch.

No longer do we sit down to dinner with friends or family, but we mindlessly eat dinner while watching television, surfing the internet, or doing the bills. Distracted eating can be a strong contributor to overweight and obesity.

Some of us (very few of us) are lucky to have active jobs, live in areas that encourage walking to places, enjoy robust access to wholesome food, or are even born with genetic cues to move or to stop eating when we’ve had enough.

Many of us, however, must build into our life external cues to get up and move and to stop eating when we’ve had enough. We have to find ways, however contrive they may seem, to move more through the day — outside of even formal exercise routines — and to avoid overeating.

I’ll continue to discuss the social practices that contribute to overweight and obesity, and how IF can directly or indirectly address them. But, for the year 2011, The Lean Saloon would like to focus more on simple action items that help us to lose or manage body weight.

Stay tuned.

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16 Responses to The Jumbled Mess of Modern Life

  1. Stephon says:


    Exactly what I was speaking of yesterday to a friend who because of his job and crazy schedule (overseas) has little access to whole natural foods, and I told him what you stated about moving more and eating less. He now says he will definetly give it a shot and with IF will look to turn things around. As always Johnny your post is dead on, just knowing there is hope for even those with limited access to whole natural foods is truly inspiring, this is my favorite blog hands down.

    I asked you a question about bodyweight training a post or two ago and I’m sure due to your busy schedule you never got back to me, but if you have a response that’s great, if not that’s fine just keep the awesome posts coming.

  2. David says:

    I totally agree with you. Moreover, the whole dieting and eating dilemma is just a portion of the information overload thing we’re living in these days and age.
    I wish everyone could read the material you write in here.

    I sense that this wonderful site, Johnny, is really underrated.
    Keep up the great work!


  3. Johnny says:

    One positive change I made to my life is avoiding sitting down. I stand when I work at my desk (most companies will allow this desk configuration if asked), I stand when I am at home watching TV, and I generally try to stay on my feet. For me, it has dramatically helped my back and tight hamstrings. I am sure there are circulatory benefits as well. Just getting up and moving around is one small change for those who are trying to lose weight and get active.

    • TrippleZ says:

      I did basically the same major change – made a standup computer desk at home where I work on average 8-12 hours/day, so let’s say I have no more than 2-3 hours of sitting time from about 16 hours total waking time.
      I’ve researched on the internet about the calorie expenditure when someone is standing as opposed to sitting the same amount of hours but didn’t find any conclusive and well-backed numbers. Do you have any idea of the calories “burned” during standing?

  4. Johnny says:

    I am not aware of how much more a person burns standing versus sitting, but even if it’s just 100 calories per day, it’s something. I do know that studies show increased longevity in those that stand over those that sit or are sedentary during the day.

  5. KevinT says:

    Right now, I’m standing at my computer. I tried doing the sit down at a desk thing and it was killing my back.

    A few years back after college I was a sign maker. I stood all day long, was active, and even rode my bike on breaks. (I was also doing 6 day workouts and eating every 3 hours too, but that’s another thing). Standing was no big deal and I could do it all day, everyday …but I did notice that sitting down put me to sleep! haha (I think a big part of that was probably all the stress I putting my body though from all the workouts). I was always exhausted when I got home, grumpy, and was close to falling asleep driving home from work somewhat frequently (freaky!)

    Long story short, these days I work from a computer … and the sitting thing just wasn’t working out. I noticed a huge difference in how I felt. It’s stand up for me now.

    Now the trick is working in moving around more throughout the day. I enjoy my 20-30 min workouts a few times a week … I enjoy eating good foods later in the day … but walking around more, etc feels like a chore. Back in college and as a sign maker, I HAD to move all day and walk everywhere … now I don’t … and it feels like an interference.

    That’s something I’m trying to fix now.

    • David says:

      It’s really interesting to read what you’re writing in these comments. I’ve recently read something about standing while working (because I’ve been looking for workspace setups lately, for the stuff I write).
      It’s a fairly simple yet nice idea that I’d really love to implement in the next workspace configuration I will use.


  6. Tracey says:

    Hi Johnny,
    I couldn’t believe that I lost weight while on vaction this past week. After all, I was eating more then I normally do..the difference however was that I was much more active, walking everywhere. It was so enjoyable too. It makes me realize that daily movement is a great way to burn some calories, it doesn’t necessary have to be a killer work out at the gym:)

  7. Matt says:

    Hi Johnny,

    Just found your blog a couple of weeks ago and wanted to say how much I like your approach, and your blog. I’ve been following your ideas myself since reading them here, and am getting leaner than ever. I just have 1 big main meal in the evening, and then another smaller meal a bit later on at night.

    I have a question unrelated to the post, I hope you don’t mind offering your insight. Thanks to IF I’m currently down around 8-9% bodyfat. I’d like to lose a few more pounds and get down to around 6ish. From there I’d probably like to gain about 5-10lbs of lean muscle, do you have any advice on implementing a ‘clean bulk’? I’m in no rush to gain the weight, so don’t mind doing it slowly, but don’t want to put on too much fat with it, and can’t stand the idea of going back to lots of meals all day. Thanks

  8. Jordan says:

    Hi Johnny,

    I was trying recently the leangains protocol (cycling macronutriments and calories…) but it can fast give headaches and be a bit restrictive with the guidelines (days with high-carb with low fat and days with low-carb and high fat). As we know, what matters at the end of the day is the caloric intake. The thing is, you seem to maintain your leaness and weight without counting calories or macronutriments. This approach appears much more liberating compared to a protocol like leangains that requires to track calories, macros… But how to know if one eat at maintenance or slightly less (in order to lose fat) whitout tracking food, calories (etc.) in day-to-day life? You must know very well your body but you must follow some general guidelines to make it possible without tracking, no?
    I remember of someone in the comment section who estimated your caloric intake based on an old article where you gave a look of typical meals you were eaten. It was only around 1200 calories and considering your height and the fact that you have more muscle mass than the average joe how do you explain the fact that with a such low intake your weight stabilized and you maintain muscle mass? Also, as you seem to agree with the fact that what matters the most is the calories in vs calories out, do you still eat pretty paleo like you were some time ago? How a typical day or week look like in terms of meals?
    Finally, what would you recommend to people that can’t prepare their lunch (since I use IF, it’s my first meal) and have to eat out (generally a sandwich or so) in order to stay lean/avoiding weight gain?

    Thanks in advance Johnny,


  9. Emi says:

    Hi Johnny!

    I just found your blog today and was wondering if you believe more in Martin Berkhan’s protein recommendations or in Brad Pilon’s ? I’m just wondering because it doesn’t seem like you’ve lost much muscle mass throughout you’re whole journey yet if I’m correct, you’re not getting anywhere near the 1.5 gr/lb protein like most of Leangainers…
    and not having to focus so much on getting protein means that cutting calories is much easier…

    Thanks for your thoughts…


    • Johnny says:

      Hi Emi,

      I’ve stopped looking at food as macronutrients a while back, and it’s been the best “dietary change” for me. Now I just look at food as, well, food. I tend to chose whole, real food… instead of protein, carbs and fat.

      I’m not concerned with protein intake as much as I am striving for dietary variety.

      If you’re looking for optimal muscle gain, it may make you feel better to put more focus on protein intake and timing (but by how gain achieved and whether or not this difference, if any, is worth the extra effort is entirely up to the user).

      I’ve have worked with several clients who gain muscle without changing a thing about their macronutrient, timing, or calorie intake. They simply lift more weight with proper progression and sufficient physical effort. Muscular tension and effort are the godfather of muscular development.


  10. Johnny says:

    Stopping worrying about protein is one of the best pieces of advice I have gotten from The Lean Saloon, besides intermittent fasting itself. I no longer worry about getting in 1-1.5 grams per bodyweight or whatever is suggested. I find most days I get between 50-100 grams. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but I am still gaining strength and retaining muscle. I believe that was a myth created by the supplement companies.

  11. Jordan says:

    Hi Johnny,

    I’ve posted a message on this article but didn’t get reply yet. It’s ok since I admit that there were many questions and maybe you didn’t want to answer or had time…
    This time I’ll only ask one clear question: What define the bodycomposition (muscle and lean tissue vs fat) of someone?
    As I understand more and more your message (I’ve reread older articles…), it seems that what matters the most for bodyweight is calories in vs calories out. Also, like you’ve answered to Emi earlier, macronutrients isn’t that much important but how do you explain that there can be two persons of the same height and weight but with different bodycomposition? Exercise? Genes?
    If I’m not wrong you’ve said you are 5’8 feet and 147 pounds (maybe it changed…). I’m about 5’9 and currently 160 lbs. My goal is to get down to 145 lbs. In the past I’ve succeed but I wasn’t as cut and sharp as you are even at that weight while I’m taller than you. I’m thinking of giving a try to modeling but before I need to get in great shape and decent bodycomposition. I currently try to fast at least 20h and eat only 1 or two meals but my weight seems to stuck. If you have any advice I’ll appreciate it…

    Thanks in advance,


  12. Matt says:

    Hi Johnny,

    So just to clear up..are you saying that if I keep following the IF plan I have been I can still gain muscle through proper training?

    My weight is still going down, I think I’ve got about 4 more pounds before I hit the 6% mark, then after that I’d like to gain a bit more muscle. I was reading a Brad Pilon post the other day about how a pound of muscle only needs about an extra 10 calories (not the 50-100 the fitness industry tells us). If that’s the case, to gain 10lbs of muscle I’d only need to average an extra 100 calories a day, which would just be an extra bit of fruit or something. Do you think this is right?

    If it is, it seems I could continue eating exactly as I am now until I hit the bf% I’m after, then have maybe an extra protein shake or bit of fruit every day and build some more muscle but stay lean. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

    Thanks in advance

  13. Emi says:

    Awesome thanks to both Johnnys for the reply!

    Not worring so much about protein is going to make IF even more liberating! So as long as I keep gaining strength, I’m probably not losing muscle right ?

    Great stuff! Thanks so much!

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