In my last blog post I talked about the detox lifestyle and what it is. Let’s review.
A detox lifestyle (or clean lifestyle) is one that has a predominance of non-inflammatory foods in the diet, optimum hydration (with water), adequate rest and relaxation for de-stressing and rejuvenation, and adequate exercise and activity. Notice I specified here, what it is…not what it’s not. I did this because the point is: if your lifestyle is 75-85% ‘clean’ than it’s like putting money into your bank account on a regular basis, so that when you withdraw money from it, you don’t break the bank.
Some of you may bemoan…why does it matter?’ or ‘why bother’? I notice that younger people (prior to 40 years old) who still have enough ‘money in the savings account’ of their body, do not notice the slow imperceptible aging going on that is directly related to lifestyle. These aging changes are different than the normal aging that happens as we move along our aging trajectory. These lifestyle related changes are what imperceptibly over time, lead to chronic disease.
Lifestyle Choices Cause Inflammation
These lifestyle aging changes are due to inflammation we cause in our own body. We impose it onto our body by the foods we choose to eat, and those we don’t eat enough of. We impose it onto our body by inadequate rest and over-stimulation. We impose it onto our body when we stay in a state of chronic low grade dehydration from inadequate water intake.
When I was doing some soul searching a few years ago around this issue I was trying to understand what prevents people from making these lifestyle changes. What was the factor that resigns people to simply maintain their level of functioning and not want to strive for their optimum selves?? I believe the answer is multifaceted.
Couch Potato or Food Nazi
I often find that people recoil from the idea of attaining a clean and healthy lifestyle because they view it as an ‘all or nothing’ decision. I see lifestyle as on a continuum. The couch potato (living all his down time eating chips and drinking bear in front of the TV) is on the extreme left of the spectrum, and the food Nazi (the one who meticulously micromanages his life) is on the extreme right. Consider the middle of the spectrum, and then work your way to the right. Once you acquire a 75-80% healthy lifestyle then you can allow yourself to ‘indulge’ periodically.
Part of it has to do with the stress and demands of trying to ‘make ends meet’. It comes from too many possibilities and ‘keeping up with the jones’. Our culture seems to glorify keeping in fast motion from sunrise to sunset. We are rushing too much and simply ‘being’ with ourselves or our families too little.
I think that so many of us are like fish in water: We don’t realize we are in it until we are out of it. We adapt to a lower level of functioning. We’ve forgotten what it feels like to have a joi de vive. We’ve forgotten what it’s like to have the energy to hit the ground running in the morning and wanting to seize the day. And, at the same time, we’ve forgotten how to slow down.
How Does Your Healthy Show Up?
I think people want to ‘be healthy’. But being healthy has become equated with blood values like cholesterol or thyroid, or whatever the doctor says matters. It’s about weight and having symptoms that warrant medication… or not. It’s about past medical history and genetics. These issues in themselves are not personal, but are clinical. They are written out in charts in our doctor’s offices. They are not really about whom we are and how we are experiencing our lives inside our own bodies.
Vitality is the New Sexy
How we ‘do life’ and the quality of the energy we have to interface with our lives determines whether we just ‘go thru the motions’ or whether we embrace life. Our value systems and our knowledge base around health, as well as our habits and family patterns, will too often dictate how we ‘do life’. What would it look like to ‘do life’ optimally?
Here Are Some Questions to Consider
What about energy. I’m talking about the energy to sustain you from the time you get up until you go to bed. It’s the energy that gives you the capacity to be patient and persevering thru a day of children’s needs and employers’ demands. It’s what gives you the capacity to plan a nourishing dinner for yourself and your family rather than grabbing the easiest fast meal on the main street. This substantive energy doesn’t leave you empty tanked like a wilted flower when you finally get to bed at night.
I Have a Name for This Energy … I Call It Vitality
Vitality is the twinkle in the eye. That spark that shows up in the eye comes with an attraction to life, and of life towards you. I call my Facebook page Vitality Is the New Sexy, because sexiness is what attracts people to you.
Whatever your medical history you can still have vitality. You can have energy and a vibrancy to engage others no matter what ‘diagnosis’ you may be labelled with. If you are still young enough to not have needed to enter the medical industry, you can optimize your chances of experience life to the fullest. If you are middle aged and beyond, you can restore your vitality if you choose to.
Your lifestyle is going to be the primary factor as to your vitality. I tell me patients that the first place to start is with HYDRATION. Our bodies are made up of 75 % water. Not coke. Not coffee or even tea or juice. These beverages are just ‘add ons’ and should not be counted as the ‘hydrators’ for your body. Watch what wilted water starving potted plant does when you water it. It perks up and the leaves plump up. Our bodies work the same way. The standard recommendation is half your body weight in ounces. For example; if you are 100 lbs. then you should drink a minimum of 50 ounces of water/day (and more if working out and sweating and in summer).
Next is NUTRITION. Consider a car. The gasoline that gets the car moving can be compared to the macronutrients your own body needs. For example; the proteins, and healthy fats (omega oil foods), and healthy carbs (like beans and grains) are the gasoline. They provide most of the calories for quick energy. The oil you put in the car can be compared to the micronutrients (aka: vitamins, minerals, enzymes …also known as phytonutrients or plant nutrients). The micronutrients come from fruits and vegetables. I’m not talking about canned fruits and vegetables. I’m talking about fresh fruits and vegetables. If all else fails and you don’t have access to fresh fruit and vegetables, then frozen is your best bet. However, the best way to help get these micronutrients is with the JuicePlus nutrition supplements.
It’s really about whole foods vs process foods. Processed foods usually start from a whole food base (like wheat, or fruit, or vegetables) and then do ‘things’ to it to make it non-perishable (longer shelf life), or enriched with vitamins because the processing strips the natural nutrients. Did you know that the ‘enriched’ vitamins aren’t even real?! They are synthetic.
Processed food is basically considered empty calories at best and ‘dead food’ at worst. The processing destroys the naturally occurring enzymes so that the end product is rendered ‘dead’. Enzymes breathe life into whole foods because the enzymes are what create the possibility for the body to metabolize and utilize the nutrients.
I actually have stored in the trunk of my car a fast food “Happy Meal” from a well-known drive through. I purchased it in 2007. It is basically petrified at this point, plus the bag has had to be replaced 3 times. I say to people “if bugs won’t eat it… why would you?” Maybe convenient ‘fast ‘foods’ are called ‘fast’ because that’s what happens to your body. Ultimately it will age faster. The vitality you cherish in childhood and adolescence will end more quickly and not sustain you into your adulthood and later years.
I encourage people to understand that vitality changes with age. It’s a relative conversation. For example, the vitality of a 25 year old athlete is going to look and feel different than that of a 75 year old retired grandmother. The vitality of a 30 year old man with no health problems is going to show up differently than that of a 70 year old man with a recent history of a heart attack.
I submit to you that you can have vitality at any age and given any medical history. As one gentleman recently said to me: “I’d rather be the train, then standing by watching it go by”. To me, ‘being the train’ means not being on the sidelines watching the world go by. It means being engaged with your family and friends and community. Feeling your connection to the world and your significance in It means having the energy and desire to take initiative in your life and your health.
I submit to you that one of the first places to start in that conversation is with optimal nutrition. If you do not fuel your ‘tank’ with nutrient dense, clean food than you are metaphorically, taking from your bank account and not putting anything back in. It’s like driving your car with no oil in the tank.
“Where Do ‘I’ Start?”
Many people may feel immobilized, not knowing how to start this healthy, vitality journey. I say it’s OK to start slowly. If you are not a water drinker, commit to drinking one extra 8 oz. glass of water per day. Add one extra piece of fruit or extra serving of a vegetable per day. If you are not an exerciser then take a stroll around the block, or take the stairs instead of the elevator once per day.
Did you know it takes about 30 days for a new behavior to become a habit?
Make one simple change per day and add upon that each day.
We’ll explore what it’s like to make one simple change per day in my next blog post.
Until then… enjoy the summer and have fun making some healthier choices. Think of it as investing in your wellness.