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The Three By Five (3×5) Health Framework

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Starting on a health journey with hiking

Ready to Start Your Health Journey?

If you’ve been following along our 9-part Health & Fitness Guide for Busy People, at this point you are armed with some pretty potent info:

#1: You have solid, soul-deep reasons WHY you want to get healthier, and they are aligned to your Core Values as a person

#2: You are aware that there are both Inner Critic Voices (external messaging) and Inner Children Voices (responses to stress, desire to have fun) that strongly influence your health. You’ve learned some strategies for remaining in charge of these voices (as the Adult in your own life)

#3: You have learned that Health is a 3-part holistic system of Nutrition (Intake), Exercise (Output) and Psychology (Mental & Emotional Wellness)

#4: You’ve become educated as to the most impactful Life Factors such as job and finances that will influence your journey

This is a lot of ammunition to get you started! We’ve introduced these concepts in a specific order because they build on one another.

For Part 5, let’s introduce you to the 3×5 Health Framework: the Five Levels of Mastery in each of the Three Categories of Health.

This framework is helpful because it’s an effective way to work through the matrix of overall personal health and meet you where you are, at every level.

Your Personalized Health Assessment

A lot of people will approach health in a crash diet type of way. They might read the latest fad book or talk to some friends, decide to completely change their life overnight, and come out of the gate hard, guns blazing. And then, a day or a week or maybe a month later, they crumble in defeat – because it was just too hard to do everything all at once. But when you go slowly and make little changes at a time, the effort is manageable.

This is why we break down Health into Three Categories (Nutrition, Exercise, and Psychology) with 5 Levels in each. You can first assess what Level you’re currently at in each of the categories. Assessing independent levels lets you see clearly where you’re doing well and where you need to improve. Each Level has concrete actionable steps, and a specific skill to master before moving on.

This framework meets you where you’re at – not where anyone else is. A lot of people engage in comparison, and try to shortcut themselves overnight to the top level. But expecting to master a complex skill set immediately is like standing at the bottom of a flight of stairs, closing your eyes and willing yourself to the top. That’s not how you climb stairs. You climb them by putting one foot in front of the other and lifting yourself up one step at a time. In the same way, you don’t conquer a video game the very first time you log on. You work your way through the levels. You put in the work, effort and time to progress.

Health is exactly the same.

Focus on YOU

Senior woman running a marathon and winning

So one last time: It is crucial not to compare yourself to anyone else’s life or health level. Instead, focus honestly on where you are currently, and then make informed goals as to where you want to be.

Right now, no one else matters. Not your best friend, not your husband or wife, not your mother, not your gym buddy, not your coworker, and certainly not any of the people posting endless fitness pics on social media.

Comparison can be devastating. It is the thief of joy. Be aware of that, and opt out! When you stop feeling inspired by someone you follow, and start feeling inferior or jealous, it’s time to unfollow that account. You need to stay razor focused on you, and eliminate any incoming negative messages the best you can. None of those people live in your body. YOU do. And YOU are the only person who has 100% responsibility for your body’s health.

Before we take action, the one thing we have to get in our heads is that this journey belongs to you, and only you. You can hire coaches, read books, take trainings, have fitness partners, subscribe to paid fitness apps, or become members of online health communities. But when it comes right down to it, no one is actually going to DO the work for you. Your personal health is the one thing that you have to put in 100% of the work to make happen.

That is actually really special. Because no one else can tell you what to eat or how to move. It’s not like other areas of our lives where we might be frustrated because we lack control. This isn’t something you have no control over. This isn’t something where you sit idly by, watching things happen helplessly. You don’t have to rely on someone else like your partner, your boss, or your political leaders. Not when it comes to health! You have EVERY right and the ability to start being healthier right this minute.

healthy eating group of people who are vegetarian

That concept can also be intimidating though, can’t it? It’s not like our bodies come with an owner’s manual. It’s great that we want to get going to a healthier us right now, but how do we go about it? Science labs are still doing mad experiments every day, just trying to figure out exactly how our bodies, and biology in general, work.

If your health is up to you and you alone, it can be really scary to think that you’re going to mess something up and end up worse off. There is so much noise and just outright deception out there right now in the world of food advertising, books, blogs, nutrition, fitness, and pseudo-science. All of us have information fatigue, and very few of us have the time or inclination to go chase down contradictory rabbit holes to see what piece of advice *actually* is correct.

So, because many of us are afraid or overwhelmed or confused, we do nothing. And the status quo of our current health situation continues.

But I’m here to tell you that, while we certainly haven’t figured even close to everything out yet about our bodies, nutrition, or even how nature works, we are making incredible discoveries every day.

In fact, you don’t have to get lost in the weeds of nutrition or fitness wars. All you have to do is get rid of all the background noise, and focus on some BASICS. And that is what the 5 Levels are all about. They’re about mastering the fundamentals first, and then refining your journey as you go along.

The Five Levels of Health Mastery

hiking journey

We have already discussed the DESIRE for Health, in the section about our WHY. True desire for change is your entry point into the Three By Five Health Framework – or any health change you choose to make.

After we define and latch on to our powerful WHY, we have four more steps in this journey – gaining a Level up each time. And this is where Awareness, Education, Mindset, and finally Mastery come into play.

In the next 3 sections, we’ll discuss the Five Levels in each Category. What does Nutrition Levels 1-5 look like? Fitness 1-5? Mental Health 1-5? But in this article, we talk about what is required to transition from one level to the next. Each of the elements listed above is conquered at a specific level, in order to move to the next level. It looks like this:

LEVEL 1  {Awareness}  LEVEL 2  {Education}  LEVEL 3  {Mindset}  LEVEL 4  {Mastery}  Level 5

The individual assessments in each Category will help you assess what level you’re currently at in each. Level 1 is where about one-third of all Americans are in Nutrition and Fitness.

LEVEL 1 TO LEVEL 2: AWARENESS

Keeping a Food Journal to become aware of what we are eating

You may have the desire to get healthier, but you may truly not know WHERE you are in the journey. That sounds strange, but many of us live our lives quite unconsciously – governed by habit. Understanding where you currently are is the key to improvement. Remember: Knowledge is power! In Level 1 you will work on gathering Awareness of your life.

Most people aren’t fully aware of what they are putting in their mouths, or how much exercise they are truly getting in a day or a week. So let’s start with Nutrition: If you aren’t already aware of your food situation – and I mean REALLY aware – you need to start a food and drink log. We’re establishing a baseline when we do that.

For the first week, before you lift a finger to do one thing differently, just observe your health habits. Write down EVERYTHING that goes into your mouth, AND how much of it.

You can’t cheat by saying you had a “Coffee”, when really you had a “Venti Frappuccino with Extra Syrup and Whip Cream”. Don’t say you had a “Cheeseburger” for lunch, be specific. Say you had a McDonald’s Big Mac, Medium French Fry, and Large Diet Coke.

You have to even write down the small things. It doesn’t matter if you had what you think were “just a handful” of Cheetos, or one piece of a Kit Kat bar. I don’t care if it’s 2 bags of Oreos, or one chocolate chip! WRITE IT DOWN. Also write down ALL your beverages. How much plain or sparkling water you drank, how many alcoholic beverages you had each day (and what they were), and how much soda or energy drinks (and their sizes).

If you’ve never done this before, it’s going to require some discipline and time. But it will get easier. At the end of the week, look back on your food journal and I guarantee you’ll be shocked. I’ve been doing this for years (I use a Google spreadsheet for easy accessibility and formatting), and *I* am still shocked to see things like how often I eat out, or how many glasses of wine I *really* had in the course of a whole week.

Side Note: If you want my Google Spreadsheet Food & Day Log template so you can use it, shoot me an email and I’ll send it on over! karyn (at) dinnerinprovence (dot) com.

This is a really fascinating process, because you’ll also begin to see your eating habits, especially if you do this exercise over a series of weeks. You’re going to start seeing how you went home and comfort-ate after a stressful day at work, or how every Friday you binge drink with friends. You’ll start to see some little neuroses too, like overeating one day and then the next day rationing out 3 chocolate chips for yourself. These are made-up examples, but I KNOW you’re going to see similar stuff on your sheet.

Please, be honest with yourself – you don’t have to share this with anybody except yourself. Approach this exercise from a perspective of curiosity and fact-finding, not guilt or shame. Brutal honesty is crucial, because these patterns are going to become ACTIONABLE KNOWLEDGE you can start to gain about your own personal preferences and habits, many of which are probably completely unconscious to you. Most of us eat and drink so often, we have simply started doing it without thinking.

Whatever your food footprint looks like, if you’re not already food logging or being super-conscious about each meal, I think you’ll be a little surprised at the quantity and frequency with which you consume some high-calorie, unhealthy foods. These foods are really addictive and they make our undisciplined Inner Children super happy (temporarily).

There will be correlations in your food log that you weren’t aware of before. You will have woken up your conscious (Adult) mind as to what is really going in your body. And that is an awesome first step, because KNOWLEDGE is POWER. When we KNOW, we can ACT. Becoming aware of your *actual, current* diet – not what you were abstracting in your mind – is the first step on your journey to health.

If you’re working on this level in Fitness or Psychology instead, you can keep exercise or emotional/mental state journals. The point is to raise your awareness.

LEVEL 2 TO LEVEL 3: EDUCATION

Stack of books about healthy lifestyle

Since we are using the Nutrition Component to illustrate our Levels here, the next step after you have become fully conscious of your current diet is to know HOW to begin improving it. You do this with accurate and actionable Education.

This is where there the noise of the Internet and Age of Over-Information becomes a significant deterrent for many. Everybody has an opinion (me included, I’m guilty!). But unfortunately with so many money-driven intentions out there, our society has become over-saturated with partial truths and pseudo-sciences. There is rampant misinformation all over the Internet, books, and by so-called medical and fitness experts.

“Information” is literally EVERYWHERE these days. All of us, myself included, have Information Fatigue. We can’t live one day without being bombarded constantly with messages – from our friends, from our experiences, from what we witness, what we read, what we watch and listen to. Advertising and messages are also a constant background noise in our society. Walking down the street isn’t even innocent – billboards and signs are everywhere. The only place we can escape the noise is in nature. (And for this reason, I recommend getting yourself away from noise and into nature as much as you possibly can.)

So, how to begin to distill all of this detail into an actionable plan? How to discern what is actually TRUE?

To begin with, we hope Dinner in Provence is useful and reliable to you. We created it for busy people who don’t have time to sift through dozens of books and websites, chasing down contradictions. I personally feel so passionately about health education that I left my cushy corporate job at Nike in order to help other people make sense of things, and lead healthier lives with less stress. I did this because I saw there was a gap between all the problems called out about health and food issues, and actionable solutions for real-life busy people.

Providing useful and reliable food and health solutions for busy people is the entire reason Dinner In Provence exists. So, welcome, and I’m glad you’re here!

Getting back to the topic at hand: What many of us tend to do in the face of this information overwhelm, is to skip over the big stuff that seems so basic, because we have this idea that we’re a super sophisticated society and the basics are beneath us. So we get obsessed worrying about every little micronutrient, or we spend all our money on tech company-produced “health products” and supplements, but we still don’t know how to cook basic meals at home.

My advice, taking a maxim from my old Nike days, is to MASTER YOUR FUNDAMENTALS first. Lets get back to the big stuff! Ignore the noise. Let’s tackle those boulders first, before we start picking up the pebbles.

The best advice I can give you especially at first is to Keep It Simple and focus on the Lowest Hanging Fruit – that is, the easiest wins in your diet that will have the GREATEST IMMEDIATE IMPACT.

I know so many people who were significantly overweight who did one simple thing like switch out normal soda for flavored sparkling water, and boom – they dropped 20 pounds just like that.

If you feel like you’re really out of shape, or a long way from being healthy and fit, perhaps the BEST news I can give you is that the more overweight you are, the faster and easier you’re going to lose that initial weight. On the other hand, the closer you get to being at your ideal weight, or “lean” by society’s standards, the more you have to fight and claw for every pound of fat loss.

So focus on your “boulders” – that is, the most unhealthy stuff in YOUR life. And if you went through the food logging exercise, you know what types of foods you eat most. You should have a pretty good idea of your big weaknesses, whether its soda or chips or ice cream or beer.

The Easiest Stuff to Cut Out

Kid licking his lips about to eat some mcdonalds french fries

The simplest thing that you can start to do, immediately, is to cut out THE MOST HARMFUL stuff that we absolutely know is bad for us. Don’t worry about meat, dairy, gluten, grains, or legumes right now. Those are all whole, natural foods. Let’s refine our diet to exclude them only if we need to.

Instead, begin your health journey by simply not eating the fake foods that reign over our food system today.

Want specifics? Start with these 4 culprits:

Culprit 1: Deep Fried Food

Examples: French Fries, Chicken Nuggets, Potato Chips, Deep-Fried Chinese or other Asian food, and (I’m crying a little on the inside)….tortilla chips at your fave Mexican restaurant. Nooooo!

Why Is It Bad? The oil used in deep fryers is almost always cheap and inflammatory. Further, it has been heated beyond its smoking point for hours at a time. This turns it rancid and carcinogenic. It coats the food you eat and not only spikes your total calories but introduces cancer-causing free radicals in your body. It also clogs and stiffens your arteries, making blood sugar more difficult to absorb. If you HAVE to eat fast food, at least choose options that aren’t cooked in a vat of boiling oil.

Replace It With: Switch to baked versions of these foods where possible, and omit the rest. Buy baked pita chips over fried potato chips. Roast (bake) french fries at home and skip them when you order at the drive-through. Eat a grilled chicken sandwich at McDonalds over the crispy (deep fried) version.

Culprit 2: Partially Hydrogenated Fats

Examples: Packaged, shelf-stable sweets and snacks like donuts, cupcakes, cookies, swiss cake rolls, Oreos and such.

Why Is It Bad? A hydrogenated oil is a fake, solid fat. Partially hydrogenated is not solid, but is more like a sludge (semi-solid) at room temperature. These oils stay in that state inside your body, unfortunately. This makes them immediately harden and clog up your arteries with sludge, lower your good cholesterol, raise your bad cholesterol, and in many other ways just basically are a recipe for heart and cardiovascular diseases. Food companies make their oils hydrogenated because it increases their shelf life. Unfortunately, their product longevity means heart disease for you. 😞 Don’t be fooled by labeling: ANY food that lists “partially hydrogenated” contains TRANS FAT – even if the label states no trans fat (this is due to FDA loopholes in label requirements).

Replace It With: Healthy oils in home-cooked foods. Avocado oil, olive oil, grassfed butter or ghee, and coconut oil are the top picks. Omit all packaged fatty snacks, particularly from big brands. Make your own snacks & baked goodies at home, using the Meal Prep methods we teach you here. This isn’t about not eating any cookies – it’s about not eating prepackaged cookies made in a factory.

Culprit 3: Excess Sugar, Particularly Fructose

Examples: Soda and all sweetened beverages are where massive amounts of sugar and corn syrup hang out. Cutting daily soda from your diet will do more good for your body than any other single food item. Also watch out for sugars in any and all kids products these days, from Breakfast Cereal to Granola bars to Otter Pops to Fruit Rollups. Commercial baked goods, yogurts, and kid-marketed anything are top places to be suspicious.

Why Is It Bad? Fructose is inflammatory in the body. More than a little of it gets metabolized in the liver, not the small intestine (similar to other toxins like alcohol, leading many medical professionals to believe fructose is a toxin). Fructose gets stored as fat if not used very quickly (within the hour). Once fructose has been converted to a fatty acid, it circulates in the bloodstream for a short while but if not used, it will end up getting deposited as fat in the body. Further, high sugar consumption of any sort floods the body with blood sugar, causing insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is triggering the Type 2 Diabetes epidemic in our country, particularly amongst our children. This is due in large part to the intensive marketing of sugary products to children and their parents by large food corporations.

Replace It With: Drink flavored sparkling water over soda. Add some real fruit juice or sugar-free Torani syrup if you miss that sweetness, but you can ultimately wean yourself off of even that as your taste buds adjust to “normal” sweetness levels. Eat grass-fed plain greek yogurt with whole fruit or homemade granola swirled in. Eat dark chocolate (70-85%) instead of milk chocolate or candy bars. Reduce your overall consumption of specifically “sweet” things. In your homemade goods, use raw unrefined sugar (lessen what the recipe calls for as much as possible), blackstrap molasses, and maple syrup. Honey has a high amount of fructose, as does agave, so they are not recommended in frequent quantities.

Culprit 4: Chemical (Artificial) Sweeteners

Examples: Anything with Aspartame (Equal) or Saccharin (Sweet & Low). This is how most Diet Sodas and Diet Beverage products are sweetened. The only truly natural, safe sugar substitute on the market is Stevia/Erythritol.

Why Is It Bad? Aspartame and Saccharin are carcinogens in the body. They have been linked to everything from cancer to fibromyalgia to migraines. They’re terrible for you – don’t touch them. There is nothing “Diet” about them.

Replace It With: You can replace the damaging artificial sweeteners with products that contain Stevia/Erythritol. Stevia/Erythritol is safe to eat and causes no digestive distress. In fact, there is evidence it is beneficial for our gut bacteria by providing prebiotic fiber. Sucralose (Splenda) is also OK in small amounts, because it isn’t carcinogenic. But it doesn’t provide food for good gut bacteria. And because your body thinks it is sugar but cant’ digest it, it can cause bloating. So use it only when no other option is available.

Final Notes on Culprit Foods (ie “the Boulders”)

When you have a meal combining high fat with high sugar, you are guaranteed to have instant bloating and significant inflammation within an hour. Typical examples are Mexican food with a soda or margarita, or fast food with soda. That’s because the combination of high fat/high sugar is extremely damaging to our bodies. Our bodies respond to even one meal like this the same way they do a virus.

In addition to being disease-causing, the 4 things called out above contain zero nutrients to help offset their harm.

There are a lot of natural foods under debate right now, from grains and beans to dairy and red meat. Yet it is important to know that foods designed by nature over millions of years have many benefits to neutralize any damaging elements they may contain to the human body.

For example, red meat may be high in saturated fat, but it’s also very high in complete protein (essential amino acids), crucial minerals like iron, has been shown to improve gut bacteria. Eating pastured or wild meat reduces its fat content considerably.

There are no “work-arounds” for the 4 items I listed above. They were made by corporations who don’t understand nutrition or how their products work in the human body. Those items should be first on the chopping block of any serious health program.

Keep in mind also that the 4 Culprits listed above are common for many people but you are the best person who knows your “Boulders” – that is, your dietary stumbling blocks. It might be wine or beer. It might be ice cream. It might be Kellogg’s Corn Flakes! Take an assessment from your food journal and determine your top 2-3 boulders to remove.

The important thing about Health Education at this Phase is to cut out the noise and focus on the basics, at least at first. Get really clear on the Education that matters at this point. You don’t need to be stressing out over balancing micronutrients that Level 5 folks are working on, if you’re at a Level 2 and working to simply cut large amounts of processed food from your diet.

LEVEL 3 TO LEVEL 4: MINDSET

growth mindset chart

After we have become Aware, and then gotten clear about the Education that matters, we will find ourselves starting to elevate on this journey. We will have mastered quite a few fundamentals, and begun to separate ourselves from the “pack” of mainstream America.

This is often when Psychology comes into play – our Mindset. As people start to succeed in any endeavor, they often start having an identity crisis with who they previously were. In Health, they may even feel pressure that society puts on us to stop eating better.

That’s right, society does that! It’s like the analogy of the crabs who have all been trapped in a cage. If all the crabs are just hanging out in there, none of them act up. But as soon as one crab starts trying to climb up the crab trap to get out, all the other crabs will try to pull him back down.

Bucking the mainstream is tough on the emotions. In this “Westernized” (corporatized) society, Health Is An Act Of Rebellion. Not to be dramatic, but it’s a little bit like living in The Matrix. As long as you accept the reality that is told to you, everything is fine. But question that, and you’ll encounter resistance. That’s OK – do it anyway. Because just like taking Nero taking the Red Pill, it’s your only path to freedom.

Advertising is run by corporations, and they don’t WANT you to stop eating their crappy food. And neither do your friends and coworkers who are still eating it. From every angle you’re probably going to start encountering resistance to being healthy. You might be called names like health freak, gym junkie, granola cruncher, or hippy. I am absolutely amazed at the amount of contempt that a lot of our society has for people who choose to eat healthy or live against the corporate messaging grain.

Most food advertising out there convinces us that eating fast or processed food is cool, and that home cooking is boring, hard, and decidedly NOT cool. But guess what else isn’t cool? Tripling rates of Type 2 diabetes and Diet-related cancers. It’s really not cool that people are passing away at age 70 from a preventable disease when they could have enjoyed their lives and loved ones for another 20 to 30 years. If you’re 30 years old, can you imagine having your life completely erased up until this point?

So at this level, we need more than ever to get our MINDSET right. We need to be playing the long game. We need to be playing chess, not tic tac toe. We need a Growth Mindset, even if everyone around us won’t give up their Fixed Mindset.

One of the things that I want to get you starting to think about, if you haven’t already, is that physical health (nutrition + exercise) and emotional health (stress, mood, relationships, extraneous events) are completely interconnected. They are absolutely inextricable. You just can not consistently eat healthy or work out when you are in a terrible mood, stressed out of your mind, or suffering an emotional trauma. You won’t want to, you won’t be able to. And when you’re eating harmful food, you’re not going to have a clear mind.

On the flip side, when you start eating better, you gain the energy to exercise. When you exercise, you feel more like eating right. Once you’re on an upward health momentum, junk food becomes a lot less appealing and you are better able to deal with stress. Those three things tend to either collapse in on one another, or build each other up.

So while you are working mastering your current level in Nutrition or Exercise, please be very mindful of the stressors in your life, and your general mood and outlook each day. Log it in your food log, if you need to. Attempt to reduce your stressors as much as you possibly can, even if it means avoiding people with constant negative commentary, news headlines or political races, etc.

There are a lot of stress management techniques that you can use. But as I mentioned in the section on Inner Children, if a stressor is chronically severe, or has become abusive or traumatic, then you may need to remove it and physically get away before you can really be mentally strong enough to focus on your health.

Health requires discipline, and discipline requires emotional strength. Stress breaks down our spirit and our emotional resilience. It leaves us wanting to crawl into bed and shut the world out. And too much of it for too long will make us despondent and hopeless – our dreams and goals disappearing on the wind while we watch, feeling powerless to stop it.

Stress can be as simple and short-lived as a driver who cuts you off. But stress also has the power to become a freight train that derails your life. Always remember that, and never underestimate its power. Just like the ocean, never turn your back on it for too long.

In summary, the one hard and fast rule to health is that you have to take care of your mind if you are going to have the energy and optimism to eat well and exercise.

This also means not letting fitness itself become a stressor. Eating delicious/wholesome food, and moving our bodies, should FEEL great. If we’re starving ourselves to death, eating nothing but iceberg lettuce, or if our workouts feel overly laborious and grueling, we’re not on track for long term success – and we’re not operating at the level we’re at. We’re trying to jump ahead again.

Remember to work with yourself where YOU are. Don’t look at the crazy box jumps, handstands and HIIT sprints that the Instagram “fitness experts” are performing at the gym and think you need to do that right out of the gate. Don’t think you need to go from eating fast food 6 nights a week, to cooking up gourmet meals for a family of 6. You wouldn’t be expected to perform a heart surgery after reading one WebMD article, right?? How silly!

It’s the same concept though, it really is. We compare ourselves to people online who have been living and breathing fitness for 5 or 10 years, and think we need to be just like them within 3 workouts or we’re a failure. That’s nuts!

Furthermore, you don’t know what those people’s mental and emotional lives are like, and I can tell you one thing – the leaner or more muscular you get, the more you have to live and breathe fitness to achieve and maintain it. Not everybody wants to take those tradeoffs, and that’s perfectly acceptable – even preferable – to obsession.

Remember, life is about balance. Health is about balance.

LEVEL 4 TO LEVEL 5: MASTERY

older asian women being healthy

Alright! When we reach Level 4, we are rockin’ and rollin’. To look back, we’ve come from a complete lack of self awareness, utter confusion over what is true about health, and stuck in a cycle of cultural messaging designed to work against us. We’ve fought our cravings to sugar and fat, we’ve learned to identify deceptive messaging or nonsensical fads, we’ve made room in our schedules to prioritize food, exercise, and emotional care time.

Ultimately, we’ve taken our Health into our own hands. We’re certainly not perfect, and life still throws curveballs. But somehow along this slow journey of daily habits, we’ve gained confidence, lost weight, improved our moods, and now have more energy for the things we love. We’re coming out ahead, and we can sense it.

The journey from Level 4 to Level 5 is where a lot of people who are dedicated to Health spend the remainder of their lives.

Just as the beginner levels were about quick, drastic results and getting some easy wins with low-hanging fruit, the higher levels become the opposite. If the lower levels are the boulders, the higher levels become then the pebbles: the long tail of refinement and smaller-scale progress.

Rather than dropping 10 or 20 pounds as you might have done in your earliest days just by cutting out McDonald’s, you might now take 6 months to lose your last couple pounds of fat and gain a few pounds of muscle. You might start need to start tracking caloric intake or macronutrient ratios in order to make further fitness gains. Or you might be starting to dive into more speciality education of micronutrients and their effects on the body. You may be pretty happy with where you are but continue interest in reading the latest cutting-edge health research.

Health has become a priority and a top interest to you, and have likely amassed significant knowledge and experience around many health topics. Congratulations! You’re a leader.

So, if here is where you spend the majority of your time, or the rest of your life, then you are a fortunate person indeed. Statistically, you will be amongst the top 5-10% of healthy people in this country. You will have cut your risk of diet-related and preventable diseases by up to 90%. You will have likely extended your life expectancy by at least 10 to 20 years or more, and improved the quality of those last decades life. You’ll be out traveling, exercising, and feeling vibrant, even as some of your peers are hooked up to chemo machines or stuck in regular dialysis.

But before we get to the sunset decades of life, take a step back and appreciate your accomplishments. And don’t just stop there. Recognize that you have become a role model to other people in this nation. Don’t let your journey stop with you – let it become a legacy. Consider inviting other people to join this journey, or working with someone you care about who is stuck at a lower level and could use some help or support.

You now recognize that food advertising and positioning controls the majority of beliefs most Americans have about health and food. And you’ve pulled back the curtain on what’s truly happening with mass produced crops and factory farms. Now, become a leader and an advocate. Share your knowledge, talk to people, or hell – leave your miserable job and start your own health or food business!

It is only by challenging the system in place, and by opting out of it, that we can force change. Companies can advertise the heck out of their products. But the one thing they can’t do is force their food into your shopping cart or your mouth.

Remember that you can vote on the best food system for this planet, a minimum of 3 times a day if you’re an average American. Consider yourself blessed and fortunate, and help those around you. Be a master and a leader, even if you don’t feel like one. Compare where you are now to where you were when you started, and hope then you can see just how much you can help the people you love.

At Level 5, you’ll realize that Mastery takes a lifetime, and that varying seasons will bring us greater or lesser consistencies. And that is just fine. We flow with life, and do the best we can.

Summary

Next up, we dive into our individual sections, describing the 5 Levels at each of our 3 Health Components:

5 Levels of Nutrition

5 Levels of Fitness

5 Levels of Health Psychology

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