My wife and I are celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary next week. Wow, a wonderful achievement. A milestone reached. I mentioned it to a long-term client and friend of mine and he said:
“well, that is a milestone indeed, Paul. Congratulations. One thing it does say, Paul, is that it reflects the tolerance you both have had for your short-falls in character – your character flaws. It shows you’re willingness to grow and adapt to one another, for your togetherness.”
I thought about this ‘togetherness’ and I agree.
I’ve certainly adapted and she has, too. We have grown individually and together as one. But upon reflection, I realised that before you have adaptation as a choice, one needs to precede it with Awareness followed by the application of Action. Yes, appropriate and relevant action. This then leads to the critical step of Adaptation, if one hopes to have sustainable change.
So, in effect, it is the application of my Triple A to Life Philosophy: Awareness; Action; Adaptation.
There are many ways of approaching a potential risk or problem but you can certainly apply my Triple A approach to reducing your risk of illness or susceptibility to the common flu or cold if you do get sick quite often during the colder months of the year.
My wife tells me that she has never met or knows anyone in her life so far that gets sick fewer times than me, I think she said that she can only remember me being ‘sick’ (and not a case of ‘man-flu’) a handful of times in the 13 and half years we have been together.
I asked her why she thinks that is the case and she identified some 7.5 key daily habits that she has seen me do consistently since she has been with me.
Key Habit One: I drink loads of water.
She is true.
I do drink, in my opinion – ‘adequate’ daily requirement of H2O, generally, approximately 1L of water per 20 kg of body-weight. Currently, I am drinking about 4.5L of water per day. Adequate daily levels or water is a huge part of my clients’ success with my body re-engineering programs.
I consistently find that most if not all my clients were not drinking sufficient water at the start of their program.
For the average person, your daily guide should be to drink 1L of water per 25kg-30kg of bodyweight (after taking in to other considerations such as age, exercise experience, activity levels, health condition etc).
Key Habit Two: I eat loads of Dark Green vegetables
She is true, again.
I always tell my clients that if its green and not a frog – eat it!
Yep, load up on your dark green vegetables, something most of you would have been told by adults in your youth. Amongst other things, greens fill you up and addresses your satiety levels better, adds loads of fibre to your bowels and helps the transportation of oxygen through the blood and with it, vital nutrients for the optimal functioning of organs, especially the most vital: the brain.
Guideline: aim to consume 1cup of dark green vegetables (broccoli, spinach or long beans) for at least 1 meal per day for the first 2 weeks and work up to 2 meals per day for the next 2 weeks. See how your body changes and notice how your energies improve. Maintain a minimum of 2 meals per day with dark green vegetables in it for 90 days and see how your good body and mind feel and look. Try it!
Key Habit Three: I wash my hands loads of times
My wife is absolutely true – again!
I learned way back in primary school that germs and a lot of bad bacteria is spread through the hands and is one of the main instigators of illness. I made a conscious effort all the way back then to keep my hands relatively clean as much as a I possible could, every single day. As a result, I wash my hands before and after almost everything I do. It may be a bit obsessive compulsive now but the risk of not doing so far outweighs the inconvenience of frequently washing hands.
Guideline: Try washing your hands more frequently if you’re not already doing so. Try and become aware of cleanliness of your hands and increase the frequency of hand washing. With soap. Act. Repeat consistently and persistently.
Key Habit Four: I eat loads of Protein in diet
She said ‘loads’ but I would have to disagree, not ‘loads’ but ‘adequate daily intake requirement’ of protein.
After water, the protein is the most abundant substance in the body. It is the life blood of your being. Yes, I do to ensure that my hard-working muscles get sufficient muscle-replenishing protein for repair work post work-out but also because it fills me up better than the weighed-equivalent amount of carbohydrates or fats, for example:
Give this a try. Eat 200g of chicken breast and 200g of white rice. Compare which one fills you up better and keeps you fuller – for longer. Yep, the chicken does, doesn’t it? Protein is more filling. Protein are the ‘building blocks’ of muscles and the human body and mind. Without adequate levels – you feel like crap and you wilter away like a plant uncared for.
Here’s my guideline: determine what your LBM or lean body mass is (the mass of your body that isn’t fat). If you honestly assess your daily intake of protein for a week, you will find that you would most probably not be eating even daily minimum requirement to maintain your LBM. Apply appropriate action and eat more protein: chicken, fish, lamb, pork, tofu and eggs are great sources. Your guide should be 1g of protein per kg of lean body weight, but of course, you need to consider other factors like age, activity levels, fitness levels etc. So, LOAD UP ON PROTEIN! So, if you’re a 200lbs male, with a normal bodyfat percentage of 25%, your LBM would be about 150lbs. If you exercise 3-5 times per week, then your body would need anywhere between 140g and 180g of protein just to sustain your LBM.
How do you consume that amount of protein every day, you may ask. Well, you need to ‘split’ your meals up and consume more better composed meals. So you may have, for example, 5 meals per day, with 30g per of protein per meal, which totals 150g per day. Sufficient and not excessive by any means. What gives you 30g of protein, you ask? Well, every 30g of lean meat gives you approximately 7g of protein, so you would need 120g of lean meat to give you 28g of protein. That is about a ¼ of what the average male would eat when he eats a piece of steak (anywhere between 350g and 500g) at lunch or worse, dinner in one sitting!
So, think about your portions of meals and adding more frequent, well-compositioned meals.
I hear people say, well, Paul, isn’t it quite pedantic to measure your meat weight and meals?
I say, no. It is necessary! We measure everything else, don’t we? I mean, we rely on measurements with everything else in our lives, think about it, would you not measure how much money you are paying for fuel? What about measuring your feet for proper fitting shoes? What about getting length of trousers wrong, wouldn’t that piss you off? We live with measurements with everything else in our lives except what is going in to our mouths. So, get yourself a scale that graduates all the way down to milligrams and start weighing my friend.
If you can’t measure something, you certainly cannot manage it!
Key Habit Five: I load up when in the gym
She is correct, again.
Since I picked up my first dumbbell at 17 years of age, I have consistently and persistently made gym training a part of my life, becoming entwined in to my chosen lifestyle and a vital and necessary part of me. My life.
I don’t believe in light weights. Period!
To get the best ‘bang out of your buck’ when you’re in the gym, nothing beats free weights and gravity. You need to use MODERATE TO HEAVY weights though and stay away from ridiculously light weights that you see many people use (unless you’re warming up your joints and/or in rehab). For the comparative amount of time you invest in any physical activity, nothing beats the results you get when you DO THE BASICS – in the gym. In terms of efficiency and effectiveness of health, strength and fitness benefits, in the short-term and the long-term, nothing beats the basics. What are the basics? Well, they are:
- Back Squats
- Bench Presses
You can throw in some other full body movements like: clean and presses and lat-pulldowns and lunges with a few arm curls and dips. Workout done!
Neuroscience confirms that exercise, specifically weight-training, stimulates neurogenesis – the birth of new brain cells. You get smarter!! An estimated 3 million people (about 12.5% of the population) suffer live with anxiety or depression. A staggering number indeed.
Guess what, regular exercise of moderate to heavy intensity can be an effective adjunct treatment for depression. Both aerobic and strength training are very helpful in treating depression.
Remember: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” WHO.
Guideline: Get back to BASICS. Keep it FUNCTIONAL. Keep it SIMPLE. With CONTINUITY and PATIENCE. How much exercise then, Paul you ask? Well, the Australian National Physical Activity Guidelines recommend:
- doing exercise is better than doing none.
- be active on most days of the week.
- Each week try to do 2 1/2 to 5 hours moderate intensity exercise or 11/4 to 2 1/2 hours of vigorous intensity physical activity.
- Do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week.
So, there you go. Just do it.
Key Habit Six: I limit my intake of sugar
She is not wrong.
I do try and limit my intake of direct sugar but also am aware of the indirect sugars in other foods. To do this I try to eat more foods that come straight from the ground. The less processed the better for you.
Sugar – this insidious killer is not only the most addictive substance on this planet but almost every living human being cannot say no to it. It is the biggest killer of the human race – add up all the deaths caused by every other cause and I bet you will find it pales in comparison to the deaths caused by sugar, either directly or indirectly. That is how serious this matter is.
It is the over-consumption of it that results in many health, and dare I say it, mental problems.
There is direct correlation between food and mood. Meaning, there are clear dose-response relationships between diet and level of mental health and well-being. What I practise is very similar to what Scientists refer to as the “Mediterranean Diet” which emphases high consumption of plants (vegetables, fruits, nuts) and rich in good fats.
How do I do it? Well, whenever I get sugar cravings I substitute with either of the following:
- 100g of blueberries
- 150g grapefruit
- Cup of green tea
My Guideline: become more aware of sugar in foods you put in your mouth and do your best to eliminate direct sugars from you diet, one at a time. Its difficult at first, I know but give it a try – persist. One less teaspoon sugar may just mean lesser health costs later in life. Maybe, a teaspoon less of sugar in your coffee or tea or drop the honey from your cereal.
Neuroscience studies show that eating too much sugar is linked to weight gain (we all know this), obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD), stroke, high blood pressure (hypertension) and age-related illness of Dementia. Diabetes is the risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia. The widespread assumption that sugar consumption can lead to addiction is inaccurate based on neuroscientific defintions of addiction, tolerance and withdrawal.
Remember this: “What we eat really affects our brain, our behaviour, our neural circuits, and our health in many ways. “ Neuroscience SFN 2014.
A healthy, balance diet encourages a healthy balance of gut microbes and there is a strong and definite Gut-Brain-Microbe connection. Having too much sugar can disrupt the gut-brain balance which disrupt signalling which may lead to abnormal brain function, changes in behaviour, thoughts, emotions, our perception of pain and impact on our immune system.
Resulting in increased susceptability to getting sick and being ill. So, in a roundabout way … try out these key habits to help build your immunity from all facets of being human.
Maybe, eliminate your cereal entirely and just opt for something more nutritious and simple, like spinach and eggs for breakfast, for example and replace that orange or fruit juice with plain water.
Key Habit 7.5: I get adequate Quality Rest
Notice I said “Rest” and not ‘sleep’. I have seen people who get loads of ‘sleep’, getting ten hours or more per day and wake up feeling more restless than they did before going to bed.
You need to focus on getting quality Rest. That could happen at any time of the day. A little nap during the day for less than 30 minutes would do wonders for your energy and focus levels at work. Note: latest neuroscience confirm that there an ‘urge to nap’ and it is programmed into our circadian rythyms. Taking a < 25 min power nap improves memory and learning, sparks creativity and regulates emotions. More than this results in sleep inertia (you feel overwheming tiredness).
Try it, if you can. The essence of this is to ‘clear your mind’ or ‘quiet your mind’. Such rest is priceless because you release hormones throughout the body and brain that help elevate your energy levels as well as your ability to focus on tasks at hand, for longer periods.
Try taking short periods of ‘rest’ for the body and mind. Almost like a short period of meditation. Find your quiet place and un-think to Rest. Take a page out the Fijian’s Life Book and apply the “Fiji Time” mentality to your life when appropriate, when you need to get away from it all. Learn why this race is consistently rated the Happiest People on the planet. It is not by chance, it is by choice. Their individual and collective choice as a race. They try to keep things simple. I know, because I was born and raised there.
Its not the quantity of rest, but the quality. Getting better at the latter will enhance your sense of being – your “vitality”, that essence of life – your life!
Remember: the compound effect of the application of habits with the power of imagination and self-regulating behaviour is the REAL MEDICINE here. It is what I refer to as your HEALTH AND VITALITY INSURANCE. It is preventative insurance, that adds to a better quality life not only now, but more importantly, in old age.
A little persistence and consistency in the application of the 7.5 habits I have elaborated on may just help improve your overall immunity to the common cold and flu, like it has for me. The reason I have said ‘7.5’ habits is because this is obviously not a definitive list of reasons but it certainly is the Key 7 habits that you are in full control of. Habits that I consistently adopt on a daily basis.
Try them, see how you feel after seven days, after 4 weeks. Try 3 months and all of winter. Then, get in touch with me and tell me all about it.
The application of these key habits should help your overall sense of vitality and lower your risk of feeling like ‘crap’ or low in energy and vitality as frequently as you may have felt. It just might add years to your life – keeping your batteries re-charged.
Remember also that elephants don’t bite, mosquitoes do!
These habits are little things that could become a problem if you don’t take of it. So, take care of the these mozzies and other mosquitoes in your life, if and when you identify them.
As you know, Little Things Matter – simple actions, repeated over time, will determine the life you lead.
Someone once said that practise does not make perfect – perfect practise makes perfect. I agree.
So, become Aware. Apply Action. Adapt accordingly and repeat practice, with good execution …. Within reason. Keep things simple, don’t complicate things and know that everything will be ok in the end.
Best of health and vitality to you!
Yours in iron & muscles.
Until next time …
The Old Captain Viking Pirate Fiji Island Muscle Monk