This week I’m breaking down the 10 Principles of Health as we have defined them at RxFIT.
- Health is synonymous with fitness.
- Optimal health is achieved by athletes who prioritize sleep, nutrition, exercise, mindset, and connection with others.
- Go to bed early.
- Strive for more plants, not supplements.
- Eat less to lose weight. Eat more to gain weight.
- Train to improve performance, not aesthetics.
- Constantly vary workouts with functional movements and high intensity.
- Dedicate time to think, read, and write without distractions.
- Loving relationships improve longevity.
- Doctors are experts in medicine. Coaches are experts in health.
When you are seeking to improve your health, there are seven variables you should consider:
- Sleep – the quantity and quality of your sleep.
- Nutrition – the quantity and quality of the food you eat.
- Exercise – what and how you move.
- Mindset – what and how you think about the world around you.
- Relationships – the quantity and quality of your social connections.
- Genes – the predetermined traits given to you at birth from your parents.
- Environment – the situation you were born into (i.e. you drink dirty water because you don’t know any better).
I first heard of these seven variables from Ben Bergeron, a well-known fitness coach and entrepreneur. Because you can’t control the last two (the genes you received at birth or the environment you grew up in), we only focus on the first five. These are the five variables you can control. Bergeron coined these variables “The Five Factors of Health.”
Go to bed early and wake up early consistently. By developing this habit, your body and mind will be recovered and invigorated each next day.
In Dr. Matthew Walker’s most recent book Why We Sleep, he explains that your body spends the first half of the night in the NREM stage of sleep before prioritizing the REM stage during the second half of the night. The NREM stage is when your muscles and joints recover. The REM stage is where your mind processes all of the information it took in the next day.
In other words, going to bed early ensures that your body will not be weary the next day. And then waking up early ensures that your mind has processed all of the events from the day before.
Consistency is paramount because your body runs on a clock (circadian rhythm). In essence, your body and mind need to know when it will receive these vital stages of sleep every night. Consistency in your sleep habits ensures that this will happen.
Read more here.
Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly Plants. Nutrition, above everything else inside the fitness industry, has become so complicated and confusing.
For example, think for a moment of how many generations of people that have survived and thrived before the 20th Century. The ugly truth is that at some point in the 1900’s, we started trusting food scientists and food businesses to tell us what to eat instead of doing what our ancestors did for thousands of years. The result? We’ve become less healthy and considerably fatter.
At the end of the century, American doctor Steven Bratman coined the word, “Orthorexia” which means to say people with an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. Is that not what has happened to us in America? No country cares more about the science of their food than we do – yet, many would agree that we are the most unhealthy.
Keep nutrition simple. Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
Read more here.
Constantly vary workouts 5-6x week with functional movements and high intensity.
Variance: You want variance because your body becomes increasingly resistant to an incessant stimulus — in other words, routine is the enemy. You can’t expect to continue to improve by doing the same things every day or every week.
5-6x Week: Your body needs to move and sweat every day. Take a day or two to rest from “training” (rigorous exercise) and do something relaxing. But strive to workout every day during the week. Your body can handle it.
Functional movements: Compound, multi-joint movements are superior to isolated, single-joint movements. Replace the dumbbell curl for pull-ups, the hamstring machine for deadlifts, and leg press with front squats.
High-intensity: Recent academic research has taught us that anaerobic exercise yields the same benefits as aerobic training (i.e. endurance and stamina). Conversely, aerobic training doesn’t yield the same benefits as anaerobic training (strength, power, and speed). Why then would you bias aerobic training if it’s more effective to train anaerobically? Train both, but prioritize high-intensity (anaerobic) workouts.
Read more here.
Never whine, never complain, and never make excuses. If you’re unhappy with the current situation of your health, start here. Pay attention to when you whine, complain, or make excuses and then seek to eliminate those instances.
What you choose to think about and how you choose to think are going to make a difference in your health.
Read more here.
Build, sustain, and grow deep relationships. In 1938, Harvard scientists began a study to see if they could track the predictors of long-term health and happiness. They chose 268 students and planned to interview them at different stages throughout their lives.
Psychiatrist and professor, Dr. Robert Waldinger, is the director of the ongoing study today. Only a handful of the original 268 individuals are still alive (they are in their mid-nineties now). Thankfully, the researchers also began to study and interview these participant’s spouses, children, and others. The study now is tracking the lives of thousands of individuals all across the world.
Regarding the study, Dr. Waldinger said, “Taking care of your body is important, but the people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80.”
Who would’ve thought that connection would have such a dramatic impact?
Read more here.
Focus on the variables that you can control: sleep, nutrition, exercise, mindset, and connection with others.
Athletes who prioritize these five variables reach optimal health, which is being able to do anything, anywhere, at anytime, with anyone.