4 Ways To A Healthier You
Let me start this post off by letting you know that if you are looking for a quick, easy fix from the comfort of your couch, this isn’t it. Now, if you are looking for information on how to take better control of your health and physical abilities and you’re willing to accept responsibility for what it takes to get there, then keep reading.
The solutions to finding better health are simple, in fact you probably already have a good idea about what I’m going to tell you. However, the solutions are not easy. There is no magic bullet, no one-size fits all approach, and surely not a month-long plank challenge that’s going to get your body to make the changes you’re wanting. Real, sustainable change requires commitment, proper mindset and action. Now that we’ve made that clear, here’s 4 ways you can start getting results in your life, right now, today!
- Eat REAL food – This is a two-for-one deal. Not only will your waistline improve by simply by giving your body the proper fuel it needs to thrive, but your bank account will likely benefit as well. I know many of you are focused on low-carb, high-carb, low-fat, all the fat, low calorie diets, but for many of you, it’s most important to redefine your relationship with food in the first place.
You see, there is way more at play when we discuss a diet (the foods you eat) that is ultimately healthy and sustainable. If you are looking for a 30-day fix and a program that “allows you to eat whatever you want”, you’re completely ignoring that fact that eating whatever you want is the main reason you’re struggling to get where you want to go.
We are going to keep it really simple for you. I’m going to give you 3 choices to pick from:
- Eat things that grow from the ground (plants) and things that eat things that grow from the ground (animals).
- Eat plants and things with faces (animals).
- Eat meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch (rice/potatoes), and no sugar.
If you can stick to these recommendations, it is difficult to find a diet variation that will ultimately leave you gaining weight, developing insulin resistance, diabetes as well as the other common diseases we see in westernized food culture. Certainly, various ratios of fat, protein and carbohydrate can have greater or lesser impacts on your health, but overall, if you can first develop a healthy relationship with real food, you’re on a much better path already. We can tweak the details later.
- Get QUALITY blood work – This is very important, especially if you are starting a new diet and/or exercise program. Please make a point to set up an appointment with a qualified functional medicine practitioner like myself that can order proper testing that really breaks down your cholesterol, insulin, glucose, inflammatory markers and a few other biomarkers. It’s great to lose weight, gain muscle and look good naked, but it is even more important to know what’s going on under the hood. There are many diet programs that will cause you to lose weight, but negatively impact risk factors for developing certain diseases like heart disease or diabetes. It is a really good idea to get a baseline set of tests and then check back again periodically (time frame depends on the results) to make sure your interventions are taking you in the right direction.
- Move Better, Move More – This one has two parts and it is because there are so many benefits to regular exercise, and many of them go beyond weight loss. Here’s the important part. If you don’t know how to exercise properly, you should seek the advice of somebody that does. For your overall health, it is well worth the investment to work with a practitioner and/or trainer that understands movement quality along with how to properly add load and demand. This is how you stay safe, decrease the risk of injury, stick to your training plan and ultimately get results.
The second part of the equation is move more. What I mean by this is get your butt up off the couch and get after it. Our bodies are designed to move. In fact, it is ultimately why we have brains. You see, things that don’t move, don’t have brains. Your muscles (and brains) are a use it or lose it type system. You should regularly be moving around at a low to moderate pace and then at least a few times per week, picking up the intensity for 10-60 minutes. The intensity part is where you get uncomfortable. This part is very important so pay attention. Exercise is supposed to stress your body, it’s supposed to be hard. When your body is under stress from exercise, it means it is not capable of handling the task it’s been asked to do. This is what causes your body to adapt and change, or put more simply, this is how our body knows to add muscle or lose weight. If your workout program has the words “comfort” and/or “own-home” in it, you should feel cheated. If your exercise program consists of simply going through the motions while you watch something on tv, your body can already handle that, in fact, I bet it does it really well. Your body will NOT suddenly decide to start dropping pounds or adding muscle mass. Hear me out, I’m not saying you cannot workout at home, but I am saying if you are working out at home, it better be HARD. ***Shameless plug alert*** This is why we love CrossFit, it combines quality functional movements, high intensity and coaches/community to hold you accountable and make you look forward to getting after it each time you’re at the gym.
- Focus on Recovery – Please don’t just pass over this one. We are so damn good at being busy in our culture today. We are constantly taking care of everything around us: kids, job, spouse, bills, community organizations, etc. The last thing we take care of, if at all, is ourselves. Please keep in mind, it’s nearly impossible to keep giving of yourself if you never take time to fill your own cup.
First, get more and better sleep if possible. Recent research has shown as much as a 33% decrease in insulin sensitivity with just one night of sleep deprivation. Decreased insulin sensitivity is a key driver of the metabolic diseases that are plaguing our country today. Get your rest folks, it’s not just about mental health, it’s about physical health as well. If you are chronically tired and unrested, you are fighting an uphill hormonal battle. Additionally, when your stress is higher, you’re far more likely to reach for the instantly rewarding, highly processed, calorie dense, nutrient poor crappy foods we’re trying to avoid, and far less likely to exercise.
Next, if you are participating in regular exercise that is high intensity based, it is a great idea to focus on regular mobility and injury prevention. My suggestion is to work with a practitioner trained in quality movements, mobility and soft-tissue work. Ideally, we’d always be on the ball and injuries would never happen. However, if you’re asking a lot out of your body, it’s possible that tweaks, aches and pains could start to develop. If you’re working with highly trained chiropractors, coaches and/or other practitioners, you are far more likely to stop a little problem from becoming a big problem and slowing or stopping your progress.
There you have it, 4 simple ways you can start impacting your life in a positive way TODAY. If you are reading this and thinking, “this sounds really hard”. You’re right. Making changes that last can be hard. Getting results will cost you something. It will either cost you money, time, energy or all of the above. However, in a country where 7 out of 10 of us are overweight or obese and nearly 40% of us are diabetic or pre-diabetic, the cost of staying the same will be much greater.
This is a topic I am very passionate about and if you have any questions, I’d love to help. If you do not live in our area and need help finding the right practitioners for the job, please reach out and I’ll see if I can make some recommendations.
Don’t over-complicate it folks. The solution is simple, now get after it and crush some goals. Let me know when you get there!