The Perfect Balance

Here’s to your health!

We commonly toast and hope for health for ourselves, family and friends, yet what does health mean and how do you get it in your life?

The word health is defined in Webster’s as, “The state of being hale, sound, or whole, in body, mind, or soul; especially, the state of being free from physical disease or pain.” (FYI, the word “hale” means “strong and healthy,” in case you’re not familiar with that term.)

And while it’s clearly essential for life, few JYM Army members actually look to me for improving their health. Most come to me for RESULTS in muscle mass, strength, fat loss, speed, etc. Yet what’s nice is that by following my advice, they not only get the RESULTS they were looking for, but also the fringe benefit of HEALTH.

No matter what your goals are when it comes to fitness, letting the “health” just happen isn’t good enough. It’s certainly possible to look healthy on the outside yet not actually be healthy on the inside. And while following my training, nutrition and supplement programs will enhance your health, the sooner you start taking full control of your own health, the better.

Research shows that the younger you are when you adopt a healthy diet, the better your health will be later in life, and that some damage from unhealthy eating early in life can’t be undone by adopting a healthy diet later on. In one study, young animals who were fed a “healthy” diet providing all the micronutrients and macronutrients needed, then switched to an “unhealthy” diet later in life, had significantly better health and lived longer than animals fed an unhealthy diet early in life and then switched to a healthy diet later on.

The take-home message is to take your health serious as soon as possible. Even if you can’t undo some of the damage done early in life, the sooner you catch up, the better for your overall health and well being.

I have my own version of the definition of HEALTH, which is: “The state of being hale, sound, or whole, in body, mind, and soul; especially, the state of having balance in life and being free from physical disease or pain.”

My definition is very similar to Webster’s, but I add the importance of having BALANCE in all areas of life. That means, don’t focus on just looking healthy on the outside; also strive to be truly healthy on the inside. Don’t just work on improving your body; work on improving your mind as well. Don’t focus only on your career; focus on enjoying life. Balance means not following a strict diet plan all the time, but fitting in the fun foods you crave.

Without balance, no matter how healthy you feel you are, you won’t have true health and true happiness. In fact, this concept means so much to me that my entire tattoo body suit represents balance.

The left side of my body suit is the FIRE and WIND side; the Japanese kanji on the left side of my neck represent FIRE and WIND.

The right side of my body is the WATER and EARTH side, and the the kanji on the right side of my neck represent WATER and EARTH.

The kanji on the back on my neck represents SKY, as do the clouds on my neck and head.

FIRE, WIND, WATER, EARTH and SKY are the five elements of Japanese philosophy, which together also represent BALANCE.

To go a step further, the majority of my tattoos are dragons. I have nine dragons total. In Kung Fu, the dragon is a culmination of all the animals. It isn’t the best at any one quality, like each of the other individual animals; rather, it’s a “jack of all trades” with a balance of all the animals’ qualities. The dragon represents BALANCE.

So how do I achieve balance? Well, for starters, it’s hard to measure balance or know if you’ve achieved it perfectly. The real goal you should have in mind is to be cognizant or mindful of trying to keep balance.

And how do I attempt to keep balance? By making sure to enjoy every day possible. The day I’m writing this, I’m in the Rain Forest in Guatemala. Seeing the Mayan ruins of Tikal was an awe-inspiring moment I will never forget. In fact, research concludes that having awe-inspiring moments like this is good for our health. It makes sense when you consider the saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Laughter and awe-inspiring moments are potent stress relievers.

Stress relievers like laughter, awe, thrill, exercise and meditation free our brain from the worry of the many stresses most of us have in life. And they work directly to prevent the damage that these stresses impose on our bodies. From a mechanistic point, it’s stress that makes us unhealthy – stress from toxins in the environment and food, stress from microorganisms like bacteria and viruses, stress from worry and the demands of life.

These stresses attack such body systems as the immune system, nervous system, cardiovascular system and metabolic system. And daily attacks over time build up and result in metabolic disorders, immune problems, cardiovascular health issues, cold and flu, and general degeneration of the entire body.

Unfortutely, going to the gym once a day, a few days a week, or even many days each week, is not enough to reach true health. Exercise is our cheapest, easiest, and most direct way to relieve stress, but one workout a day won’t cut it. My 30/60 Rule  ensures that you move for 60 seconds after every 30 minutes of inactivity (ie, sitting at your desk or on your couch).

Research has shown that sitting sedentary, like at your desk or on the couch, for periods of 30 minutes or longer shuts down genes that keep fat-burning and metabolic rate up, while simultaneously turning on genes that increase fat storage and lull metabolism. Here, the stress is being sedentary. While exercise is a stress on the body that actually relieves stress when done properly, being sedentary is a stress that hinders our health when we do it chronically and adapt to it, resulting in metabolic disorders like type II diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and other inflammatory disorders, as well as a faster rate of senility and greater rate of depression.

So no matter your situation, you can always work on seeking balance. One workout a day is great, but adopt my 30/60 Rule, or exercise periodically throughout your day. Meditate, do yoga, practice martial arts, travel, visit a museum, volunteer… and DO EPIC SHIT!

It’s your life. You can choose to go about it any way you want. If you want some advice from someone who’s been around a long time and studied many body systems in the lab and the real world, I recommend seeking balance. When you go forward with that in mind, things seem to work out for the best.

Always think BIG! #JYMLife