You’ve probably heard the saying “you are what you eat”, indeed, this may have been drilled into you from an early age – but how much attention do we pay to this innate principle and how often do we apply it to our daily lives?
For some, eating is viewed as a necessary biological requirement that can be scientifically formulated to deliver optimum results — however, for most of us, even the most athletic of us, eating is a much more emotional experience and this notion of “you are what you eat” can quickly go out the window when you feel emotionally low and in need of a sugar hit.
The problem with this approach, however, is that it creates a rollercoaster ride of peaks and troughs in terms of your energy levels… think of how caffeine-based energy drinks such as Red Bull often provide a temporary burst of energy which spikes your energy levels but then leaves you feeling drained and depleted for the rest of the day as your energy levels crash.
It is the same principle as if someone were to take a drug like ecstacy; the serotonin in their brain is boosted to the point they’re neuroreceptors are overwhelmed with feel good hormones – but then, there is the ‘comedown’ – and that’s the thing, what goes up must come down, and in terms of your health, what you’re really looking for is to keep things in balance… as even too much exercise can be detrimental.
Picture a bank account. There are deposits and withdrawals. The deposit nourishes and invests in your bank balance whilst the withdrawals detract and deplete from its health. If there are too many withdrawals, the account becomes overdrawn, and you end up in financial trouble.
Using this metaphor for nutrition, it’s clear there are deposits and withdrawals to be made, as an example drinking aloe vera could be considered a deposit because you are investing nutrients that are going to replenish and revitalise your body, whereas eating a chocolate bar would be considered to be a withdrawal.
Making the occasional withdrawal is fine, as this way, there is still an equilibrium. However, if you are to withdraw more from this bank account, nutritionally, than you are putting in – that’s when you run into problems. That’s when serious diseases start to occur.
Think about that word for a moment; dis-ease. It represents that your body is in a state of dis-ease; because it is out of balance. No matter what your current condition of health, the way to ensure a healthy life, is to keep this bank account in check and balance the books!
Nutrition is important. Equally important to what we put in our mouths, however, is how often and how intensely we move our bodies.
Cardiovascular exercise is equally as important, as nutrition, in terms of having a healthy heart. It sounds like a drag, but getting fit doesn’t have to be as arduous as it sounds. Indeed there are plenty of fun ways to get into the “aerobic zone”. The most important thing within fitness, as within life, is to have some decent fitness goals that you are emotionally connected to achieving, as this will motivate you to take positive action, even when you don’t feel like it.
Even a 20 minute walk at a moderate pace with some good music will do the trick to get you into the “aerobic zone”. Aerobic exercise is extremely good for the body… as it pumps blood through our arteries, stimulates lymph flow, and brings fresh air into the lungs; there are also several mental and emotional benefits of exercise as a result of the endorphins released.
It’s never too late to start looking after your heart health, by getting regular exercise, and even if you are physically less-able there are a variety of modifications that can be made to exercises in addition to specialist equipment ensuring there’s always something you can do to improve the state of your health bank balance. Indeed, one of most universal and all-round forms of exercise that requires very little equipment, and is accessible for all, is swimming.
When it comes to burning fat and gaining muscle, we can again view this within the bank balance metaphor. The deposits you want to be making if you’re looking to gain muscle are low-rep high-weight workouts and lean proteins – whilst the deposits you want to be making if you’re aim is to burn fat are high intensity interval training sessions and a low-calorie meals.
In summary, the bank account of your health depends primarily on two things; the food you eat and the amount of exercise you undertake. This is really simple stuff, and we all know it, but there’s a huge difference between having knowledge and applying knowledge. Hopefully, this simple metaphor of the bank account will inspire you to make better day-to-day choices.