There’s probably no one alive who doesn’t want to feel healthier. We all have goals like getting lean or improving posture, but overall the point of general health and well-being is critical to most of us.
But what does it mean? How can it be measured? What works well? What do we think works well but doesn’t?
As a rule, we usually ask clients to have particular and measurable goals to make these questions easier to answer (more on that later). Still, when it comes to general health and well-being, we happily make an exception to this rule, as feeling good is essential for almost all of us.
This post will give an overview of general health and well-being and how you can start feeling great if you’re currently not or even better if you’re already doing well. We’ll go over some training, nutrition and lifestyle strategies and finally go over a point system so you can grade yourself right now and look to improve those numbers over the upcoming months and years.
WHAT ARE GENERAL HEALTH AND WELL-BEING?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as a complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
Well-being is a complex combination of physical, mental, emotional and social health factors, and well-being is strongly linked to happiness and life satisfaction. In short, well-being could be described as how you feel about yourself and your life.
WHAT FACTORS INFLUENCE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING?
Every aspect of your life influences your state of well-being. Researchers investigating happiness have found the following factors enhance a person’s well-being:
- A happy intimate relationship with a partner.
- Network of close friends.
- An enjoyable and fulfilling career.
- Enough money.
- Regular exercise.
- Nutritional diet.
- Enough sleep.
- Spiritual, philosophical or religious beliefs.
- Fun hobbies and leisure pursuits.
- Healthy self-esteem.
- Optimistic outlook.
- Realistic and achievable goals.
- A sense of purpose and meaning.
- A sense of belonging.
- The ability to adapt to change.
- Living in a fair and democratic society.
CIRCLE OF CONTROL
Indeed, we can’t have it all, and often external factors strongly influence how we perceive the world. They often take our resources away, like our time and money that we’d instead use to focus on the things that matter to us. Things like our work commitments, the government, world events, family issues and whatever else it may be.
Part of being happy & feeling free is to take charge of our own destiny and not be influenced by external factors as much as possible. This can be done with a mindset shift known as the circle of control.
Simply focus entirely on what’s within your control and the power to change, influence or improve. Once you’ve established that what’s left doesn’t get your attention because your attention won’t alter the situation anyway. Improve what you can, accept what you can’t and treat it as an opportunity to practice mental resilience, patience, forgiveness and other values similar to these.
Did someone cut you off in traffic? Awesome! An opportunity to practice patience, kindness and forgiveness. A lockdown takes away your ability to work, and you’re stuck at home? That’s great! You’ve been saying for ages how you’d love more time to complete XYZ. Here it is!
The main things we can control for the most part include our training, nutrition, lifestyle, friendships, time spent helping others, discipline to get things done, and the time spent being lazy or unproductive. Above all else, we control our choices! We’ll go over some key areas that are well within our control to start improving immediately.
There is no denying that exercise is excellent for us. It has been proven to improve mood, longevity, mental health and well-being & reduce the chance of getting many diseases. But how much, how intense, how often & what should you focus on? The answers to these questions could make up an entire post. But to keep things simple, let’s just break them down for our purpose here.
How much? – Current recommendations for physical activity in adults are as follows: at least 150–300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity, 75–150 minutes per week of vigorousintensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorousintensity aerobic activity.
Adults should also perform moderate-intensity or higher muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups for 2 or more days per week. But the real answer… Ask yourself honestly. What can you commit to each week that is realistic and achievable? If you have no time, check your phone settings and see how much time was spent on social media, games and other mindless activities. Unless you work 14 hours plus per day or have serious family commitments, there is usually the time that can be made for exercise. It just needs to be prioritised!
What should you focus on? – Check out our post on strength for some great tips on what exercises work well. But for the sake of this topic, mountains of research point toward HIIT-style training sessions for shorter periods over long-distance activities. When strength training, consider mixing core exercises in between sets to increase the amount you achieve in a shorter space.
As for cardio, think of explosive short bursts like sprint interval training, boxing and similar activities over going for 5 to 10 km runs. We’ll include published research on this in the references section below.
Also, SIT training is not currently recommended for those with kidney issues, heart problems or older people. Remember to consult a healthcare professional if you have any underlying condition that may affect your ability to exercise safely.
Lifestyle plays a big part in your health and well-being. You can eat as much salad as you like, but if you spend your Saturday nights at the bar punching pints, you’ll be playing catch up in a losing battle. There are many things we can say here that would help. But too much info is overwhelming and makes things more complicated than it needs to be. So, to keep things manageable and achievable, let’s focus on a few critical areas that give you a heap of bang for your buck.
- Fasting – Caloric restriction has enormous health benefits and is an excellent lifestyle. Once you’re used to it, it makes life easier. Eating less saves time to complete other tasks and money by not needing to eat as often. Check out the PubMed articles below on this topic.
Fasting has been shown to improve digestive health, aid in fat loss, improve cognitive function, improve blood sugar levels, increase energy, reduce the chance of getting many cancers and many other health benefits. Eat less, and enjoy the benefits! If unsure where to start with this, reach out to us, and we’d be happy to help.
We’d suggest an intermittent approach to get you started. No calories at night to start you off, then add an extra 2 hours of fasting until you safely reach 16 hours fasted. Take your time. There’s no rush to get to 16, and give your body about 2 weeks of getting used to it; it gets easier after that!
This can be an example for you.
- On days 1, 2, and 3, the last meal is at 6pm, and breakfast is at 6 am the next day.
- Days 4, 5, 6, last meal 6 pm and breakfast at 8 am the next day.
- On days 7, 8, and 9, the last meal is 5pm, and breakfast is at 9 am the next day.
- Only go to the next level when your body has handled the one you’re on well. No lightheadedness, dizziness or issues.
- You can adjust this for your lifestyle but avoid the nighttime calories for added sleep benefits.
Please consult a healthcare professional before trying any new diet.
- Hot and Cold Exposure – Like fasting, hot and cold exposure falls under hormetic stressors. What does that mean? It’s exposure to a bit of stress that the body responds to by fortifying its health and defences. Just like exercise, saunas, ice baths, and cold showers have been shown to have extensive health benefits and are a great addition to add to your weekly schedule.
You can start with a cold shower to get your body to adapt and a 15 to 20-minute sauna whenever you get a chance. Check out the references section below for more info on the powerful health benefits. Please be aware that the research suggests that more info is needed for cold exposure for individuals with metabolic syndrome. Please consult a professional first if you have this especially.
- Leisure activities – One of the critical differences that will make or break your progress, longevity & well-being. Put quite simply, what do you do for fun? Fun is a vast umbrella containing everything from hiking to getting smashed at the pub. Different strokes, different folks, as they say. But those 2 activities are worlds apart, and your body will thank you immensely if you start choosing to have fun the right way!
- Sleep & stress – These areas are essential to get right, and few of us actually do. This goes back to what is within our control and focusing on that. If you are not getting enough sleep because you work full time and have 3 young children. Totally understandable just do the best you can to sleep whenever you can. However, if you’re not sleeping enough because you check emails, that can wait until tomorrow, scrolling your phone or staying up late to watch TV…
Time spent sleeping may be a much better idea. If you go to bed late, we’re not suggesting going from 11 pm to 9 pm overnight. This will be a frustrating waste of time and make you feel like an earlier bedtime just “isn’t for you.” Instead, take away 15 minutes per night until you reach a better bedtime. Aiming for 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep per night works out when you need to get up and what time you need to sleep to hit that target.
It may take a couple of weeks to adjust, but your body will be forever grateful that you did. Reducing stress will be difficult to help with as we don’t know your unique circumstances. However, all of this comes together if you’re sleeping better, getting in some sauna time, eating cleaner, exercising and enjoying healthy leisure activities… You’ll find that the stress is much more manageable. Things like work, family and financial issues will always be around, but managing stress more effectively can be trained with regular good habits.
Nutrition can easily be an entire post all on its own. So to keep it short and sweet, we’ll add some quick guidelines here that will help you live longer & healthier.
- Plenty of water.
- Don’t drink your calories.
- Avoid processed oils and stick to cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil or grass-fed ghee.
- Avoid processed sugars
- No snacking (or reduce if needed with no sugar in snacks)
- Reduce refined grains (bread, pasta, rice, cereal etc.)
- Avoid processed meats
- Meat should be grass-fed, pasture-raised and generally of high quality. Research suggests that too much red can negatively affect longevity, so some days with no meat is a good idea.
- Don’t have too high a protein diet. Look up protein requirements for your weight and don’t exceed them. Too many works against longevity.
- Fatty fish is great – Salmon, mackerel, sardines etc
- Plenty of veggies and fruits to enjoy are avocado, blueberries, acai and lower sugar fruits where possible.
THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING CHECKLIST
Each point is ranked 1 – 10. Give yourself a total score and work to boost those numbers over the upcoming months/years. If you need a hand with anything, just ask.
- Nutrition overall
- Exercise routine (consistent, regular, effective)
- Stress level (10 is zero stress, 1 is really stressed)
- Water consumption
- Alcohol per week (10 is 0 p week)
- A sense of purpose/meaning
- Adaptability to change
- Enjoyable/fulfilling career
- Realistic/achievable goal setting
- Sense of gratitude
- Enough money (10 is financially stress-free)
- Overall sense of happiness
The total points are 150. Let us know how you went in the comments below, or feel free to message us privately if you’d like help getting these numbers up!
We covered a lot in this article, which makes sense when discussing such a broad topic. The most important thing is balance regarding general health and well-being. Too focused on your career and your health will suffer. Too focused on exercise, and you may take it too far, get injured or neglect nutrition and lifestyle choices.
We covered vital points to help you make better choices, discussing the circle of control to help you determine what to focus on and what to let go of. Going over training, nutrition and lifestyle strategies to help get you on top of your health and living better for decades longer!
Finally, we went over an at-home checklist we highly recommend you do so you can see where you’re currently at and track your progress soon. If things are improving, that’s great! If not, there may be just a few slight tweaks that’ll make all the difference.
We cover health and well-being in our initial health assessment with our clients. If you feel a little extra hand will be beneficial for you. We’re always just a call or message away. Heaps to take in. I hope you found this article helpful, and we look forward to seeing you in the next one.
Definition of well-being and factors that contribute to it
Definition of health and well-being
Cited publication on health benefits of exercise
Exercise and well-being correlated.
A publication outlining how much weekly exercise for adults, the benefits of exercise and
recommendations of what to do.
Benefits of HIIT over long-distance slow cardio for VO2 Max
More info on HIIT vs SIT training
Benefits and methods of using a sauna
Benefits of using cold exposure. Be aware of the mention that more research is needed for those
with metabolic syndrome
Importance of oily fish in diet
Snacking, especially after dinner, should be avoided, especially when the snack is sweet
Discussing that red meat is essential and nutrient-rich. However, it can cause issues when not
used correctly. To be taken in a balanced diet and fruits and vegetables to mitigate the potential
adverse effects of meat consumption.