Health & Wellness

Achieving the Total Health Package

It's more than just healthy eating and exercise
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 A moment of cassava pie and barbecued chicken on the lips, a lifetime on the hips, right? 

That might be true to an extent, but we’re missing the point if we judge our health solely by how much we weigh and whether we can burn it off quickly at the gym. 

Sabrina Famous points out that our body weight is only one of many indicators of our wellness – and it can often be misleading. 

“We see it all the time: women getting on their scales every day and getting disappointed if it’s not in the right spot,” said Dr Famous, a physician at Ocean Rock Wellness, on Point Finger Road, Paget. 

“What people really need to consider are questions like, ‘How do I feel? Do I have more energy? Am I sleeping better?’ 

“We have to recognise we should prioritise our whole health. It’s really about setting up your life in a way that supports that.” 

Annabel Fountain, the medical director at Fountain Health, noted another problem with obsessing about your weight. 

“It’s not about what you look like – you’re all beautiful,” she said. 

“It’s about what’s happening under the skin. You can have someone who is quite slim who has metabolic problems, for example.” 

That doesn’t give you the green light, of course, to eat as much unhealthy food as you like and settle down for a lifetime on the couch. 

“There was this trend that fat was fabulous and big is beautiful – but it isn’t true that it doesn’t matter how big you are,” Dr Fountain said. 

“You have to think about all the possible complications of being really overweight, including dying or heart attacks. There is a significant risk of immortality with every BMI cohort that you go up. 

“Even if you feel well, check yourself out. Have your doctor check all your parameters.” 

According to the World Health Organisation, a BMI of 30 or more counts as obese; below 18.5 is considered underweight. 

But it’s not just about the numbers. As well as maintaining a healthy diet, if you really want the total health package you need regular physical activity, good sleep and to keep your stress levels low. 

Dr Famous says we often overlook another health requirement: detoxification. 

“Let’s say you lost 30lbs of fat mass. You are probably going to feel very good about that,” she said. 

“But fat mass is generally very toxic. Now that you have broken down 30lbs of fat cells, where are all the toxins that were stored in those fat cells going to go? Did you detox? 

“If you’re not detoxifying, you are missing a really big piece of the puzzle.” 

We are continuously exposed to numerous toxins, from additives in foods to chemicals in beauty products and both indoor and outdoor air pollution. 

“We live in this very toxic soup of a world,” Dr Famous said. “We don’t recognise it because we’ve kind of fallen into it, but our bodies are being completely bombarded by toxins. 

“We need to start detoxing our world, even if it’s just making better choices with the clothes we wear, or the beauty products we put on our skin, or the food that we eat. The less toxins we have in our world, the less our body is burdened.” 

There’s no getting away from the importance of healthy eating though. 

“You are what you eat,” Dr Famous said. “That saying exists for a reason. Most people, if they just make a small change, notice the improvement. 

“They notice they have more energy the more green vegetables they eat. They notice how good everything works when they drink more water – they may have less headaches. It matters.” 

Back to the question about cassava pie and barbecued chicken, then. 

Dr Fountain advised: “It’s OK to eat treats like these if it’s a celebration. 

“Cassava pie is meant to be for Easter and Christmas and that’s fine. Going to the buffet every day and eating cassava pie is not a celebration. We shouldn’t be eating them every day.” 

The total health package varies from individual to individual, but vital components include: 


The WHO recommends 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous activity every week. 

Once again, though, it shouldn’t purely be a numbers game. 

“We try to recommend that exercise is just something you enjoy,” Dr Famous said. 

“If you really enjoy walking than do that – it’s better than doing nothing. In Bermuda, we are so blessed with these beautiful oceans. If swimming is what you like, then do that. 

“Really, it just matters that you are moving, because our bodies were designed to do that. Our bodies weren’t designed to go out, have a run and then just sit for the other 23 hours.” 

It often comes down to making wholesome choices. 

“A lot of times we come home and wind down with the TV. Before you know it, it’s been four hours,” Dr Famous said. 

“Maybe instead of going home we can go to the playground instead, or have a family walk down the Railway Trail. 

“We might not be intending to look for exercise, but there is a whole calming of the senses after a busy day at work. It exposes us to nature and breathing fresh air.” 

When it comes to exercise, if you’re feeling exhausted, your physical performance declines or you’re experiencing problems with heart rate, sleep disturbances or appetite loss, you might be overdoing it. 


This gives your brain a chance to detoxify, allows your body to rest and helps your hormonal cycles. 

Dr Famous recommends getting sun exposure early in the day to help your circadian rhythm, refraining from caffeine after 2pm, avoiding strenuous exercise in the evening and shutting down electronics two hours before bedtime. 

“Sleep is super important. A lot of these things are simple habits that can make a big difference,” she said. 

Avoiding stress 

Our bodies have evolved to experience stress. But whereas our ancestors might undergo one-off stressful events like being chased by a wild animal, modern-day humans face a never-ending stream of deadlines, traffic, meetings and financial worries. 

“We are constantly running from lions,” Dr Famous said. 

“We are forgetting that there is an entire chemical onslaught of events that happen because of the stressful situation. Cortisol increases. We shunt the blood flow from our abdomen down to our legs so we can run. All those physiological things are happening all day. 

“This creates a physiological set-up for a whole host of other things to go wrong, like our other hormonal cycles.” 

To limit stress, Dr Famous advises regular meditation and breathing work. 

Finding internal happiness 

It might sound simplistic, but all these ingredients can be knitted together by making a concerted effort to find happiness. 

Pick healthy foods you enjoy eating, surround yourself with loved ones as you take part in physical activities you find fun – and sleep well and ward off stress by being grateful for the good things in your world. 

“The practice of being grateful for anything makes you feel happy, elevates your heart frequency, can de-stress you and help you sleep,” Dr Famous said. 

“We encourage people to try to find happiness every day.” 

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