A friend of mine introduced me to an awesome visual that is used as an incentive to be the best version of yourself. It is a diagram that allows you to see where your health falls on the spectrum and why it is so important to sustain good health. So before I get into the diagram, I want you to write down the 3 most important things that you live for. Whether it is your kids, parents, career, sport, whatever. Now, draw the spectrum above those 3 things. Label the spectrum like the picture above.
The Spectrum:On the left side “Illness”- Illness is the lowest point on the spectrum where none of us want to be. At a state of illness, we are incapable of living a normal life. According to dictionary.com illness is “Poor health resulting from disease of body or mind; sickness.” Once we reach this point in life, it is hard to recover.
Then in the middle of the spectrum we have “Wellness”- Wellness is the active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. “…a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” – The World Health Organization. This is the middle ground between illness and fitness. You are making the effort to be “healthy” but may not be at your full potential.
On the opposing end of the spectrum lies “Fitness”-Most people associate fitness with just exercise. In biological terms, “being fit” means “being able to provide for one’s own life and wellbeing; the fittest are those who can do so the best.” Being fit in terms of overall health means being at your full potential or as I always say, being the best version of yourself.
So what is the point of all of this? Many people spend their lives somewhere between “illness” and “wellness”. They get by in life by making some health conscious decisions. They experience the common colds and may have a few health risk factors. Maybe they are overweight or pre-diabetic. Maybe they are what people call “skinny fat” don’t exercise, eat decently but are still at a healthy weight. When you are halfway between illness and wellness you have a short distance to get to illness. Point being, the further away from illness you are on the spectrum, the longer and better-quality life you will live.
The closer to “fitness” you are, the longer the road to sickness will be. For example, if you get the common cold and you are “fit”, chances are your immune system will recover much faster than someone who is somewhat healthy.
Now take a look at the 3 most important things in your life that you wrote down. Guess what, none of those things exist if you don’t have your health. If you want to be around for those people you love, you have to have your health. Not only does the quality of life increase as you move your way through the spectrum towards fitness, but the length of your life increases too. Think about it this way, if you are fit, you will need to be hit with a lot of rocks before you get knocked down because your body can handle it. Incentive to be fit? Id say so! Let us take a look at some of the main aspects that affect our placement on the spectrum and let’s find out where we are now!
Body Composition: It is important to maintain a level of body fat that is neither too low nor too high. Mark an “X” between Illness and Wellness if you have a body fat percentage below 5% for men and 12% for women, or above 20% for men and 30% for women.
Mark an “X” between Wellness and Fitness if you do not meet the previous criteria.
Cardiorespiratory Endurance: Cardiorespiratory endurance is the ability of the body’s circulatory and respiratory systems to supply fuel during physical activity.
Mark an “X” between Illness and Wellness if you do less than 30 minutes of cardio three times a week.
Mark an “X” between Wellness and Fitness if you do cardio 3-5 days a week for at least 30 minutes.
Mark an “X” at Fitness if you do 60 minutes of cardio 5 or more days a week.
Flexibility: Flexibility is the range of motion around a joint. Good flexibility helps protect your muscles and joints from injury in everyday life.
Mark an “X” between Illness and Wellness if you stretch less than 3 times a week for 10 minutes.
Mark an “X” between Wellness and Fitness if you stretch at least 5 days a week for 10 minutes.
Mark an “X” if you stretch for at least 10 minutes every day.
Muscular Strength: Muscular strength is the ability of the muscles to exert force during an activity. Lifting weights help reduce the risk of osteoporosis along with other joint and muscular diseases.
Mark an “X” between Illness and Wellness if you lift weights less than 1 day a week for 30 minutes.
Mark an “X” at between Wellness and Fitness if you lift weights 3 days a week for 30 minutes.
Mark an “X” at Fitness if you lift weights 3-5 days a week for 30 minutes.
Stress: The body can’t tell the difference between physical and psychological stress. When you’re stressed over a busy schedule, money, work or just everyday life, your body reacts just as strongly as if you were facing a life-or-death situation. The more your body’s stress system is activated, the harder it is to shut off. Long-term exposure to stress can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process. Long-term stress can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety and depression. (Mayoclinic.com)
Based on a scale of 1-10, 10 being extremely stressful, what would you rate your daily stress level?
Mark an “X” between Illness and Wellness if your stress level is between 7 and 10.
Mark an “X” between Wellness and Fitness if it is 6 or less.
Sleep: In order to get sufficient night’s sleep we need at least 6 hours. Not getting enough sleep increases our risk for many diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. It also decreased the immune system so you are more likely to get sick. During sleep, our bodies secrete hormones that help to control appetite, energy metabolism, and glucose processing. Getting less than 6 hours of sleep disrupts the balance of these and other hormones. Not getting enough sleep is also associated with increases in the secretion of insulin following a meal. Insulin is a hormone that regulates glucose; higher levels of insulin are associated with weight gain, a risk factor for diabetes. (Mayoclinic)
Mark an “X” between Illness and Wellness if you sleep less than 6 hours per night.
Mark an “X” between Wellness and Fitness if you get 6-8 hours or sleep.
Mark an “X” at fitness if you get at least 8 hours of sleep per night.
Nutrition: Nutrition plays a key role in the fight against illness. It is important to have a well-balanced diet. Fruits and vegetables are important because they provide our bodies with antioxidants to fight against infections. Having a diet with sufficient amount of carbs, protein and fat is also important to control our glucose levels. Eating every 2-3 hours contributes to a healthy digestive system and blood sugar control.
Mark an “X” between Illness and Wellness if you eat less than 2 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
Mark an “X” between Wellness and Fitness if you eat 2-3 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
Mark an “X” between Illness and Wellness if you skip breakfast.
Mark an “X” between Wellness and Fitness if you eat breakfast.
Mark an “X” at Fitness if you eat breakfast that contains a protein, carb and fat. Ex. 2 eggs (protein) with 1 tbsp. avocado (fat) and 1 cup of strawberries (carb)
Now take a look at where most of your “X’s” are. Based on this, start to make changes to get you as close as possible to the fitness end of the spectrum. These components are few of many aspects of health and wellness and each of them can be improved. You are given one life to live, be the best version of yourself for you and every reason why you wake up in the morning. Happy Monday!!