By. Garrett Guzman
This week, I am breaking away from the exercise and nutrition research and focusing more on my personal perspective of what is most important in life: optimal health. Unfortunately, in this life, I have been challenged with several serious health conditions myself. For some of you, this may be surprising news (as I don’t disclose it or discuss it with many people); while others close to me are more aware of the challenges I have consistently faced. Most specifically, I have been diagnosed with three autoimmune diseases, including diabetes (Type 1), inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s), and hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s). I received all of these diagnoses as a young adult, and I have no idea what the future may hold for me, as autoimmune diseases can often increase (and perhaps worsen) over time. What I do know is that it has helped me realize how important our health is. Without our health, we have nothing; and I truly mean that. We can’t be there for our family and friends; and in many cases, we won’t be around long for them either. This is not intended to be a sulking story of “poor me, poor me.” My intention of this post is to remind you of how important your health is, and to not take it for granted. You never know when you, or someone very close to you, will be faced with a difficult health crisis. But, what can you do every day to both avoid disease and improve nearly every disease, whether autoimmune disease, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.?
Here are my top five recommendations that have dramatically improved my health and will surely improve yours.
1. Optimal Rest: You must get a good quantity and quality of sleep. Specifics differ from person to person, but you should consistently feel well-rested and energetic. Yes, we are all occasionally tired from staying up too late the night before, or from having to wake up extra early. But this should not be the norm. If you don’t feel like you have the energy to give life your all, you must address this before anything else. Future posts will discuss sleep hygiene tips that will help you further improve in this area.
2. Eat Well: Per my previous posts, you’ll see that I like to keep nutrition simple. Focus on high-quality meat, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and water (with optional inclusions of coffee/tea/wine). The occasional treat (deviation from the above-mentioned foods/drinks) will not set you that far off course. Just get back on it.
3. Exercise Daily: This is quite similar to the recommendations above. Keep it simple: move your body every day. You should be incorporating resistance training consistently into your weekly schedule. But in addition to your structured exercise routine, you should be moving your body throughout each day – get off your butt and be active. Go for a walk with your spouse/child/dog, get outside on a bicycle ride, play a sport with your friend/child; just move.
4. Get Outside: This goes with the above recommendations regarding activity. Get outside every day. Shoot for at least 30 minutes, more if you are able. We are stuck inside far too much, and it has done nothing to improve our well-being. Whether it’s the benefits of the sun (including Vitamin D and improved circadian rhythm), nature (stress relief), grounding (research this; fascinating stuff), getting outside consistently will dramatically improve your health.
5. Be Grateful: Perhaps the most important recommendation was left for the end. You must practice this habit every day. If you feel like this is a major challenge for you, strongly consider starting a daily gratitude journal. Facts are facts: if you are reading this, you are one of the lucky ones. You have so much to be grateful for. And this is not to compare what you have to anyone else, but simply to remind you that you have been blessed beyond words. Take time to consider everything you have been given, and that which you have worked hard to earn. Most importantly, be grateful for your health, be grateful for the people in your life, and be grateful for all the gifts that you have been given.