The 6 health needs for our total wellbeing
Health is wealth, and almost all of us would agree that we put our health first – always and without fail. However, even for those who follow through on this commitment, what underpins it is a relatively unstructured and mass trend-led process.
At Kalibra, we want to help people put intent behind their health. And that starts with knowing our individual body and condition, because whilst much of internal machinery is shared, we all have enough that sets us apart from others – and to make a meaningful difference requires a “personalised” approach.
And this is where things get difficult, because it’s hard to know what’s important to begin with, and even harder to know what’s most important to us. In the absence of an intuitive or subjective way to compare the various metrics or to understand their value, we collectively default to well-trodden universal shortcuts, such as 3 liters of water a day, 8 hours of sleep, 30 minutes of vigorous exercise, for instance.
And whilst that advice sets us in a good direction, for each of us there is a very personal 80/20 set of 3-5 actions that will have the most impact, especially if done over the long-term.
This post explains how Kalibra goes about identifying these actions and structuring them into a framework that makes it intuitive and easy to habituate them. We call it the 6 Circles of Health: Rest, Nourish, Move, Connect, Reflect and Grow.
Below, we briefly explain why each of these is important.
Stress + Rest = Growth. Whether you want to grow your body or mind or get better at a specific skill, you need to push to the outer limits of your current ability, before following the hard work with the appropriate recovery and reflection. And the latter is where most of us fall short, cheered on by the social media’s celebration of all out effort, 24/7. The reality is that rest is the alpha and omega of wellbeing, and despite all our efforts, we just cannot sleep faster. Similarly to the several misconceptions about how we lose body fat, sleep is now seen as something to “hack”. That, unfortunately, is not possible because the circadian rhythm has been wired into our bodies over thousands of years.
In the present environment, this is probably the key challenge for all of us. Sleep times are getting shorter, quality of sleep is reducing, and there are more demands on us cognitively as life patterns are being interrupted. However, nothing is more catastrophic to our longevity and wellbeing than not resting properly. At Kalibra, understanding how we improve and maximise rest is front and center.
It is self-evident that we need to keep moving, but it’s key to emphasise the importance of resistance training for health and longevity. Most of us focus mainly on cardio, neglecting the fact that muscle mass decreases with age, regardless of gender. So, kalibrate where you are vs where you should be, and act accordingly. There are many ways to build and maintain muscle that don’t require being a gym-machine.
You can’t outrun a bad diet, the saying goes, and we agree. While sleep may be the most important, nourishment is often the most challenging. When considering building the appropriate nutritional plan, Kalibra sees 2 points as vital:
While we are taking in more calories, we are very often severely micronutrient deficient. A third of the world population is iodine deficient, and in many geographies, upwards of 80% of the population is vitamin D deficient. There is no way to know this without a blood test, and the compound effect of these deficiencies is significant.
Carbohydrate restriction, proper protein/fat intake and hydration are the usual areas of focus, and those are usually flagged in the lab reports referred to in point 1. So, start with insulin, glycated hemoglobin and triglycerides to understand where you are as a key baseline check.
How we connect with others is absolutely key for our happiness and healthspan . A seminal Harvard study shows that close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives. Those ties protect people from dissatisfactions in life, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes.
In essence, most of us need at least 3-5 strong connections (think of it as people you can confide in, or call in case of a personal or medical emergency), and those connections need to be consciously nourished. With loneliness being front and center as a mental health issue, having a framework for making sure our relationships are maintained is key.
Furthermore, the strength of your connections is often in direct conflict with our digital lifestyle. Perhaps the most detrimental consequence of digital technology is the illusion of connection. We think we can connect meaningfully over a tweet or two. However, we’ve learned that nothing can replace in-person community and believing they can will come at a cost to our health. So we must invest in our connections, regularly, and intentionally.
In addition to how we connect with others, how we connect with ourselves is key. Spending time alone, sitting and breathing allows you to (in the words of Tim Ferriss) step out of the washing machine and look inside it. And, therefore, see what may need a second, or third, wash.
This is the foundation of being less reactive and more detached from the noise of daily life. How well do you know yourself? Do you spend time alone? Can you spend time alone? Do you like it? Do you avoid it? Why? Who are you when you are alone with yourself and with nobody else around? How important are you to yourself?
It’s essential to take the time to reconnect with yourself, to establish this as a priority, to develop and nurture that connection. Only through this exploration will you be able to know how you are, moment to moment, and maybe eventually even know who you are, truly, beyond the social references that you use to define yourself against.
Growth describes the relationship between yourself and your future self, i.e. your purpose and trajectory, as well as the systems and mental models for its support.
Having an articulated life plan (however imprecise), goals, values and a growth method all contribute to wellbeing immensely. Having a why is a key tool in your resilience and coping arsenal, and needs to be cultivated on an ongoing basis.
How can we choose the direction we want to take if we don’t take the time to look at it, reflect on it regularly and make a note of it. A value framework for life allows us to assess where we are, decide where we want to go, and make a plan on how to get there. This, in turn, reduces future anxiety and strengthens our resilience.
This is true for the few important things we need to get done today, it is true for the major projects we want to accomplish this year, and it is true for the place we want to get to in 5, 10, 15 years from now. And of course these will change, but the point is to think about, plan, map out your evolution, your own growth from your current to your future self, and make it happen. We finish, appropriately, with a Nietzsche quote: “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how”. This is what we look at when we talk about growth.
So, what should I do?
At Kalibra we see the 6 Circles of Health as the most robust framework for understanding and meaningfully improving your personal operating system.