Back to Basics – Principles of Good Health and a Promise

It’s highly likely that you have more health concerns than just weight. The good news is that health is determined by healthy behaviors and not by weight. In fact, I find it common for individuals to engage in unhealty behaviors just to lose weight, which means they might have lost weight, but are none healthier for it. It’s actually better to maintain a higher weight than to weight cycle, otherwise known as yo-yo dieting caused by the restriction vs chaos diet cycle.

It’s easy to put the cart before the horse or to succumb to the seductive and alluring promises of a diet. However, I make you a promise – the same promise I make every guest each week – if you will be consistent with the basics, you will reach your health and wellness goals and your body will find it’s healthy weight.

What do I consider the basics?

  • From a food standpoint, I consider the principles of Nutrient Density vs Calorie Density all someone would really need to know in order to learn how to feel full and satisfied from their meals while making sure they are nourishing and energizing.

Move your body in a way you enjoy. The sweet spot for exercise seems to be about 20-40 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity most days of the week. If you would like to go longer or harder, just be sure to listen to your body and fuel it accordingly. And be sure it’s something sustainable, modified for your fitness level and, again, something you ENJOY.

  • Adequate sleep. The recommendation for adults is 7-9 hours a night. See this blogpost for more information.
  • Stress reduction and management. When we are physically and emotionally stressed, we secrete excess cortisol which can reak havoc on our body systems. In fact, metabolism turns off in a state of stress while relaxation turns it on. When we are stressed we are in fight or flight, so our only goal is to outrun our stresser and the last objective would be proper digestion, repairing tissues and cells or making hormones, enzymes or neurotransmitters. We conserve energy for fighting or running, not for keeping ourselves healthy and strong. Practicing mindfulness, meditation, setting boundaries, saying “no”, making time for rest and relaxation, planning ahead, etc…can all be effective stress management techniques. Also, if we are less emotionally exhausted, we will be less likely to emotionally eat.
  • Do not say mean things to yourself about yourself. Negative self-talk is destructive. When you catch yourself being unkind, try to change your talk to a more compassionate self-speak. Learn how to be your own supporter and friend rather than your own worst enemy. Words are powerful; take care to give yourself power rather than take it away.

There could probably be others added to this list, and I would encourage you to personalize it for your goals and lifestyle. However, I stand by this list and repeat my promise – these basics are all you need in order to successful. While it will definitely take work and effort, and it won’t happen overnight, (and it may be helpful to take each one at a time rather than work on all of them at once) don’t overcomplicate it or worry about it being too basic or simple. There is power in plain and simple…use it for your benefit!

Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD