My experience of people talking about health is that you can either be happy or healthy. Pick one. My view is that you can have both. You are also generally told that the modern way is bad. The attitude is ‘don’t live in the present, live in the past. It’s much better for you.’
This advice frustrates me because it’s so negative. It’s also not what I’ve learnt and not what I see. Lots of people have inspired me precisely because their happiness makes them healthy. These people also live in the present. They aren’t stuck in the older ways that they understand well. They enjoy the experience of learning new ways to get things done and live life in a different way. They enjoy the old and the new equally.
In this article, I want to elaborate a little on the vision for this blog. The idea of Fit2Thrive is that through activity you can talk to your cells. Get them to do what you want them to do and what they need to do and keep yourself fit and healthy. At the same time it is about living the life you always dreamed of. The message being; Don’t sell your soul, chase your dreams instead.
Putting this into practice is where we all get lost. I know I do. So I started this blog to document my journey in search of both health and happiness. I like learning from others what this means by trying ideas out and seeing what works for me.
Is diet and exercise king?
Some say diet and/or exercise are the most important thing in your lifestyle and that it’s easy to be healthy, just follow the right diet and exercise routine, they say. That’s too simplistic for me, life is far more complicated and deserves more respect. Let’s me give you an example:
Meet John, a project manager who is near the end of a big project that’s been running for 4 months. He has been eating and exercising really well for the last few weeks but it’s not been so easy lately. He is spending more time at work as the deadline approaches. More time at the office means he gets less time to relax and so he’s thinking about work more and more. This is making it hard to sleep at night because he finds it hard to switch off.
His nervous system is taking a pounding because he is always stressed. The constant surge of adrenalin is making it hard to sleep. The lack of sleep and high adrenalin levels are making it hard for his body to recover from each day. The body generally only fixes itself when it rests not when it is on high alert. So essential maintenance gets postponed. Sometimes for the entire project. Humans are survivors so the body gets by as best it can.
Such a serious lack of essential maintenance makes the body sluggish and inefficient. So John starts feeling tired most of the time because his body is no longer functioning the way it normally would. It’s been on high alert for too long. He finds the healthy food just doesn’t have the flavour it used to. The food hasn’t changed, his taste buds have. Tired people are drawn to comfort foods and quick fixes. They are the only things that taste good.
Does any one recognise this scenario? I’ve been through it many times when I’m in a busy and stressful period and I have seen it in others too. These are often times when, following the diet and exercise regime still leaves you feeling bad. Of course it does because you’re tired and overdue essential body maintenance because you aren’t sleeping properly. You have a vicious circle where the nervous system is always on, preventing proper rest and recovery.
In considering a lifestyle that makes you thrive I’ve noticed three common factors which must be in balance for proper health. These are:
- Resources: Nutrition. To fuel challenges
- Challenges: Activity. To use the resources
- Recovery: Rest. To repair and prepare
Over the course of this blog I will elaborate further on these factors. What they mean, why they’re so important and why I have grouped them like this. For now I’ll just introduce them and put them into practice.
Considering these factors it becomes obvious why the lifestyle is out of balance. The resources and challenges are there but the recovery isn’t. The only way I have found to get round this is to deal with the shortfall in recovery. This is because the stress is preventing quality sleep. I’ve been through this cycle so often and tried so many solutions that I have found it is often that simple. Sort the sleep, sort the stress and all becomes well. Changing the diet doesn’t solve the problem.
Of course sorting the sleep and stress is the big challenge in the first place but then diagnosing the problem is an art in itself. With that done you at least have a direction that will lead you somewhere.
So the path I’m going down is a holistic one. I don’t like explaining everything through just one answer. Food or exercise for example which seems to be a common answer. I’m more interested in the interplay between all aspects of a persons life. How your lifestyle defines how you look, feel and are. We all live differently and in general things work out. People follow very different lifestyles across the world and in general these lifestyles work. What’s important is that the lifestyle is in balance with the person and the situation in which they live.
I simply enjoy exploring what it is to be human. How amazingly adaptable we are yet at the same time how little we seem to know about ourselves particularly our adaptability. On my journey so far I’ve seen and learnt some incredible things. Now, through this blog I hope to share what I’ve learnt and engage with others on the topic of what it takes for a lifestyle to make you thrive.
My quest is a lifestyle that makes me thrive. My question… does yours?