Is Nutrition and Exercise Overhyped? Find OutLuke Coutinho
The more I consult in my field of integrative and lifestyle medicine, the clearer certain things become to me. When I started my career in nutrition and slowly moved into integrative and lifestyle medicine, what was once the most crucial vertical to me – nutrition, now only appears hyped and complicated. Don’t get me wrong. Nutrition is extremely important. It is essential for prevention and recovery because everything we eat either nourishes or hurts us.
What I mean is that yes, it is important, but nutrition is not everything. No matter how excellent your nutrition is, if you do not take the effort to balance it out with adequate movement, quality sleep, and emotional wellness, nutrition cannot and will not work alone.
Over the years I have consulted the wealthiest, the less privileged, and all of us in between. I am yet to see an outstanding difference between people who obsess over superfoods and fancy workouts versus those who eat simple meals and engage in adequate movement.
You may ask – Who do diseases and suffering affect the most? Let me tell you, definitely not those who have simple ways of living, eating, sleeping, and thinking.
Those living below the poverty line face starvation, deficiencies, poor quality food, and water. But truth be told, diseases are rampant and raging amongst those obsessed with their health, nutrition, and exercise.
Today after almost nine years of practice, I would like to attribute this difference to a happy and relaxed mind, life, and way of being. A happy life does not mean you will sail through without struggles, pain, hurt, betrayal, and so on. It is just that those people choose happiness and are aware of all that is going well for them despite the setbacks.
When I look at my favorite people living happily in their 80s and 90s, eating everything but respecting portions and mealtimes, some even enjoying a drink a day, a common trait among them is this. They have happy minds. They have a rock-solid mindset, a belief system with faith, and keep themselves busy.
I know people who eat white bread for life and have zero diabetes. Again I am not saying white bread is the best. But it is working for them because they have other aspects of their lifestyle in place. They have the fundamentals in place and have consistency and discipline.
Above all, they are happy, light-hearted, forgiving, and live life abundantly in all ways.
Out of the five pillars of integrative medicine – Cellular Nutrition, Adequate Exercise, Quality Sleep, Emotional Detox, and the Spirit (spirituality), I put emotional wellness, quality sleep, and spirit at the top, and then movement and nutrition. There is a good reason behind this.
I believe the physiological state of a human being is to be happy. And when we are not, we are not in the ideal state for our body to enjoy great health. This is why we feel healthy when happy and the opposite when negative emotions rule us.
Today, I see so many people obsessed with their health who are emotionally low, stressed, distressed, and unhappy. Their health journey is nothing short of a struggle. In the times that we live in, almost every party in metropolitan cities (India), most conversations begin with weight loss, fat gain, who has the best shrink and trainers on speed dial and end with them too.
You see, society shapes how we think. How we think becomes how we feel. How we feel influences how we behave. This behavior affects our experience of that day, week, month, and life.
I believe the pursuit of happiness is incorrect. A pursuit for meaning in life, however, brings happiness. It allows us to understand that even when we are sad or hurt, we can still find happiness in things and people that have meaning in our life. When we chase happiness, it can be elusive. And when we get it, we are happy, but when it leaves us, we feel sad.
I am of the firm belief that a happy mind results in great physical health. And even if we fall sick or we are sick, we can recover way faster when we focus on what is going well, rather than being focused on just what is not.
Look around and reflect. How many people have simple diets yet are super healthy and happy? Think about how many people eat complicated and fancy food with guilt, disgust, anger, and fear constantly chasing better health and weight?
We need to ask ourselves some straightforward and pertinent questions. Is it complication we need more or simplicity? Or does the solution lie in creating a happier outlook and mindset, paying attention, and adding consistency in good eating habits, adequate movement, quality sleep, and looking after our minds and hearts?
I believe THIS is the magic formula that is missing in most people’s lives. They think they will be happier when they lose weight, get fit, reverse diabetes, or put cancer in remission – they are wrong.
Choose to be happy NOW. Choose to find meaning NOW. Put in the effort and work you need to in the process and respect the fundamentals. Things will be easier and better. More doesn’t mean better, fancier and expensive doesn’t mean better, extremes don’t mean better. Never forget the human body has an intelligence of its own, designed to heal, prevent, repair, and grow. Give it the platform it needs to leverage this intelligence.
One thing that all of us know (even science backs it!) is that this intelligence is compromised when your body and mind are under chronic stress, distress, and unhappiness. Reflect on THIS.
Simplify your life, nutrition, sleep, and movement. Invest more time in finding and creating meaning, building memories, fulfilling connections and relationships. Empower yourself and others. Love, forgive and find a way to serve.
It may be difficult, but difficult doesn’t mean impossible.
Until then eat smart, move more, sleep right and breathe deep.
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