Monday, December 8, 2014

What does health even mean? Just a little help wading through all the bullshit.

Google "how to lose weight" or "how to get healthier" and you get almost 100 MILLION results. Most of those are some form of 'get rich quick' schemes in which you basically starve yourself while simultaneously running a half marathon every day and existing solely on meal replacement shakes and cayenne pepper. That, my friends, is not a recipe for health. That is a recipe for disaster.

Lets start with my personal belief on what the word 'health' means. To me, health is not your jeans size or how much you can bench press. It isn't the amount of calories you eat in a day, or what other people think you look like. Health is about the food you eat, how you move your body, and how you feel. That said, I AM NOT A DOCTOR. Basically, I am a mad scientist that has done experiments with my own body to figure out what my formula for success is.

So what can you do with that information?

Food: Food is our fuel. Make good choices with the food you use to power your body. Things that grow  out of the ground or eat food that grows out of the ground are good choices. "Foodlike products" developed in a lab do not count. If you can't pronounce it, how difficult do you think it is for your body to digest?
case in point- NOT REAL FOOD

Movement: This is basically the form of exercise you choose- anything from walking to weight lifting to cycling. As we have transitioned into the digital age, we are becoming more sedentary (ironically as we develop more ways to track our activity, we do less of it). In the last few years there have been quite a few studies and articles detailing our declining activity levels and the risks associated with moving less and sitting more (here and here). Find a type of movement you enjoy, and do more of it.

Hiking definitely counts. Actually, bonus points for movement AND  Vitamin D
prefer climbing? Do that instead.

Overall feeling: Sleep plays a huge part in this component of health. After a night's sleep, you should wake up clear-headed, rested and without aches and pains. During the day, movements should not feel labored or difficult, and you shouldn't experience digestive discomfort, headaches or brain fog. Being awake should be a pleasurable experience, and the way we treat our bodies on a day to day basis can have an enormous impact on the way we experience our lives as a whole. This is a combination of mental and physical wellness- not just what you eat and how you move, but also how you interact with the world around you.

GOAL: feel this good every day- even when its raining.

What does my personal form of health look like?

Currently, I am lucky enough to be able to get 8-9 hours of sleep a night. I eat a lot of vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs, nuts and fish, and very little grains or legumes (including beans). I don't eat gluten if I can possibly avoid it. I do 30-60 minutes of physical exercise (some combo of running, weight lifting, high intensity interval training, Crossfit) 5-6 times a week, and probably average 4-5 alcoholic drinks a week.
If only I could eat this every day...
I was able to find that with this combination of activity and fuel I feel great- but I didn't come to this conclusion overnight. Try starting out by sneaking more vegetables on your plate at dinner and skipping the bread basket. Swap out a sandwich for a salad, or try scrambling your own eggs in the morning instead of stopping for a breakfast burrito. Walk instead of taking the elevator or get off the bus one stop early. Set your alarm for the actual time you have to wake up and try ditching the snooze button- at least for a day or two. These small changes can be the beginning of something big.

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