9 Secrets to Balancing Life with Health, Wealth and Happiness
by James Anderson
Posted: September 18, 2015
Our fitness and personal training expert James Anderson weighs in on the “secret” ingredients to living a happy, healthy and ultimately fulfilling life by focusing on nutrition, de-stressing, correct hydration and asking the right questions.
Attainment is often used as one of life’s success indicators as it satisfies one of our basic human needs - the feeling of growth - a sense that we’re making progress in our lives.
However, of the many things that we try to “gain” in life, health often gets pushed to the back of the queue in order to make room for the things that we think matter most. I could go on about how important good health is in the overall scheme of life but I’ll leave it up to the wise words of the Dalai Lama who summed it up wonderfully.
“Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
Although I agree with His Holiness in that finding happiness and fulfilment in your life doesn’t necessarily require wealth, I also live in a world in which it certainly helps. It just comes down to what we’re willing to sacrifice in order to attain that wealth that’s really going to matter over the course of your life.
Because many of us haven’t yet realised that true wealth is good health. After all, how fun is being a millionaire if you’re too tired, sick and unhealthy to enjoy it?
Having been a trainer and health coach for over a decade I have found that more and more people are simply overwhelmed by the constant bombardment of often terrible information from marketers vying for their attention that they’re just left confused about what it is to be truly healthy.
These are the same people that are overworked, tired, stressed and undernourished, with the thought of finding a “work-life balance” now just a distant memory. In fact, considering our iPhones now have the capability to keep us connected to every facet of our lives at the touch of a button means that it’s no longer a case of finding balance between each segment of our lives; the challenge is now how we can find a “balanced integration” between them.
This is becoming one of life’s toughest balancing acts, finding the right equation to ensure we’re attaining, or at least maintaining our health, wealth and happiness.
So, what should we do?
Well, let’s first start with health – as in my humble opinion, healthier habits will always create happier lives. Not to mention the flow on effect from being physically and mentally healthy provides a fantastic platform to improve every other area of your life, financial wealth being one of them.
I’d like to offer a few simple pieces of advice to help ensure that you’re building a solid foundation for a healthier, wealthier, and happier future.
Having a healthy mindset is one of the keys to living a happy, healthy life. It’s of paramount importance that you value and protect your mind and what goes into it on a daily basis.
Are you learning and developing your mind or just watching mindless TV?
I suggest you find something you’re passionate about and begin studying it. As we learn new information we build new neural pathways – helping your brain grow and develop.
What are you focused on?
It’s important that you set goals that focus your attention on what you want rather than being focused on what you don’t want. After all, as the saying goes - “seek and you shall find”.
Are you asking yourself the right questions? Every day you’re asking and answering your own questions – often times without even knowing you’re doing it.
It’s paramount that you catch yourself asking poorly framed questions and begin to ask yourself quality ones. Because the quality of your mindset will generally be determined by the quality of the questions you’re asking yourself.
For example, a poor question is “Why can I never lose weight?" Whereas a quality question might be “What can I focus on this time to ensure I stick with my weight loss”?
This is also known as "You Time". Don’t think breathing is important? Try holding your breath for the next two minutes then answer the question. So then, why is it that most of us go through life getting it so wrong?
The answer is simple - stress. In a stressed state, we tend to shorten our breath which increases our heart rate, blood pressure, and the bodies stress hormone, cortisol.
But if you’re not one for yoga, Tai Chi or meditation, then one of my biggest tips is to just take (or make) some “You Time” in your schedule. I suggest starting with just 20 minutes daily without any distractions to just sit in nature (without technology) and chill out, relax, clear your mind, reset, restore, replenish and reset your breathing again with a focus on longer, deeper and more relaxed breaths.
Let’s just say that in this day in age, our bodies have enough fat on them to last at least a few weeks. Water, however, is a different story – you’ve only got about 3 days before things start going really badly for you.
The reason being that water serves a number of essential functions to keep our bodies moving optimally, such as:
- A vital nutrition to every cell in the body.
- Regulates body temperature.
- Helps support protein and carbohydrate metabolism.
- Aids in detoxification by flushing waste from the body.
- Helps you perform better - your muscles are 75% water.
My tip for hydration is a simple equation. Drink 3% of your bodyweight in litres of water per day. For example, a 60kg individual would be 0.03% x 60kg = 1.8 litres. I also like to add 250ml for every hour of training or coffee as those both dehydrate you. You’ll notice a huge improvement in performance and cognitive ability if you’re adequately hydrated.
Nutrition comes just below hydration in importance when it comes to life or death. However, if you truly want to thrive in life, then I suggest that you get you clean up your nutrition (for example, detox cleansing works a treat).
Although I have never been one for quick fixes or fads, I do enjoy the finer things in life such as chocolate and red wine, but I also practice a little thing called ‘moderation’. Moderation is a term that’s not practised nearly enough when it comes to our health, with the “all-or-nothing” approach the clearly valued choice.
I believe that a healthy relationship with food works best when you practice the “80/20 rule”.
- 80% of the time you should eat whole foods that are as unprocessed, natural and as higher quality as you can afford.
- Then, 20% of the time you can enjoy those “naughtier” treats as any negative effects will generally be absorbed by the quality foods and you also won’t feel like you’re missing out.
But, there are 2 key rules.
Make sure it’s 80/20 not 50/50, or worse 20/80.
Don’t feel guilty about eating the 20%. It’s simply about taking responsibility for your actions.
Most people think that they have to exercise vigorously to be healthy, but that’s simply not the case. Yoga, Tai Chi, walking or just gentle stretching are fantastic ways in which you can move the body to improve how your body functions.
You see, movement is life – if you’re not moving the body, then you’ll start to stagnate.
It doesn’t matter what you’re doing really, it just matters that you’re trying to improve each week. Consistency is the key to ensuring that health is attained over the course of your life, and having an active lifestyle will most certainly help ensure you live more optimally.
The style in which you live your life is entirely up to you. How do you want to spend your mornings, lunchtimes, evenings and weekends? If you haven’t already realised, your life is your responsibility.
The decisions you make as to what you do on a daily basis, how you spend your time, what you eat, how you sleep, and who you spend your time with will determine the quality of your life.
Burning the candle at both ends only works for so long before your body starts to shake and shudder like an old car in desperate need for a service.
At the end of the day, your health is your responsibility
You need to realise that you’ve only got one body in this wonderful thing that we call “life”, so it’s important that you start taking responsibility to ensure you get enough sleep, to think better, to eat healthier, to move better and to focus on the things in your life that will continue to improve your life.
Don’t get to the end of your life only to realise that you were too focused on being rich, than enriching your life with health and happiness.
Want some tips on how to achieve a better work-life balance? Read Open Colleges Careers 8 steps to a better work-life balance here. Think you'd make a great personal trainer? Search Fitness careers.