What does having a strong body mean to you? To some people, it may mean bulging muscles, to others, the ability to lift heavy weights. And to still others, just being fit and able to withstand the rigors of everyday life.

No matter what it means to you, it involves several things, such as,

1.     Healthy weight
Your healthy weight depends on several factors, including your height and bone structure, but it’s more than just a matter of how many pounds you weigh. For example, a woman with 30% body fat might be considered overweight, especially on a tropical beach; where a man with 3% body fat might be considered just right! However, take those same people and place them in Point Barrow, Alaska, where the average temperature is -13.4° F, and the woman would be far better off because her higher body fat would help insulate her internal organs in the frozen north, while the man would not be so protected. Maintaining a healthy weight depends on your own circumstances. Take a look at your life and make conscious decisions about what a healthy weight really means to you.

2.     Healthy diet
The word ‘diet’ has developed a negative connotation due to the number of fad diets, celebrity diets, and various other unhealthy ‘diets’ that have come and gone over the years. Your diet simply means what you eat. You may have a healthy diet that consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats in moderate proportions, or you may have a diet based on daily trips to McDonald’s, KFC, and Pizza Hut that isn’t so healthy. You can choose healthy meals at all of these fast-food joints, but you have to be honest with yourself to do it! A 300-pound weight lifter and a 90-pound fashion model are not going to have the same healthy diet. Again, it comes down to conscious decisions you make about what a healthy diet is for you.

3.     Proper exercise
Are you a couch potato, or an exercise fanatic? And is either one of those healthy? Obviously being a couch potato is not healthy; your body has muscles that need to be used often to maintain their tone and continued health. But an exercise fanatic pushes their body beyond its limits day after day after day, and that’s not particularly healthy either! It’s been determined that as little as 20 minutes three times a week is adequate exercise, while many doctors recommend 30 minutes at least three times a week and preferably five times a week. But exercise also depends on diet. If you’re determined to eat anything you want, you may need to exercise more to maintain that healthy weight you want—more conscious decisions about what healthy exercise means to you.

4.     Adequate sleep
By now, you’re probably starting to get the idea:  Weight, diet, exercise are all part of the same equation that equals a strong body. How does adequate sleep fit in? Your body repairs itself during sleep, particularly muscles and other tissues. Sleep also regulates appetite hormones. A full night’s sleep is thought to help your body suppress ghrelin, which makes you hungry, and stimulate leptin, which controls appetite. Recent studies show that the glymphatic system, which flushes wastes from the brain, may be close to 10 times more active during sleep than when awake. That’s how sleep fits in! Getting adequate sleep—7-8 hours per night—helps your body stay fit and healthy, so make a conscious decision to get enough sleep each night.

5.     Positive attitude
But what on earth can your attitude have to do with your body’s fitness? Did you know a person's opinion of his or her health stands out as a key to longevity? Take a roomful of 60-year-olds with the same lifestyles and identical results from their last physicals, and one question can tell you which ones are most likely to see 70—that question is How healthy do you feel? In a study of more than 5,000 people over the age of 65, researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that a negative attitude toward one's health—regardless of other risk factors—roughly doubled the risk of death within five years. In fact, a pessimistic outlook proved to be deadlier than congestive heart failure or smoking 50 or more packs of cigarettes every year. Sometimes, it’s healthier to turn your thoughts from worrying about your health risks, to focusing on the things you have in your life that help keep you healthy! Are you ready to make a conscious decision to be grateful for the positive things you have in your life?

During April, E. EXCEL is focusing on strong bodies, and as part of that theme, we’re kicking off our annual 1-SHAPE Challenge:  30 Strong & Fit! E. EXCEL products and the four tenets of Nutritional Immunology provide a healthy, satisfying way to consciously decide to have a healthy, fit, strong body!