If you’re as healthy as you think you are, you’re going to love this article.
Assessments confirm knowledge and action. We’re offering exactly that. A test that shows if you are as healthy as you think you are.
Two things are going to happen.
You’re going to find out your health is exactly where it should be.
Or some of you will learn a startling truth – your efforts have gone off-track. If not changed soon, you’ll be a part of those alarming health stats that appear in the news or in infographics.
Should that be the case, stick around. There’s help close by.
Why You Shouldn’t Believe Everything You Read
It’s painful to say, but in the U.S. of A., we have a problem. Even though our food labels are overseen by the Food and Drug Administration, the truth is not there.
I’m a huge proponent of choosing as many whole foods as possible. Items like meat, vegetables, nuts, seeds, butter – elements that don’t need a label. The processed foods in the grocery store – those foods require a label and for good reason.
Cereals and most breakfast products are bad for us. These and other foods are disguised as “healthy” with titles like whole grain, fortified with (fill in the blank), and high fiber.
Does that make you feel better knowing you’re eating foods with these descriptions?
Check the labels in your pantry and describe to me what is really in your food.
Man-made, synthetic and artificial ingredients abound. When consumers believe these food labels at face value, easier choices can be made and the large food companies profit.
To demonstrate this error in our ways, let’s pick on the Fiber One Protein Bar.
Sounds “healthy,” right?
After an Instagrammer had posted their photo of the bar, claiming it was their ketogenic meal replacement for the day, I did some research and pulled away disgusted and frustrated.
A label that calls itself a protein bar assumes the contents are mostly protein.
Makes sense, right? With a 32GB iPhone, I’d expect it to have close to 32 gigabytes of storage. In a Fiber One Protein Bar, guess how much is listed as protein?
Out of 140 calories total, the Fiber One Protein Bar has 6 grams of protein, which is 24 calories, or 17% of the calorie content.
Sugar is the second listed ingredient, but I guess calling it the Fiber One Sugar Bar didn’t test well in the focus groups. (Insert sarcastic sneer here)
Is it any wonder with this fraudulent labeling you aren’t as healthy as you think you are?
Breaking down the listed ingredients, here’s a quick run-down of more problems:
- Ingredients are listed in order of quantity – Sugar in the #2 spot (and it’s hiding under other names as we’ll discover).
- Rice flour – sounds healthy, but has a Glycemic Index at 95 which ties it with French Fries. Aren’t healthy foods supposed to push you away from foods that contribute to obesity and diabetes?
- Products containing soy are known to increase estrogen levels, decreasing testosterone which is needed to build muscle. Soy products are cheaper for food manufacturers to push off as healthy.
- Corn syrup – just another form of sugar with a Glycemix Index score of 115.
- Soybean oil – highly oxidative, but it’s OK – it’s cheap, right?
- Processed garbage abounds within the ingredients (vegetable glycerin, maltodextrin, artificial flavor, caramel color that causes cancer)
- Fructose, also known as fruit sugar, appears in its third reincarnation of sugar, justifying the Fiber One Protein Bar to be renamed the Fiber One Sugar Bar.
After dissecting this one “healthy” item, imagine the dangers that exist in the frozen foods, cookies, cereals, and pasta?
If your pantry and shopping list omit processed foods and disguised “healthy” foods, then give yourself one point for being as healthy as you think you are.
Why “Healthy” Is No Longer a Label, Just a Cliche
When you hear the word “healthy,” what comes to mind?
“Well, she looks healthy.”
“Our bagels are very healthy.
“Would you like a TV dinner from Stouffers, dear, or would you prefer a Healthy Choice dinner?”
One popular notion as featured in the U.S. News is that a “healthy” breakfast is a large breakfast consisting of 700 calories. Well, since a Cinnabon is 880 calories, I guess 3/4 of one would be OK, right? I mean it won’t totally destroy my pancreas, will it?
In time, it will do exactly that.
We use the term “healthy” to denote health, but let’s be real. We use it to justify our bad habits.
Thou shalt not use the word “healthy” in vain. But we do. We can’t define healthy because everyone has their definition to fit their world.
In that sense, “healthy” is one of the most overused hashtags of all time. (On Instagram, there are over 70 million posts using #healthy.)
If everything is so “healthy” for us to eat, why are 34% of U.S. adults obese? Not just overweight, but obese.
The next time someone tells you their food or activity are “healthy,” do this: ask them why or how. The back-pedaling will start immediately.
“Uh, it’s healthy because… it says so right here.” And they point to the label. So you ask them why it says that on the label.
“Well, it’s healthy because…” And then at this point, the stream of misguided lies come out quoting whole grains, all-natural, low-fat and the second most compromised phrase next to “healthy.”
“And it’s good for you.”
Subway, long considered a healthy fast food alternative, is not so good. Check out these ingredients and additives.
Subway’s slogan was/is “Eat Fresh.” What’s fresh about adding chemicals, sugars and soy to an all-natural piece of chicken breast just to fill it, sweeten it and increase estrogen levels with soy?
Gluten is an entirely different topic, but certainly not as healthy as you think it is. Gluten causes multiple autoimmune issues in our stomach. Over 25% of the population suffers from celiac disease or is pre-disposed to have it. Healthy? Hardly.
The following bullets should be mandatory definers of “healthy.”
- If it contains healthy saturated fat – check.
- If it contains anti-inflammatory whole food ingredients, like more omega- 3 fatty acids vs. omega-6 – check.
- If there are no processed foods used to make it – check.
- If it omits mention of low-fat or low-calorie anywhere – check.
- If it is free of gluten – check.
- If it contains no artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors – check.
- If it is preservative-free – check.
- If it contains low-glycemic-index ingredients, so insulin doesn’t spike – check.
- If it omits mention of being high in fiber – check.
This is by no means a comprehensive test of what’s “healthy,” but it is a good start. Here’s one last point you may have picked up by now – if it uses the word “healthy” anywhere on its packaging – place it back on the shelf.
If the foods you eat most fit the bullet pointed definition provided, then you get one point for being as healthy as you think you are.
This Well-Known Event Is Not As Healthy As You Think It Is…
Aside from “healthy,” there is another word that needs reining in – cardio.
Cardio is the poor man’s excuse for exercise. It signifies some measure of challenging work. It’s a badge of honor.
By its very nature, cardio is defined as exercise that increases your cardiovascular capacity. There are two types of exercise – anaerobic and aerobic. Aerobic requires oxygen in its performance effort while anaerobic does not. Seems simple enough.
Not so fast. Cardio is not as healthy as you think it is.
Lacing up the shoes and jumping on the treadmill appear to be a splendid idea. But the net result of long periods of cardio works against you.
Many well-intended individuals take up cardio as a method to lose or maintain weight loss. It becomes their primary go-to form of exercise. That’s when the wheels fall off.
To lose weight should not be the point, but to lose body fat. When you exert your body over long distances, pushing your heart rate beyond 75% of your max for long periods, your body runs out of glycogen (fuel in your body), and when it’s used to consuming carbs for fuel, it induces gluconeogenesis.
Big word, huh?
Gluconeogenesis is the body’s way of breaking down muscle to produce glucose. A lifetime of ingesting high carbohydrate foods has habituated your body into a systemic dependency that is not…healthy.
Two things will make you a healthier individual. Stop relying on carbohydrates for your energy source and use good sources of fat. Also, halt the cardio.
Need more proof cardio is no bueno?
Which would you rather be? The muscular sprinter on the left or the gaunt marathoner on the right?
Instead of engaging in cardio activity exclusively, your body requires your help to produce muscle. If you enjoy running, change it up. Speed it up.
Sprinting short distances at various intervals is a powerful muscle building activity that is evidenced in the athlete on the left. Sprinters require strong legs and upper body. Which means they engage in additional activities.
Like weight lifting.
Weight lifting is a bonafide method to build muscle, dependent on a proper diet of protein and fats. You simply start at a weight that you can achieve with good form, master it, max out and repeat the process.
Need more reasoning why cardio is secondary to your health? How about evidence to show cardio decreases your health?
Chronic activities like cardio break down your muscle, increase your stress and justify your appetite’s desires to splurge. There’s a reason why so many “cardio fans” stay the same weight. Their bodies depend on carbs, so when they are done exercising, they hit the carbs, their insulin spikes, the carbs convert to fat, and all of their well-intentioned efforts work against the goal.
They delude themselves into believing that the chocolate cake slice they’re eyeing is entirely ok because they ran three miles that morning.
Stop doing that to yourself.
My summarized advice to get as healthy as you think you should be – for real activity that benefits your weight loss/fat loss goals is to replace the cardio with sprinting (10 reps of 100 meters with 2-3 minutes rest in between) and weight lifting. Feed the body what it needs versus what you want.
Assuming you exercise, if your regimen does not include elongated chronic cardio sessions, you get one point for being as healthy as you think you are.
You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure – So Measure Appropriately
Did you know there’s a crime committed most mornings in your bathroom?
It’s the use of your scale.
The worst crime is not replacing the empty toilet paper roll, but I digress…
Tucked behind the toilet, the scale is your best friend one day and your worst nightmare the next.
The scale gets a bad rap, but it’s not the scale’s fault.
A scale is an object. It has no emotion, it just measures. It just is.
For proper usage:
- Weigh yourself nude first thing in the morning.
- Use one scale. Models differ in their measurement.
- Meals high in sodium or carbohydrates from the day before will cause water retention and fluctuation.
- The female reproductive cycle will also demonstrate fluctuations in weight.
- Certain medications will influence your readings.
REMINDER – the scale measures ONE THING – your weight. Your health is not wholly orbiting around what you weigh.
Other health markers you should include for a full perspective of your health and progress should include the following:
- Blood Pressure – can be measured at the nearest pharmacy or you can purchase a home cuff monitor for a reasonable amount. Ideal blood pressure is 120/80. Higher readings indicate a propensity for heart disease, stroke, and other complications.
- Triglycerides – a type of fat found in the blood that increases with elevated insulin levels in your veins. Triglycerides store unused calories in your fat cells. Normal levels are less than 150 mg/dL.
- HDL levels – these are the right components of cholesterol (high-density lipoproteins). You want more HDL than LDL. These “heroes” come from the consumption of saturated fats and protect against heart disease by cleansing the bloodstream of small, dense LDL’s. Aim for levels above 60 mg/dL.
- LDL levels (and particle size) – these are the bad guys. These low-density lipoproteins have a few cousins regarding their particle size. VLDL’s (very-low-density-lipoproteins) deliver triglycerides and cholesterol to target fat or muscle cells then change into a light, fluffy LDL’s or small dense LDL’s. The large, fluffy LDL’s are relatively harmless. The small, dense LDL’s – not so good. They lodge in the endothelial cell layer, sustain oxidative damage, trigger an autoimmune response and initiate heart attacks. All in all, you want LDL’s to hit as low a level as possible, and you want the least amount of small dense LDL particles.
- A1C – this test can diagnose diabetes by providing your average blood sugar level for the past few months. The higher the score, the higher your risk. You want a score of 5 percent or lower. At 6.5 percent or greater, this is an indicator you have diabetes.
- Heart Rate (Pulse) – the harder your heart has to work to transport blood throughout the body indicates your overall conditioning. A good resting heart rate should be around 50-90. As you track it, if you see changes that are increasing, investigate the reasons why. If your heart rate goes down, keep doing what you’re doing!
- Body Fat Percentage – this is a key marker in my book assuming you are in good health. An increase in weight could be an increase in muscle. The only pure way to tell is by measuring your body fat. This can be measured by an experienced fitness trainer using body-fat calipers or using a water-displacement method, using an egg-shaped device called a Bod Pod.
- Urine Microalbumin Level – for those with unhealthy kidneys, this test indicates how much protein is in the urine. It’s cheap and worth the test.
- C-Reactive Protein (CRP) – CRP is a protein that clears out dead and dying cells and bacteria. If levels are high in CRP, this indicates inflammation whether it be systemic, inflamed, infected, etc. Normal levels should be less than 10 mg/dL.
If you are using more than just your scale as a measurement of your health, then you have earned one point for being as healthy as you think you are.
Why Sleep Should Be “Ahhhhhhh” Versus “Zzzzzz”
As healthy as you think you might be, getting at least eight hours of sleep is critical to your health.
The world is fast-paced and demanding. You influence the demands the world places on you by how you respond.
Sleep is a mini-vacation from life that our bodies require. And just like on a real vacation when we are out and about, there are lots of things going on “back at home.”
As you sleep, this is the best time for the body’s digestive system to get a break so it can call on other body parts to repair and remove bodily wastes.
Muscle is torn in the gym, fed in the kitchen and made in bed. As you sleep, your muscle recovers and grows.
On the stress front, sleep is induced by the circadian rhythms of life. Wrapped around a 24-hour cycle, your body senses when it’s time to sleep and is further influenced by the release of melatonin levels as light is decreased.
If you are on your phone, in front of the TV or using any form of electrical stimulation, your melatonin levels will be reduced, and your sleep patterns will be erratic. Turn off these devices at least one hour before you go to bed.
When you sleep, your cortisol levels decrease.
The best way to sleep well and decrease cortisol is to avoid stress. If your job or surroundings are so stressful it interrupts your sleep, then those worries or job are quite literally killing you.
As healthy as you think you are, you still need to analyze your job, your friends, and your situation. If they are the root causes of your stress, make the necessary adjustments. Change jobs, change friends, consider therapy or find other resources to help you deal with your emotions and stress.
When your sleep and stress levels are off-kilter, you obviously know you aren’t as healthy as you think you are.
Give yourself one point if you get at least eight hours sleep and maintain a low-stress level during the day. (No half points – it is all or none.)
How Your Lifestyle Reveals All
Sooner or later it’s going to happen.
What you did yesterday, do today and act out tomorrow all impact how long before Death comes knocking on your door.
Oddly enough, people take actions as if this were a myth.
How many times has your health spiraled out of control? How many diets or approaches have you tried? Five, ten or fifteen? Be honest, how many times have you started a health initiative because you inherently knew something wasn’t right with your body?
And once you rounded the corner, you fell back into the same traps that brought you to your knees earlier, and you cycle through this “uh-oh, fix-it-fast, uh-oh” routine again and again.
This rollercoaster approach is fun at the amusement park, but our bodies deserve better. Pushing them to their brink on both ends of the spectrum is not how we were designed to live.
Why do people fail at weight loss? Because they don’t see it as a lifestyle. It has to be a relationship between you and your health. If you think it’s OK to cheat on your body, it will react. And that’s about the time the doctors get involved. That’s a for sure that you’re not as healthy as you think you are.
And that’s about the time the doctors get involved.
It’s time to tally up your points. Out of a possible 5 points…
- If you scored a 5, that is great! You are clearly on the right path towards a comprehensive outlook on your health.
- If you scored a 4, not too shabby.
- If you scored a 3 or lower, there is definite room to re-analyze what healthy is all about. Our free course is just the ticket!
As I’ve told the story before, my Grandfather died in 2000 from diabetes and heart disease. It is my mission and purpose to spread the message of good health, nutrition, and exercise to any who wants it.
I’m offering a free course to get you started down the path. There are no strings attached to this offer. Just some foundational information and the opportunity to regain your health.
Start today. We make it easy. Just click on the button below and join over 200 students who have taken advantage of this opportunity.
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