Being healthy can seem like a minefield these days. We are continuously bombarded with conflicting advice in the media and all over the internet. I’m sure you have heard lots of different stories and may be as confused as I am sometimes. Should we eat carbs? What are good fats and bad fats? Should we do cardio, HIIT or weight training?
Where do we start??!!!
The 3 aspects of health – The Trilogy
It really doesn’t need to be this way, being healthy can be far easier and less complicated than it often comes across. This is what I aim to help people with, just simply being healthier without the complications. To feel truly healthy we need to think about 3 areas, this is what I call The Trilogy of Health.
Nutrition, Body and Mind – hence the name of this website! Let’s break it down.
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What exactly is nutrition? Well it can’t be more simply put than the official definition in the dictionary, which is;
“The process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth.”
That’s it, nothing over complicated there. But what is good nutrition? This is where the confusion starts. There are so many diets, fads, supplements and theories out there, especially online. It can be a bit of a head screw! So, we just need to go back to basics. Let us start by dispelling a few myths.
“Carbs are the devil, avoid eating them” – No!
This is just stupid. Carbohydrates are an essential part of your nutrition and are the fuel for your body. Should you be conscious of when you eat them? Yes. Eat less on days when you are less active.
“All carbs are the same” or “carbs are carbs” – Nope!
There are different types of carbs, the main three are sugars, starches and fibre. All of which have different effects on your body. There are also Oligosaccharides, but I can’t even say that word so we will just forget about them for now.
“Cutting carbs out will make me lose weight” – Hhmm nope, not exactly!
So, if you cut out all carbs and don't replace the foods you are not eating, you are basically cutting calories, and if you go into a calorie deficit (eat less than you burn) you will lose weight. That is the reason for weight or fat loss, not because you cut out carbs per say.
“Eating fat makes you fat” – Wrong.
Eating too many calories and not burning enough makes you gain fat.
“All fat is bad for you” – definitely not.
They all have the same energy/calorie value, which is 9 kcal per gram so they do all have the same effect on your weight/body fat yes. However, Saturated fats and Trans fats are bad, unsaturated fats (poly and mono) are the good guys. These have an effect on your cholesterol levels and chances of getting heart disease. I will cover these in a separate article.
“We should be on a no-fat diet”- absolutely not.
Good fats are good for you, don’t miss them out. The Mediterranean style “diet”, (I don’t like the word diet as it gets misused, so let’s say way of eating. The Mediterranean way of eating includes a lot of good fats and they have some of the healthiest hearts in the world. Olive oil, seeds and nuts and oily fish are all great for you. We should however be aware of what fats are good and bad, and what we are eating.
Miracle product myths
Weight loss teas and coffees – Utter rubbish! I’m not even bothering with that one.
Aloe Vera Gel Diets – Really?!!
The diet plan that comes along with this gel does make you lose weight, but this is because it restricts you to what can be a stupidly low-calorie intake. It has nothing to do with the fact you are drinking that gunky rubbish, or popping their pills or whatever crap they give you! For the first three days you don’t even eat real food, and after day 3 you are allowed a 600-calorie meal. No friggin wonder you lose weight! It comes back to the calorie deficit again.
“We all need to be drinking protein shakes” – No.
Protein shakes and some protein supplements are handy for boosting your intake in a convenient way, I use them sometimes and unlike many other supplements they do help and work. But you can, and it is preferable where possible, to get all your protein requirements through a balanced diet of real foods.
How do we get a balanced diet?
Balancing a diet can be a little confusing with all the news we hear and read. There is always a new article or news story telling us this is good, and this is bad. No wonder we get in a pickle.
Yes, new research is happening all the time and showing different results, it doesn’t mean we have to take them as gospel and included every single one in our dietary habits. Let’s just stick to the proven facts and keep it simple.
Public Health England in association with the Welsh government, Food Standards Scotland and the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland, put together the Eatwell Guide. You will see this in the image bellow. It is a simple info-graphic of a plate showing food types divided into 5 main food groups and showing how many portions of each group we should be aiming to eat.
If you just try to follow this and make meals with real foods and not nuggets and oven chips, you will be on the right track. I’m not saying don’t ever eat nuggets and chips, most things are fine occasionally. But if you have them every week you are going to run into trouble!
Obviously there are circumstances where a little more attention to detail is needed, such as meal plans and calorie control. But if you follow the Eatwell guide you won’t go too wrong in terms of getting the correct nutrients and balance of food groups.
Ok so the body part is us our physical selves, and refers to what we all know as exercise. But exercise doesn’t have to be a swear word. If you don’t like the gym or running for example, don’t do it! There are so many other options to get you moving.
Moving being the operative word. That’s all we need to do, MOVE! Humans used to have to hunt for food, build our shelters and walk to find water. What do they all have in common? They all burn energy!
In the modern world everything is done for us, and we just don’t move as much as we should. So, the word exercise was invented and lots of different forms of movement were created to get us moving.
What counts? Anything that gets us moving more counts!
Gym and sports can often be the fastest way to improve our fitness for many reasons. Gym plans give you focus and guidance, and team sports give you a support network and great encouragement. But if you are not ready for this or simply don’t enjoy them, there are so many other options.
We can add direct and intentional activities to our daily lives in place of “exercise”, such as playing with our children in the park (nephews in my case), or taking the dog for a longer walk. You can look for local groups (try Gumtree.com) that meet up for walks or beginners jogging for example. It’s also a great way to meet new people that may be in a similar situation to you.
We can also add lots of little changes to our daily lives that soon mount up and make a big difference. These can be things like taking the stairs instead of the lift, or getting off the bus a couple of stops early and walking to work.
You can also work out at home. There are many different ways to do this without having to spend lots of money on equipment.
Recommended activity levels
These are the official levels of activity recommended for adults ages 19 to 64.
At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or brisk walking every week, and some form of strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity such as running or a game of singles tennis every week and strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
Like I say, there are ways you can do all of this without going to a gym if you really don’t want to, so don’t panic!
Our mental well-being is often overlooked but is so important in our overall health and fitness. We need to start treating our mental health with a little more respect and think of it as part of our regime.
The words “mental well-being” or “mental health” often make people think of illnesses like depression or bipolar. Now these are serious issues, but I am not just talking about these so don’t think “this doesn’t apply to me!”. Everybody can feel low and be a little anxious about things in life. This is our mental well-being, and we can do things to help it along.
It’s not just mental, its physical!
We all know that our mental state affects our moods, that’s obvious. But it also has a direct impact on our physical state too. For example, stress causes a rise in a hormone called cortisol, which can in turn raise our levels of insulin and cause our blood sugar levels to drop. This then gives us cravings for sugary, fatty foods. Comfort eating is not just an emotional state, it’s a physical reaction. If we are not right mentally and emotionally, we are less likely to follow our plans to eat well and exercise.
How do we look after our mental well-being?
It doesn’t have to mean meditation or counselling for us all don’t worry. Simply spending 5 or 10 minutes a day sitting in silence and taking a deep breath, works a wonder to control stress levels and anxieties.
For others it may be running or jogging that puts you in the zone and clears your head. There are also things we can cut down on that can contribute to anxiety, such as caffeine. Most importantly we just need to start noticing our mental state, and doing something to address any problems we may have.
Balancing the Trilogy
We have looked at the 3 aspects of health and fitness, the Trilogy of Health. The sooner we all treat these areas of our lives together and not as separate issues, the better we will all feel.
The aim is to get them in a state of balance. That sounds a little bit airy fairy but its not supposed to. It simply means that if one or more of these areas are not being attended to, it can have a massive affect on the others.
For example, if you eat fast food and microwave meals every day, it doesn’t matter how hard you train, you are not going to be healthy.
If you eat healthy food but sit at a desk all day and then go home to sit on the sofa all evening, you will put on weight and will not be healthy.
Both of the above can cause anxiety and mental well-being problems eg: you will not be happy, so you will not be completely healthy.
If you are stressed, depressed or have anxieties, you will not be in the mood to eat well or exercise so again, you will not be healthy or happy!
Where do we start?
This is where we can all get lost and end up taking the wrong advice, or just putting too much pressure on ourselves.
How many of us have started a new diet and given in to cravings after a while? I have!
How many people start a new 60 or 90 day fitness plan or detox, only to get a week or two in and fall off the wagon so give up? I am one of those people!
Some people have a lot of self-discipline and enjoy a more intensive plan, but that doesn’t work for all of us. We need to take the pressure off and just get into good habits that make us feel better, with a bit of guidance the rest will follow.
Trilogy 10 plan – feel better in 10 days for FREE!
I have put together a very simple 10 day plan for you to follow. It is designed to do just one thing – to make you feel better. That’s it!
No gym unless you want to do so, just a minimum of a walk a day.
No fancy meal plans to follow, just simple nutritional advice. I will also throw in a book of recipes for you to try if you wish to.
No calorie counting.
Just a few easy rules to follow with a list of things you need to avoid for 10 days, and a list of things to do.
What do you get out of it? You will feel better physically, have more energy and it is so easy to do you will get the satisfaction of actually finishing it!
This gives you a great base and sets you up to continue with your journey of improving your health.
Feel free to repeat! You can use this plan as many times as you need to, I do. If I get off track with my eating and fitness, which is usually due to working away or just a busy life getting in the way, I just go back to this plan. Then after a few days, that’s me back on track!
Simply enter your details below to receive your free Trilogy 10 plan and kick-start your health in just 10 days.