5 Steps to Stay Healthy & Improve Your Quality of Life
How much is your health worth? Forgot the idea of a six-pack, or deadlifting 600 pounds. I’m referring to basic health. The ability to do life absent of lifestyle disease. To feel well. To have a vitality for life. To have energy to do great work. To be able to love your spouse passionately. What is that worth to you?
Unfortunately, a lot of you don’t know how much this is worth until you don’t have it. You wait until obesity, heart disease, chronic fatigue, drug abuse, type 2 diabetes, and alcohol invade your life. Then, when symptoms are so severe, the question creeps into your mind “how did I get like this?” The follow up thought is usually along the lines of “I wish I had my health back so could _________________.” You fill in the blank there.
I don’t know what that blank is for you. You wish you had your health back so you could play basketball with your son.
- You wish you had your health back so you could get through the day without that back pain.
- You wish you had your health back so you could have the energy to do your best work.
- You wish you had your health back so you could start that business you always dreamed of having.
- You wish you had your health back so you could cook breakfast for your wife.
- You wish you had your health back so you cloud work on restoring that classic car in your garage.
- You wish you had your health back so you could write that novel. You wish you had your health back so you could take your dog on a walk.
- You wish you had your health back because you hate taking all the medications.
- You wish you had your health back, so you could simply do life.
To illustrate how health is the foundation of our life, consider this story…
Michael plant was the America’s single most accomplished solo sailor. He sailed with no crew. He logged more than 100,000 miles in a sail boat, had been around the world 3 times and set the record for the fastest solo circumnavigation by an American, with a time of 135 days.
In 1992, he upgraded to a state of the art sailboat and named it the coyote. In preparation for his second Vendee Globe and fourth single-handed circumnavigation that would start in France, Michael Plant decided to test-drive his new boat across the Atlantic ocean.
He launched out of the New York harbor and after 11 days some friends tried to reach him by radio, but to no avail. They didn’t’ worry to much since Lance was a master at his craft and there was no distress signal. But after another week with no response from Plant, a search and rescue team is deployed to find him. They searched a wide radius of the Atlantic ocean where Plant had launched from, but they couldn’t find him.
32 days after he left the New York harbor, a Greek tanker spotted a boat upside down in the icy water of the Atlantic, and it was the coyote.
When they got to the boat, there was no sign of Lance. The 85 foot mast was pointed straight down into the sea. The sails were still rigged. There were no holes and the rudder was operational. But when they find the got to the keel, they realized what happened. The 8400 pounds of ballast had separated from the boat and was sitting on the bottom of the ocean.
Without the ballast, Plant had no way of surviving. Sailing is built on this principle: There always has to be more weight underneath the water line than there is above the waterline. So that no matter what kind of storm hits the boat, it will always be able to ride itself. When the ballast was lost on Plants boat, everything else went down with it.
What ballast is to a sailboat, health is to your life.
Rather than waiting for crisis to hits before you realize how important your health is, and possibly realizing it when it’s too late, take action now. Invest in yourself. Consider these 5 pillars of success in managing your health.
1. Take responsibility
One of the greatest myths that lingers around is the one that says we are entitled to great health simply because we exist. Somebody or something is responsible for fulfilling our needs to have great health.
The real truth is that there is only one person responsible for the quality of health you have. That person is you.
Aside from the health issues that some people that are out of their control (things like autism), majority of you are dealing with lifestyle related disease. This isn’t your bosses fault. You can’t blame it on your friends. You can’t look to your family. The government didn’t do this to you.
It’s time to stop blaming everything and everyone. You have to assume 100% responsibility. Nothing less will do.
2. Find peace with the now
It can be a humbling experience to come face to face with reality. Looking at yourself naked in the mirror. Looking at your blood work report. Realizing you’ve neglected your health. Finding out you have type 2 diabetes. It can be difficult to deal with, and I realize that. But you can manage these times in way that doesn’t eat at your mind.
When you take responsibility and own up to reality, an immediate tension arises in your mind. You are now aware of how your past behavior has impacted your current circumstances, and now you have a destination of where you’d like to be. The space in between causes the friction.
Having a peace about what is happening right now isn’t the absence of problems, but the ability to manage them. What you’ve done in the past is done. What you might do in the future hasn’t happened. All you can do is focus on being your best right now.
You are in charge of how you manage the time you have in front of you. You can either have a negative, self-loathing approach on how to deal with the now, or you can choose to have a positive, abundant mindset on how you deal with the now.
Author and speaker Jack Canfield says that the only things we have control of are our thoughts and behavior. You can’t go back and change what you’ve done in the past, and you can’t control the future. All you have is now. Be well with it.
3. Be aware of toxins
A toxin is something capable of causing disease or damaging your system when it enters the body. Most of you will gravitate toward pesticides, heavy metals or industrial pollutants when we talk about toxins. To be sure, you’re right. But there are other toxins that I think are more relevant in the damage to your health. There are two kinds: Internal toxins and external toxins.
Here’s my disclaimer: I think a lot of you are “gluten free” and don’t even know why.
It’s trendy to be gluten free and all it’s doing is burning a whole in your wallet. However, I’m not discounting the fact the gluten intolerance and celiac disease are real issues.
The ingestion of gluten, a protein found in grains like wheat, rye, and barley, gives rise to antibodies that attack the small intestine. There is conflicting research showing how many people have the most severe intolerance to gluten which is celiac disease. I’ve found anywhere from 1-12.5% of people actually have celiac disease. Even at the high estimate of 12.5%, that’s still millions of people. There are about 15% of people who are on Twitter. Does that give you a better idea?
Celiac disease over time can be debilitating. The autoimmune assault destroys the small intestines ability to absorb nutrients which leads to a landslide of issues. The only treatment? Lifelong avoidance of gluten.
But just because this is a real issue, doesn’t mean you have celiac disease. Rather than self-diagnosing, it’s always a better approach to receive proper diagnosis.
Industrial seed oil
Anthropological research shows that the ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fats have an optimal ratio of about 1:1. It also shows that with a diet with a ratio of fats lower in omega-6 fats has a direct connection to modern inflammatory diseases like hear disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes; all which are sweeping across our nation today. We now see ratios of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats as high as 25:1. There are consequences to this disproportionate ratio of fats and are associated heavily with inflammatory diseases like:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Cardiovascular disease
What industrial seed oils are the most toxic? Safflower, sunflower, corn, sesame and corn oils contain 0% Omega-3 fat and a high percentage of Omega 6-fat.
Nearly 70% of Americans and 1.5 billion people worldwide are overweight, and that’s expected to balloon to 2.3 billion people worldwide by 2015. The big player in this epidemic?
According to Dr. Hyman here is sugar by the numbers:
- Sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine.
- The average American eats 1 pound of sugar every day.
- There are 600,000 processed food items in our environment, and 80% of them contain added sugar.
- 90% of kids and 50% of the U.S. population drinks soda once a day.
- One can of soda a day increases a kid’s chance of obesity by 60%.
- You have to walk 41/2 miles to burn off one 20-ounce soda.
- You’d have to run 4 miles a day for a week to burn off one supersize fast-food meal.
- Nearly 70% of Americans and 1.5 billion people worldwide are overweight.
We can’t look at employees as units anymore. The ones who provide real value, aren’t cogs in the wheel. Once you allow people to do their best work, they aren’t replaceable parts.
Autonomy in your career
Jeff Gunther turned his company into a ROWE-a results oriented work environment. In a ROWE workplace, people don’t have schedules. They show up when they want. They don’t have to be in the office at a certain time or any time for that matter. They just have to get their work done.
How they do it, when they do it and where they do it is up to them. Gunther explains his approach by saying “Management isn’t about walking around and seeing if people are in their offices. It’s about creating conditions for people to do their best work.”
Doesn’t that sound awesome?
I think the old model of management in the workplace is dying. Nobody wants someone breathing down their neck to make sure they aren’t making any mistakes. That kind of environment sucks your soul away and you eventually become resentful of your workplace. This not only impacts production, but it also strips you of a deep rooted human desire: The longing to be creative and indulge in craftsmanship.
I’m 30 years old. I understand the old model was the bread and butter for my parents. But moving forward, this kind of work environment is what is going to take over the way we do work. More and more businesses are adopting this “long-leash” approach and allowing humans to be humans.
We can’t look at employees as units anymore. The ones who provide real value, aren’t cogs in the wheel. Once you allow people to do their best work, they aren’t replaceable parts. They become partners with the company.
Are you “autonomy” starved in your job? It might be time to recognize your strengths or if need be get the appropriate training to invest yourself into a position that gives you the autonomy you deserve. Because lets face it, something you do for 40 hours a week or more, isn’t a job. It’s your life.
Do you have relationships in your life that challenge, encourage and support you to be a better person?
Aristotle wrote that we are social animals. I think that is true. Just look at the explosion of popularity in the social media space. We all want relationship, but sometimes that desire over-rides our ability to make sound decisions on the relationships we invest in.
We’ve all hear the saying “birds of a feather flock together.” You become what and who you surround yourself with. In the area of relationships, how are you doing?
Do you have relationships in your life that challenge, encourage and support you to be a better person? Or are you relationships holding you down, causing massive physical or emotional pain?
Take inventory of the people your relationships and see where it may be time to invest more of yourself or say good-bye.
I think it’s important to have different levels of relationship as well. Being a mentor to someone, being friends with someone and being the one mentored is a three pronged approach that can nourish your need for relationships.
Mentoring someone allows you to guide, teach and support. Being friends with someone allows you to play some hoops on the weekend together. Being mentored allows you to soak up the wisdom of someone who has gone before you.
A shortage of shut-eye can leave you feeling tired, cranky, hungry, and irritable. But it turns out, a lack of sleep can affect you in a lot of ways that go beyond triggering those basic feelings. And that’s a problem, since 53 percent of Americans are snoozing less than the recommended seven hours each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. So what can a shortage of shut-eye cause? Only some of the crazy effects listed below:
- Unethical behavior at work
- Fat gain
- Dangerous driving
- Low testosterone
4. Shift from life-changing to lifestyle
You’ve come to that point where enough is enough. You’re ready to fight this with bravado. You’re ready, willing and able to make change in your life. The typical approach is fueled by emotional motivation and you dive head first into a full blown over-haul. The only problem is that this often rarely works.
Too often you get obsessed with the life-changing outcome; instead of the lifestyle behavior it takes to do so. For example:
- I want to lose 60 pounds is life-changing. Going to the gym 4x a week at 7 a.m before work is a lifestyle change.
- I want get off my medication is life-changing. Making time to pack a healthy lunch every day for work is a lifestyle change.
Take that enthusiasm and channel it into the lifestyle behavior, instead of obsessing over the life-changing event. Big dreams are good, but consistent daily habits are better.
5. Believe it’s possible
Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine studied the outcome of arthroscopic knee surgery on patients with painful, worn-out knees who were given one of two types of surgery. One was scraping out the knee joint or washing it out.
Their results were then compared to patients who had unknowingly received a pretend surgery where doctors made tiny incisions in the knee as if to insert their surgical instruments, then did nothing.
Over two years later the patients who received pretend surgery reported an equal amount of pain relief and knee function as those who actually received real surgery. The brain expected the imaginary surgery to improve the knee.
This is known as the placebo effect. The expectancy theory states that our brain learns what to expect next, whether it actually happens or not. Whatever your brain expects, you often times receive exactly that.
So why does this play a role in your health?
Right now, you might be in a tough spot. I need you to believe that you can turn this around. The patients who received fake surgery subconsciously leveraged the expectancy theory to heal their knees. Their brains expected their knees to be healed. And it worked.
I need you to hold a positive expectation in your mind about getting your health back. When you replace those destructive expectations with positive expectations, your brain begins to believe that it’s possible. When your brain believes that it’s possible, it will expect you to achieve the outcome you desire.