Taking your daily MEDS
What Defines Health?
I believe there are four “pillars” to consider when measuring ones health. Those four pillars are: Mindfulness, Exercise, Diet, and Sleep. Or as I like to all them, “Your daily MEDS”. If all four of these things are well balanced then you my friend have a very healthy life. If one or more items is not in order, then we have some work to do.
Why these four?
Good question. To better answer this question, I’m going to go into a little detail on the importance of each item. Now a lot of them will overlap into one another, but that’s by design and because of course, you cannot have one habit and be independently healthy without influences of another. Below are my definitions of these “MEDS”.
With this I mean your mental state of mind. Your happiness level. Your ability to control and manage your moods. Your cognitive self-discipline. Your “inner self talk”. If you don’t have the right state of mind, then this will affect all the other parts of your life. Your willingness to eat healthy, your ability to work out or push through tough workouts, and it could even affect your sleep either by sleeping too much or too little. This also includes how you feel about yourself. Are you good to yourself? Do you self-criticize? Do you hate yourself? Do you love yourself? I’d argue that if your self-talk is pessimistic, hateful, and negative, then that’s not healthy. It needs to change. There are many components to mindfulness, it can be complicated, messy and a continuous working progress. But it is vitally important to your health.
When I say exercise, I mean anything from CrossFit, high intensity interval training, swimming, biking, running, walking, hiking, Zumba, jazzercise, yoga, Pilates, at home exercises, gym exercises. Moving that body. Any way, any shape, any form. I would argue that there is an important balance between heavy and light exercise and aerobic and anaerobic exercise. There is a time and place for both. Not only will exercise improve your physical health, but will overlap to that Mindfulness we discussed above. Exercise releases endorphins which can make you feel calm and happy. Exercise is a stress outlet. No matter what’s going on in your life- you can take it out on your exercise and feel all the better for it. Exercise improves metabolism and blood sugar. It can be a key concept to losing weight and inches. It will build strength. Exercise will promote confidence-again key concept to healthy Mindfulness. Exercise also helps with the ability to fall asleep faster and will definitely improve sleep quality.
Now when I say the word diet, most people are going to think of quick and short your plans with the intention of losing weight. When I talk about the word diet I’m talking about a long-term nutrition plan. I’m talking about a way of life. If you look up the definition of diet in the Webster dictionary there are many definitions. It can be used as a noun, verb, or adjective. for my purposes I define it as “food and drink regularly provided or consumed”. I think it’s no secret that most of us know that what we eat is profoundly important to our health. Food provides us with energy to function. Not all food is created equally though. What we fuel our body with will greatly impact how efficiently we function, how we feel, our mood, our ability to exercise, and it will influence our sleep as well. What we eat will affect the chemical stability of our internal cellular processes. Our diet will affect every bodily function. It will dictate our weight. I feel like especially in America, we have completely lost our ability to have a balanced diet. We thrive on high carbs and high sugar, caffeine and alcohol, quick and easy and mindless meals. There is no way to establish healthy living without fully understanding the importance of eating quality and nutritious foods every single day.
You need 7-8 hours sleep everyday. Sleep is our time for healing and restoration of the body. Cells are regenerated or repaired. Organs and blood vessels are also mended. Sleep is also vital for proper brain function. When we are asleep our brain is going through a neurological process to promote memory and learning. You need adequate sleep in order to be able to concentrate the next day. Lack of sleep will cause drowsiness, sluggishness, and memory fog. It will affect your ability to workout and your recovery from a workout. Sleep can affect your predisposition for weight gain. Studies actually show that lack of sleep can lead to obesity and weight gain. Your immune function is also influenced by your sleep. When you sleep or rest your body has an increased ability to produce cytokines- which help fight off infection. Sleep will affect your emotional well-being. Without sleep you will have diminished ability to manage emotions or practice problem solving. Your ability to make good decisions will be influenced by sleep. This can be a big factor with maintaining healthy food choices. Many of us crave carbs when we are sleep deprived. If we are not well rested, we are more vulnerable to making poor food choices. Your decision making, ability to cope, body processing, learning, and exercise are all affected by sleep.
As you can see all 4 components are complex and can influence one another. In order to maintain a healthy status we must continuously work on these items. Again in future posts and newsletters I will go into detail about these subjects more and hopefully provide insight and tools to try to achieve balance. No one is perfect, I am certainly not perfect in all 4 arenas. I am working on these items constantly. This should be a continuous evolution and process of achievement.