The Pillars Of Great Health
By: Simone Gisondi, Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant, Certified Cell & Tissue Regenerative Detoxification Specialist, Certified Holistic Cancer Practitioner, Personal Training Specialist.
There really are no shortcuts to any place worth going. Though it will sound cliché, the fact remains that instant results when it comes to health are impossible. As all other things that are worth it, health and weight loss takes work and patience. A great example I give to those who are looking to lose weight — yes, they are usually women — is pregnancy. The pregnancy from beginning to end takes 40 weeks no matter how much we may want it to be shorter. No pregnant woman has ever given up half-way through because pregnancy is hard. So why do so many people still want to take the shortcut to weight loss and to great health?
Health has never been more important than it is now for obvious reasons. COVID-19 caught many people unprepared and quite vulnerable. During his 1962 State of the Union Address, US President John F. Kennedy declared: “The best time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” A very important message. It’s easier to fix the roof when it’s sunny, rather than when it’s raining. In other words, don’t wait until you’re sick to invest in your health.
Health has always been and will always be our most important and most valuable asset. If we are not healthy, we cannot do things with our loved ones — we can’t even enjoy time with them, we cannot enjoy life to the fullest and we cannot run a business.
Sadly, many people give their health attention at the end of the year, when they make their health a resolution for the New Year ahead. It’s typically only then that they decide that they want to ditch unhealthy habits, create good ones, finally change their life for the better and usher in good health.
Unfortunately, most of those New Year Resolution-ers usually fall off the wagon shortly thereafter, and return to the familiarity and comfort of the lifestyle they had built over the years. After seeing their health decline some more, they jump on the New Year Resolution wagon again and attempt to stick to the resolution of adopting a healthy lifestyle one more time. It’s a repeated cycle most are caught in. Why?
Health starts in the mind — poor nutrition and lifestyle habits reside there. To get to health and a healthy lifestyle, poor habits must be replaced by healthy habits that are reinforced over time, much like the poor ones are. New habits take the exact same amount of energy and time as poor ones — to eat a healthy meal requires time much like to eat an unhealthy meal does.
Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither was health. Ask an Olympic level athlete, fitness competitor or any elite athlete that plays for the leagues that pay them to play. They are all dedicated to eating, training and a healthy lifestyle.
The truth is that the body doesn’t work how most think it does. It is an instrument of the mind and takes direction from it, so health ultimately springs from the mind. It is the mind that decides on what foods to eat, on the sleep schedule and other lifestyle habits that determine health. The mind decides and gives direction — the body executes. Therefore, the mind is ultimately the master of health. Take control of the mind and you’re on your way to getting healthy.
How, you ask? Here’s a simple exercise that works like a charm.
1. Take your current health situation, as negative as it may be, and write it out in detail. Put all the
details you can think of.
2. Ask yourself what would be the polar opposite of that? Write out your answer in as much detail
as in step 1.
3. Shred or burn the sheet with your current health situation from Step 1. You don’t need to see all those details, you got them out of your mind for a reason – to get rid of them altogether.
4. Rewrite the healthy situation (Step 2) every day for 30 days.
5. Read the healthy situation sheet (those are the results you want) each morning.
Stick with it for the 30 days and I promise you, this process will reprogram your mind, and your results will start to change. Remember, it all starts in the mind and to reprogram the mind, we have to actually DO something different than we have been doing until now — otherwise the mind will continue to run the same old programs and we’ll get the same old results.
Remember Einstein’s famous quote? “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
On to the body now.
Though I usually like to leave the best for last, when it comes to nutrition, I must give it the importance that it has and talk about it first. Nutrition plays one of the biggest roles in achieving health and in achieving results when it comes to transforming your body. And sadly, this is where people fail and sabotage their efforts, which is why it’s been said: “Hire a nutritionist before you hire a trainer.” And trust me when I tell you, elite athletes have nutritionists develop very precise diets since they have weight and fitness requirements in order to be successful in their sport.
Nutrition, the most intricate and complicated piece of the puzzle, is as important for the
development of a baby as it is for health and for the development of the body you want. As with exercising (more on this later), the beginning of a diet will produce an almost immediate response — for the short-term that is. In simple terms, hardcore dieting, or eating significantly less, works well in the beginning because your body needs to adjust to it. Once it has adjusted, it will bring metabolism to a grinding halt because it believes that it’s going into starvation mode. As soon as this signal has been received by the brain, the body will do all it can to hang on to as many calories as it can to ensure that it doesn’t die from starvation. So eating far too little is counterproductive. Not only are you robbing yourself of the nutrients your body needs, you are setting yourself up for being lethargic, miserable, hungry and more prone to getting sick. Trust me, I’ve done it so I know firsthand.
The major difference — and it is major — between weight loss and fat loss is what distinguishes the “skinny” look and the “healthy” look. Muscle contributes to what someone weighs so it’s definitely NOT something you want to lose. Muscle is downright crucial to good health. More on how to build that later, but for now the moral of the story is this: Please skip the fat burning supplements if you ever even considered them, skip the fast food that only has traces of nutrients, if even that, skip the fad diets and don’t rely on cardio if you want to see your body transform.
Don’t waste your time on extreme dieting and endless cardio to build health and the body of your dreams. First and foremost give your body, your organs and all your tissues — muscle, bones, hair, nails — what they need to be healthy. Health should always be everyone’s main goal. The most important thing that all organs and tissues look for to put towards their development, health and maintenance is nutrients. These can only be obtained from food. Good nutritional habits — or a good diet — cannot be emphasized enough. Your health literally cannot be attained without good food.
So what can you do if you don’t know what to eat when trying to eat healthy? Hire a holistic nutritionist. There’s no one that can help you demystify nutrition better than a holistic nutritionist. We look beyond the foods — we look at their interactions with medications, we look at allergies, sensitivities and intolerances when we give advice. We look at the person as a whole, not as a diagnosis. We take many things into account when we work with clients — their emotional state, their life situation and how they can transition to a whole new way of eating. We design custom programs for our clients because a cookie cutter approach can downright hurt them.
But as an overall approach, we all recommend eating whole, fresh foods in as close to their natural state as possible and we always push fruits and veggies — the keepers of all the important nutrients the body needs. And what’s best — food is a necessity of life, so we don’t push things that are unnecessary. So if you want to get started today, as a holistic nutritionist, I recommend this:
- Drink 1.5 L – 2 L of water daily. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to drink. Divide the water during the day and set an alarm to drink a certain amount each time the alarm goes off.
- Have one salad a day. Remember what I said about having fruits and veggies in as natural a state as possible? There’s no better way to get natural foods in than through a salad. Pick what meal you want to have it at — lunch or dinner and have it alongside your main course. Hello natural vitamins and minerals.
Lifestyle is bar none, the most crucial piece of the health puzzle once you’ve mastered nutrition. It’s also one that is given far too little importance by most people. If you’re wondering what exactly I am referring to when I say lifestyle, I am referring to things like sleep, stress, physical addictions such as smoking or vaping, way of life, values, intimacy and so on. None is more important than the other, but it is worth mentioning that they are all interconnected and affect us equally. If we take stress as an example, aside from being the precursor to 99% of all illness, stress affects our digestion, our sleep, our outlook on life, our intimacy and our physical addictions — stress is why a lot of people start to smoke. All facets of lifestyle affect all facets of life.
These are all things us holistic practitioners look at — hence the holistic designation. We know stress shuts down digestion and activates the fight or flight response in the body, we know that chronic sleep deprivation leads to illness and takes a toll emotionally. We know more than just nutrients and foods.
A new way of eating — or a diet, as is usually referred to — affects the body in ways that it’s not used to. What gets most people discouraged is that they expect all health results in a short period of time. Science has proven that any new stimulus to the body will yield an almost immediate result. People fail when they think that what they do for the first couple of weeks has erased all health issues and will continue to work forever. Not so. Health is achieved when one dedicated themselves to a lifestyle that has health at its core. And as the word itself indicates this is a STYLE that must be adopted for LIFE. We want a healthy life after all.
Once our body sees the consistency in what we do and what we eat, it moves towards vibrant health. It’s designed to do so and always inclined towards it. It will become more efficient at doing what you ask it to do continuously, it will need less effort and less work to do what it found to be very hard in the beginning. As you become healthier — and you will — not only will you will continue to see results, but you’ll want to keep going. Who doesn’t love having more energy and feeling good? A healthy body keeps illnesses at bay by activating the immune system, reduces a plethora of health risks such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer and therefore lengthens your life.
So what are some things you can start doing to adopt a healthy lifestyle?
- Meditate, first and foremost. I cannot emphasize how beneficial meditation is. It will help you with managing stress, it helps control anxiety, reduces depression, promotes emotional health, improves tolerance for pain and helps fight addiction. You can just sit in silence and concentrate on your breath, concentrate on a monotonous sound (like a fan), download an app that can guide you or find guided meditation or meditation music on YouTube. But get started and stick with it daily.
- Put electronics away 1 hour before bedtime — the blue light from screens affects proper sleep.
- Sleep in a completely dark room — one of the most powerful antioxidants, namely Melatonin, can only be produced when sleeping in complete darkness. I can’t emphasize how important sleep is for health.
When we exercise, we place our body under stress, complementary stress to be exact — the stress that carries benefits and positive outcomes. In plain language, exercising will produce a positive result — weight loss, muscle growth, health and feeling great. However, in the beginning, the body fights this new state it’s put in because it’s foreign and it’s uncomfortable.
Weight training or resistance training is the ONLY way to build muscle once you fed your body good food. Despite not feeling comfortable in the beginning, weight/resistance training has many, many benefits and is conducive to overall health. With age, starting in our 30s, lean muscle mass starts to decrease and as lean muscle mass decreases, body fat increases. Weight training is the ONLY way to hang on to precious lean muscle mass at any age.
Weight training refers to lifting weights, whereas resistance training refers to providing the muscles with resistance they must overcome. Weights are such a resistance, but so are our own body weight and resistance bands.
Weight/Resistance training is also hands down the best way combat osteoporosis. Place your bones under that complementary stress mentioned above and your bone density will increase.
Metabolism speeds up when we weight/resistance train. Why? Because weight training leads to more muscle mass, and more muscle mass burns more calories. How? It’s simple. The body burns calories even at rest — yes, even when we sleep, or when we are reading and even when we are simply doing nothing. Did you know that even the mere act of breathing burns calories? Breathe deeper and you’ll burn more.
What is called the RMR or the Resting Metabolic Rate (this is the rate at which the body burns fat while resting) is higher in people that carry more muscle mass because every pound of lean muscle uses approximately 6 calories a day at rest or for doing absolutely nothing. So the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn even when you do nothing at all. That’s right, cardio and dieting doesn’t build muscle, weight/resistance training does. Although even body fat burns calories (yes, you read that right), each pound of it burns on average 2 mere calories at rest. That’s THREE TIMES LESS than muscle. Having said that, I don’t have to tell you that muscle will help keep your weight under control.
You should also know that the body processes what you feed it (nutrients) much better when you carry more muscle — muscles need those nutrients — and as you get stronger, you won’t fatigue as easily and you will better manage chronic conditions such as back pain, arthritis and heart disease. Research also suggests that weight/resistance training improves attention in the elderly, so it does more than just grow your muscles. The brain benefits from weight/resistance training too.
Bottom line, if you are looking to speed up your metabolism so you can lose weight, weight/resistance training is what does it really well.
Cardio has its place in weight loss and overall health but nothing will give you the desired results without combining cardio with weightlifting. If ever you are faced with having to choose
between the two, I, as all qualified trainers, will always recommend the weights/resistance. Why? Because you can always add the cardio component into your weightlifting sessions.
I’m sure you’re wondering what you can do to start weight/resistance training especially given how many gyms are still closed due to the pandemic.
You’ll be happy to hear that it doesn’t mean you have to slave 2 hours on a workout. First things first: Invest in a set of resistance bands. Amazon has countless ones, and they are inexpensive.
Do 5-10 minute sessions of exercising at various intervals of the day. Get on YouTube and search a 10-minute exercise routine, lace up your running shoes and just do it.
Alternatively, start with daily bodyweight exercises. Each morning and each evening before bed
- 10-20 bodyweight squats
- 10-20 lunges each leg — you can hold on to a chair or a wall for support
- 10-20 crunches/sit-ups OR 30 second plank
If you want amazing vibrant, overall health, take an all-encompassing approach and dedicate yourself to all 3 elements: Nutrition, Lifestyle and Exercise. You are guaranteed to get healthier. One action-packed program comprised of good nutrition, exercising, ditching bad habits and replacing them with good ones will have you well on your way to a healthier and stronger body. The time for health has never been better than now — especially if the sun is still
~ Simone Gisondi
Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant™
Certified Cell & Tissue Regenerative Detoxification Specialist
Certified Holistic Cancer Practitioner
Personal Training Specialist
Want to get started getting there yourself? Book a FREE consultation with Simone Gisondi today.