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What is health?

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

For me, there are 6 factors to health:

1. Physical

2. Social

3. Psychological

4. Intellectual

5. Economic

6. Emotional/spiritual

We are looking for wellness in them all. Nutrition and training, you may think is merely physical, but it plays into each and every one in a big way.

1. Physical – keeps us a healthy weight, ensures all of our nutrient requirements are met and provides us with adequate energy levels for us as an individual. We build muscle, stay lean, all the good stuff.

2. Social – Eating/ nutrition is social, right? I can help you here by empowering you to have the knowledge to make decisions that are good for you in social situations whether that looks like indulgence for you or a health seeking choice. These may differ from time to time and what is optimal for one will not be for another. We can help you to decide what is good for you and when.

By the same token, a lot of us have a very vast majority of our social lives at the gym etc, this is where we found ‘our people’, there is a huge community element to the training I do with my clients.

3. Psychological – One of my biggest goals and one of the areas we look at the most is the mindset and human behaviour around food and exercise. Much of my work is focussed on all round habit change for life in activity, nutrition and other lifestyle factors. For me, it is pivotal that people are comfortable around food and their food choices and our nutrition should not be a cause of anxiety or stress. Equally, our training should complement our lives, not be an inconvenience or feel it is something we HAVE to do.

4. Intellectual – You can look at this one in two ways. I love to arm people with the knowledge that we have and teach them how to live well, move well and fuel themselves properly but also educate in a way to allow people to function optimally intellectually, to allow them to go into work or study or the like firing on all cylinders from an intellectual perspective, exercise and your nutritional choices can play a HUGE role in this.

5. Economic – Wellness in this area from a nutritional and training perspective allows us to help people make optimal choices within their means and their lifestyle to suit where they are at economically.

6. Emotional – Wellness in this area is massively linked to exercise and nutrition and people often don’t realise it until we get a little further into the process. Food is a very emotional thing, right from children we are given food as a reward, given food as a comfort when we are sad, given food at celebrations etc. it’s very emotional and that’s one reason people feel so out of control around their nutrition later in life. I am passionate about creating comfort around food to empower clients to make optimal choices away from their emotions a lot of the time so that they can achieve their goals without using food as a clutch but we also look at knowing when it is okay to stray away from this in order to satisfy wellness in other areas e.g. social.

I’m sure I am probably preaching to the converted when we talk about the importance of exercise in stress management too, we don’t need to harp on about the mental health benefits that exercise can bring. They are immeasurable. Often when we are feeling low exercise is the very last thing we feel like doing, I promise you, get active with your friends and feel the change, not least because of all of the endorphins (happy hormones) that exercise brings!

So, we are looking to impart knowledge and as we all know, knowledge and, more importantly, the implementation of that knowledge is power. Lots of research has been done into the ‘blue zones’ in the world (those countries and areas with the highest population of people living over 100) and it shows that exercise and nutrition is absolutely key – amongst other things, including:

- Community and family

- Sun exposure

- Stress levels

- Smoking habits

- Having religion or a purpose in life

- Pollution levels

Let’s get talking about the notion that health, fitness and the role of nutrition is a factor of LONG-TERM, cumulative choices made over time – there are unhealthy diets and lifestyles as a whole NOT unhealthy foods, unhealthy meals or one skipped workout in isolation. I get a lot of questions like – what do you think about using ghee in cooking, or is bread bad for you - NO SPECIFIC FOODS HAVE HEALTH BENEFITS – this is hugely overplayed. Is it better to do long, slow duration cardio-based exercise or lift at 1 rep max all the time? The answer – neither! Mix it up, make optimal and varied choices over time and you WILL succeed. Yes, some are food choices more nutritious than others in terms of their vitamin and mineral content but we aren’t always striving for the most nutritious option, right? As we said earlier, one day we might be looking for wellness in our social area of health and if that means picking up some street food with friends from a greasy fry up van and you bloody well enjoy it and have a fabulous time that doesn’t mean you immediately have an all-round unhealthy diet – in fact, you’re probably a more psychologically healthy individual because of it – we are looking for dietary adequacy and balance of intensity and optimal recovery in training for physical health. Not perfection.

If someone asked me how to eat and train absolutely optimally and what they should generally base their diet around for optimal health in an elevator pitch I would say that the age old: ‘Eat food, real food, not too much, not too little, mostly plants, limited refined and processed foods and added, unnatural sugars. Emphasise wholegrains and it is individual as to whether this contains meat, fish, poultry and seafood’ from CrossFit actually, is a great place to start.

So, team, I want to prepare you to LIVE. I teach people to move well and to implement lifestyle habits to enable them to live a life where they are the happiest and healthiest version of themselves. We don’t focus on before and after here, we look at after the after as the most important phase, enjoying the process and having a whole load of fun as we go!

Otherwise, what do we do it all for?

Peace and love, A x

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