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HEALTHY fills the soul, not just the plate.

Health is more than what you eat and how you move your body.

It’s who and what surrounds you. What you make a priority. How you spend time.

It’s finding joy in the simple things, the controllable as I say, in this chaotic world.

It’s taking care of you first, so you can give more of yourself to those that need you.

They say you can’t fill from an empty cup.

Self-care is not all spa trips and candlelit bubble baths (though don't knock em until you try them). Self-care is taking the time to do the things that refuel you.

Maybe to you, that’s a game of chess, a homemade meal, or a pick-up basketball game.

This isn’t something new. This is something that is developing through time and research.

Appearing more and more, in magazines and podcasts, blog posts and YouTube vlogs.

A topic stemming from fitness community to first responders, and everything between.

A podcaster and fitness coach that inspires me, Ben Bergeron, who is constantly seeking betterment, speaks on life as a never-ending pursuit of excellence. The core of his belief is in five factors of health. The idea health extends past the walls of the gym and beyond what fills your plate.

In the words of Ben's co-host in the intro of their podcast "chasing excellence", the five factors of health “the way we eat, sleep, train, think, connect.”

This was a monumental shift in the world of health and something I've began to obsess over.

Who doesn't want to live a longer healthier life? First, Let's dive into HEALTH.

Health is defined by GOOGLE as, “a state of being free from illness or injury”.

Our friend Merrian-Webster, says “a condition of being sound in body, mind, and spirit”.

In the medical community, health is seen as your ability to take care of yourself.

To live outside of a hospital or controlled setting (assisted care facility).

A state of being free from illness and without being tethered to machines or medication.

This new approach highlights the factors of health as a whole-being assessment.

Take the great pyramids of Egypt, built almost 4,500 years ago to honor their Gods.

These creations were built to withstand eternity and everything nature could throw at them.

Why are they so resilient?

Well, I am no architect but growing up with an engineer in the family I learned so much.

The base level of any structure depends upon the foundation.

The foundation of my pyramid of health is not what most people would think.

I believe health is built on an even more sturdy foundation. That’s your MINDSET.

MINDSET, or the way we think is a set of beliefs one has about the world, and themselves.

It’s our internal radio station playing as we take in and process information.

It’s the glass we look through at the world, whether rose-colored or dark and stormy.

Our mindset can make us the hero or see the world as against us.

How does this attribute to health?

If you believe you are healthy and you want to become fitter or create better habits, then you will. If you feel you’re stuck because of the genetics of life’s lottery, you also likely will.

Surrounding yourself with those who lift you up and inspire you.

This an excellent way to improve your mindset and look at the world in a new way.

Fill your world with those who challenge and support you, this is your COMMUNITY.

While community is often referred to as those geographically surrounding you, or what you are born into -- I believe we chose it.

You chose whom you build your world around, much like with social media.

People in real life (IRL) can be friend-ed, un-friended, and blocked.

As the things you follow, and the pages you surf begin to show up more and more.

So do the things you give your time and attention too.

See, community is more than just your people, it’s the art of connecting and sharing likeness.

For instance, places frequently visited can make a community.

This can be found at churches, gym’s, eat spots, or even in the career that you belong to.

Whatever the setting it’s a place or a group that makes you feel like you belong.

And if you don’t have one, or don’t feel like you have that influence -- the right gym is one that has taught me much. CrossFit was built on community, and friends together on a ranch just testing their fitness limits.

Now, why is this important to your overall health?

Scientist Matthew Lieberman, argues we are as wired to connect as our need for water and food. History reveals times of tribes where people belonged to the group for survival.

While we live much more independently these days, we are constantly seeking connection.

Through our apps on our phones, social media, to joint workouts, and busy coffee shops.

There are unlimited ways to communicate with one another, even if the languages differ.

That is why surrounding yourself with those that feed your soul, and teach you is essential.

The next factor of health is SLEEP and ultimately recovery.

This is made possible by the first foundations, MINDSET and COMMUNITY.

When we plan our day, and our nights we can carve out a time to sleep.

Your body take a beating during the day. It needs time to rest, to turn off and re-charge.

Sleeping not only restores your body and energy levels but can vastly improve your mood.

According to the Sleep Foundation, developing a consistent sleep routine can resolve symptoms for a whole host of problems, from mental distress to cardiac health, and blood sugar regulation. Sleep theories suggest that the brain needs time (at least 7 hours) to re-group and re-structure to process the day and make new neural connections overnight.

Much like those shows on the home network that are oh-so popular, where organizers put everything into a box with a label, and in its place on the shelf, so does your brain.

Updating your brain through sleep (like tech updates) can help it to move faster, improve concentration and problem-solving ability naturally, unlike anything a supplement provides.

Research shows three simple tips for better sleep (easier said than done, I know).

  • Create a consistent sleep schedule, so your body can keep an internal alarm system.

Aim for 8 hours at night, and no matter what jocko says if you don't get to sleep 7-8 hours prior, don't wake up at 4 AM just to get the day started.

  • Create the best sleep set-up with the right temperature, lighting, and level of noise.

If you sleep better in the cool, run a fan. If you sleep best with white noise (as i do) play rain sounds or a sleep podcast, to help you fall asleep in peace.

  • Avoid stimulation before bed.

This can be found in caffeine, fitness and whatever gets your heart pumping a little extra.

Fitness will wear the body down, but right before bedtime can make it hard to wind down.

Everything we do is data. Our routines, habits, and deviations from those teach us what works and what does. A good way to track your sleep, is through a fitness band Whoop.

It’s a simple subscription, with a band worn on your wrist that tracks your sleep and your recovery score daily based on the previous day/nights heart rate and the variability.

It further calculates your heartrate while sleeping, your disturbances and creates a percentage from 0-100% on how well your body is prepared to take on the day.

This is vastly important to know how well your body is recovering to your health.

It helps to prioritize your sleep and assess the data in your habits over time.

The next, factor is widely recognized to be important but a part that is often left out.

HYDRATION and HEALTHY EATS. Note, hydration comes first.

Your body can survive 3 weeks without food, it can only endure three days without water.

Everybody knows water is key. The suggestion amount for the everyday jane or joe,

has increased overtime from 8 to 10 cups or 3-4 Hydroflasks, carried more often

Another recommendation is half of your bodyweight in ounces.

For instance, for a 150 lbs individual, that would be 75 ounces of water or 4-5 water bottles.

If you've seen athletes carrying gallon jugs of water around and wondered if you need that much, the answer is no you don't NEED it, but your body WANTS it and will benefit from more water consistently, and the benefits you will feel immediately.

Water overtime can improve your skin and slow the process of aging, the more water you drink the more your craving subsides, and it can also boost your athletic performance.

CBS reports, in an article by Pure for Planet (global mission) that 75% of American fall short of the suggested amount of water per day, leaving most in a chronic state of dehydration.

Kind Co. writes that while 2.1 billion people in the world still lack clean drinking water.

The solution is being combatted in a major way and is predicted to be solved in this lifetime.

Organizations have made it their mission to combat this problem as it is a matter of life and death, people cannot survive without water, and finding a way and will and WELL is key.

A few organizations deserve so much kudos for the good work they are doing – Planet Water Foundation, LifeStraw, Gravity Water, BoxedWater, and Generosity Water, to name a few.

Not to get too much into the nitty gritty, but water is essential for every part of your body to function. From regular bowel movements to optional muscle performance, and a clear head.

Failing to drink enough water causes dehydration (duh). De=opposite +hydrate= water.

This leads to weakened immunity, fatigue, headaches, confusion, and other lousy things.

While athletes deep dive nutrition, hydration is also a key. Now let’s dive into nutrition.

There are many different levels of healthy eats.

Professional athletes weigh and measuring everything they eat, tracking their macros and following a regimented diet. That is a because it is a part of their job, and the difference between first and second place can be small margins, and their bodies need to endure.

Nutrition is the gas that powers our body, and while there are so many substitutions due to dietary restrictions or the latest and greatest thing, the best course is also the simpler.

Speaking of simple, Ben Bergeron says this: Eat real food, not too much, mostly plants.

While there are people who live off meats (carnivores) and those who have completely eliminated any animal product from their everyday diet and products (vegans), the rest of us would benefit from (like Ben says) real foods. Now, what are real foods?

Real foods don't come from a box or package. Real foods to me mean, lean meats, fresh vegetables and fruits, eggs, 1 ingredient carbs sources (vegetables, potatoes, rice, oats).

If you're looking to start on a plan, without counting and weighing everything. Try 3-4 meals, with no snacks in between. Fill your meals with veggies and proteins, and herbs for flavor.

A personal favorite meal of mine, is cut up veggies and grilled or baked chicken.

One baked I like to chop up a portion and mix in a little sauce to put it all together for a stir fry type meal. If I need a little more than that, I like to add airfry'd potatoes (fries) or a small portion of rice to go with my veggies.

If you need a snack between chose fruit first. An apple a day and all that jazz.

Another quick low/no calorie snack, well drink is seltzers (black cherry is my favorite). Coffee and tea, too. Simply made without excess sugar. See a trend?

Sugar is a powerful drug my friend.

While I am not advocating for a life with no sugar and no fun, limiting it and making whole healthy foods your first pick will lead to a healthier longer life.

Diets are all about restriction, limiting this and timing that.

If that's for you, more later.The best nutrition is simple. It's a process of creating healthy habits that extend past your goal weight and vacation up and coming.

Science says (outside of health issues) the most reliable way to lose weight is to consume less calories than you burn.

Burning calories is not only what you see on the treadmill as you walk but in everyday movements, from washing dishes to walking up and down your stairs.

This leads into the last and final important factor, MOVING AND GROOVING.

For most, this is directly related to time spent in the gym.

How much you can lift and how fast you can run.

In the world of fitness those are important factors, but there are many more.

Thats why CrossFit is such a beautiful sport.

It is a combination of endurance and weightlifting, paired with gymnastics, barbell cycling, rope climbing, jump roping and metabolic conditioning.

Fitness has so many modalities and can extend beyond just a gym or court.

There truly is something for everyone.

There is rock-climbing, marathon running and even more than that there are swim-bike-run races (from sprint tris to iron mans), martial arts, dancing, yoga, jump roping, powerwalking, weight and powerlifting, golf and even ultimate frisbee.

Plus, a host of seasonal ventures, taking to the lake in the summer for swimming and kayaking and the snow-covered mountain in the winter, skiing + snowboarding.

While that data is important and those events all require varying levels of physical prowess and equipment, none of that matters if you're not functionally fit.

Functional fitness, a term popularized over the last couple years, is a type of strength training and exercise that supports everyday LIFE. It's not training for a competition but to kick ass into your nineties and chase your grandkids.

This allows you to take care of yourself and the everyday challenges life brings.

Functional moves are the squats, deadlifts, push and pulling, weighted carries and others you do every day. For instance, see these correlations to everyday life.

If you can't squat, you can't sit down and stand back up. This means you can't get out of your chair or worse the ability to sit on the toilet and get up without assist.

If you can't deadlift, you can't pick something up from the ground you dropped or reach down and pick up your kids and grandkids, especially as they grow.

If you can't push or pull, you can't get your luggage into the overhead compartment on a plane. You can't push or pull open a heavy door.

As an elite athlete, Ben Bergeron says you can only truly control five things.

“As an elite athlete, there are only five things that you can truly control -- your training, nutrition, sleep, recovery, and mindset. If it doesn't fall into one of those categories, I tell my athletes, forget about it. Control the things you can control and ignore everything else.”

This is great advice and in the chaos of life, this is true for everyone.

You can control your mindset and the lens you view the world, your community and those who influence you, your sleep and the time you allow for your body to recover, your hydration levels and healthy eats that allow you to create good habits and relationships with foods, and lastly how you move and groove your body, inside and outside of the gym.

Until next time, my friends. Keep your coffee hot and the choas of life at bay.

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