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My Four Circles of Health

When we look at treating any diagnosis or disease, we find these 4 items are all very important. If one becomes unbalanced, the whole body is effected. But why wait until you have a diagnosis or a disease? Why not start now to ensure a healthier life? How can you achieve balance among these 4 key circles of health? Hopefully this blog will give you some simple ways to change your health, change your life, and evolve!

1. Eating Right

In today’s world, the media bombards us with all kinds of information about nutrition. Some of it true, some of it not so true. Unfortunately, many times a healthy way of eating turns into a trend. When the trend goes viral, the message is often muddied. This creates a very confusing message- low fat, no fat, low carb, gluten free…..where do you turn!? Let’s think about this logically from a biological stand point. Our bodies are fueled by mostly carbohydrates (carbs). In fact, it is believed, that our diets should consist of 60% carbohydrates, 30-40% proteins and 20-30% fats. But just that idea alone can be deceiving. Let’s further look at the definition of these foods.

Carbohydrates: Carbs actually refer to FRUITS and VEGETABLES. However, when we think of carbs, we all immediately think of bread, pasta, and rice. Although these starches are carbs, they are not the total picture. This has been further complicated with the “gluten-free” diet trend. The best way to think of getting 60% carbs in your diet, is eating 60% of vegetables and fruit (actually more vegetables). The greener and leafier, the better! Try to limit all processed starchy foods such as bread, pasta, and white rice. However, plain baked potatoes, yams, and sweet potatoes are ok! But remember, think green!

Protein: For the normal healthy adult who is NOT an elite athelte, we only need about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For example, I am about 118 pounds, and therefore, only require about 45 grams of protein per day. Most Americans get over 75 grams per day! When we don’t burn protein, it is converted into fat by our body’s metabolism. Of course, if you are older, pregnant, recovering from injury or surgery, or an elite athlete, you truly will need more protein….but only about 1.2-1.4 grams per body weight in kilograms. We are just eating too much protein! In addition, getting the right kind of protein is important. Most people should be getting their protein from natural sources: fish, poultry, some red meat,…..NOT from processed shakes or drinks or sugary protein bars! This is the wrong kind of protein.

Fats: Fat has received a bad wrap over the years. Fat is not always bad for you! You just need to eat the right fat. Nuts and unsaturated oils are the best way to fuel our bodies with fat. Here is where your walnuts, almonds, olive oil, and avocado oil come into play. And don’t forget about fish and its essential omegas and fatty oils!

2. Exercising Regularly

So what does exercising regularly mean. Well according to the ACSM, it is recommended that we exercise most days of the week. This exercise should consist of at least 30 minutes of moderate cardio and 20 minutes of weight training. Bottom line: we should all be working out for at least 30 minutes six days a week at a moderately intense level of varying types of exercise! And don't forget about strength training. For every pound of muscle you develop, you will burn 50% more calories. Muscle takes energy to work. So don't ignore those weights. In addition, weight-cross training is also shown to prevent many different injuries.

3. Sleeping Enough

How many hours of sleep is enough? New research shows that the average person needs between 6 - 9.5 hours per night in order to function normally. Each persons' circadian rhythm will vary depending on age, health status, genetics and daily tasks. Fortunately, today there are many different devices that can help us determine the correct amount of sleep. Devices like the Up Band, Fitbit, and Misfit can all link with your smartphone to display your sleeping patterns. In a normal sleeping pattern, you will transition from light sleep to deep sleep (REM sleep). In a normal nights sleep, you should experience about 4-5 REM sleep cycles.

4. De-stressing

This is by far my most challenging aspect of healtly living. Life can be extremely stressful and finding healthly ways to relieve it is essential. Take at least 5 minutes everyday, and do nothing. No smartphone, no emails, no working, no thinking. Rather, just sit and breath. Relax your mind and body and stare off into the distance. If that doesnt help, get out and exercise! Back away from the ice cream!

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