I have had a couple of clients sign up this month who are focused on improving their health rather than changing their body shape. This raises the question of what are the fastest and most effective ways to improve your health.
To answer that we should be clear on what we mean by health. in today’s society we talk mostly about health like it is an on/off switch. I am healthy until one day a doctor says you have specific problem. The better way to look at health is on a scale of optimal functioning, how well is your system and body operating. You can liken this to cars, even high performance car break down occasionally (suffer poor health) but in general it is a better experience driving a new Rolls Royce around than a rusted, falling apart second hand banger.
Most people judge their health based on 1 or 2 traits, such as energy in the afternoons, body weight or how much their back hurts. The reality is health shows itself in a huge number of ways. The best way to monitor these and your overall health is using a Health Traits Survey like this one>. This gives a general survey of the whole body including physical, mental and emotional traits. You can check back in every few months to monitor how well your programme is helping your body.
If you are trying to improve your health ASAP I would probably go at it in this order.
1) Exercise – If you are not hitting your minimum exercise requirements then this has to be the place to start. Exercising for health is SO much easier than exercising for fitness or a sport, do not confuse the two. To get health benefits you just need to do something to breathe a little deeper or gently work the muscles.
2) Examine Food Irritations – Nothing can be more impactful on the body than a food (or environmental) sensitivity. If you are sensitive to wheat or gluten for example, then you can see a big change in health traits within a few days of removing them and massive changes in a few months. The issue with food sensitivities is knowing which ones actually annoy your body. There is no reliable test you can take despite what the adverts say because food irritations work on 4 separate pathways and no test can account for them all. However, trial and error (alongside testing if desired) can show you results fairly quickly. I think with food irritation investigations, it is not about never having the food again but rather can you replace it in your normal day to day nutrition with something that is equally tasty and functional in terms of preparation.
3) Stress Reduction – Using a method to reduce stress for most people will have a monumental impact on your health. There are so many options within this area. Meditations are probably the most famous, while I prefer Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). However, you can reduce stress by stopping social media, planning out your future, spending more time with certain friends, or journaling. For health, any reduction will have a benefit to some degree.
4) Reduce BAD Behaviours – There are a host of things we do that we know we shouldn’t for good health, such as getting drunk, smoking, watching TV for 10 hours straight on weekends, binge eating, scrolling social media at 1am, taking drugs etc. The more you reduce the frequency of these the better it is for your health. Very often the issue with these bad behaviours is not the behaviour itself so much but the collateral damage from them, e.g. getting drunk on a Friday ruins your whole weekend, or scrolling social media until late means you are tired and eat too much the next day.
5) Sleep – I would probably put this higher on purely beneficial terms however, sleep is often a symptom of other traits on this list. For example, many people cannot sleep well without exercise or unless they reduce their stress. If your sleep is generally a bit disrupted I would not get disheartened chasing the ideal 8 hours a night sleep if you are a mile off right now. Very often adding just 30 minutes extra to your current routine can massively aid health and energy.
6) Examine Supplementation – As a regular reader of this newsletter you will no doubt have noticed I rarely mention supplements. This is mostly due to the fact that most people are not even close to getting the more important areas in place, which they should do first. However, supplements can play an important role. To rebuild gut and digestion efficiency you will often need to make use of supplements (Note – If you do this while eating a lot of food irritants you will struggle to get results).
It should also be pointed out this area may also involve stopping your current supplements. I am always very wary when clients give a long list of stuff they have to take for this reason or that. If you cannot survive a week or two without taking supplements then this is a problem in itself. (Note – I am referring to supplements NOT medication from a doctor). Supplements can irritate the body as well as creating imbalances within if getting too much of one nutrient and not another to keep it in equilibrium.
7) Fat Loss – There are host of health issues and symptoms that just disappear when you lose body fat. Some of this is the collateral benefit of doing exercise and reducing food irritants mentioned previously but some comes from the actual loss of fat itself. No one says it is easy to lose fat but it is certainly possible. This would be higher on the list but fat loss takes time, while this is a list of what works the quickest.
What Does This Mean For You?
For me, body shape goals are personal choices, however, health is something you need to work on, if not for you, then for your friends and family who will worry about you if your health diminishes. In a world where we focus on being happy it is Impossible to be truly happy if your health is not also optimised. This is because a lot of your good feelings are purely generated from your body and current level of optimal functioning.
It is not hard to improve your health, small changes accumulate over time and massive changes can happen whatever your current state. The body has an innate ability to heal and help itself if you give it the right opportunities.
You may look at the list above and choose to feel overwhelmed with so many things you ‘have’ to do. Alternatively, you can look at this list and see so many easy to do options to improve your health and functioning that you know it is easier to do something than to do nothing!
What could you do TODAY to improve your current health related behaviours?
Photo – The Health Traits Test I use with clients –
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