Bringing Wellness Full Circle

Posts tagged ‘health’

F.I.T.

So, we all know we ought to be fit. Fitness is good. Fitness keeps you young. Fitness keeps you healthy. But the word itself might mean something completely different for each one of us. This is dictionary.com’s  definition of fitness:

fit·ness

/ˈfɪtnɪs/ Show Spelled [fit-nis] Show IPA

noun

1.

health
2.

capability of the body of distributing inhaled oxygen to muscle tissue during increased physical effort.
3.

Also called Darwinian fitness. Biology .

a.

the genetic contribution of an individual to the next generation’s gene pool relative to the average for the population, usually measured by the number of offspring or close kin that survive to reproductive age.
b.

the ability of a population to maintain or increase its numbers in succeeding generations

Looking at the first definition, we come back to the same issue: What does health mean? It may mean being able to take a walk to one, and being able to run a marathon to another. It may mean not being depressed to one, and being happy all the time for another…

fit

So, just for the record, here is Barb’s Fit U best definition of FIT at this time:

F is for Fun

Whatever we understand by “fitness,” it should be fun to do. Which means it involves doing. Fit is a state of being that is accomplished by doing something that is enjoyable. Because no matter what the “doing” is, if you hate it, you won’t keep it up and you won’t stay fit. People need to enjoy what they do on a regular basis–especially if it does not involve the reward of money–or they will either skimp on it or quit all together. Fun makes you feel alive. So you hate going to your gym? Maybe it’s time to find a different way of moving. Your personal development book o heck? Maybe it’s time to reconsider what you are reading. You can’t see to motivate yourself to eat right? Maybe your meals just don’t taste satisfying–or fun.

I is for Intentional

You are not born fit or not fit. You choose to be fit or not fit by the choices that you make, or that you don’t make–which, by the way, are choices as well. This is definitely the Slight Edge philosophy: easy to do, easy not to do. Everything we are involved with in life should be intentional–on purpose. We don’t love b y accident, we don’t just happen to go to college, we don’t somehow just wind up running a marathon. We are intentional about the areas we want results in, we make plans and link those plans to behaviors. Some of us even hire life coaches to get there. It’s no different with fitness, no matter what our definition of fitness is. We don’t wake up fit one day just because. We plan to be fit and act accordingly. The results follow.

T is for Total

This one is probably the most important one: “Fitness,” according to Barb’s Fit U, does not have to do with a strong, healthy body, even though that seems to be what the dictionary says and it certainly is one component of fitness. Fitness has a lot more to do with wholeness than having a rock hard body and being able to jump high. Fitness has to address the entire human being, not just legs and heart. Fit people are balanced people who are making choices that bring about

~a mind that is alert, challenged and always growing,

~a body that is moving toward health because of what it is fueled with and how it is being trained,

~a spirit that is awake and always responding.

 

So that’s my take on Fitness.  What about yours?

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Got Fiber?

I know we talk about fiber a lot, but our need for fiber will never go away… But what is it really, and what does it do for us?

By definition, fiber is the indigestible part of fruits, seeds, vegetables, whole grains and other edible plants. And here are four basic benefits of eating enough fiber:

  1. Reduces Inflammation: A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical a Nutrition found that c-reactive protein (CRP) – a marker of inflammation and a predictor of future heart disease and diabetes – was inversely related to dietary fiber. As fiber consumption goes up, harmful inflammation goes down.
  2. Promotes a Healthy Weight: Not only does soluble fiber prevent the absorption of fat, but it also helps you to feel full longer. Less hunger means fewer calories… and therefore fewer pounds. Researchers have calculated that if Americans doubled their fiber intake, they could cut 100 calories from their diet a day – which equates to 10 pounds of yearly weight gain!
  3. Improves Gastrointestinal Health: Soluble fiber is the favorite “food” of the healthy bacteria that live in your digestive tract. And a healthy tummy is a happy tummy! Soluble fiber can help improve digestion, enhance nutrient absorption and provide significant relief of IBS symptoms.
  4. Improves Blood Sugar Balance: Soluble fiber traps carbohydrates, slowing their digestion and absorption and aiding in blood sugar balance. In fact, a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that a high-sugar, low-fiber diet more than doubles women’s risk of Type II (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes.

Let’s talk about the healthy weight benefit. How do fiber and fiber-rich foods control hunger and increase the  feeling of fullness?  Well, this happens partly because fiber-rich foods take up a large volume in the stomach, and partly because they promote and prolong CCK (cholecystokinin) to make you feel full longer–appetite is reduced directly by the bulk of the fiber and indirectly through the delayed emptying of the stomach and the release of brain and gastrointestinal-tract hormones which signal satiety. Pretty cool, isn’t it? Also, fiber is a natural way to reduce the body’s absorption of fat and sugar, as it slows down the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar, allowing glucose to be burned more efficiently instead of being stored quickly as fat. The higher the fiber content of a single food or a meal in total, the harder and longer the body has to work to digest it, which is a weight loss advantage in three ways: (1) the body burns more calories just digesting your food, (2) you stay full longer, and (3) your appetite is reduced because as the absorption slows down, so does the rate at which the blood sugar rises and falls.

So fiber helps you lose weight and/or maintain your ideal weight, but there is so many more benefits of fiber! It also helps you maintain  healthy cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of heart attack and developing diabetes, promotes bowel regularity and fecal energy excretion: calories are removed with the bowel movement (fiber flush effect) and improves immunity.

How much fiber should you eat?  You know it!  Shoot for 35 g daily! So eat those fresh vegetables and yummy fruits and beans and grains!

The Alphabet of Health: R is for REST

In the Alphabet of Health, R is for Rest.

Because no matter how hard you try, or how determined or stubborn you might be, or how much time, research and money you invest into your health, if you don’t get enough rest, nothing is going to work for you–physically, emotionally, intellectually, you name it! Not sleeping enough is linked to mood issues, alertness issues, performance issues– you name it! Lack of sleept is also linked to increased car accidents, increased weight, increased heart problems, increased risk for depression and substance abuse, decreased ability to pay attention, remember new information and react to signals.

Often in life, the best prescription will be to sleep more…

sleep

But research also says that sleeping nine hours or more increases illnesses, accidents and death…

So, how much sleep does a person really need?

There is evidence that sleeping less than 4 to 5 hours has real physiological and neurobehavioral consequences. But we also know that the human body need for sleep varies greatly from one person to another, even within the same age group. The amount of sleep you need to function at your best may be totally different than someone else for reasons varying from genetic ones to life style to your sleep debt –the accumulated “lost” sleep because of sickness, poor habits etc…

The bottom line sounds pretty corny, yet this is the only conclusive thing that can be said at this point: pay attention to our bodies and the signals it is giving you!

 

Facing the Truth

I am sure you heard me say this before:

Physical Health isn’t just the outcome of eating right and working out. 

Yet so often, we want to improve our physical health without being willing to address mental, spiritual or emotional part of who we are.  And it isn’t working. Because realistically, most of our answers aren’t that cut and dry. All the different parts of us intermingle in life, and it is often an imbalance in one area that causes a problem in a totally different area.

No one ever goes to bed with a flat tummy and wakes up with fat rolls all over, right?  We don’t just  wake up one day in our current shape (physically, mentally, emotionally). It is what it is because of reasons. And these reasons are more than physical.

 

Maybe you have a belly pouch as a result from too much ice cream or beer, but it is also possible that those have been consumed because they help you release stress. Trying to just “quit it!” isn’t going to make it all go away.

Or your chiseled abs may be the result of workouts coupled with specific nutrition, but the motivation behind was not because you want to be healthy, but rather your obsessive need to be admired. And that goes way deeper than nice looking abs.

 

 

 

What you and I are today has evolved from certain life patterns which we actually created to meet mental, spiritual or emotional needs. No, it’s not the neighbor’s fault, it’s not purely genetics, it’s not McDonald’s fault, or all about the weather that won’t cooperate.

You and I are what we are because of the choices we made, and these have been made in view of specific motivations. So to have a different outcome, we must first address what we want, why we want it and why we are where we are in the first place.

Basic truth, not always fun to face. But truth. And it needs to be faced.

 

Guilt

Let’s talk about guilt, shall we?

Because to be honest, way too many people are unhappy about their lives and have some kind of either mental, spiritual or emotional issue that keeps them feeling guilty for not doing things they “feel obligated” to be doing, but don’t want to do. They feel guilty  for taking a break or doing something for themselves. But realistically, it is healthy and necessary to nurture ourselves and care for our personal wellness. In fact it is more selfish not to, because down the road we will develop multiple medical needs due to inadequate self-care.

Guilt serves as a self-imposed prison for people with good intentions to check themselves into. This happens when people fail to meet the standards they have set for themselves. Well-meaning people hold themselves back when they check into the “prison of guilt.” Guilt sends people rushing back to the coping behaviors that got them where they are in the first place.

Personal acceptance is an important key to unlock our potential.  Let’s not “should” on ourselves. Let’s allow ourselves the freedom to enjoy the life we have.

Successful people don’t really suffer from the catch-22 of guilt leading to lack of progress. They don’t let what they “should” have done hold them back. When we begin to accept that we are okay just as we are, we empower ourselves to move forward.

Living healthy, happy, and fit always requires something of us. It needs to become something we enjoy, look forward to, and live on a daily basis! Not a short-term fix, something to dread, or a painful sacrifice. We can choose to create expectancy over the new things we get to do, and release anything we consider simply as an obligation to be fulfilled. And to be totally honest, we all know that we only get from our efforts what we put into them.  No investment, no return!  But guilt? Forget it! It just slows you down every.single. time.

We can begin to be happy right where we are, on purpose. We so don’t have to wait for sometime in the future to be happy; we can enjoy life right now. We can live life out loud, with no more restricting, no more failure, and no more guilt. Once we accept where we are, we become FREE to move forward to anywhere we choose!

In many ways, we are the ones who hold this key.

The Alphabet of Health: M is for MOVEMENT

In the alphabet of health, M simply has to be for movement. Because really, there is no health apart from movement.

If I wanted to get a bit philosophical on you, life isn’t life apart from some kind of movement, because life is defined by growth, going forward, developing–movement. If we don’t move, we die.

 

Not all movement is seen on the outside, though. And most movements start on the inside, whether they are physical or not.  When I decide to move forward intellectually and go to college, the process of making that decision was movement long before it manifests in the physical realm.  When I lift my arm, the movement started long before my arm is seen being lifted. My brain had to decide to move my arm, my muscles had to obey my brain, etc…

 

 

 

In what we call “the olden days,” people spent much more time moving their bodies than we  do today. Their entire existence revolved around survival, which motivated them to move physically from dawn to dusk: hunt for the meat, work the earth for crops, use all possible resources to build a home that is safe and keeps them protected from the weather and animals, kill the fowl, grind the wheat, beat the laundry, etc…

And you know what? They did not need weight training sessions, or aerobic classes, or boot camp.  If they were around today, they would look at our attempts to get fit and have a great laugh. They might just hand us an ax and tell us to go chop some wood… Life made them fit. Movement made them fit.

They also would think us insane for sitting on our butts eight hours a day, then come home and lay on the couch all night watching junk on tv and filling our bellies with even more junk.  And then take a sleeping pill. I can picture them totally confused by what we call the good life. And wondering if we all just went nuts.

We now find that children have “nature deficit disorder.”  Yep, it has a name now. In my book, it’s called not-going-out-and-living-life-the-way-it-was-meant-to-be-lived. That’s enough to make a person sick if you ask me. Or insane.

Just sayin’

Let’s slow the insanity down a bit but moving more, shall we? Who is with me?

 

 

 

Feel Well Rules

1. Be aware of what you eat 

Too often people consume mindlessly. I don’t believe in counting every calorie any longer, even though this does help some people get control of their eating. I believe in being conscious of what you eat, and paying attention to how your body responds to food. When we eat mindfully, we become aware of our hunger and we know when we are full. Basic weight loss is simply about eating just enough to not be hungry anymore, but enough so that food is not on your mind any longer.

2. Add fruits and vegetables.

Healthy nutrition is vital to good health. If you do not plan for fruits and vegetables in your diet, you might not consume them. They are not shelf-stable and often not pre-packaged. Eat a wide variety, as well as colors of foods, as each color provides different types of nutritional benefits. Make your goal to eat a colorful plate!

fall apples

3. Reduce, and when possible, avoid highly processed foods, with artificial ingredients and additives.

This just makes sense. The more processed items you consume, the more challenging your journey to health and wellness will be. Strive to make the BULK of your diet based in whole or natural foods.

4. Drink water throughout the day.

Water is necessary for life. For your body to function at its best you need to maintain hydration. As oil is to a car, water in to your body. In order to allow your body to work as it was designed, you need to drink water throughout the day.

water

5. Move your body every day.

This is not brain surgery complicated… In order to stay healthy you need to keep moving. Not just one kind of movement, but many. The three biggies are (1) Cardio to get the heart rate elevated, (2) strength training to tone the muscles and build bones, and (3) stretching to keep the body flexible and balanced.

6. Get a good night’s sleep.

Sleep is paramount to good health. At night your body restores itself on a cellular level. Without adequate rest you will perform at a sub-par level. It is important to quiet the mind. Create a bedtime routine and stick to it. Allow yourself the gift of rest.

7. Seek daily self-enrichment.

Spending time investing in yourself creates harmony in mind, body and spirit. Create a habit of learning new things and ways to express yourself–this keeps the mind sharp and increase mental and spiritual health. Look for uplifting and motivational material to read or watch regularly.

8. Don’t be negative.

Duh…Negative attitudes are not conducive to good health. What you think and speak has a direct affect on your personal well-being. Complaining, gossiping and feelings of inability will lead to more of the same. Retrain your mind to look for the good in all things. This attitude shift can increase endorphins.

negative committee

9. Practice daily stress-relief.

Stress is a major risk factor in all forms of disease. Learning ways to relax and unwind is important. Until you learn to manage the stress you encounter, you will not be able to improve your total health and wellness.

10.Participate in prevention and health care screenings.

Ignorance is not bliss! Not knowing about a health problem, does not make it go away. In fact, early detection and prevention can be your BEST defense against life-threatening conditions. The bottom-line is, know your numbers for health, get your annual screenings and see your physician regularly as directed by your age and condition. An ounce of prevention IS worth a pound of cure!

 

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