Back to Eden Part- 1
Can a person be fit but not healthy? Often, we are very quick to judge health by external appearances. Just because someone looks good in the mirror does not make them healthy. Body builders often struggle with bad digestive problems and constipation due to excessive protein consumption and supplementation. Cyclists can have serious mobility problems due to prolonged seated positions and ultimately, muscle shortening.
You can have a good level of fitness but still be unhealthy. Organ health is far more important than muscular-skeletal health, the Paralympics is a superb example of this. You can survive without a leg or an arm but see how far you get without your liver! In order to live a happy and healthy life we need to look at our lives holistically. We need to combine not only the Physical but the Mental and Emotional too.
Are you managing your stress? Stress causes hormonal reactions in the body that literally over power everything from fat loss to sleep. The body reacts to stress the same way no matter what the trigger may be, whether its Physical Stress, Mental Stress, Emotional Stress, Chemical Stress etc. So whether you are worried about losing your job, drink too much coffee or work in an environment with lots of pollution, the stress on your body is the same.
Stress accumulates until you can take no more and that’s when disease starts to occur. Generally if you are slow to heal, suffer from lots of injuries, catch colds frequently or struggle to put on muscle mass you are suffering from stress related issues. Time to chill out!
Take Action: The best way to combat stress is to address your largest cause of stress first. Put together a tick list of everything that stresses your out. Don’t forget all the different types of stress listed above. Arrange your list in order of biggest to the smallest and slowly address each one. You will usually find that by addressing your biggest stress first, things improve quite quickly.
Do you understand what really matters to you? Try to lead your life fighting your true values and you will lead a life of resistance and constant struggle. Both exercise and nutrition don’t mean a thing unless you get the mind in order. Why do you think people make excuses to avoid exercise or eat well? Why do most diets and exercise programs only last for weeks or only a few months? The answer lies in our values.
Many people do not value exercise or nutritional health as an important part of their values. Your values are at the center of every decision you take. They are fundamental. So when an exercise or nutrition program is thrust upon people by the media then there is often a conflict of values. The only true way to succeed is to first discover your values and then live in accordance with them.
If your values don’t include health, wellness or fitness then you need to find a way to anchor health on one of your other values. For example, if friendship is one of your values then spending time with friends, hiking or cycling could be an option. If adventure is what you value then going on active holidays is also an option. If Education is a value then going on a cookery course could also be a step in the right direction.
Take Action: Take some time to think about what and who inspires you. Often the people that inspire us share the same value or values. Start making a list of these values. Be honest with yourself. Once you have a long list of values, arrange them into an order from strongest to weakest. Next compare your life to your strongest values. How do they match up? If your life and values don’t match up there will always be an internal conflict. Start making some changes.
The body is governed by natural laws inherent in all of us. Do you go to bed on time? Adjust your diet according to the seasons? We have evolved to sleep and rise with the sun. Hormonal changes happen during the day that result in a cascade of reactions throughout the body. When we rise with the sun, cortisol levels are at their highest. The morning should be action time. Our ancestors were always up and hunting early. As we move through the day, Cortisol levels drop, until finally at night when Cortisol is at its lower point before sleep. During sleep, anabolic hormones are released to heal tissue damage.
The natural cycle of stimulation in the morning and relaxation in the afternoon and evening is frequently disrupted by stimulants like coffee or bright lights in the evening or late sleeping patterns.
Take Action: Get to bed on time. Try to get head on pillow by 10:30pm. Wind down in the evening by reading and relaxing. Don’t watch TV in bed or minutes before sleep. Dim lights to reduce stimulation.
Most people don’t rest enough. They think they are resting while watching TV but this is often not the case. Rest and recovery affects all aspects of life, both body and mind. You should plan recovery periods into your life just the same way you plan active periods. If you exercise a lot then you need to rest a lot in order to recover. If you are stressed a lot then you need to rest, perform some meditation and free your mind more often.
Take Action: Work ‘rest’ into your timetable. Consider meditation, tai chi, yoga, walking in nature, quiet reading, or having a regular massage.
Look out for Part 2 of this series in my next column. Be well.
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