I value the real life experience of health (including feeling great!) as much or more than anyone I know. Although I think all would say they value health, some rarely take intentional steps to pursue it. Sure, they may take common prescriptions to treat disease symptoms, to lower blood pressure, to ease pain or discomfort or to adjust mood (or you may know some who simply complain about not feeling well, ugh!). However, I believe there are essential health “truths” that will systematically and reliably move us toward health and feeling our best. It may not happen overnight, but progressive movement toward optimum health and “feeling fabulous” can be an achievable and realistic goal for almost everyone reading this article.
I have identified 4 health-related truths and behaviors that are simple, repeatable, logical, and highly consistent with recent research. Further, they have worked for me and literally thousands of my patients! You see… optimum health is both my personal passion and my profession. As a physician who specializes in nutrition, health promotion, and disease prevention, knowing how to achieve health and empowering people to experience it is my “job”. Fortunately, one of the greatest personal rewards in my life is to see people that I influence become healthier, more energetic, more youthful, freed from chronic disease symptoms and more fulfilled as their bodies allow them to accomplish more of what they were designed to do in life. I believe that health (along with its positive “symptoms”) is an area of personal “wealth” that is to be valued, cherished, pursued, and embraced once it is achieved.
For the past 20 years, my health has trended toward gradual and steady improvement. I appreciate that. It’s great to feel better in my 50’s than I did in my 30’s! I attribute my health to some undeserved positive genetic potential, living in a safe country with adequate provisions, but especially to health promoting routines that I have embraced consistently over time. Let me share those with you now as you consider how to make 2013 your best year yet! Join me on my journey of pursuing health and “Feeling Fabulous” as a nice benefit. Simply embrace the following 4 truths for “feeling fabulous” as you set your daily routines for 2013:
Truth #1: Fitness time is always a good investment
Simply averaging at least 9 minutes a day of brisk walking or jogging will improve your health. Think of these benefits:
1. You will “feel” better. Mood improves with fitness activities. Research has proven it to be more effective than prescription anti-depressants. Isn’t “spending” 9 minutes worth a full day of being in a good mood?
2. You will likely live longer. In fact, 6.2 years longer simply by averaging 9 minutes per day. Over 40 years, that is less than 3 months of activity time invested for a gain of over 6 years of life. If only my financial investments offered a return like that!
3. You will feel and be stronger. Engaging your musculoskeletal and mental system in physically demanding activities stimulates positive improvements in physical ability and sense of strength. Your bones and muscles will be stronger as a result.
I try to run (probably more of a jog) every morning for 21-25 minutes, regardless of where I am or circumstances (including rain or snow!). Unless I have a fever or some extreme circumstances, I “just do it” and have done it daily for over 15 years. You can too. If I am running late or limited on time, I achieve at least the 9 minute mark. (Okay, to be completely honest, there are a few days per year that something unavoidable prevents my fitness time from happening…)
Truth #2: Essential Nutrients are essential… really essential!
The debate is over. Informed experts now agree that it is not possible to get all the recommended nutrients in recommended amounts for optimum health from the American diet. Whether you are following a typical “healthy” diet, a popular weight loss diet, or an intentional nutrient rich diet, you will not consume all the nutrients needed for optimum health without supplementation. (Actually, it is theoretically possible if you eat enough food. One study concluded that 25,575 calories of common foods would need to be consumed to obtain all the recommended nutrients!)
And, to “feel fabulous” we must have the correct ingredients to run our internal engines that produce energy and proper brain chemistry. Why subject yourself to malnutrition when it is not necessary? Research confirms that various nutrient deficiencies (magnesium, potassium, vitamin D, B vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, and iron deficiencies just to name a few) are epidemic in the U.S., especially among those who are overweight. Choose not to participate!
I started consuming a daily regimen of high quality essential nutrients in the mid-1990’s and have never regretted it. I believe it is one of my keys to feeling fabulous (and aging slowly). After all, isn’t it intuitive that having the correct essential nutrients for optimum health would be important for “feeling fabulous”? Take a look at the symptoms of malnutrition (fatigue, depression, weakness, loss of mental focus, loss of energy, premature aging, etc). Then, look around at your friends or do a self-inventory. Often times the “fix” is as simple as taking supplements to supply essential nutrients to stimulate internal energy producing systems that are there and ready, just waiting on proper ingredients!
Truth #3: Eating is for health first, pleasure second.
Why do we eat? The common assumption is that we eat to “fuel” our bodies. Yet look around at eating behaviors the next time you are at a buffet or fast food restaurant or a mall. It would appear that people are eating for every reason except to properly fuel their bodies. Pleasure, convenience, camaraderie, taste, comfort, emotions, cost, advertisements, and “likes” are far more common reasons for people to choose when, where and what “foods” they consume.
Let’s simply agree that we believe, and our actions will prove it, that we will eat for health first and pleasure second. Surely things like pleasure or taste can come a bit lower on our list of priorities. Don’t get me wrong. I believe pleasure from proper sources is awesome and is a “God” thing. But the food industry has deceived us into believing that it (food experiences) is all about the pleasure of the food and not about health. It’s all backwards right now and the health-destroying results are all the evidence we need to prove the point. Food “pleasures” can be secondary and still be accommodated. Eat for health first. Feeling (and looking) fabulous is an awesome reward from proper nutrition and it produces ongoing pleasure that is a great reward.
Truth #4: Weight control is essential to feel fabulous.
The average American consumes 500 calories per day more now than in 1970. That has translated into an average weight increase of nearly 30 pounds for adults. That weight gain increases risks of diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, cancer, and a host of other diseases, not to mention fatigue, depression, and loss of self-esteem. Indeed, to feel fabulous, we must control our weight. Here’s how:
1. Embrace Truths 1, 2 and 3. Each will help you control your weight.
2. Weigh yourself daily. You can’t control what you don’t monitor.
3. Keep your weight within 10-20 pounds of your age 21 weight, always! Or, if you’ve found it difficult or especially if you have already gained 20 or more pounds as an adult, get some professional assistance to reduce your weight. Feeling fabulous is worth it.
As you are aware, many of our friends and family are NOT experiencing the joy of “feeling fabulous”. Will you be in that common crowd, because “everyone else is doing it” or will you join me in being an “outlier” in 2013 when it comes to your health? Come on, let’s embrace the 4 Steps and Feel Fabulous! And now that you understand how a few basic habits can dramatically affect how you feel, ask yourself about your priorities for 2013:
1. Will I be active for at least 9 minutes per day?
2. Will I consume recommended essential nutrients EVERY day in 2013?
3. Will I control my weight within 20 lbs of my age 21 weight (or lose at least 20 lbs) and get help when needed?
4. Will I choose foods based on health first and pleasure second?
Join me and pursue “feeling fabulous” in 2013. I’m doing it and you can too. The benefits are worth it, in fact, they are priceless. Feeling fabulous is a precious reward. Go for it in 2013!