Health

Last Updated on March 26, 2021

A few notes on physical and mental health, and the link between the two.

The Three Legged Stool

A friend who is a psychologist once told me about the a simple way of thinking about mental health.

I like to think of health as a three legged stool. The three legs are eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep.

He said that many of the patients he saw weren’t treated with advanced techniques, instead they were taught to build good habits around diet, exercise and sleep. They were guided to be attentive to all three legs fo the stool – because you need all three legs for a stool to work.

I like this idea – that if you take care of physical health, good mental health will follow.

Diet

Carbohydrates

I’m part of the generation that discovered that the health eating food pyramid is wrong. I’ve been limiting carbs (this includes sugars) for over a decade now. I still eat cake, just not too often.

Carbohydrate-rich foods are inherently fattening, some more so than others, and that those of us predisposed to put on fat do so because of the carbs in the diet

The Case for Keto

I think the most common misconception around any kind of low carb or ketogenic eating is that everyone needs it, whereas the truth is we all tolerate carbs differently. Some of us really need to cut carbs to manage appetite, feel satiety, and manage weight. I am one of those people.

Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is also a part of my routine. I go for a 16:8 or 13:11 protocol depending on the day.

I’ve recently started doing some fasted weight training and I think it’s going to become a permanent part of the routine.

Dietary Diversity

I don’t have any evidence to quote, but eating a diverse diet is something I do.

Exercise

I was a pretty good swimmer and waterpolo playing growing up. I also played a little basketball and soccer as a teenager.

In my 20’s and 30’s I’ve mostly left the pool in favor of land activities, although I do some ocean swimming from time to time. I love the Coogee Wedding Cake island swim, as well as the Bondi to Bronte and the Cole Classic.

I’ve done a tonne of yoga. Yin yoga was great for me, I even teach from time to time.

I’ve also spent fair amount of time in the gym. I think lifting weights is crucial and plan to do it my whole life, so that I can live a long time.

The battle with the mind

One thing I’ve learnt, is that laziness never seems to go away! I always remind myself that the hardest part is showing up. Sometimes I trick myself. I tell myself I just need to walk to the gym and I can leave if I don’t want to stay. I always end up staying to avoid the pain of the sunk costs of having walked there. 😉

Sleep

In my 20’s I was a lot more type A and struggled with onset insomnia. In hindsight I was probably just working too much.

I’ve tried lots of things to help with sleep during times where it’s not coming as easily as usual.

Melatonin tablets can be useful.

Reading helps me go to sleep, but only certain types of books. The books has to be just interesting enough so I’ll be bothered to open it, but not too fascinating so that I stay up all night reading. I like health and fitness books, I’ve read a lot of Gary Taubes to go to sleep.

I no longer drink coffee after about 1pm.

The sleep light is so much better than an alarm clock.

I also have this acupressure mat which is amazing to use to wind down. I think it must trigger some kind of endorphin rush.

I travel with a good sleep mask like the sleep master mask.

I’ve read a lot about sleep. The Circadian Code is really good.

Women’s Health

It boggles my mind how little women are educated about their own bodies! I’m not sure if it is the same for men.

If you are a woman: Learn about your cycle. Track your cycle. (I use the Flo app). Read a book like The Fifth Vital Sign to understand your cycle better. More about fertility and pregnancy here.