The key to health is understanding your individual needs. Not only your nutritional needs but the needs your entire life demands. Nourishment is not simply done through the food that you eat but the decisions you make, the habits you develop, your relationships, the work you do, and the exercise you get.
The problem most of us find ourselves in is sorting through all life’s variables and figuring out what it is we actually need to fix. One day it feels like our diet needs attention. The next day we’ve decided a new job is what we need instead. Nope, not that either, all we need is a week’s vacation to reset and everything will be a-ok.
You get caught up in trying to fix everything that essentially nothing gets fixed. We’re left with our heads spinning going from one thing to the next until finally we feel like it is all just out of our control.
I just finished up a book called Integrative Nutrition by Joshua Rosenthal as part of my 52 in 52 weeks. What drew me to the book was his 12 step approach to establishing a healthier lifestyle. Although I found myself agreeing with most of the principles, Josh and I do see nutrition a bit differently. With that said, the book is a phenomenal read and I highly recommend picking it up. The following is a little of what I took from the read mixed with a little Limitless365 flava!
Treating the problem but not the cause
As modern medicine and supplements have improved and become more accessible to everyone the ability to solve any inconveniences can be done so relatively quickly, painlessly, and without much thought. If you have a headache you can easily pick up some Tylenol and be done with it. Feeling fatigued grab a 5-hour energy. Have high cholesterol? Here, just take these pills.
I’ve said it here before but I’ll say it again. Instead of dropping ice cubes into a boiling pot why not just turn of the flame?
Modern diseases like diabetes, arthritis, and obesity for example are all preventable if the proper steps are taken to take care of our bodies on a holistic level. Our mind, body, and lifestyle choices all come into play when it comes to our health.
Holistic medicine recognizes that the mind, spirit, lifestyle, environment, and other aspects of a person’s existence, significantly affect the functioning of the physical body. Thus, in evaluating and treating illness and prescribing preventative intervention, this approach treats the whole person, addressing more than just the symptoms or disease. Holistic practitioners may utilize a combination of conventional treatments along with alternative therapies.
100 pounds of sugar is a problem
The average American consumes 100 pounds of sugar every year (1)…..
And 8 pounds of broccoli…. WHOA! Now that’s a problem What steps can we take to not only improve our food choices but our lifestyle choices as well?
There are 11 simple steps that we all can take right now that lead to living a healthier lifestyle on a holistic level.
1. Drink more water. Dehydration can lead to all sorts of complications. Headaches, cramping, decreased performance (2), constipation, and heart burn with indigestion due to increased acidity in the stomach.
If you are feeling a little hungry try drinking some water first. Hunger is often a sign of thrust as the food we eat contains water and is actually a primary source of our daily intake. Cravings for carbohydrates or sugar can be a sign of dehydration as well. The brain has a need for water and often gets it from blood flow. Carbohydrates can increase blood flow to the brain which is often a reason we crave them. Try 1-2 glasses of H20 if you have a bit of a sweet tooth or are staring at bread insistently.
Just how much is up to you. But here is a simple formula that can get you started
0.6-0.7 ounces per pound of bodyweight
Therefore, 120 to 140 ounces for a 200 lbs man.
Try filling a jug or a few bottles of water every day that meet your needs. Try building the water drinking habit for a week and see how you are feeling.
2. Get your Bobby Flay on! True story, met the man once in Rhode Island of all places. He was doing a book signing. I was there for a nutrition and training seminar. Ok, that’s my name drop for the day. But seriously, learn to cook or at least throw stuff in a pan and call it cooking.
Truth is you do not need to know how to cook to make a healthy meal. You don’t need a recipe, a chefs hat, or fancy cooking utensils. All you really need is five minutes. A pan, some protein, vegetables, and a good cooking oil like coconut, throw in a few of your favorite spices and you’re off.
Here’s a great Chili recipe you can whip up and leave in the fridge to eat all week-long. Or try to one of these or these if you find yourself with some free time or are looking for a change of pace.
3, 4,and 5. Swap out wheat for veggies (it’s 3, 4, and 5 because it’s really really important). The integrative nutrition book recommends eating more whole grains. But it also recommends increasing consumption of both sweet vegetables and green leafy’s. This is where Josh and I both agree and disagree. See my gluten post 🙂 The majority of us consume way to many carbohydrates based on how active we are. Marks carbohydrate curve is an excellent resource regarding on how many carbohydrates are bodies need in order to thrive physically and mentally.
Remember that our bodies utilize fat and much prefer it as an energy source anyhow. Protein is also converted to glucose the same way as carbohydrates are but have less of an impact on our blood sugar.
Instead of the sandwich try a lettuce wrap. Sub out the rice for some extra veggies or cauliflower rice. Keep those paleo friendly carbohydrates like sweet potato and taro for post exercise only if fat loss is a goal. Refer to the real food chart if you need some help deciding what to eat and what not to.
6. Play around with your proteins. One major complaint about establishing a new nutrition plan is getting bored with what you are eating. Well its up to you to experiment and try new foods. Getting fit and healthy isn’t about six meals a day of chicken and broccoli. It might work but hell if I would want to do that.
Sprouts has an excellent collection of various protein sources like Elk, Bison, Vension, Antelelope, Ostrich, and Rabbit. You can also swing by this website and order up some pretty awesome cuts of grass-fed protein.
Sometimes it might seem like it all “tastes like chicken” but experiment with different spices. Write down what you threw together and refer back to it if it was pretty tasty. Create meals to fit your own taste buds.
Challenge: Keep a food journal for the next week. Chances are you already eat the same things day in and day out anyhow so the whole “I’m bored” excuse when it comes to nutrition doesn’t fly with me :).
7. Cut back on the artificial and add in the official Take a minute to read the label of some of the foods you are eating on a regular basis. Open up the cupboard, pantry, fridge or freezer and see what is in the stuff you’re eating. There’s a ton of things I can’t even pronounce and have no clue where it came from.
Artificial sweeteners don’t get a free ride either. Most of them still impact our blood sugar and promote fat storage. Some have even been reported to cause serious internal damage and promote disease.
8. Carry on healthy relationships and bury the negative ones This can be a tough one to swallow but sometimes there are certain individuals in our lives that just have some bad mojo going on, you don’t relate well with, and always seem to bring you down. Sometimes this person(s) can be extremely close to you. It can be difficult but ask yourself if carrying on a relationship wether family, friend, or significant other is beneficial to you and your health. Not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well.
If you just quit drinking or smoking you might have to cut ties with your old drinking buddies. Or if someone is constantly harping you on your new-found love for fitness and healthy eating habits. It might not need to be forever but maybe a temporary thing until you have built the habits and are in confident in what you are doing.
A good questions to ask yourself is where are you being YOU and where are you FAKING it.
9. Get to step’n Short and sweet. Get physical. Find activities that you love to do and do them often. It can be anything from badminton to rock climbing. What ever it is that floats your boat. Just get moving on a daily basis and be consistent.
Start parking further away from work, taking the stairs instead of the escalator, walk to the grocery store or bike instead of driving. Make it fun. Race your kids from your car to the play-ground. Mix in some working out or interval training while you’re at it. But if you’re not a fan of that and would rather do Yoga, play ultimate frisbee, or a couple of pick-up BBall games a week then do that. What ever you love that gets you moving.
10. Do the work We spend the majority of our adult life working so it doesn’t make sense to do something we don’t really enjoy. 8-10 hours five to six days a week for most of us is spent on the job. The way I see it we have two options. Do work that you love or find love in the work that you do.
The first one is probably the toughest. It may take sometime to even just figure it out. But hell, wouldn’t it be worth it?
What are you good at?
What do you know?
What are you passionate about?
What is something that people ask for your help with or advice with all the time?
What would you do for free or already do for free?
To find love in the work that you currently do play to your strengths. Who are you? Are you creative, a great listener, leader, patient, problem-solver. What skills do you possess that you can apply to the work that you currently do. When you do things that are more aligned with your strengths and who you are as a person the more aligned you will be in living your virtues. You’ll find yourself excelling, having more fun, and finding more happiness.
11. Build the habits. Start slow. Build one habit at a time. The above 10 are just some recommendations. They may or may not have anything to do with who you are or where you are in your life right now. You may even have some or most of them handled. But if there are a few you think could use some work, do so slowly.
Build each habit one at a time until it feels effortless. It’s easy to get excited when trying something new or tackling a challenge. Remember that there will most certainly be times when you are tested and challenged. If you happen to mess up just roll with the punches and never give up. This can often come into play when trying to develop a healthy eating plan. You’re doing well but one night you eat a bowl of ice cream and decide to yourself that you’ve already messed up so why not forget it, order a pizza, crack open a beer, and start over again on monday.
Accept the mess up and start over right then and there.
Being healthy is a collective effort between the mind, body, and spirit. What’s a great body if you hate your job. What’s a great job if you are sick and unhappy with your body… and so on.
Is it possible to find complete balance in life?
Am I way off base here, spot on, or maybe missing something. Share below. It’s a learning process for me too.