You’re a Whole Person; Treat Yourself Like It

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Love him, hate him, or be totally freaked out by him, Stephen King understands human psychology pretty damn well. You can’t ever do just one thing and be happy and whole. If all you live for is work, you’ll be stressed out and probably really unhappy. If you’re the parent who only ever does things for your kids, you’ll lose your identity and the ability to converse with other adults. If you deprive yourself of any part of life that you need, you hurt your whole self.

When it comes to health and fitness, it’s particularly true. So often I encounter people who think losing weight means just counting calories, just giving up some food group, or just doing a lot of cardio. None of these things is enough to become healthy or fit for the average person. You could cut yourself down to 1200 calories a day and drop weight very fast, but then you’ll likely find that you lack strength and energy for life. If you can’t get out of bed, what’s the point? Also, unless you’re a dude who eats a lot of junk food, cutting out one food group (like soda or snacks) you probably won’t see a difference by incorporating some form of deprivation. You could do 2 hours of cardio a day and never see a change if you don’t alter your diet as well. Honestly, doing that much cardio in itself isn’t even healthy, either. Overdoing any form of exercise can burn you out and risk injury, your body needs time to recover.

The human body needs a combination of nutrients and activities to be strong and healthy. Unless you have specific dietary requirements or allergies, you should be trying to get a good mix of proteins, grains, and vegetables in each meal. If you’re like me, you also need a little something sweet after particularly savory food. I like to keep dark chocolate minis of some form in the freezer, like Hershey’s Kisses. Just a couple of those (being dark chocolate, 2-3 is all I can eat because they’re so rich) are great. When they’re cold from the freezer, they also quell my craving for ice cream. Whatever combination you come up with, you have to also remember that you can’t completely remove sugars or fats from your diet. I know there’s a lot of buzz words and fad crazes that demonize fats and sugars but moderate amounts are needed to keep your system in balance. Just try to find healthy fats and sugars. Nuts, avocados, and fruits are the best sources. When you plan activities, combine cardio and weights. No one expects you to become a body builder, but your bones and especially your joints need the work to remain sturdy and strong.

If you find it necessary to cut something out for one reason or another, make sure to do it in a healthy way. Consult a physician or dietitian as necessary to make sure you aren’t sacrificing vital nutrients before drastically changing your diet. If hitting the gym isn’t your thing, find another activity that involves energy and strength like hiking, backpacking, carrying your kid through the zoo, etc. Just don’t lose focus of the big picture. You are the end result of millions of years of evolution with strength, flexibility, teeth for tearing, and teeth for grinding. All of these things are things you can lose if you stop using them and that erodes your whole.

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