The basics are not the most glamorous nor the most fun, but they are essential. Do the basics and do them well, and you’ll put yourself in an excellent position with whatever endeavor you are tackling. Whether novice or professional, the basics need to be pursued constantly. The greatest basketball player could make fadeaway jumpers, switch hands in mid-air for a lefty finish at the hoop, and dunk from the free-throw line, but Michael Jordan would work on the basics. He and Scottie Pippen would practice bounce passes, as basic as a skill in basketball, and introduced to beginner players the first time they step foot on the court. MJ did not overlook the fundamentals, aka the basics. Not even after being at the top of his game, realizing the importance of working on his craft’s foundational pieces. When it comes to health, getting back to the basics could propel you forward or keep you at the top, depending on where you are in your journey. What does the top of the health mountain look like? It means having the energy and vibrancy to feel great in your body and spread that energy to others.
Food, sleep, movement, and relationships are the four basic health components I feel are vital for overall health (there are more that could be addressed, but these are my top four). They are all interconnected, positively and negatively. Do one piece well, and it will have a positive effect on the other components. On the contrary, neglect one of the basics, and it will negatively affect the others. They all work in unison and focusing on getting the basics right with your diet, sleep, movement, and relationships could mean everything.
The food you are putting in your body is the biggest driver for your health. It affects everything from you how you feel, look, and treat others. It probably impacts the other three basic health principles more so than any of the four mentioned. As the author of Eat Smarter, Shawn Stevenson, puts it, “Food can be a powerful tool for happiness and healing, and it can be a powerful weapon for degradation and disease.
- Eat more whole, one-ingredient foods
- Eat the rainbow (variety of fruits and veggies)
- Eat less processed foods and avoid ultra-processed foods
- See what foods work and do not work for you
- Consider an eating window (Eat from 8 am-8 pm)
You simply cannot achieve good health without taking care of your sleep. We all know how we feel after a whole night of quality sleep versus the opposite. We operate differently, are more patient with people, can think more clearly, and have the necessary energy to do what we set out to do.
- Cut the caffeine 10 hours before bed
- Stop eating 3 hours before bed
- Stop working 2 hours before bed
- No screens 1 hour before bed
- Keep your room dark, quiet, and cool if possible
*Technology is a significant culprit for stealing our zzz’s. Setting a screen curfew (at least 1 hour before bed) may be the single most beneficial thing you can do for your sleep quality and quantity.
Moving your body and moving it often offers incredible benefits that can improve nearly every aspect of your health from inside out. An off day can simply be changed by getting movement in, whatever way that may be. Movement not only adds years to your life but more quality years. It is the best medicine on the market at no cost!
- Walk every day (at least 10k steps)
- Lift weights or body weight (2-3 times per week)
- Do exercise bursts (1 time per week)
- Avoid long periods of inactivity
One common similarity of people who live in the blue zones is their quality and quantity of social relationships. Blue zones are hotspots for the longest-lived people around the world. People who have others they can rely on and go to live longer, more meaningful lives.
- Communication (the determining factor for every relationship)
- Express your appreciation often
- Build traditions
- Remember big (and small) moments
- Listen. We have two ears and one mouth for a reason
It’s easy to overlook the basics of health and many things, for that matter. There isn’t a pill, piece of exercise equipment, or crash diet that will magically make you healthy. Good health takes work and a conscious effort, but it doesn’t have to be fancy. Start and stick with the basics, and good things will follow.