What does it mean to achieve optimal health? The basic definition is that an individual’s physical, emotional and mental health has them feeling their very best. They have energy, they feel and look great, they sleep well, have time for friends , family and their own relaxation. Ultimately it means that they are HAPPY and their body is THRIVING and not just SURVIVING.
When one thinks of perfect health, most think simply about “eating healthy and exercising” but even this is complicated. What defines healthy eating? (There are hundreds of different diets out there). AND what kind of exercise is best? (There seems to be a new exercise fad every month). Even if we are able to define the best eating and exercise choices, we are missing key components of the OPTIMAL HEALTH formula in order to thrive as there are four other components that are missing that will help you complete the perfect environment for your body to THRIVE. We call them the six foundational principles for Health; Sleeping, Hydration, Thinking, Breathing and of course Movement.
SLEEPING? Really? Yes! Proper sleep habits are so underrated, especially in our society in the 21st century. Our bodies actually all have natural built in clocks that work in sync with the sun. It’s important to be in bed by 10:00 pm as physical repair takes place from about 10pm-2am and mental repair takes place between 2-6am and missing sleep during any of these times will disrupt this repair time. It’s also important to avoid anything that might keep you awake; caffeine, sugar, nicotine and alcohol will all disrupt your sleep/wake cycles and should be avoided, especially after lunch. Also bright lights (including TV’s, computers and phones) should be avoided about 2 hours before bed time. Regular and proper exercising will help with sleep, but not 2 hours before of bed time.
As Hippocrates said “Water and food should always be our first medicine.” Oh, how far we have come from this in the 21st century! Without proper nutrition and hydration, it is an impossibility to be healthy and to remain healthy throughout one’s lifetime. There are numerous studies that demonstrate several native cultures experiencing robust health and amazing physiques, until they adopted the so-called “white man’s diet.” Eating processed foods in place of whole foods has been shown to cause disease and even cancers, as processed food are usually laden with synthetic components that are bodies can simply not break down. You can burn whole foods, but you cannot burn off chemicals and that is important to note with weight loss. A few other important items to take into consideration are that eating fast, not fully chewing your food, “mindless eating,” overeating and yo-yo dieting can also create a toxic environment within your body and lead to health issues. Here is a quick tip to help you decide if it will keep you healthy; If you can’t pronounce it, if it’s irradiated, if it’s pasteurized and if it’s packaged, DON’T EAT IT. Buying organic, especially your meats, when possible will also help ensure your most healthy self!
Even more important than nutrition is hydration. There are over 10 billion biochemical reactions per SECOND in the human body and all are water dependent. That’s pretty powerful. Water makes up 75% of our body and 85% of our brain tissue, so it’s important to drink ½ your body weight in ounces each day to maintain not only optimal performance, but your optimal body weight. Try to drink filtered, chlorine and fluoride free water out of glass and store your water in a cold dark place.
Another important element with your health is your thinking. How you think about yourself is how you are! All your thoughts become actions so if you are generally a negative person, you can’t ever have a positive outcome in your own life. If you are trying to begin the process of getting healthy, a detox must begin in your mind as you can never have a thought without producing an emotion and emotions affect our entire system. It becomes a cycle as what we eat and how we workout also influence how we interpret life events and how rapidly we age.
Proper breathing and meditation are also key aspects to improving our health. A human being takes an average of 25,900 breaths a day and just by simply breathing properly, you can eliminate stress on your body. Meditation and relaxation does not have to be what you picture in your mind (sitting legs crossed, hands on your legs, humming), but can be taking a leisurely walk and really enjoying your surroundings or it can be listening to soothing music with your eyes closed for 20 minutes and clearing your mind of all else.
Most people are aware that exercise is necessary to LOOKING good and maintaining an optimal body weight, but what many don’t realize is that it will also help you be happy, healthy and ward off all sorts of diseases. Generally raising your activity level is key and include walking more often, hiking, playing outside with your dogs or kids or getting involved in an adult sports league. This is not necessarily considered structured exercise but can help with your weight goals to some degree. Jogging, dancing, Yoga, Tai Chi and more are all great ways to get yourself moving towards optimal health,but most importantly is a structured and scientific strength training program 2-3 days a week with a certified trainer that can help you yield some of the scientifically proven methods to reduce your age and maintain Optimal Health. We like to say at our studio that building energy and vitality in your body is a lot like investing. Just as it takes money to make money, it takes energy to make energy.