Saturday, January 26, 2013


For holistic long term health, wellbeing and feeling of effervescent joy, it seems that we need to include deliberate practice in five areas:

MOVEMENT - NUTRITION - RECOVERY - SOCIALISING - COGNITIVE PRACTICE. What do you think? ring true? Perhaps you've heard it here first - i've heard three and four of these points before, but this five point framing of what we need to be optimal may be new-ish? Wouldn't that be nice if b2d dug up something new?

In any case: we're pscysho-social-physical creatures, yes? That's our history, our trajectory up from the swamp, oui?

Amsa-dong Pre-historic Village,  Seoul Korea
So since we still have these evolutionary traces, that is, physical bodies that seem deisgned to run, and that mainly work best with social contexts rather than isolation, then to be healthy, it seems, we need to work all of them.  Including the brain and including social practice.

An intriguing thing to me is that these systems - move, eat, sleep, socialize, ideate - reinforce each other.

We can socialize around deep conversation (express idea density, discussed here); we can move around together - game play and engage in strategy (especially excellent for couch potatoes who also want to lose weight)  - play, move, socialize, skill/depth of practice - and of course eat and rest in between - maybe in groups.

Indeed, there's a truly fascinating book by Canadian scholar Stephen Cunnane called "survival of the fattest" (UK link || US link) that goes over the case that far from our brains growing as a result of tool use, our brains grew from play. And access to an easy shore-based food supply that made play possible. Theresa Nesbit pointed this book out to me, and i recommend it as a read (or interlibrary loan).

(Reminds me of tree planting - except we'd be too pooped to play games after a day of screefing. oh. and too pooped for deep conversation. so, maybe not tree planting.)

Inclusive 5-point Plan Practice?

My growing question from this five point holistic health guide of
Movement Nutrition Recovery Socialising Cognitive Engagement
is around how to put together our approach to holistic practice.

When we put our training plans together, do we plan as well how we will recover? How we will socialise? How we will work on idea density? If not, why not?

Brain in Motion? While we may have strategies for post workout nutrition, do we have them for sleep? How do we balance socialising and cognitive engagement?

For instance, do we deliberately seek out challenging conversation? challenging books?  (what Carole Goble calls "coffee" vs "wine" research paper reading for instance).

Do we practice various social skills like listening, empathy, active engagement? For introverts, this kind of practice is effortful, to be sure, but even extraverts can practice pulling back and being present to others. Or to learn the tempo of conversation and try to support the flow. And so on. Skills and practice everywhere.

Challenge? How build the whole piece? 

Movement. Certainly over the past while, i've been deliberate about physical practice - but not perhaps as thoughtful as i might be in terms of optimal, whole body training as opposed to strength goals.

Nutrition. Boy, this one i think i've done better in a holistic way than the holistic movement piece. Hmm. Hadn't thought of that. Why? maybe because food is so much more of a regular challenge. Every few hours: focus focus.

Recovery/Sleep. Now here's one where i think i know more than i consistently practice. I do know my best training results however have come when being religious about getting to sleep with hours before midnight spent in sleep, and getting up around 5:30 to work out (much easier in the summer than winter!) Much of any knowledge i have about sleep in particular and relationships of foods/drugs within sleep has been spurred on by sleep scientist Stephan Fabregas.

Socialisation. As said, for an introvert, this is an effort. But practice helps. Best book i've read on this practice? There's lots of stuff around influence, influencing people, listening, having critical conversations  All excellent stuff. Above and beyond anything, going back to a classic. Dale Carnegie. One tip that i haven't seen anywhere else: avoid contradicting anyone or criticising anyone. Oy! Now that takes practice.

Cognitive Engagement: Ideation.  Being an intellectual is dandy. I have no problem having a good sized vocabulary and using it. IT's my job. But where do i push out of my comfort zone? Kind of like knowing that if there's an exercise we don't like it's one we should likely do, cuz that exposes a weakness, i think working the brain is sort of the same thing: we have to push limits to affect

There are subjects i find really challenging. So this year i'm making a promise to find the best sources (for me) to develop practice in these areas. Like finding the right trainer, the right textbook or the right instructor - at least for me - is key to me getting something.

We may have felt like we didn't have a choice of instructors in highschool but alleluia we do now. The challenge is slotting in hours now for that practice as well as these other bits.

Reality Check: What's your H2 (Holistic Health) Ratio?

Something perhaps to try:
Check out how many hours a week we spend

  • in physical practice (with 5minimum being the ideal it seems for happiness in the bodycomp arena)
  • in rest/recovery/sleep  
  • in socialising/play
  • in deliberate attention to food prep and meals 
  • in deliberate cognitive practice
  • whatever's left (like work?)- when we're not doing any of these practices.
Just one week - let's find out what we count as restorative, and when we might also get what Frank Forencich of exuberant animal in Stresscraft calls "Movement Snacks" - and what might also be rest or play or cog practice snacks? 

Ratios See - i don't know what the ideal practice ratios are. We know about workouts for at least a sense of health satisfaction (5 hours minimum). We know at least about sleep that there is good research for us to have 7.5hrs a night). But Play? is is as many hours playing as working out? more? What about socialising? twice as much as working out? half? What about deliberate cognitive practice? 1 hour? 3 hours?

Scales Do we have other scales here? We can assess workout quality, and nutrition and sleep quality. How do we assess socialising/play/restoration qualities? Is vegging out with the TV after a hard day of work reasonable recovery? or would it be better health wise to read a book? or chat with friends on facebook?

So shall we get some data? 

Here's to Movement - Nutrition - Recovery - Socialising - Cognitive Engagement -

Let's start to find out what we have vs what we need.

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