So, you’ve got into the swing of things with your nutrition. You’ve eliminated sugar, grains, wheat and flour. Processed foods are gone, and you’ve cut down your daily consumption of carbohydrates (from all sources – even limiting fruit to a couple servings per day). You have included more healthy fats into your diet – such as coconut oil, olive oil, animal fats (that are pasture raised, fed and finished), ocean caught fish, nut oils and fats from dairy (if tolerable). The local farmers market has become your weekly hangout where you’re feeling great for purchasing SLOW food (i.e. Seasonal, Locally grown, Organic, Wholefoods). There are no “use by” dates, nutrition panels and ingredients lists on your food – that’s because you are eating real, single ingredient foods that are free from pesticides, preservatives, additives and have no human interference.
The physical and physiological benefits may vary between individuals when adopting a low carb, whole, real food diet… weight loss, increased/consistent energy, improved sleep, reduced gut bloating, decreased musculoskeletal aches and pains. And if you have/had any conditions, syndromes or illnesses, there is often an improvement, resolution or remission.
So, why aren’t you getting these desired results?
Nutrition alone definitely accounts for a very substantial percentage of your overall health. However, there are other relevant aspects of your lifestyle that need to be considered to ensure your healthy lifestyle success. Here are three that I’ll cover in this blog…
- Stress management
- Physical conditioning
- Your relationships and environment
Reading the new client forms that I see on a regular basis in my clinic and studio I’m alarmed at how many people are currently being medicated for stress and depression, with the majority also reporting a lack of regular movement, inactivity and reluctance to exercise. Stress management is not about getting the right prescription and dosage of pharmaceutical drugs. Some of the most effective forms of stress management available to us are inexpensive, easy to implement and, unlike medication, have side effects that contribute more to our overall health…
- Daily exercise
- Listen to calm, soothing music
- Read books
- Eat well
- Adequate rest/sleep
- Volunteer/give back/contribute
Physical conditioning – “survival of the fittest”
I was conducting a series of Corporate Training Sessions last week. When I arrived at the topic of workplace stress (both physical and psychological), one of the more alert and “switched on” attendees said that by constantly reducing the amount of daily stresses and pressures we are diminishing our capacity to positively adapt to our environment. That is spot on. Through the process of evolution, the human species has been able to change and adapt to the pressures and stresses that our ever changing environment places on us. Our ability to do this has ensured our survival as a species. However, when these positive stresses and pressures are reduced to a point where we no longer need to adapt we get sick and injured. A good example here is the abundant amount of sitting that we’re doing. We’ve been very smart in the way that we are able to change our environment to suit our needs and wants – with all the modern conveniences we no longer need to move or be as active as we were in previous generations. We literally have all we need/want at our fingertips. The down side to this is that prolonged sitting is a direct contributor and risk factor for developing chronic lifestyle diseases (diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia). Have we outsmarted ourselves by eliminating the basic necessity for survival? And that basic necessity is movement.
Movement is at the “entry level” of the “physical conditioning” spectrum. It’s required for all your body’s systems, process and interactions to occur. Activity is movement with purpose. In order to get from the start of your day to the end, you’re going to need to engage in a certain amount of activity. The more of this you can pack into your day the better (i.e. incidental exercise). Many people confuse activity with exercise. I hear it all the time… “I don’t need to exercise because I walk the dog every day.” Yip – that’s great. However, that’s called being active. It’s NOT exercise. Exercise is taking an activity/activities (preferably one that you enjoy doing), and prescribing sufficient time to doing it every day. Current guidelines is a minimum of 30min of medium to high intensity exercise every day (there are no rest days – unless you’re an elite/competitive athlete). You are training when you’re exercising towards a goal. This is the “gold standard” of physical conditioning.” It’s here where you have a driving motivation to exercise daily, and you’ve got the “exercise bug.”
Your relationships and environment
Are those around you, the area you live and the work you do supportive of your lifestyle? Think about the top 5 friends that you choose to spend the most amount of time with. Now add up their incomes and divide that by 5. Your income will most likely be within 5% of that figure. Now look at these same people. Add up their Body Mass Index (BMI = weight divided by height squared) and divide that by 5. Your BMI will most likely be within 5% of that figure. What’s the relevance of this… well if you want to be successful in your career or business hang around with people who are successful or are determined to succeed. If you want to be successful in your journey towards a healthy lifestyle, hang around with people who exercise daily, eat well and place a high priority on their health. I’m not suggesting that you should ditch your friends who don’t meet these criteria – rather, you may need to find another group of people to interact with on a regular basis who “fit the bill.” Social clubs, sporting groups, meet-ups, online groups and forums can all be effective ways to find like-minded people.
The same goes for your home and work environment. Does your family support your healthy lifestyle choices? What is the culture of your workplace like? These are a a couple of more sensitive questions that you may need to think about.
Your choice to live healthier consists of continual learning. Acquiring this knowledge will give you more options to decide what is right for you and when the right time is to take action.