good health good life written on blackboard


5 Essential Elements of Well-being: Part 4 - Physical

Kitty Boitnott, Ph.D., NBCT, RScP

Heart-Centered Career Transition Coach | Possibility Thinker | Job Search Guide for Burnt-out Teachers and Mid-Career Professionals


This is the fourth in a series of five messages about the essential elements of well-being. I am using Tom Rath's and Jim Harter's book, Wellbeing: Five Essential Elements. So far, I have covered (1) Career; (2) Social; and (3) Financial. Today, I will touch on the fourth element according to Rath and Harter: Physical.
It is fitting that this topic would come up this week. With Christmas now behind us, our thoughts turn to the New Year. Many of us decide to start the New Year off with a new set of resolutions. Many of those resolutions revolve around our physical bodies in some way. Many of us want and may need to think about diet as it relates to our weight and our health.
My mother used to say that if you had your health, you had everything you need, and she was onto something. If you want to have any quality of life, you need good health.
Rath and Harter point out that as far as health goes, we are always making a choice. We can choose to consume healthy food and drink at any given moment. We can also choose unhealthy food and drink. It's just that simple. "With every bite and drink we take, we make a choice: We can select something that is a net positive and benefits our health, or we can choose something that is a net negative." (p.71)
In the moment, we may make unhealthy choices because we are stressed or in a hurry--or both. New research shows, however, that even a single meal high in saturated fat reduces our arteries' ability to carry enough blood to our bodies and brains. (p. 71)
Next time you contemplate ordering a burger and fries instead of a healthier alternative, think of this image:
lifestyle choice
I don't need to offer a lesson on good nutrition here. Most of us have a firm enough understanding of the basics. We need to eat more fresh, whole fruits and vegetables. We should back off consuming a lot of red meat. And we should eat sweets sparingly if at all.
The same goes for what to drink. Water is the beverage of choice. Leave off the excess alcohol, sodas, and sugary fruit drinks. We all know these things. We just don't practice what we know, and we see the results in obesity rates. The obesity rate among adult Americans was estimated at 32.2% for men and 35.5% for women. (Journal of the Americal Medical Association) Obesity rates for American children have risen to alarming levels. The implications for our future healthcare system are pretty dire.
Of course, I am not suggesting that you have to give up all your favorite treats. But I am suggesting that you should eat them in moderation. Opt for more healthy choices more often. You will start to feel more energy, and you might even drop a few pounds along the way without trying that hard.
When shopping for groceries, a good rule of thumb is to stick to the outer aisles as much as possible. When selecting fresh fruits, go for those with intense colors. Select foods that are deep red, dark green, and blue (as in blueberries), etc.
Another physical well-being booster can be moderate exercise every day. Even just 20 minutes can make a positive difference in your mood. Studies show that people who exercise at least two days a week are happier and have less stress. It also boosts energy levels as well as mood. The bottom line is that any exercise is better than no exercise at all. Moreover, recent studies show that sitting all day is also detrimental to your health. It has likened to the same negative effects as smoking.
Besides eating well and exercising, you also need to get enough sleep to be healthy. New science on sleep indicates that your brain needs quality sleep for a whole host of reasons. It is like hitting a reset button for on your body and brain. During the sleep cycle, toxins flush away from the brain through the bloodstream. These toxins may be linked to dementia and memory issues. Sleep also impacts your general mood. Being well rested can help you make the good choices during the day.
Many people misunderstand the role sleep plays in their health. Learn more about why you need at least 6 1/2 hours every night. Don't kid yourself that you can defer it or delay it and operate at your best. When considering sleep and your habits around it, think of this chart:
Sleep infographic
Being healthy is good for our physical well-being, but not taking care of our health can hurt us in other ways. There are high economic costs to being unhealthy. In the United States, healthcare costs represent 16% of the total economy. Insurance rates are soaring. Imagine. We could drive down certain costs if fewer adults had diabetes and high blood pressure. And those are just two of the preventable diseases that are contingent in part on one's health habits.
You are the only person who can decide to make healthy choices or not. People who are thriving in the area of physical well-being are managing their health. They make good dietary choices which keep their energy high. And it sharpens their thinking. They look better, feel better, and live longer.
Rath and Harter offer three recommendations for boosting physical well-being:
1. Get at least 20 minutes of physical activity each day--ideally in the morning to improve your mood throughout the day.
2. Sleep enough to feel well-rested (generally 6 1/2 to 8 hours) but not too long (more than 9 hours)
3. Set positive defaults when you shop for groceries. Load up on natural foods that are dark red, deep green, and blue.
Your physical well-being impacts your life in every way. If you don't feel well, you won't perform well on the job. You also won't have the energy you need for the best life you can have. Take care of your body. It is truly a temple, and you are its sole care taker. Treat it well.
Until next time.



Vanessa Jackson
Phoenix Rising Coaching
1541 Flaming Oak
New Braunfels Texas 78132
United States of America