LIFE IN BALANCE
Part 4. Let’s Get Physical
by Elena Greco
LIFE IN BALANCE is a multi-part series exploring health–
what it is, how to get it and how to maintain it, easily and naturally.
Typical reading time: 3 minutes
The Physical Body
In the first three segments of this series, we looked at what health means to you and what true health looks like. We took a look at healthcare paradigms. Hopefully you’ve chosen a holistic healthcare system for yourself, one which takes all aspects of you and your health into account, and that you’ve come around to the view that health is much more than being free from symptoms of illness.
Now I’d like you to think about the current state of your health. First, sit quietly for a moment or two. Ask yourself the question of what issues—physical, psychological, emotional or circumstantial—are troublesome or are needing attention. Continue contemplating this, allowing this question to be in the back of your mind, and make a list of any issues or challenges that need to be addressed. Notice how and whether any of these issues are inter-related. There are no right answers here. This is just information.
Next, I’d like you to assess your traits and lifestyle. This is both to increase your awareness and to have a reference for your future healthcare. Keep this list in a place you can access it easily, as we’ll be working with it throughout this series. Your characteristic traits and your lifestyle include:
1) your physical body;
2) your mind/mental state/emotions (how you think and feel);
3) your environment (where you live and work); and
4) your current lifestyle (how you live and work)
For example, physical traits might be a tendency to gain or lose weight, to be hot-natured or cold-natured, to catch colds frequently or have allergies, to rarely get sick, to have achy joints or a delicate stomach. Emotional or psychological traits might be a tendency to be quick to anger, a tendency to experience anxiety, a tendency to feel sad, an analytical mind. Lifestyle traits might be eating unhealthy food, exercising regularly, a tendency to live a non-stop highly-driven life, having a lot of responsibilities, having children, traveling a lot, living in a polluted area, and sleep habits. Your environment includes your home and work place and any place else you spend time regularly (subway, park, a favorite restaurant or bar).
These are just a few basic examples. The idea is to build a complete picture of you.
The Physical Body
Let’s start with assessing the physical body. There’s no judgment here, no good or bad; just notice. This list will help you with your assessment; you’ll end up with four such lists by the time you complete this assessment. I recommend keeping them together in a special place set aside for your health, such as a computer folder or a binder.
1. Physical body
i. What you eat
a) Carbohydrates/fat/protein: do you
1) eat a good balance of these
2) shun or restrict one of them
3) eat too much of one of them
b) Intake/amount—do you
1) often eat too much food
2) restrict calories
3) eat just what you need to maintain your energy and weight
c) Quality of food/nourishment
1) is it organic, local, fresh, canned, frozen, packaged, heavily processed
2) does it contain preservatives, artificial colors/flavors, GMOs, pesticides/herbicides
3) does it contain vitamins/minerals/phytochemicals, nutrients, a healthy balance of carbs/protein/fats
4) is your food colorful, or is it mostly brown and white?
d) Type of diet/limitations:
1) omnivore—omits nothing, includes animal food and everything else
2) pesca-vegetarian—omits beef, pork and fowl, includes seafood, eggs and dairy
3) vegetarian—omits beef, pork, fowl and seafood, includes eggs and dairy
4) vegan—omits anything related to animals, including beef, pork, fowl, seafood, eggs, dairy and honey
5) allergy restrictions (wheat, dairy, etc.)
e) Plenty of fruits/veggies (several cups daily)?
f) Plenty of legumes/beans/nuts?
h) Do you smoke, vape, drink alcohol, or take drugs?
ii. When you eat it
a) Regular meals/snacks at regular times
b) Irregular meals/snacks at irregular times
c) Graze whenever you feel peckish
d) Late-night eating
iii. How you eat it
a) Sitting down alone, eating at an unhurried tempo
b) With friends or family at a leisurely pace
c) Sitting down while writing a brief, watching television, grading papers, etc.
d) Standing up or on the go, eating quickly
a) Do you usually prefer cold drinks/cool salads or hot drinks/warm food?
b) Do you mainly prefer or crave sweet or salty foods?
b. Water: quality/quantity—enough water and good quality water?
c. Supplements: yes/no? high quality? (i.e., without toxic fillers or highly processed elements; the most absorbable form)
i. Right exercise for body/mind/lifestyle
ii. Quantity: daily, weekly, never, excessively (7+ hours/week of moderate to intense exercise)
iii. Type: cardio (increases heart rate), stretching, strength
e. Bodywork: massage, chiropractic, physical therapy, acupuncture, other, none
f. Action (activity level)
i. sedentary (sit at computer/watch television 5+ hrs/day)
ii. moderate (2+ hours movement/day);
iii. active (4+ hours movement/day)
i. shallow, deep or labored
ii. use focused breathing daily
iii. awareness of exhale
i. 7-8 hours per night?
ii. fewer than 6 hours per night?
i. Rest: do you make time for relaxation and enjoyment (pleasure is health-related too!)
If you haven’t considered these things in a focused way, you might think, for example, Hey, I eat a healthy diet, but perhaps some of these are items you’ve never considered, such as, Oh, I didn’t think about the quality of my water, or, I didn’t think it mattered when I ate my food.
Assignment: Think about all of the items in the list above and notate your answers to them before going on to the next series post so that you have a good snapshot of the physical part of your life.
Also, notice if there are any troublesome areas of your Physical Assessment. Don’t sweat this; we’ll examine it in more detail in future posts. You don’t need to “fix” anything. Just see if ideas come to you as you make your assessment and, if so, make a note of them.