It is human nature to constantly seek ways to improve our standard of living. Over the centuries this has led to invention and innovation in the areas of medicine, architecture, engineering and agriculture.
In the last twenty years the rate of change has increased at a mind-blowing pace, and technology is now moving so fast that phones and laptops seem to be out of date within weeks of being purchased.
The health and fitness industry has also been affected by this continuous evolution. It feels like we are bombarded on a weekly basis by claims that somebody has discovered the “ultimate” diet, exercise programme, or weight-loss supplement.
There have undoubtedly been huge improvements in training and nutrition strategies, especially at elite athlete level, but I sometimes feel that the constant search for the Holy Grail of weight-loss or training leads us to overlook what has worked in the past and will still work today.
In order to get better results for my clients – and because I’m a bit of a training/nutrition geek – I read lots of books, articles and research papers and attend many seminars and training courses. While most of the subject material is the very latest research, I also like to go “Old Skool” every now and again and read about methods that were employed by previous generations.
One of the books I’ve just finished reading is called “The Science of Being Well” written by a man called Wallace D. Wattles. This book was part of his “Science of” Trilogy which also included “The Science of Being Great” and “The Science of Getting Rich”. Wattles wrote the books in 1910 and although he died a year later relatively unknown, Rhonda Byrne has credited him as being one of the inspirations behind her hit film and book “The Secret.”
Even though he had no specific qualifications in nutrition, physical training or psychotherapy, many of the ideas that he put forward would now be considered as the basis of a healthy lifestyle and have been validated by recent research studies.
So let’s look at some of Wallace’s theories and see how information that’s over 100 years old can be applied to our modern lives.
As might be expected from the man who was a major influence on the writer of “the Secret”, Wattles was a big believer in the power of the mind to help create a healthy body. He believed that we are all created healthy and that it is through “unhealthy thoughts” that we create illness and disease. While this may be considered controversial and a little bit “out there”, it is interesting to note that modern science is now seeing a direct connection between how we think and our state of physical health.
It has been shown that “unhealthy”, negative thinking can increase stress levels. If this is allowed to continue on a long-term basis, it can cause dysfunction in many of the body’s systems, most notably the digestive system, and can also impair the immune system.
Brain scans have shown that when thinking positive or happy thoughts, the brain and nervous system are much more relaxed and the body works in a far healthier manner. Wallace’s advice to form a mental image of yourself as being in perfect health with abundant energy, is remarkably similar to “visualization” methods used by modern Sports Psychologists to help athletes to achieve their best performance.
This is the slightly less “airy-fairy” part of the advice that can often be forgotten! Something similar happened when “The Secret” was released back in 2006. A lot of people thought it was simply a case of writing down what they wanted in life, thinking about it for 5 minutes a day and then expecting the items on their shopping list to simply arrive at their doorstep.
So thinking healthy thoughts is all well and good but as Wattles writes: “this healthy functioning will not continue unless a person performs the external, or voluntary functions of living in a healthy manner”.
Putting It Together
The 100 year old recipe for good health contains no surprises: eat natural whole foods including animal, fish, natural wholegrains, and plant-based foods. Drink only water and avoid sweetened and processed foods. He recommends that physical exercise should be done for enjoyment and to help energize the body. Add in a good night’s sleep to re-build the body and mind and you can see that what was good for Wattles a century ago still holds true today.
It’s been said that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Good health is timeless, so stick with what works!