What I'd tell the majority of people is to use the acronym KISS—Keep It Simple, Stupid. Because I have to use that on myself all the time too. When we want to make changes, they have to be changes that we never give up. If you're starting from eating Doritos and Big Macs and you're like, I'm gonna do a raw food diet and work out three hours a day, you're gonna crash and burn.
The worst thing you can do even if you're going out drinking and partying is to stop working out. A lot of people end up giving up on their routines and trying these crash diets, crash workout programs—making New Year's resolutions that only last until February. Start slow, and find something that you love doing. But the main thing is to eliminate the poisons, replace the bad food with good choices: whole foods, fruits, vegetables, lentils, beans, plant-based foods.
It really is a battle. We're being force-fed commercials for bullshit food, commercials that say, "Oh, if you have something wrong with you caused by the way you're living your life, fuck making the changes—Just take this pill!" But then you're gonna need another pill, and then another, and the next thing you know you're 30-something years old and you're on eight different types of medication. We're being hustled, being bamboozled, and we have to know what the fuck we're putting in our bodies. It can't just be a list of ingredients you can't even pronounce.
You have to be mindful of everything. That's my best advice to people—read labels, man. Go Google what the hell that ingredient is.
If you've ever read my book Evolution of a Cro-Magnon, that whole year of 1988, I was a crackhead. I never ate meat—I was smoking crack all night and then having three ounces of wheatgrass juice the next day. Maybe that's why I survived it, because I did a lot of crazy shit, man. I got into the whole junk food vegan thing for a while, too, and it just made me put on weight. In 1991, I was 20 pounds heavier. We've all been there, but don't beat yourself up over it. Just get back on the horse. We all stumble and fall, but it's about who gets back up. That's the real deal.
Even if it's 15 minutes in your basement or room every day and you're doing pushups and sit-ups, start slow and build up on the successes you've had. If you do it every day, you'll start to see progress. Expecting perfection out of the box is a trick that the enemy mind uses to try to get you to quit. You want to get healthy, you need to do the work. There are no shortcuts.
I just finished the Cozumel Ironman on November 30th. I try to always keep another goal in sight—I'll put another triathlon on my board right away so that I always stay goal-oriented. It doesn't have to be an Ironman, it can be something else. But when you set a goal to work towards, you're not just floating through the holidays with no aim in sight.
My girlfriend's a nutritionist and a trainer, and she says you can't out-train a bad diet. That's why a lot of people put on weight over the holidays, because they're overeating a bunch of crap and sweets, and then they think they're gonna go run 20 minutes on the treadmill and that will get the job done.
That can be your worst enemy—not defeating the mind. You've got to wake up, beat the mind with a stick, and put in the proper nutrition and training. The nutrition base is the most important thing.
It's been proven that mood is affected by diet and exercise in a very, very positive way. And if you look at people who are always depressed—who are like, "Nothing's ever going my way"—let's start pulling back that veil of bullshit and start to analyze why that is. I'm not talking about clinical depression, something where you need to seek professional help. I'm talking about someone who's just always got the fucking blues. I delete those people on Facebook, because every day it's all complaining and bitching. But sometimes I want to really pull back the veil, and I'd say, "Okay, tell me what you did today. Tell me what you did last week. Tell me about your whole fucking month, because if you want to get to the root of the problem, let's see what the fuck you do on a daily basis."
And therein lies the problem. Staying out late every night, you eat a bunch of bacon and eggs before you go to bed at 3 AM, it sits in your fucking gut, it takes you three hours to take a shit on the fucking bowl, then you go and have a bunch of other bullshit, three pizzas while you're watching the football game. The next thing you know you're 40 pounds overweight, and you can't see your fucking dick. And you know, the problems will just keep going from there.
I cut out all processed foods, cuz that stuff causes acidity in the body. I keep the body fueled with complex carbohydrates—quinoa, oatmeal, whatever it is—and clean plant-based protein. During training, I'll drink tons of wheatgrass juice, tons of blue-green algae, tons of maca—maca for the caca, I say—tons of chlorophyll. That's liquid sunshine. Fuck coffee, I don't drink it. I do a probiotic made of fermented rice. For lunch, I'll have a salad, a veggie burger, whatever. And if my girl or I doesn't cook dinner, you're going to find us at Angelica Kitchen, which is right around the corner from where I live. I'll get soup, some bread, and a whole plate of seaweed, vegetables, some brown rice, beans, and there you have it. No processed foods, no crap.
People always ask, "What do you eat? You're vegan?", and I say, "What the fuck do YOU eat?" There's so much variety in plant-based foods, it's incredible. Go read The Conscious Cook. Go look at these chefs that are doing amazing things with plant-based foods. At Candle 79, at Pure Food and Wine.
Support your local health food store. You're either gonna pay now or pay later. There are ways to eat healthy on the cheap. People will tell me, "I can't fucking afford it, John," but what are you really spending your money on? Fucking porno, cigarettes, strip clubs, weed, beer, alright? Where are your priorities, dude? I'm 52 and I'm out-training you. And the reason is that I'm eating foods that help me recover and keep going. We have to become proactive and go on the attack against these companies that are poisoning us.
When I was smoking crack and ripping everybody off, I got shot at with a fucking AR-15, 30 rounds into a room where I was. So I don't take shit for granted, you know? You can't. You're not even guaranteed the next day. I'm 35 years invested in this and I've soaked up knowledge like a sponge. I came from a broken home, abusive foster homes, the streets of New York, jail, and everything else.
This lady I talked to yesterday, she said, "What was the catalyst for your change?" and I said, "I was sick of fucking suffering, I was sick of being miserable. I wanted a change." Think of somebody who was given sight after being blind their entire life. We take so much for granted, and one thing we can't take for granted is our health.