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Wellness Pathway #299 Optimal Wellness Prototype

When it comes to health and wellness, here’s the best LifeTrek Coaching has to offer!

LifeTrek Wellness Prototype

Input

The top half of the hour glass focuses on the input side of the equation. It all starts with clean, filtered water. Aim to drink at least two quarts or two liters of water per day. Twice that much is not too much for many people. After all, the human body is 78% water at birth, dropping to 60% or less as we age. The more water we drink, the better we feel. Avoid drinking calories, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, and caffeine. If you do drink alcohol, keep it to no more than one drink per day. With their antioxidants, phytonutrients, and fiber, fresh, organic fruits, vegetables, and fungi are the nutrient-rich allies of health and wellness. There is no way to eat too much of these nutritional powerhouses, with five cups per day representing the essential minimum.

Stay with fruits and non-starchy vegetables from local sources, with low to moderate glycemic loads, whenever possible. The health problems associated with eating fish, poultry, and meat result from how the animals are raised by commercial aquaculture and agriculture (not from the animal protein itself). Wild salmon, sable, sardines, and other fatty fish can be eaten daily and should be eaten at least several times a week. Free-range poultry from birds that scratch in the open air, lean, pasture-fed meat from animals living in happy, contented conditions, and wild game, can also be eaten regularly. Small, local sources of meat are typically the most healthy. Pasture-fed buffalo and deer are extremely low in saturated fat, high in omega-3 fatty acids, and great tasting. As we move down the input hour glass, we have to control how much we eat in order to avoid provoking weight gain and insulin resistance. Raw, unsalted nuts and seeds, especially walnuts, almonds, flax, and hemp, provide healthy and essential fatty acids.

Eat less than a total of 1/2 cup per day. Eggs, from those same free-range birds that scratch, have more fat (62%) than protein (34%); limit consumption to no more than six per week. Root vegetables (such as sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, and beets) and beans (especially peas and lentils, which are healthier than other beans, as well as fermented soybean products such as natto and tempeh) are both high in carbohydrates while beans have more protein and fiber. Properly prepared and in limited quantities, these foods can be part of a healthy diet.

The key is to not overindulge (avoid daily consumption and then limit consumption to no more than two cups per day) and to combine the consumption of these foods with other fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. Be sure to boil, bake, steam, pressure cook, or stew these foods rather than to fry them in oil or to mash them with dairy products. Oils and chocolate are not essential to healthy nutrition but can be enjoyable parts of a healthy diet. The use of oil should be limited to extra-virgin olive or red palm oils, and then to no more than 7% of total calories per day (�  2 tablespoons). Chocolate should be raw, organic, dark, with no hydrogenated fats, limited to no more than 3% of total calories per day (� 200 calories), and from fair-trade sources. Raw cacao powder is a great addition to fruit smoothies.

Raw cacao nibs sweetened with agave nectar are a great treat. Avoid oils and chocolate completely if they lead to weight gain. As you may have noticed, there are no input sections for dairy, grains, or processed foods. These are relatively recent additions to the human diet and many people fail to thrive while eating their proteins, fats, sugars, and additives. If you decide to eat dairy, then organic, cultured products such as low-fat yogurt and kefir are better than milk or ice cream. If you decide to eat grains, then avoid grains with gluten such as wheat, barley, and rye. Brown rice and quinoa are better choices as occasional substitutes for starchy vegetables. Stay away from processed and refined foods as much as possible.

Output

Once we get all of that healthy nutrition into our bodies, what do we do with the energy? That’s what the bottom half of the hour glass addresses, starting with balance. Standing on one leg, rocking from one leg to the other, spinning in circles, standing on a balance board, sitting on a fitness ball, practicing Tai Chi, dancing, jumping on a trampoline, and meditation are examples of balance exercises that provide both physical and psychological benefits. Many balance exercises can and should be done in conjunction with other activities (like talking on the phone). Consistent practice is the key. Gentle stretches can also be done in conjunction with other activities or as focused exercises in their own right. Muscles are like rubber bands: if they are not stretched, they shorten, harden, and eventually snap. When they are stretched, muscles warm up and become more flexible.

The best way to stretch is through slow, gentle, and varied movements. Jerking muscles into overextended, static positions does more harm than good. Stretching should never be painful. It should rather be a joyful expression of our urge to move. Yoga is a popular activity that provides many great stretching routines and poses. Strength is required climb stairs and to lift, pull, or push heavy objects. To keep up our strength we need to engage in strength training two or three times per week (without stressing the same muscle groups two days in a row). Lifting weights, stretching resistance bands, and doing Pilates exercises all count as strength training.

These exercises should be done slowly and to the point of muscle fatigue. Weight lifting can be done with plain cans and bottles or with fancy exercise equipment. However it gets done, consistent effort at any age produces noticeable progress. Moderate aerobic activity, which elevates the heart and respiration rates, should be done daily. At least 30 minutes, and ideally twice that much, is recommended. Light aerobic activity, such as a leisurely stroll, may be healthy and enjoyable but it does not produce significant fitness benefits.

If there is little to no perceived exertion, then it’s time to pick up the pace. Walking, swimming, cycling, rowing, stair climbing, and elliptical cross training are great, non-impact aerobic activities. Running and rope jumping add impact, which strengthens the bones. Check with your doctor and find an exercise that you enjoy doing consistently. Washing hands, brushing teeth, and not smoking are three of the most important things we can do for health and wellness on a daily basis. Practices which elevate our mood, such as keeping a gratitude journal or getting a massage, have both psychological and physical benefits. The careful management of medical conditions, including both traditional and alternative treatment strategies, is our personal responsibility. Since every person is somewhat different as to our hygiene and self-care requirements, we must each learn and tend to our own unique requirements if we hope to be healthy and well.

Fitness = Training + Recovery. All work and no play, let alone no rest, is a formula for over training, injury, and disability. The body gets stronger not during exercise itself, but during recovery periods after exercise that enable the body to rebuild and repair its tissues (often stronger than before). The same is true for the mind. The secret to successful rest, relaxation, and recovery is not to become a blob in front of the television; it’s to vary one’s activities from day to day between different muscle groups and exercises. It’s also to laugh, play, and breathe. Deep breathing and meditation are great, whole-body relaxation activities that should be engaged in daily, including at least one extended session per week.

Just as water is the big pool from which we draw our energy — a person can live without food far longer than we can live without water — so is sleep the big pool into which we pour our energy. Sleep is both the quietest and most important of all activities. More than just muscles rebuild and repair themselves during sleep; the whole body-mind-spirit connection gets restored and renewed. It is no accident that overweight and obese people tend to sleep less and less well than normal weight people. Since the sleep cycle tends to take around 90 minutes, eight hours of sleep at night enables five full cycles (allowing for time to fall asleep). That’s the bare minimum for optimal wellness.

An afternoon nap of 10-20 minutes also has proven health benefits. Throughput Health and wellness require one other important ingredient: benevolence. It is the throughput of the inputs and outputs. It is the “so what” behind the “what” of nutrition and fitness. It is the environment that provides texture, meaning, significance, and support to our individual efforts. Why bother to be healthy and well? What is the point of life any way? Who cares? Who joins us, on the journey? Unfortunately, many people have no answer for those all-important questions. Their lives lack meaning and purpose. They also lack the support so necessary to sustain Optimal Wellness.

As a result, they neither see life in terms of benevolence nor dedicate themselves to the cause. “Benevolence” is defined as a “disposition to good,” “causing no harm,” “showing love,” “behaving peacefully towards others,” “providing more than one must,” and “caring for others regardless of their position or ability to give in return.” Such humane and humanizing qualities require at least five factors: empathy, generosity, reciprocity, honesty, and community. Would that we could all live in a world marked by those attributes! They are values for which it is worth getting up in the morning and optimizing one’s vitality. They are the ground of being, the throughput of life, the air we breathe, and the best reason I know to be healthy and well.

May we, then, all commit and strive to make it so. Coaching Inquiries: What is your motivation to be healthy and well? What gets you up in the morning? Are there ways that you could change your inputs and outputs for the better? Who could become your partner on the journey?

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To read how this all comes together, read Provision #549. To learn more about our Wellness Coaching programs and to arrange for a complimentary wellness coaching session, use our Contact Form or Email Bob.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com 2010-2011
President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org

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