What You Put In...

In the health and fitness industry there is a mantra ‘You are what you eat’.  Well I believe it expands much wider than simply just food. We are constantly connected to other people, all of whom have a story to tell, an opinion to give or information to share. We often blame the media for spreading bad ideas and negativity but much of our media these days is other ‘normal’ people.  So this month I will talk about ‘what you put in is what you get out’.

FOOD

It is true, ‘you are what you eat’.  I have been in this industry for over a decade now and it still amazes me to this day how changing your nutritional intake can completely change not just your physical shape, but also the way you sleep, your blood pressure, cholesterol, anxiety, depression.  Everything both physically and mentally.

I have had clients report back to me that their menstrual pain is far less or even completely disappeared, their overall mood really improved, their flexibility or injury is better.  Eating better quality food has a positive impact on everything about us and the opposite of that is also true.  Consuming poor levels of nutrients causes many ailments which we are prescribed pharmaceutical medication for, yet ironically, many times we get given the chemical version of a natural nutrient.

MEDIA

The same is true for the information we put in. I have suggested to many of my clients over the years to stop watching the news.  After all, it is a product which has to be sold and as we all know, bad news sells.  Why do we very rarely get good news stories? Why is there a higher percentage of negative storylines on soap operas? Why are there more dramas than comedy series written? Because negativity sells.

The more we are surrounded by negative storylines, either factual or fictitious, the more likely we are to become more negative in our own thought process.  It takes much more effort to be happy when everyone around is depressed, angry or sad.  Likewise, if you are surrounded by people who are laughing, you will at the very least start smiling, even if you do not know why they are laughing.

PRACTICE

If you want positive outcomes, you have to input with positive actions.  Anyone who is good at something has practiced it to some degree.  Michael Phelps, the American swimmer, who is the most successful and most decorated Olympian of all time, would practice 5 to 6 hours a day, 6 days a week covering about 50 miles each week in the pool.

If you want to lose body fat, you have to practice losing body fat; controlling your nutrition, going to the gym etc. If you want to be less stressed, you have to practice destressing by learning meditation, controlling your breathing, writing a journal or whichever methods work for you.

What you put in is what you get out. Start clarifying what you want as an output and this will help determine what you put in.  Turning off the news, going to bed earlier and drinking more water are all perfect examples of inputs to create a less stressed, more energised, healthier being.

Won-D-Full

Vitamin D has been in the news a lot recently and for good reasons. Despite what the media may suggest, Vitamin D deficiency is definitely not a new sensation.  Here in the UK, vitamin D levels have been declining for many years but as the research improves, so does the awareness.  So this month I will discuss why vitamin D is such an important element of health and fitness.

Bones

Many people automatically assume that calcium is the go-to mineral to improve the health and strength of human bones. Although this is true, as with many health and fitness trends, there is a missing component.  Calcium does not bond very well (if at all) to the bone unless there is a sufficient level of vitamin D in the system.  Simply consuming large amounts of calcium will not guarantee strong bones.

Studies on early humans have shown that despite a lack of calcium from such foods as dairy, they still had strong non-porous bones. This is down to the combination of being outside in the sunshine and performing physical tasks.  In modern times this is substituted with weight training and taking a vitamin D supplement.

Sunlight

Human skin can produce lots of vitamin D when large amounts of skin are exposed to sunlight. Your body is designed to get the vitamin D it needs by producing it when your bare skin is exposed to sunlight. However, the sun needs to be strong enough for this to happen but unfortunately we are so ‘sun scared’ due to incorrect media attention that we cover ourselves in sun cream and clothing before we have had a chance to become exposed to the sun.  Therefore, the very few months of the year where we could actually allow our bodies to produce vitamin D, we block it.

I am definitely not suggesting that we spend hours exposed to the sun in the height of summer. However, we do need to build up our resilience. We can do this by going out in the sun for 5 minutes before applying sun protection. We can then build up the time to an appropriate level in order to allow our bodies to produce vitamin D without burning.

Supplement

I personally have been supplementing with vitamin D for over a decade and have used it to great effect when being caught in the sun and looking that classic ‘Brits Abroad’ shade of red.  Consuming a high dosage of the supplement form of vitamin D prior to bed allowed me to wake the next morning back to my normal skin tone.  I personally have also found that consuming medium to high dosages of vitamin D for a few weeks before going into the sun can allow you to be exposed to the sun for longer without burning.

I must state that you should consult a doctor or other professional medical health practitioner before exposing yourelf to the sun for long periods.

Benefits

Other than simply getting that perfect bronze colour on holiday, vitamin D has a multitude of health benefits.  Boosting your immune system to help fight colds and flu, regulating insulin levels to aid diabetes management and supporting lung and cardiovascular health are just some of the health benefits this long lost vitamin supplies us with.  My advice? Source out a good quality vitamin D supplement and spend time in the sunshine whenever you can… Speedos are optional.

Is Self-Care Selfish?

Many of us at some point have had the internal dialogue as to whether looking after ourselves or prioritising our own health and fitness is selfish.  From the initial outset it would appear to be; putting yourself first rather than others and looking after our own interests rather than our family and friends seems selfish.  But maybe it is not as selfish as it would originally appear.  This month I will address the question, is it selfish to be selfish?

Being Selfish

One definition of selfish is: ‘lacking consideration for other people’ while another states: ‘concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure’.  This is where it starts to become interesting because it entirely depends on our view of how we achieve pleasure for ourselves.

It is easy to assume that someone is keeping themselves fit and healthy because they want to feel energetic and look aesthetically pleasing.  However, if their motivation to stay healthy is because they NEED to stay in good health to look after someone else, does this then become selfish?  Because after all, if they become ill, who will look after their friend or relative?

Another even more interesting spin would be that someone like Mother Teresa was extremely selfish because helping other people made her feel great.  So she was actually helping others for her own selfish needs to feel fulfilled.

If you have ever travelled by plane, you will know that when the crew go through the safety demonstration, they will always tell you to fit your own oxygen mask first, even before attempting to fit it to your own children.  I assume this is for two reasons; the first being to reduce the chaos of everyone trying to fit each other’s masks but mainly for the second reason which would be, if you have your mask fitted, then you can help more people with their masks if they are struggling.

Happier & Healthier

Many studies have shown that people who tend to show ‘selfish’ characteristics are happier and healthier in life.  They tend to spend time doing activities (or a job) they want to do rather than one they feel forced to do.  Have you ever considered the idea that all self-employed people are selfish?

You will find yourself healthier because you are spending less time using precious energy trying to fulfil the needs of others, particularly when those needs are unnecessary, or dare I even say, selfish of the other person?

You will not be afraid to ask for a raise or a promotion because you have worked hard and been driven in a self-centred manner to achieve your goals and therefore your reward is justified.  And if you are healthy and grounded and do not mind saying ‘no’ to people, you will have better relationships (both professionally and personally) as you will very rarely be taken advantage of.

Are We Selfish?

Once we start to see that the word ‘selfish’ does not always have a negative connotation, we can start to answer that question better.  Obviously there is a negative side, but once we realise all the positive effects of being selfish, we start to understand it a little better.

I think the real question is, ‘What is your reason for doing what you are doing?’ If you are not causing harm to others, does it matter if it is selfish? The main issue which is not up for debate is this; when our health deteriorates so much, we no longer live.  Surely that is enough motivation to selfishly improve our health?