4 Steps to a healthy lifestyle evolved over many years of battling with sleep, exercise, stress and nutritional eating; wrestling with the idea that somehow a healthy life style should be the norm, not something we try and aspire to, and then fail at time and again. I try and unpack this, giving alternatives and easy points to achieve this naturally.
When I was growing up, healthy living seemed to have a bad reputation. I am not sure whether it was the tiny town I grew up in’s attitude, or whether it was a general thing. Words like: “why exercise!; just run around the block and then kick it under the bed”, peals of laughter from the culprit; or “have that piece of cake, you might not be here tomorrow, enjoy it while you can”, as we continue to smash that delicious piece of cake down into the poor forgiving gut. How about sleep: “who needs it, you are only young for such a short time, make the most of it”, the jovial party goer sneers over his empty glass of wine; “fill her up”, he shouts while staggering on to the dance floor.
Being bombarded by this kind of attitude leaves concepts that healthy living is not valued, or not something we do naturally as part of a daily routine.
Our Brain wiring
Once our brain has been programmed into thinking that living this way is what brings happiness, it is difficult to understand other forms of what brings joy, for example when it comes to removing certain foods from our diet; my husband says; “what’s enjoyable left to eat.” How do we reprogramme our thinking and why should we, especially when our brains are telling us that we are missing out on all the enjoyable things in life encouraging a deprived attitude?
In the back of my mind, though, thoughts did pop into my head when walking down aisles of packaged or tinned food wondering how this could be nutritious and why would they have to fortify some of them.
When my son was studying Cellular metabolism, an understanding made me start rethinking why I was doing certain things. It stated that energy in the universe has direction and that it runs down, degraded to heat. Animals grow and maintain themselves by borrowing free energy from the environment, so when a deer eats the acorns, it transfers potential energy, stored as chemical bond energy in the nuts tissues, to its own body. Then, in a step-by-step sequence called biochemical pathways, this energy is gradually released to fuel the deer’s many activities.
The energy for the deer and most almost all of life on earth is from the sun. Sunlight is captured by green plants (Photosynthesis), which fortunately accumulate enough chemical bond energy to sustain both themselves and the animals that feed on them.
However much of this energy, in fact up to 90% is lost through heat. Along comes the carnivore that eats the deer, and he receives even less of that energy, (Ever wondered why lions laze around all day). The carnivore received secondary energy, (remembering that the deer has already lost 90% of its energy through its own heat use) the poor old lion has hardly derived any energy from the deer. Thus endeth my biology lesson (of which I know little about, suffice it to say, enough to be helpful for this blog.)
Cellular Metabolism | Introduction to the Living Animal. https://biocyclopedia.com/index/general_zoology/cellular_metabolism.php
Eating a direct source of energy food, rather than eating from a tin or packet started a new passion for me as it made a lot of sense to eat whole food if I wanted energy and a healthy lifestyle; however, there was still a lot of hype about exercise, sleep, and stress that affects our general lifestyle apparently.
Why we need to change
Sarah Ballantyne, PhD, says that there are more than a 100 different types of autoimmune diseases (or the disease has an autoimmune origin), diseases like arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis, diabetes Type 1 and suspected autoimmune diseases like Altzheimers, Fibromyalgia and Parkinson’s disease. https://www.thepaleomom.com/about/about-sarah/
Symptoms like anxiety and depression, allergies, digestive problems, extreme fatigue, gallbladder disease, low blood sugar, memory problems, migraines, muscle or joint pain, rashes, sleep disturbances, swollen glands, thyroid problems and yeast infections can all be symptoms of autoimmune diseases, however before you go running off to be tested if you have any of these symptoms, there are many other reasons for like these. They usually are in conjunction with others.
I believed that having three little ones and the stresses that go with that; was my cause. It was not; so if you are not feeling 100% most of the time, check it out.
Starting a new trend
The key is to understand whether your lifestyle and what is significant for you is working: if not, find the passion that spurs you on by being kind to yourself. Leading a healthy lifestyle should be as natural as showering, and waking up refreshed in the morning. Advertisements and the film industry have brainwashed us into believing ideas that are not necessarily true, and they make it look so enticing, and that is why we are drawn in unwittingly.
I remember watching those good old movies with Bridgitte Bardot and Marilyn Monroe smoking and, man, it seemed so enjoyable. Definitely no sign of lung disease written all over those faces. Yes, illness spurred me onto looking at my lifestyle choices, but it need not be for you. Changing the way of living is beneficial; however, this needs a more wholistic approach. ( Meaning, let’s look at what we do as a whole).
- Eliminate unnecessary stress
- Check your sleep patterns
- Exercise more regularly
- Eat nutritional food most of the time
STEP 1 – HOW STRESS AFFECTS A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
I have always been a ‘worrier’, and no matter how much I told myself to stop, I would find myself ruminating, worse than the peaceful ruminating cows on the hillsides of the Swiss Alps, with their bells and everything. What a peaceful image – however, my thoughts were not peaceful at all, and it is one of my lifelong battles which I work on daily, and when we get to ‘T’ in my alphabet blog, I will share some great tips. http://lovinglylivelife.com/2019/03/05/a-hole-lot-of-living-creating-a-life-worth-living/
Different types of stress
It is easier to identify emotional stress; but other types of stress are disguised, such as guilt and expectations stress; giving more than your capacity stress; not living normal life stress; not living meaningful life stress etc.) according to Patrick Holford.https://www.patrickholford.com/
We need to feel loved, cared for and nurtured. Where we can just be ourselves, feel part of a loving home.
Why We Are More Stressed Than We Should Be
Patrick Holford maintains that three million years ago, we were hunter/gatherers, eating all our food raw. For ten thousand years, we were peasant farmers, eating whole organic food, however, when the industrial revolution began with the birth of refined, processed and high-fat, high-sugar, high-meat diets plus pollutants and pesticides introduced, and our water got contaminated, things started to change.
For millions of years, we were physically active; our responses to stress were physical, fight or flee from predators. Today it is pressure at work, traffic jams, financial problems, family rows or watching thriller movies.
The results of Stress
Chemicals that are produced to be released through exercise are no longer expended, and we use only a fraction of the physical energy of our ancestors. Stress causes inflammation in our bodies, and there is a spectrum of responses by the immune system to a high-cortisol environment.
Stress may cause leaky gut (increased permeability of the gut barrier), which causes all those nasty symptoms like heartburn, bloating, gas, sore stomach and causes inflammation and infection. As Hippocrates says “All disease begins in the gut”, as 70-80% of our immune system is located in our digestive system.
STEP 2 – HOW SLEEP AFFECTS A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
I was always a great sleeper until wine and I became friends. Moving to the fair Cape came with benefits of sipping wine as one watched the sun set over the sea; daily. Falling asleep was no problem, however, 12:00 to 3:00 would be wide awake time. My break up with wine was hard, although we meet up on special occasions, I find this relationship far more beneficial for me.
Why is lack of sleep Bad?
According to Dr Ballantyne, lack of adequate sleep has been associated with increased morbidity and mortality from all causes: this means that if you consistently do not get enough sleep, you have a higher risk of getting sick and dying. Eek. There is a strong correlation between sleeping or disturbed sleep with obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Studies have also evaluated the role of sleep in the healing process. Dr Holford says that sleep nourishes the body and the mind. Overly stressed people will have sleep-related problems. You need at least 5 to 9 hours of sleep.
The importance of Sleep
Pierre van der Merwe, a neurologist who focuses on the prevention of Alzheimer’s, says optimising sleep is the most important single thing that you can do. You have to prioritise sleep, and it needs to follow a specific pattern to receive the correct quality of sleep.
STEP 3 – HOW EXERCISE AFFECTS A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body; it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity” John F Kennedy.
Why do we need to exercise?
Just as wine and I were good friends, exercise and I were not. It made me feel tired and breathless, and it was hard work, even as a young adult, aerobics, the exercise of the moment, left me feeling exhausted. (Also I expected to be as good as the instructor on day one), not going to happen. Training as with anything, takes practice, and I realised this once I started the NHS couch potato to 5 K App kindly recommended by my eldest daughter. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/couch-to-5k-week-by-week/
Achieving the running of a 5 k was not the goal, and in fact, it took me 5 months to complete stage one, walking for a minute and running for a minute – 7 times. I realised I was in trouble when I could not run the first one minute slot and hubby could. It took perseverance, however, the benefits that came with were immeasurable. I felt happier, I started enjoying the exercise, and although I do not run any more, I have a walking regime, and I love it.
Benefits of exercise
The benefits of physical activity increases muscle mass, metabolism and maintains a healthy weight. It improves bone density and regulates a variety of hormones including insulin, cortisol, leptin, ghrelin and melatonin, It boosts your mood, decreases cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and depression according to Dr Ballantyne. Are you not wanting to get out there immediately and do something, anything to enjoy these fantastic benefits you can create in your very own sphere?
Dr Mercola says that activity is a foundational pillar of optimal health and disease prevention; something is always better than nothing. https://www.mercola.com/
Some ideas of exercise
- High-intensity interval exercises – are more effective than other types of training, which means you can get away with lower time investment. Training improves left ventricular exercise response after three months. Nitric Oxide dumping was developed by Dr Zach Bush and it is designed to stimulate the release of nitric oxide, which can catalyse and promote health. It only takes a short time of your day 4 minutes.
- Arm raises
- Circular arm swings(non –jumping jacks)
- Shoulder presses. Take a look at the site.
- Walking at least 30 minutes three times a week. (Even 15 minutes has benefits)
- Pilates, yoga, the gym. Just do it!
- Whatever your plan, put it in your diary and make it a non-negotiable date with yourself.
Always check with your doctor and ensure you don’t have any health issues before embarking on exercise programmes.
STEP 4 – HOW NUTRITION AFFECTS A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
2 Rules to Nutritional Eating
Rule 1 – Achieving a healthy lifestyle
We all love sweet, unhealthy foods. I remember listening to advertisements telling me that sugar gives me energy, and it does, but then it drops you in the dwang. Sugar tastes so yummy, yet foods with sugar in them are addictive and cause inflammation.
Trying to stop eating things we love is very hard, and so I have noticed some nutritionists advocate the 80 – 20 rule. Eat healthily 80% of the time and cheat only 20% of the time, however, if you can cut them out as much as possible, your body will thank you. Move from dairy chocolate to Dark chocolate is an excellent start as dark chocolate has health benefits.
Rule 2 – achieving a healthy lifestyle
The next rule I follow is making sure I get the maximum nutrition from what I eat to maximise the benefit. So for instance, berries have the most vitamins and minerals and the lowest sugar content of fruits. Because they have such rich pigments, they also tend to be some of the most antioxidant-rich foods available, according to Dr Ballantyne. Do some research; I will also leave some names you can follow to get the most up to date information.
I also use supplements, for instance, certain vitamins and minerals are beneficial so have them checked. Important ones are Calcium, Vitamin D, Magnesium and the B’s. All crucial for healthy living, and don’t forget the Omega’s as they are important too. Dr P van der Merwe.
A Programme to healthy eating
There are only three significant foods to avoid or cut down on, and I am sure you guessed it; sugar, dairy and wheat. These three foods are to blame for many problems from allergies to inflammation.
Dr van der Merwe gives his tips:-
So if you are looking for better brain health, heart health, gut health or wanting to have less exhaustion, more energy with a general all-around feeling of well being, look at what you are eating, how much you are exercising, how much sleep you are getting and above all how much stress you live with. The information I have given you is really only the tip of the iceberg and if you want to really benefit wholistically, please do some more research.
All straightforward steps to improve your lifestyle to create a life worth living, but not so easy to implement. This takes disciple, accountability, surrounding yourself with like-minded folk who will encourage you. Do some research and find what is best for you. Adapt the way you live according to what it is you want to improve. I have listed some folk I follow on Instagram. They have great tips on encouraging healthy living.
I thought I would leave you with a few tips:
- Meditate, yoga, spiritual disciplines, contemplative living for stress.
- Make sleep your friend.
- As far as exercise goes, do something you enjoy, tennis, hiking, walking, etc, Do not make it a chore.
- Discover new foods, mine is smoothies, they are delicious. Reinvent the wheel, by trying new ideas.
I will be dealing with ‘knowing your identity’, and how that affects our life worth living, on my next blog. Look out for that one.
“So, what is the difference between ‘wholistic’ and ‘holistic’?
There seems to be a lot of confusion between these two different, yet very similarly defined words. It really is a very simple and clear difference.
Holistic = Wholistic (kind of!)
Wholistic refers to a whole or whole body; taking into consideration the whole body or person. Wholistic means considering the mind, body and spirit.
Holistic in the dictionary means, of or relating to Holism. Emphasizing the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts. Concerned with wholes rather than analysis or separation into parts. Dictionary.com explains holistic as identifying with principles of holism in a “system of therapeutics, especially one considered outside the mainstream of scientific medicine, as [homeopathy], naturopathy or chiropractic, and usually involving nutritional measures.”
The word holistic is derived from Holism. Holism is inclusive of wholistic, but also with the notion that reality is an interconnected whole. The term holism was coined in 1926 by Jan Smuts. His definition of holism echoed the concept “the whole is different from the sum of its parts.”
Wholistic and holistic do in fact have two different meanings, but over the years the popularity of Holism muddled the definitions and in North America today holistic is wholistic! CANADIAN COLLEGE OF HOMEOPATHIC MEDICINE.
Ballantyne. S. 2013. The Paleo Approach, Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body. Victoria Belt Publishing inc.
Holford. P. 1999. Beat Stress and Fatigue, The drug-free guide to de-stressing and raising your energy levels. Piatkus.
van der Merwe. P. Neurologist Cape Town.
Cellular Metabolism | Introduction to the Living Animal. https://biocyclopedia.com/index/general_zoology/cellular_metabolism.php