..and medicine by thy food. We’ve all heard of that, of course. Good old Hippocrates.
But what does it really mean? Follow any fitness/nutrition blogger and most will tell you that to lose weight/be healthy you need to balance your calories in vs calories out, such that you burn more than you consume. Pretty obvious really and you can’t argue with the science. But that’s not the whole story because we are not machines. If it were as easy as deciding that ‘every day this week I’ll consume 1500 calories but burn 2000’ then there would be far fewer overweight and unfit people around. But we are human beings and therefore our thoughts, moods, hormones and mental health play a big part too. Let’s face it, we don’t wake up every morning, jump out of bed excited about the prospect of a kale smoothie and counting down the minutes until a hard interval training session, do we? Well actually, sometimes, yes, but not all the time.
Personally, I think there are 3 clear areas which all need to be addressed in order for wellbeing, fitness and health to be achieved on an ongoing basis (and that ‘woohoo, it’s time for a kale smoothie!’ feeling to be real). Whilst I spend a significant proportion of my life running fitness classes, you may be surprised to hear that I don’t see fitness as the top priority. “Whaaaat?” I hear you cry.
I’d put nutrition at the top of the list. And why? Because it’s what fuels your body. You wouldn’t put diesel in a petrol car and expect it to perform well. So why would we expect to be able to put rubbish food into our bodies and expect it to be able to a) function properly, b) workout at various intensity levels on a regular basis and c) sleep soundly? Seems obvious, but the majority of people expect exactly that.
My tongue is playing around in my cheek when I talk of kale smoothies as I don’t believe you need to live on them in order to live a healthy lifestyle. But I do firmly believe that the more healthily you eat, the more healthily you want to eat. The same goes for exercise. Those lovely things we know as endorphins which kick in at the end of a workout, make you feel amazing and are addictive. We want to feel that invincible, strong and yes, sexy more often! So we workout again and push ourselves harder. And so the cycle goes on.
The same goes for sleep. If you can get somewhere near the required 8 hours (with a bedtime as close to 10pm as possible), you’ll feel great. And you’ll want to get those fabulous 8 hours of sleep again. And again.
And guess what? If you can get all three of those things in sync with each other then you’re laughing! Seriously, if you’re not sleep deprived then it’s much easier to eat healthily. And if your body isn’t full of junk then it’s much easier to workout. And if you’ve eaten well and worked out then….yup, you’ll sleep better.
And when all three of those things are in your life, then they’ll absolutely be your medicine, your antidepressant, your energy giver, your clear skin giver, your weight manager and your fabulous mood provider!
And for what it’s worth, I’m not a fan of counting calories. I’d rather enjoy my food and not associate it with numbers. But if you want to count something in your diet, then count colours! #eatarainbow