Just in case it isn’t obvious, the primary focus of The Lifetime Body is to Make Your Body Last a Lifetime. Keeping your body functioning at optimal levels of health and fitness through the lifespan allows for maximum quality, enjoyment, and productivity in all areas of life. It’s about more than just the physical body, but the being, the mind, and the spirit. The body serves as the vessel in which we take this journey called life and we need it to work all the way to the end. At TLB, I’ve developed a system of health enhancement based on the 5 key components of wellness: Activity, Food, Sleep, Ergonomics, and Lifestyle. These are interrelated and inseparable factors that all work together to create a lifetime body.
One of the major things that happens when we dial in those 5 components is the normalization of body composition. I’ve described this as “instinctive metabolic management through hormonal balancing”. True to the words of a friend in marketing, those words get exactly 0 hits. As he suggests, most people want to LOSE WEIGHT, and the term Weight Loss is really what attracts attention.
I tend to be a little sensitive about overemphasizing weight loss as a goal, preferring instead to focus on improving health. Not only is this a more holistic approach, it has a much more positive effect on self-esteem and intrinsic motivation. In reality, our bodies are programmed to self-regulate and achieve ideal weight if we simply get those 5 wellness components working for us. While we each have specific genetics and body types, we are engineered as a species to have bodyfat levels that are in a relatively low range. Unfortunately, our society’s powerful influences of sedentary roles, chronic stress levels, and processed foods can counteract this genetic drive.
Being more active in each day will keep the metabolism idling, not stalling. While there is a place for more vigorous exercise in health and fitness (“revving” the metabolism), working out may not be as effective for weight loss as simply moving more. There are many populations around the world that essentially do no specific exercise, but they are highly active, and enjoy relative leanness and high longevity.
Eating fresh, whole foods, whenever possible, and avoiding highly processed/refined products is perhaps the single best nutritional approach for weight loss. De-emphasize calories and instead focus on nutrient density. There is no one magical dietary plan for everyone, and individual preferences can be indulged. We need to get back to dining and nourishing as opposed to just feeding in a behavioral manner.
Getting high-quality sleep in adequate amounts is not only essential for health, but actually helps with weight loss by improving insulin sensitivity, and controlling production of the stress hormone, cortisol. Good sleep increases our human growth hormone and testosterone production (essential for both genders) and helps to repair/rebuild our bodies. And sleep can also make us smarter and happier (yes, research supports this).
Using the proper ergonomics (workstation setup and behavior) can eradicate the often negative effects of working at our jobs and hobbies. By using ideal posture, body mechanics, and organization, coupled with decreased stasis and more frequent movement, we can prevent the body from experiencing stiffness, inflammation, and enhanced fat storage.
Making our lifestyle one that fits our personalities, sleep rhythms, and other individual needs minimizes stress and allows us to truly be more mindful, living in the moment. The optimized lifestyle allows us to not only be our best within ourselves, but with and for everyone and everything else. Our contribution to the world is greatest when our lifestyle is working. A low-stress (just the right amount) lifestyle makes us most effective and also keeps us burning, not storing fat.
In summary, weight loss is not the only thing we should be looking at when we are taking care of ourselves (and it is our personal responsibility). It is a natural by-product of the 5 aforementioned components and with some creativity, ideal body composition is achievable for all of us.