Lifestyle and Longevity
Everyone wants to live longer but forgets the two most important additions. The statement should read everyone wants to live longer, healthier, and most importantly, feel better. Ageless living (a.k.a. living for longevity) requires following a totally different set of rules that the health coaches of tomorrow NEED to fully understand as working with the aging population is going to be required if you plan on being a coach in the future.
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When a person maintains optimal health, their bodies and minds are devoid of disease…period! A key misconception is that people think they want a long lifespan when in reality, they actually want a long healthspan. Simply eating a healthy diet does not ensure a long and healthy life anymore, but there are science-backed variables and techniques that can, if implemented properly, aid your clients to an increased healthspan and not just an increased lifespan.
Using research-backed tools and tips, learn how to implement some of the best health tactics with your own clients so that you can separate yourselves from all the other health, wellness and nutritional coaches out there today. Helping your clients reach this new set point of an increased healthspan is a game-changing experience that will keep clients happy with your service for years to come.
What is Healthspan?
Taking a 30,000-foot viewpoint on living for longevity, I think most people want to live a long, healthy, and disease-free life. Something people get confused about is the concept of lifespan vs. a healthspan. The pursuit of a long and healthy life is known as having a long healthspan, whereas, the term lifespan is only measuring the duration of years on this planet and lifespan says nothing about the physical health of the person during those years.
Several definitions can be found for healthspan, but the one we will use here is “the period of life that is spent in good health, free from any chronic diseases and the many disabilities of aging.”
Before the year 2000, at that time there were only 14 measly scientific papers that were indexed on PubMed that used the term “healthspan” in their title or in their introduction or abstract paragraphs. However, by 2018, that number has shot up to over 900 titles, which means this topic is now much more on people’s radars, so as a health coach it should be on yours as well. (1)
But there is a potential flaw that comes with people simply chasing the healthspan concept, which revolves around a person’s actions being viewed as either positive or negative. What does that really mean exactly? It means a certain way of thinking that something is either good or bad can get a client and a coach into trouble as one person’s stressor might be another person’s motivator, meaning what is healthy for your client today may be unhealthy for that client a few years down the road. Instead, it might be better to look at the quest for having a long healthspan as something that will be continuously changing and or will be dynamic throughout a person’s journey throughout life.
Most coaches and most people for that matter realize that eating a whole foods-based diet, managing stress, exercising efficiently and having a strong social and family life will always remain the core foundations when it comes to healthy living, but is that really all we need to ensure a long healthspan any more?
We live in a fast-paced, stress induced and toxin-filled world today. To be blunt, simply eating a healthy diet will not ensure a long and healthy life, but there are many hidden and scientifically backed variables and techniques that if properly implemented, will help ensure that your clients live longer and healthier lives.
How to Get Clients to Understand They Need to Focus on Longevity Now!
The role of a good health coach is to encourage positive changes in behavior that help clients reach their goals. However, many times, clients need to be brought up to speed as to where their true goals really lie. The problem with doing so is that many clients just want their results as of yesterday. The buy-in for longevity is going to be much harder if your client is expecting to get “shredded” or “jacked” and at the same time expecting to also live to be 150 years old.
But what if we helped change the frame of their goals, and instead of chasing everything all at once, we helped them put into play a series of actions that will not only help them achieve weight loss and fitness goals, but also improve their quest for a long healthspan?
Many times, people want to have their cake and eat it, too. Or in the coaching realm, the common statement is I want to lose body fat, perform better and feel great and live longer all at once. Now I am not saying that those goals can’t all be achieved at some time; they can’t be achieved all at the same time. Again, what does that mean? Well, a very simplistic way in which a health and nutrition coach can get clients to clearly grasp the concept of not being able to achieve multiple health goals all at one time is by using what is called the “Triangle of Awareness”. Originally the brainchild of the Nutritional Coaching Institute, it is a model that allows clients to clearly prioritize either performance goals vs. aesthetics goals vs. longevity goals and possibly reach them all through periodization or having a periodized a plan of attack.
The three largest tactics that I use to help clients understand where they are and where they want to go are the 1) Triangle of Awareness, 2) Periodization and, of course, and lastly 3) “finding the true why” for your client.
Finding The True Why
Call it emotional unpacking, but a client’s true why at times why will be glaringly obvious, but at other times it will require having a conversation with your clients so that they can realize what may have been standing in their way from reaching their goals the whole time.
It is your job as the coach to dig deep and find your clients’ real motivation for their goal(s). The name of the game here is building trust with clients, which does take time to build but it is going to be a requirement. I understand this may sound like a heavy task for any new coach, but it is one of the fastest ways to motivate clients and help them find their way.
“How Healthy Are You” Questionnaire
Learn Why Clients Need to Be Focusing on Longevity Now!
Triangle of Awareness
The Triangle of Awareness is a very simple visualization that I use with clients to help them understand what they are really asking of their bodies and at the same time creating realistic expectations to be set in going forward.
I ask my clients to picture a triangle. At each point of that triangle is one type of goal with one point of the triangle being performance, one point being aesthetics, and the third point being longevity. Let’s assume that a particular client wants a swimsuit-ready body for an upcoming vacation as their primary goal. In using the triangle of awareness image, I would say, okay great. So, you want abs or a beach-ready body in 16 weeks, which means at this time, you are close to the aesthetics portion of the triangle.
I physically draw this out and/or have them clearly define their new point on the triangle. I then tell them that, as they get closer to the aesthetics point of the triangle, they need to understand that they are going to be further away from the longevity and performance points of the triangle. Many times, the clients don’t really get what I am saying, so I clarify that statement for them a little further. I make it known to them that for the next 16 weeks, their performance numbers in the gym will probably go down, and they may even have lower energy levels and not feel like a million bucks because they are venturing away from any longevity efforts. I ask them if they are okay with this in going forward.
I then let them answer on their terms. If they say they are good with it, then awesome, we can begin! By doing so, we have both agreed on the expectations for the next 16 weeks, and now the client won’t be upset or let’s say they will be less upset if they start to see decreases in the gym or if they start to feel not so great energy wise, because it was explained to them from the get-go, and now if it does happen it won’t be a surprise. The exact same goes for performance. Yet, there are some athlete types that are in great shape, even ripped, and/or even possibly magazine cover ready who still perform at high levels, but the large majority of athletes or clients that are pursuing performance goals will perform better if they lose their abs and actually gain a little bit of fat mass. Remember you can gain fat mass and muscle mass together and still drop your body fat percentage at the same time. Both are separate things, but either way, as the coach, you have to initially set these expectations, which is where the Triangle of Awareness and the Periodization model come together, especially when the goal is longevity.
Most clients literally want it all. They really do! They want to go to the gym and set personal bests every day. If you are a guy you most likely want to take your shirt off, and if you are a girl you probably want to wear tiny shorts and snap pictures for Instagram, and in addition to that everyone also wants to live to be 150 years old and do so the entire time in great health. Now, I know that may have been an exaggeration for many, but we all in our own ways want a little bit of everything. The fact of the matter is, it’s not that a person can’t have all of the above goal; they just can’t have all of the above goals at the same time. Let me explain what that means.
Most people have heard the term periodization before or are at least familiar with it when it comes to thing like weightlifting. Periodization, simply put, is the categorizing of goals into blocks of specific time periods, typically around 4-20 weeks. In keeping the concept basic, and not going too far down any one periodized rabbit whole, for nutrition purposes, as coaches we need to put our clients’ health goals into clearly focused blocks so that they can constantly see the goal that is right in front of them but also so that they are constantly being reminded of where they are need to be going next.
This is termed “future pacing” and can be huge when it comes to helping clients reach for longevity or in general reach for any longer termed goal.
Let’s go back to our client that wants to be beach-ready for a vacation coming up in 16 weeks. Under most situations, let’s definitely help that client get there. But as a coach, it is our role to be up-front and honest about inducing a drop in calories and how, as we get closer to the last few weeks, their calories may be so low that their energy levels drop and at that point they may feel far from 100%. Remember, we need to make sure that they are okay with that fact and that they should be possibly be expecting it.
By doing so, this will only help clients get better results so that they become better clients, and that usually leads to longer retention rates, and most likely, also more referrals from that happy client.
Helping clients find their “ true why” will only help them realize that a longevity goal does not have to be a life of avoiding all stress, eating only plants and having zero vices; it can be the exact opposite actually. With that, let’s learn about some of the basics of doing so right now.
What are the Obvious and Known Keys to Living a Long and Healthy Life?
The Basics: Don't Die Early
- Eat a Healthy Diet. This means don’t eat the Standard American Diet (SAD), and eat more plants than you currently do.
- Exercise Regularly. Move more and exercise in some form for at least 20 minutes a day 3 times a week.
- Maintain a Healthy Body Weight. Don’t be obese and sit on the couch all day.
- Drink Alcohol in Moderation. Consume less than one drink per day.
- Don’t Smoke Cigarettes. Who still smokes cigarettes these days?
If you are a health coach and are not properly handling the above basics with your clients, you might want to re-think your profession. Now, I do understand that not every person in the world will be able to perform all of the above basics right away. However, if you as a coach can’t get a client to at least work towards improving upon them, then the problem is definitely with you.
I call them the basics for a reason—because they aren’t difficult to put in place. If your client is looking to achieve even a baseline level of health, a plan will need to be put in place that works on and eliminates any of the above factors that are present. If not, your client will see little to no progress in reaching any of their goals and will most likely stop working with you because of it.
Rules for Centenarians, 100-Year-Olds, Who Live in Areas Called Blue Zones (2)
- They are physically active but do not formally exercise.
- They experience very little stress.
- They don’t overeat, and they fast regularly.
- They eat predominantly a plant-based diet.
- They stay connected with friends and family.
- They have purpose into old age.
- They spend time outdoors each day.
- They have a positive mental outlook.
Learn How to Better Identify Where Clients Can Make Some of the Most Surprising Improvements in Their Health!
“How Healthy Are You” Questionnaire
Many clients and health coaches will look at the above list and say sure, some of the above or maybe even all of the above sound doable. Others will look at the above list and say that many of them sound very “Wu Wu” and are not for them.
But with the goal of not getting too philosophical or too spiritual, let’s focus on what we can help clients in controlling.
Aspects of longevity that you can definitely help clients employ at higher rates include eating more plants, cutting down on their eating window, having a set bedtime and wake time each day, getting in more daily sun, and encouraging them to find a purpose that drives them in life that is not based on money. As health coaches I challenge you to use the above lists as guides to build from as a foundation but in doing so it should still be realized that the everyday population faces much different challenges than what our ancestors did as well as what most blue zone inhabitants currently face.
For clients who are unable to eliminate many of their stresses and responsibilities of everyday life but still have a goal of having a long healthspan, there is still something in which they can do when it comes to flattening the curve. The introduction of what are known as “hormetic stressors” or the process of inducing hormesis in the human body can help a person drastically improve their quality of life and they may even be able to mitigate the fact that a person has subpar diet or even has higher levels of stress and toxicity in and around them every day.
If, by chance, you have never heard the term hormesis before, that is perfectly okay. Many people have never heard the term before, and honestly, I had no clue what it was the first time that I heard it as well. But believe me when I tell you that it can be one of the most powerful tools a person can have when it comes to warding off disease, maintaining a healthy weight and having super high energy levels each and every day.
What is Hormesis and How Does it Fit into Health Coaching?
Have you ever sat down and wondered why certain things are really good for us? Such as why does a person lift weights or run long distances for their health? How about where do all of the health benefits supposedly come from when a person fasts or strategically skips their meals? Or what are the additional benefits of eating plants that go outside just delivering the body with fuel? Do you ever wonder about how exactly some of those plant-based chemicals that are consistently associated with health and that are backed by a mountain of scientific data do what they do in the body? The very same can be said for cold showers, saunas and getting in daily sunshine? Have you ever really thought about why and how all of those things are really good for us?
The answer to that question can be summed up in one word—“hormesis”. Now, the term hormesis might be new to everyone but I think that almost everyone one has heard the phrase “That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” and in a nutshell, that is exactly what hormesis is and what it does for the body and mind.
The more long-winded definition of hormesis is the beneficial and biological response to mild and intermittent stressors that normally would be damaging or even kill a person at higher doses if those stressors were sustained for periods of time. (3) The term actually originated from toxicology reporting when it was discovered that low doses of certain toxins could, in fact, be beneficial to the health of certain organisms. Since its discovery, the term hormesis has been used to explain much of how the human race has adapted to certain threats and/or stressors by evolving in order to survive.
All organisms on this planet, ranging from the one-celled amoeba to a human being all strive to maintain what is called homeostasis, which means an internal state of stability and balance. Hormesis pushes a person past their homeostatic zone and changes the internal environment at small doses and for short periods of time, and all of what was mentioned above, such as exercise, fasting and eating plant-based phytochemicals do the very same thing in the body. Heat and cold therapies induce some form of stress on the body’s systems, and that stress then forces the body in some way to adapt to that induced stress, and when that happens, the body’s resilience improves, and then the person comes back stronger.
Some of the best examples of hormetic stressors include the following:
- Caloric restriction or the use of fasting – Fasting specifically promotes higher levels of autophagy, which means old and worn out parts get cellularly recycled or it means the process of cellular repair, that aids in resetting a person’s metabolism. (4)
- Sunlight and the Radiation (5)
- Cold or Heat Exposure – For example, sauna use or cold showers will both improve cardiovascular health through various mechanisms. (6,7)
- Oxygen Deprivation (8)
- Exercise that Builds Strength and Endurance (9) – resistance training and HIIT are examples.
- Nutritional Hormesis from plant substances often called plant phenol hormesis (10,12)
- Xenohormesis – This is the low-dose use of toxins to induce hormesis (Ex: nicotine, alcohol, caffeine and aspirin). (11)
Applying the various means of hormesis has been used extensively in many of the aging and longevity-based research methods, and there are hundreds of studies all showing the same thing: That the exposure to hormetic stressors stimulate many of the body’s maintenance and repair pathways allowing them to be built up to much stronger levels.
Some will argue that much of the research on hormesis when it comes to using it as a means of preventatively delaying the many negative effects that are associated with aging is still new and emerging science and because of that the results are not quite conclusive. But very few, if any, will argue with the fact that there are clear benefits of physical activity, not overeating, and eating more plant-based foods for longevity. Hormesis just better helps to explain why and how this takes place in the body.
“How Healthy Are You” Questionnaire
The Best Way to Learn About Who Would Benefit the Most From Hormesis, Starts By Identifying Hidden Symptoms!
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