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From Dawn Til Dusk: Six Strategies for Creating a Healthy Lifestyle, One Day at a Time

By Mike Clausen

I just recently received my Holistic Lifestyle Certification from the CHEK Institute. CHEK stands for Corrective Holistic Exercise Kinesiology. This certification will allow me to help my clients achieve optimum health and fitness if they follow the guidelines that are laid out in the course—and if they are willing to adopt a healthy lifestyle. The Holistic Lifestyle program involves not only proper nutrition, but also covers everything from stress and sleep to toxicity. That's because holistic thinking treats the entire body as an integrated system.

Rather than simply thinking about our fitness, I'm suggesting that we look at fitness in the context of the entire life and health of the body. There are so many stressors placed upon us daily from our jobs, to our relationships, and our environments. To be truly fit and healthy, we need to get control of all of these aspects of our lives, not just our time in the gym. I slowly started incorporating a holistic approach into my own life (mostly by eating whole organic foods) and the changes I have seen to my body since June are pretty amazing. Today I'd like to cover the basic foundation principles of creating a holistically healthy lifestyle, each and every day. From the moment you wake up in the morning until you go to bed at night, you should be thinking about the lifestyle support your body needs. I am going to take you through some techniques for meeting your body's needs throughout the day. As we go, think about where your own lifestyle may be holding you back.

  1. Think: Upon waking, the first thing we should do is think. Think about your day ahead. Make a plan for how you are going to conquer that day. We all lead such busy lives that it is very easy for our work and personal life to control us. We need to slow down and think about how we are going to get through the day come out on top.

  2. Breathe: This may sound like something you do anyway—but really take a minute and breathe. Don't just rush out of bed at the sound of the alarm. Take in deep breaths and calm yourself. Most likely, once that alarm goes off you have a million things going on in your head. Just take your time. Keep your stress levels at a minimum while you can control them.

  3. Hydrate: Once you are out of bed, the first thing you should do is drink a big glass of filtered water. Most of us go straight for the coffee or tea—which is a mistake. You have been asleep for seven to eight hours and our bodies need hydration. If you drink coffee/tea first, it is just going to make you more dehydrated. Dehydration is a big contributor to feeling tired and sluggish. I have two big glasses of water before I drink my espresso.

  4. Eat: The next important step is to eat a high quality meal. Don't just walk out the door and pick up a muffin. You want to have high quality organic whole foods to feed your body. Do your best to avoid foods like cereal and muffins—these are all processed foods which have a negative effect on your body's hormone and blood sugar levels. You want to have good portions of proteins, carbs and fats based on your body's metabolic type. Reach for high quality fruits, meats and vegetables for each meal of the day.

  5. Move: You want to incorporate high quality movement into your daily lifestyle, and not just while you're at the gym. This can be walking to work, yoga, or your resistance training. You want to have a good balance between cardio and resistance training. Cardio greater than 30 to 45 min per day will lead to cortisol output (will breakdown your muscles) instead of HGH release. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone that breaks down your body. I know you think that you had a "fat" weekend full of drinking and bad eating, and the first thing you want to do is at least an hour of cardio to combat this. But really, all you are doing is breaking down your body even more and instigating a process that will lead to less muscle mass. By the same token, resistance training will lead to release of HGH (human growth hormone), so it's equally important to balance intense training sessions through the week with some energy building exercises that can help restore your core function. Think stretching, swimming, or yoga.

  6. Sleep: Now, most of us do not get enough sleep. This causes us to be tired when we wake up, which makes us reach for the coffee, which drags us down all day after the initial spike. The ideal sleep time for our circadian rhythms is around 10:30 pm to 6:00 am. Around 10 pm your body's repair hormones (melatonin, growth hormone, testosterone, DHEA) are highest and this is when they "go to work" on your physical body. Around 2:00 am they start to work on psychological repair. When you constantly go to bed late your body is not recovering properly, which can cause you to be in a constant catabolic state—and that in turn will lead to a suppressed immune system and will greatly hinder any physical progress you are trying to achieve. So seriously, catch some Zs.
All of these foundation principles have a great effect on how we live our lives. I have mentioned this book before, but Paul Chek's How to Eat, Move and be Healthy covers these principles in depth. If you want to work one on one with someone, look in your area for a CHEK Certified Practitioner. Working out is only one small part of living a healthy lifestyle. We have to incorporate the above principles to be healthy and happy.

About Mike Clausen: Clausen is the founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, voted best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006. He has been actively involved in sports and weightlifting since high school, and continues to use that knowledge when training his clients. Clausen is both A.C.E. and N.A.S.M. certified and has been training clients professionally for over six years. He enjoys making his clients stronger, both physically and mentally, giving them the tools to create an efficient body and to do things they thought were not possible.