Recently there has been a shift away from the terms ‘health and fitness’ to a more encompassing term used to describe our overall health called ‘wellness’. You only need to look on social media for an increase in the amount of people describing themselves as ‘wellness warriors’ using hashtags such as #nourishing and #fitmotivation whilst striking the latest Yoga pose. I should know! I am one of the converted as well!
The shift for me has been a positive one as more and more research has come out to support the fact that our overall health is made up of much more than what we put into our mouths and what type of exercise we do.
Whilst our diet and exercise play an important role in how we look and feel, these are just smaller parts to the bigger picture to what I describe as, our ‘Holistic Health’.
Our Holistic Health is comprised of the following 5 lifestyle factors:
We have somewhere between 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts on any given day that is 35-48 thoughts per person per minute. As you can imagine that is a lot of information for our rational brains to process.
When we think, we manipulate information to form concepts, engage in problem solving, reason and make decisions. Not all thoughts are deemed equal, and sometimes when we are under stress or are feeling tired or depleted our rational brain finds it hard to make decisions and think positively this can be described as ‘stinking thinking’.
Long-term stress can wreak havoc on our physical health thru the presence of injuries and mental health concerns. If left untreated, the ill effects of stress can lead to time off work, niggling injuries that don’t get better and even the breakdown of oneself and our relationships.
In order to maintain positive thinking and manage stress levels, it is important to take time out every day to ‘switch off’ from distractions and allow yourself to be present with your own company and thoughts.
Options to help manage stress levels include mental awareness apps such as ‘Head Space’ which encourage you to take 10 minutes out of every day for some mental wellbeing activities.
Other ways you can help manage your stress include participating in a Yoga class, practicing some meditation or Tai Chi and even doing some adult drawing or coloring in.
How we breathe effects the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood at any given time replenishing our brain and other vital organs with essential nutrients. We take on average 20,000 breaths per day which makes it an important part of our health to get right.
Breathing correctly can reduce your stress levels, improve the performance of your workouts and boost your immune system. Poor breathing can lead to anxiety, panic attacks, hyperventilation and even insomnia and depression.
When we are stressed our body goes into ‘fight or flight’ mode, and our breathing becomes more shallow and frequent. This causes us to breathe like we are hyperventilating which in turn increases our heart rate, leading to palpitations and contributes to feelings of anxiety and being out of control.
In order to breathe correctly, we should focus on what we call ‘diaphragmatic breathing’. This technique involves placing one hand on our chest, say our left hand, and our right hand on our abdomen.
When we breathe in and out your left hand should remain still, and your right hand should move up and down.
If your left hand is moving your breathing is too shallow, and you are not using your diaphragm correctly. Practice taking slow deep breaths in and out until you perfect the technique. Take note of how this correct breathing technique will help boost your workouts and your health.
The average amount of water contained in the human body is approximately 50-65% for the average adult person. Considering our bodies are largely made up of water then it is crucial that we consume enough good quality water on a daily basis.
Water in the body is responsible for flushing wastes and toxins thru the body as well as metabolizing and digesting food. It is also the primary building block for all of our cells, as well as helping to insulate and lubricate the body and assist in regulating our body temperature.
The research around how much water to drink does vary, but you should aim to consume 35-45ml/kg of fluid which translates into about 2-3 liters per day.
An active person who trains for longer than 40 minutes per day training at a high intensity should add an extra 500-1000ml a day with athletes or people exposed to extreme heat more again.
Generally, an indication of being thirsty is the bodies’ way of telling you, you are already dehydrated. Just losing even 1% of the bodies water has an impact on our physical performance as well as impairing our mental performance.
Up to 70% of people are dehydrated at any one time a result of drinking too much coffee, juices, and smoothies which are loaded with caffeine and sugar.
If you are having trouble drinking enough water daily, try carrying around a drink bottle with a slice of cut up lemon or lime. Add vegetables such as sliced up cucumbers, carrots or mint leaves for a fresh, zesty flavor.
Add a glass of water before every meal and snack to help you feel fuller for longer and to stop the urge of wanting to overeat. Add a pinch of rock salt to assist in replacing essential minerals and salts lost thru perspiration as well as to help slow down the urination process.
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Life is all about balance, and when it comes to nutrition, nothing beats a strong foundation of carbohydrates, good fats, and proteins or what we commonly refer to as macronutrients.
Where a lot of people get it wrong is when we start eliminating certain food groups in an attempt to lose weight often replacing proteins and carbs with foods loaded with hidden sugars.
The need to refuel throughout the day will largely depend upon your workload and individual energy requirements. If for example, you are a Personal Trainer like me and get up before 5am every morning to train and work, then I often need 2 small meals before lunchtime to keep me going.
If you exercise during your lunch break, you may find that you need a small snack before you train and a bigger meal after training to help manage hunger and energy levels or vice versa.
As a general rule of thumb try not to leave longer than 3-4 hours between eating as this will help regulate your blood sugars and prevent you from overeating at your next meal.
Your 3-4 meals a day should consist of lean proteins to help build lean muscle and keep you feeling full as well as good fats such as olive oils, avocado, nuts, and seeds.
Green vegetables such as spinach, kale, lettuce, broccoli, cucumbers, beans, and peas should be eaten with every meal to ensure you boost your immune system and help you get all of your essential vitamins and nutrients in.
We are a nation of alarming statistics with obesity levels on the rise which includes our children with some reports of up to 25% of kids being categorized as being overweight or obese.
‘Sitting’ has become the new ‘smoking’ with the majority of our adult population sitting at a desk for 8-12 hours a day up to 5 times a week. It’s no surprise then that the incidence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes is also on the rise which is adding more strain to an overflowing health system.
Alarming statistics aside, a strategy to help improve our current health situation is to get moving more often. When clients ask my advice on how often they should exercise my response is always ‘every day’.
Now, this may seem a little excessive but exercise doesn’t always have to be in a gym environment it could involve taking the dog for a walk after work, swimming laps in your lunch break or playing some social sport of a weekend.
Try to stick to exercise that you enjoy doing as you are more likely to stick with it long term. For those times when you think your motivation may be an issue enlist the services of a Personal Trainer who can design workouts specifically tailored for you or grab a workout buddy as you are less likely to cancel on them.
When it comes to exercise variety is the ‘spice of life’, your body is very good at adapting to exercise so ensure you do a variety of cardio, resistance training, body weight exercises and stretching.
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2. Diabetes Australia.com.au