LYFE FUEL Founder Chris Manderino on life

nfl meat eater turned Plant-Based Nutrition entrepreneur 

The Meaning of LYFE is Live Your Fullest Everyday

Updated February 13, 2019 - 9 Min Read

LYFE. What does it mean? Why are we here? What is the purpose of life on earth? These are the questions mankind has struggled with since the dawn of time. I’m no enlightened philosopher, but the common consensus is that life is the pursuit of happiness. The key word being pursuit.  Pursuit is the action of following or chasing someone or something; to continue along a path.

In other words, “life is about the journey, not the destination.” So the question really becomes, what can we do each waking moment to give us the happiness we so desire? It’s simple really, the meaning of LYFE is to “Live Your Fullest Everyday.”

What does it mean to Live Your Fullest Everyday?

This means different things to different people. For me, it means waking up with energy, investing in my health, striving for constant growth and improvement, embracing change, doing things I enjoy, and spending time with the people I love. These are the things that give me purpose, provide a sense of fulfillment, and make me feel alive.

In my personal journey, I have found there is one underlying factor that significantly impacts everything else; our health. It’s ironic that the one thing that is so fundamental to our livelihood is something most of us know so little about. There are so many conflicting messages on how to live and eat healthily.

Each new year brings about another fad diet, fitness trend, or newly discovered supplement that claims to be the secret to looking and feeling great. The truth is, there is no magic bullet and fads will continue to come and go without any sustainable results.

The only way to achieve lasting results is to live by a set of principles that guide behavior to instill healthy habits. It's the habits we create and the core principles we follow that ultimately shapes who we are.

Living Like an Italian is Key to Health & Longevity

So, what are the “principles” that lead to health and longevity? In 2004, Dan Buettner teamed up with National Geographic with a specific goal at hand. Their mission was to identify pockets in the world where people live longer, healthier lives compared to here in the U.S. In these “Blue Zones” they found people reach age 100 at rates 10 times greater than in the United States and maintain a high quality, active life.

My experience living abroad in Italy opened my eyes to the stark contrast between two cultures and some of the reasons why despite America being one of the wealthiest countries in the world, we are one of the sickest.
Many of my personal observations were in line with what the researchers discovered in their study. How could a country that we identify with pizza, pasta, gelato and chain-smoking actually be healthier as a population than the U.S.?

Three Principles to Implement for Better Health

It's pretty simple. If you want to feel better, look better, and get more out of life, start following these 3 tips immediately.  

  • WALK MORE AND MOVE YOUR BODY: Too many of us move from one box to another without taking the time to move naturally. We go from home to the car, to work with very little physical activity and movement in between. Walking for just 30 minutes per day can have profound health benefits. The grandmothers in Italy walk to the market every day to get fresh produce and groceries they use in their simple and delicious dishes.
  • EAT NUTRIENT-DENSE WHOLE FOODS: In Italy, the food is simple but extremely high quality. Meat consumption is significantly lower than it is in the U.S. and people generally consume a diet rich in plant-based foods that provide healthy antioxidants, phytonutrients, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals.
  • AVOID PROCESSED FOODS: All too often we trade convenience for health. Busy on-the-go lifestyles make it challenging to prepare wholesome, delicious and nutritious meals so instead we reach for what is quick and easy. The majority of convenient foods lack real nutrition and contain more harmful ingredients than health promoting nutrients. In Italy, you won't find a fast food joint on every corner.

While living in Italy, I noticed people generally walked more, the food was simple and of higher quality, portion sizes were smaller, they ate a predominantly plant-based diet, there wasn’t a fast-food joint on every corner, they had tight-knit social groups, a sense of community, and people took the time to enjoy life, be present, and slow down.

It’s no wonder that by comparison, the U.S. has a population of ⅔ being overweight, with ⅓ being obese, whereas in Italy, less than half the population is overweight and under 10% obese. 

Getting Educated in Plant-Based Nutrition

Shortly after returning from Italy in 2006, I took a job working for a nutrition supplement company in obesity medicine and weight loss surgery. The obesity epidemic in the U.S. was at an all-time high with no signs of slowing down.

Additionally, diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, and other chronic illnesses are skyrocketing. Despite the advances in western medicine, health is deteriorating at an alarming rate. So what is making us so sick? The answer: THE FOOD.

As a lifelong athlete, I always considered myself to be in good health. However, it wasn’t until after my professional career as an NFL football player ended that I truly began to understand the impact of diet on health and performance.

Having bulked up to a massive 240 lbs to be competitive at my position required me to consume an extraordinary amount of calories each day. The focus was much less on the quality of food than the quantity. Despite achieving my goal weight, eating this way was exhausting. I had constant heartburn, felt tired and sluggish after meals, and had pain and inflammation throughout my body.

The common prescription for dealing with these symptoms was pharmaceutical drugs and pain medication, which did little to nothing to address the root cause. These health challenges led me to seriously question whether I was actually even “healthy." Unhappy with the way I looked and felt at this size, I decided to make some changes.

Becoming a Plant Eater

“You are what you eat” was a truly prophetic statement. As one of the leading countries in meat consumption per capita in the world, we have literally become a society of pigs and cows. In addition to declining health, the industrial raising of livestock for food and the clearing of forests to support this growing demand is the second leading contributor to greenhouse gases, resulting in more harmful emissions than the entire transportation sector combined.

The documentaries Cowspiracy and What the Health both do an excellent job at shedding light on this global environmental and humanitarian issue, which is one of the most pressing concerns facing society today. How we choose to address this issue will determine the future of the planet and life as we know it. Changing our diet by reducing consumption of animal products and eating more plant-based foods is the number one thing each of us can do to restore health and save the planet.
Searching for answers about what is the best diet, I began to study various dietary and training theories to educate myself on the subject and specifically to learn more about plant-based nutrition. What I found is despite varying viewpoints, there was one fundamental theme most nutrition experts seemed to agree upon. The consensus was following a plant-based diet is the most important thing you can do for your health. So that’s exactly what I did.

Adopting a whole food plant-based diet wasn't easy, and did not occur overnight. After all, the idea that I needed to eat meat and dairy to be big and strong was deeply rooted in my psyche. For me, it was a gradual process that adapted and changed over time as I experimented with various diets to find out what worked best for my needs and fit with the lifestyle I wanted to achieve.

I tried everything from the Zone, to paleo, to slow-carb, low-carb, low-fat, pescatarian, vegetarian, flexitarian, keto, the cabbage soup diet, the South Beach diet, the spartan diet, the warrior diet, you name it...I tried it! This was all with the purpose of gaining a better understanding of how each diet affected the way I looked and felt.

My conclusion was diet and nutrition is personal. What works for one person may be different than what works for someone else, but there were some underlying basic principles that were the most effective.  

The real secret to attaining optimal wellness is not in any one diet. Diets tend to have a short-term frame of mind and temporary results. For sustainable results and to thrive, what I needed was a set of principles to guide my choices and behaviors. What I needed was to live a lifestyle committed to health with the objective of optimal wellness and high performance. I didn’t just want to survive, I wanted to THRIVE!

Eliminating Dairy and Reducing Animal Meat

When I cleaned up my diet by eliminating dairy and reducing my consumption of animal products, I felt better and was in the best shape of my life, but, there was still something lacking. Constantly on the go and traveling frequently for both business and pleasure, I found it difficult to find convenient and healthy options for fuel throughout the day.

My experience as a nutraceutical sales rep for Metagenics opened the door to functional plant-based nutrition. I learned about key nutrient categories that the overwhelming majority of people don't get enough from the food we eat. This includes even the healthiest among us following a whole food plant-based diet. In an attempt to fill these nutritional gaps in my own diet, I found myself taking handfuls of supplements each day and sucking down numerous whey protein shakes that left me gassy and bloated. At the time, I didn't make the connection of whey protein to dairy and I certainly didn't know that consuming whey was one of the most problematic and unhealthy substances that I was still eating.  I was always told that consuming whey protein is the only way to build and maintain lean muscle. I now know this to be completely false. 

Although I was on the proactive and healthy side of the wellness spectrum, due to the number of products I was taking, my medicine cabinet was beginning to look a lot like someone who was suffering from chronic illness. I was finding eating healthy was becoming just as much of a chore as eating to play in the NFL. To make it easier to be healthy and get the nutrients that my body needed, I began searching for a complete product that addressed my concerns.  The problem was that I struggled to find anything on the market that was nutritious, delicious, and convenient without mysterious additives, synthetic ingredients, and high levels of sugar and artificial sweeteners and ingredient.  The only  answer was to create it.  Born out of frustration with the nutritional supplements market that is rife with dubious health claims and marketing hype, LYFE FUEL was created to provide premium plant-based nutrition products that meet the demands of modern lifestyles.

LYFE FUEL is the Future of Plant-Based Nutrition

LYFE FUEL is the solution to many of the health challenges that exist in modern western lifestyles. The food we eat today isn't as nutrient-dense as it was 50 years ago. Combine this with the fast-paced lifestyles we live which leads to less than desirable food choices and you get the public health crisis we find ourselves in now. We want to change this.  

We believe healthy and convenient can and should go hand-in-hand. Taking a holistic and comprehensive approach to wellness, there are three core pillars that guide us on our mission; quality, efficacy, and sustainability. By starting with nature's finest ingredients that are clinically studied for efficacy and third-party tested for purity and potency, LYFE FUEL has created a revolutionary approach to wellness. When you put the best fuel in your tank, you get more out of life.

LYFE FUEL is the resulting culmination of my personal quest for optimal health, and of other like-minded individuals, seeking total wellness and longevity through plant-based nutrition. LYFE FUEL is the platform that empowers us to share our passion for living an active and healthy lifestyle with the world while striving to make a positive impact on the planet and fuel the future we imagine.

As a company, we prioritize sustainable and conscious commerce, producing comprehensive, high-quality, efficacious plant-based nutrition products, and building a culture of giving. We are thrilled to share LYFE FUEL with the world and are excited for you to join us on our Q.U.E.S.S.T. to making health and happiness attainable for all through the power of plant-based nutrition.

Fuel Up with Premium Plant-Based Nutrition

Getting started on a whole food plant-based diet is now easier than ever with LYFE FUEL's free nutrition course. The LYFE TRANSFORMATION program was created to help you make healthy and sustainable changes to amplify your health and empower you to live your fullest everyday. The 21-day program distills years of nutritional research and personal experimentation into an easy-to-follow program that will guide you along your journey toward better health & happiness.  

Read Next: How to choose the right plant-based diet for your health.

Chris Manderino

Written by Chris Manderino

Co-Founder of LYFE FUEL in Newport Beach, CA. Chris was an NFL fullback for the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs before embarking on a journey to pursue his passion for health & nutrition. Chris is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and earned a completion certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Course in Plant-Based Nutrition. 

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