2017 Mid-year Review.
Now that we are half way through the year I thought it was a good time to re-visit some of the issues raised in my articles so far.
I am passionate about doing the right thing by our bodies and am committed to encouraging people to give as much thought as possible to giving their bodies the nutrition they need. It does concern me that such a critical and fundamental issue such as diet is given very little consideration throughout our lives. As a society, it seems to me that we are more interested in finding cures for cancer and new ways to repair our hearts or pills to reduce our weight. It is time to put more value on preventative health education. In the long-term it’s far less expensive and not all that hard to achieve.
I recently did a “My Daddy is a Personal Trainer” talk at my eldest daughter’s kindy. I spoke about the importance of eating lots of fruits and vegetables and took the kids through a mini-fitness training session. By all reports the kids had a lot of fun and I have been invited back to do a series of presentations next term. The kids were great and very enthusiastic about what each fruit and vegetable was and learning about different vitamins and minerals and how they affect our bodies. About half way through, I was holding up a broccoli and was about to ask if anyone knew what it was. I was going to explain how it contained vitamin C and calcium and how they were associated with fighting infections and making strong bones, respectively. But before I could do this, up shot this little boy’s hand and he stated very proudly, “That’s broccoli. It makes your poo soft!” The kids laughed their heads off! Precious! I’m thinking of taking him with me wherever I go. I was actually very impressed with the kid’s knowledge and willingness to learn and it occurred to me, “what happens to that as we get older”? If we put more consideration into what we put in our bodies from a young age and then throughout our lives we would be a far healthier society. We would also be a lot less reliant on medical intervention to keep us alive in the future.
So, with that in mind, let’s have a look back at the previous four articles this year.
We are what we Eat.
In this article, I focused on the dietary routine of one of our elite female athletes, Erin Phillips.
Erin impressed me with her dedication to a plant based diet and the fact that she applied a weekly routine to healthy eating. Each day and meal was mapped out to gain the greatest nutritional benefit from the food she was eating. And therein lies the secret to giving yourself the best chance at living a long and healthy life. Routine! If you try to cover all the healthy food groups as best you can on a routine basis throughout the week you won’t be caught thinking “now what am I going to cook tonight, or what am I going to have at my morning tea break?” If it’s planned you have already bought the foods and know what you are going to do. This leads to less slip-ups and a far healthier dietary lifestyle.
I too apply this principle, but I leave Tuesday night for new recipes or ideas. I recently introduced zucchini ricotta cannelloni, kidney bean spaghetti bolognaise (to introduce more legumes into our diet), homemade (usually vegetarian) pizza, tofu and vegetable stir fry and because it’s winter, lamb with roast vegetables including sweet potato, beetroot and shallots. Every other day of the week is covered by a routine.
Monday night is vegetable pasta; Wednesday, Chinese with lots of Chinese vegetables at my parent’s in law; Thursday, Atlantic salmon with steamed vegetables; Friday is usually takeaway and if it’s chicken or fish, I make the salad. And when we buy chips, it’s the smallest quantity and we never finish them. Saturday and Sunday night are usually vegetable frittata or omelette or soup. Occasionally, probably once a month, I will do steak or lean pork fillets and vegetables.
Lunch is invariably a salad sandwich or salad with an egg, lentils, nuts and fetta cheese with or without a slice of bread. Lunch is the best time to get raw food into you. And breakfast is either wholemeal or wholegrain toast made with various seeds and grains including pumpkin, sesame, sunflower or quinoa, or muesli with dried or fresh fruit or egg with avocado, tomato and fetta cheese.
Snacks are fresh fruits, dried fruits and nuts and seeds.
I don’t have to think about whether it’s a healthy meal or not or what should I eat. I know what it will be and I know it’s healthy. Full stop!
You can do it too!
Are You Ready?
In this article, I discussed the mind set required to make the decision to make a change and look after your health and to stick to it.
I talked about there being a tipping point, when you finally decide enough is enough and something in your life needs to change before it’s too late!
This often involves a change to both your fitness routine and your diet, but not just for a few weeks or months but for the rest of your life.
I am not a big fan of so-called 8 or 12-week challenges like many fitness professionals offer because putting a time limit on the program suggests all will be resolved in that time period. Often, people return to old bad habits once these challenges are complete. What we need to realise is that we need to change our lifestyle for the long haul. Only that way will we be putting ourselves in a better position to avoid diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
Make a commitment to train regularly with your personal trainer or run 5 kms a week or do some exercise in the spare room. Make a commitment to eat mostly fruit and vegetables and feel the benefit almost instantly. Make a commitment to cut out potato crisps, ice cream, lollies and pastries or just plain eating too much.
There will be times when you fall off the horse, but most importantly you need to get back on again. Think of what you have achieved so far and get back into it!
Changing to a healthy lifestyle does require discipline but also a change to our habits and that’s where the next article came in.
Making Good Health a Habit.
This is possibly the most critical factor when it comes to living a long healthy life. I believe that whatever your health goal, your main goal needs to be forming good health habits.
If you are to achieve good health, you are going to have to rely on more than motivation. Good health requires that your daily and hourly choices and actions need to be an automatic thing that you do. They need to be good health habits.
When you wake up, you bush your teeth, get dressed and go for a run. When you get to your morning tea break, you grab the nuts and fresh fruit you packed in the morning. When you get to lunch time, you eat a salad sandwich. When you finish work, you go straight to weight training with your personal trainer. When you get to dinner time you cook the healthy meal you planned at the beginning of the week. When it gets late you go to bed so that you get a healthy 7-8 hours of sleep. And so, the routine or habit continues the next day and the next and the next.
Of course, life gets in the way of our routine at times. I know. I have two young children. But you can get back into your routine immediately because it is a habit. Sometimes we will need to make our morning run shorter or make it a few star-jumps and push-ups in the lounge room. Or, if one Friday night we indulge in too much take away pizza, we don’t give up on the whole routine. The next day we are back into it. We start again with a healthy bowl of muesli and fresh fruit. We know the routine will never be perfect but it will be good, a good health habit.
These good health habits are also not set in stone. You will find yourself fine tuning them all the time, adding different food choices here and exercise variations there. Keep trying to improve it and this good health habit or routine will give you your best shot at living a long healthy life.
Living the Blue Zones way.
This article dealt with the longest living peoples on the planet. They really are the ones we need to emulate.
I am particularly fond of the fact that these people all share a sense of community. This is where I find training in a group situation is very rewarding. You share common goals, motivate one another and simply enjoy one another’s company. If you’ve had a difficult day at work or with the kids your training partners are there to lend a caring ear. This does wonders for de-stressing and getting you back on track, ready to face the world again.
Whilst my family is my greatest life purpose, so too is what I try to do for my clients. I encourage you all to do your best you can to live a long healthy life by living the Blue Zones way. Stay active, not just through your training but in your day to day life. Unfortunately, most of our modern-day forms of work encourage a sedentary lifestyle which isn’t really helping us with our health. So, move when you can, walk some of the way to work, walk to see friends when you catch up for coffee in your local area and do your own housework (vacuuming is a particularly good cardiovascular activity) and gardening.
Eat a mainly plant-based diet. I cannot emphasise this one more. It is such a consistent factor with all the longest living peoples of the world who suffer from less cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Meat, poultry, fish, dairy and grain based foods (bread, pasta, rice etc) are fine, but in small amounts. You don’t need them every day or in every meal. And don’t over eat. Stop when you feel about 80% full or just put less on your plate. Vegetables and fruit are king. Do yourselves a big favour and make this one happen.
And last of all, make sure you have a group of people you can rely on when the going gets extra tough. Find four or five people for life you trust and can call on when you need to, and perhaps also share a laugh and a glass of wine with.
So, there you go everyone. Make a commitment to improve your health and make it a life habit or routine and then derive all the benefits that follow.
Here’s to the second half of the year. I’ll catch you soon.