Why you should focus on all aspects of your physical health

>> Built more lanes on your road to physical health <<

Did you ever drive on a single lane road and an accident occurred? Pretty annoying, right?

Did you ever drive on a four-lane highway and an accident occurred? Probably not that big a deal, right?

You’re probably asking yourself what does a road have to do with your physical health, but I’ll get to that in a minute. What I actually wanted to say.

Health can’t be separated. Even better: Separating health is not very clever.

Having a great sleep but eating tons of low-quality foods will result in suboptimal health as will eating a perfect diet, but only sleeping for 4 hours each night.

Health is not your sleep.
Health is not your diet.
Health is not your exercise program.
Health is not your meditation session.

Health is the interplay between all these aspects. It’s about finding the balance between sleep and exercise and food and stress. All these things influence each other, for good or bad and you have the power to determine how they influence each other.

Of course, this doesn’t make things easier, but more complicated. Focusing on several things at the same time is usually much harder to do than focusing on a single thing, or is it?

Not necessarily. Focusing on several aspects might lead to faster results & the subjective feeling of doing more. Two very important aspects when it comes to your journey to health.

Let me explain.

Getting healthier is a slow process most of us won’t notice, especially not in the beginning. The reason for this is that it takes consistent action and time. You won’t get healthy overnight. This discourages many people and ultimately leads them to give up, which is sad, but understandable.

Others also often think that they have to do more of one specific thing.

More exercise. Thirty minutes isn’t enough.
More meditation. Ten minutes isn’t enough.
More, more, more.

Until they realise that they don’t have the time to do more or feel burnt out, only to give up.

You don’t necessarily need to do more of one thing, but you need to balance the different aspects of health and use their synergistic powers.

Focusing on several areas of your health, for example, exercise, sleeping better and eating healthier food, doesn’t require much more work in total, but it probably gives you a subjective feeling that you did “more”.

Another great benefit is that these different areas of your physical health will benefit each other, which is what I meant by synergistic powers.

While low quality or too little sleep actually increases your hunger hormone ghrelin, good sleep does exactly the opposite, namely raising the satiety hormone leptin, while decreasing ghrelin. Good sleep will in this way contribute to fewer cravings.

At the same time, eating healthier food with more vitamins and minerals will contribute to better sleep.

Studies also found out that regular exercise contributes to better sleep while better sleep contributes to more effective exercise. Exercise will also affect your blood sugar positively, thus additionally reducing your craving for low-quality food. Eating high-quality food, on the other hand, will then contribute to more energy during your next workout.

It’s a positive cycle you’re going to enter.

For example. Instead of spending one hour in the kitchen to prepare a complicated healthy meal, you should rather choose a simple meal that only takes 30 minutes and use the other 30 minutes for taking a walk or doing some light exercises.

These movements will then, in turn, improve your sleep, leading you to have more energy on the next day. After some time, you’ll probably be waking up earlier, so you can spend even a little more time for your physical health.

You probably see where this is going.

Another good thing is that you don’t need anything to get started. Don’t let anybody tell you something different. You already have all the knowledge and all the tools you need to improve your health every single day.

You already know that junk food is bad and you already know that walking is good for you, but now you know additionally that focusing on several aspects of your health has synergistic effects.

Since you will also feel the combined effects more easily, the process of getting healthy appears to be faster. Although speed shouldn’t be your main motivation, it can have a great motivating effect.

The road to physical health

Getting healthier is still a bumpy and long road to go, but I can’t say it often enough: it’s worth it. 

The road is actually a good metaphor. When you’re only focusing on one single aspect of your health, i.e. exercise, you can imagine that as a one lane road. You get to your goal, but it’s likely that there are traffic jams or accidents along the way, because it’s only one narrow road.

If an accident happens, it usually takes some time to get around it. The probability of you turning around and driving home is much greater when driving on a single lane road. You forget about your goal, getting healthy because it’s “too much trouble” to get there.

Now imagine a highway with 4 lanes. When an accident on one of the lanes occurs, for example, you couldn’t get a full night of sleep, it often doesn’t affect the other lanes. If it does it’s usually not a big deal, since there are still three remaining lanes.

If an accident occurs, for example, you miss a workout, it might take you a little bit more time, but you probably won’t notice it at all.

I choose a four-lane highway because that’s how many aspects I personally think are really important for your physical health. Let’s call them “Four Pillars of Physical Health”. Food, movement, sleep and relaxation.

An additional benefit, when talking about the road, is that the police and ambulance are usually able to get faster to the accident scene. Transferring this to your health: If you’re focusing on all aspects it is easier for you to find help or motivation if something comes up.

To show you that you can focus on all of them without spending several hours, I’ll tell you what I did yesterday for each aspect.

  1. Right after waking up I did 20 push ups and 20 squats. It took about 5 minutes. It wasn’t a full workout and it wasn’t the 20 minutes that are needed for the mood boost, but I still felt great afterwards.
  2. For lunch, I made myself a salad, which took about 10 minutes in total, but it was a real big salad.
  3. In the evening, I did a 10-minute meditation session, which was quite difficult this time. I’m using headspace for this, but you don’t need that.
  4. I switched off my screens and electronics 15 minutes earlier and read a physical book instead, which improved my sleep.

All in all, time spent: 40 minutes.
Real time spent: 25 minutes since you can’t count the 15 minutes where I switched off the electronics.
Feeling better today? A lot.

My I won’t notice the effects immediately. For sure I won’t put on a pound of muscle due to 20 pushups or feel enlightened because of my 10-minute meditation session, but I will still feel great.

Why? Because I know for myself that I did something for my health and that feels really good. 

Try to include all aspects of your physical health on a daily basis, even if it’s just 5 minutes for each one of them.

Food: Buy some fruit or vegetables and eat them. 5 minutes.
Movement: Walk around the block or do 10 pushups and squats. 5 minutes.
Relaxation: Sit in silence or come up with 3 things you are grateful for. 5 minutes.
Sleep: Turn off your electronics a little bit earlier. 5 minutes.

Every one of you has 20 minutes per day to spend on your health. I won’t seem much at first, but those 20 minutes will add up and soon, if you want to, you can increase the time you spend on your health. That’s all it takes. Start today!

“Step by step you get ahead, but not necessarily in fast spurts, but you build discipline by preparing for fast spurts.” – Charlie Munger. 

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