I was speaking with someone yesterday about health and feeling "good." The topic came up off the cuff. I explained that there was a lot I had done over the last many years to get myself into good physical and mental shape.
I thought I would write this down on the blog so that it would all be in one place.
I think the first and most important thing is that I consider my health to be about the "whole me" - not just some pills I take or food I eat, i.e, not just treating a "symptom." So this includes things like family, stress, job, all of that as well. Because as humans we are so tightly entwined with others you really have to consider the whole picture I think as well.
You also have to think about whatever burdens you are carrying from the past and how they are affecting you today.
So we start with what's known as the "serenity prayer" (it has lots of other names as well be we will keep this on topic):
"God grant me the wisdom to change the things I can, to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference." (And yes, it works even for atheists.)
So before you run off and say "I have to do X before Y" or "I can only do Y after Z" as far as getting healthy I say hold on a minute and think about what this prayer is telling you.
What parts of your life really cannot be changed?
We we should all know we cannot change what has already happened.
But do we really have to live with the consequences of that as they are today? Can we change ourselves today in terms of how we view and interpret the past?
Many times we believe that our lives have to "be" a certain way - I have to work, I have to make X dollars, I have to do this, I have to do that...
All of this drives us to behave a certain way. But do we really "have" to do this and that?
You have to really think about that behavior as well (you probably have to pay taxes and die but that's about all you really have to do if you think about it).
So I am saying that if you want to be "healthy" you have to put your full life into proper perspective. You will have to ultimately have healthy relationships (which might, for example, include healthy boundaries to "limit" those relationships to what you can deal with) with family and significant others, you will have to find a job that does not kill you with stress, you will have to learn to effectively deal with problems others have (drugs, health, etc.) which you cannot change.
The reason for this is simple. If your job is so stressful that its literally killing you with too many hours or overwork or a crappy boss then no amount of "proper eating," for example, is going to fix it. You will have to fix your job first - not the other way around.
Modern American medicine is only going to treat your symptoms so no US medical doctor is going to help you with any of this either - instead they will say "you're depressed," give you pills, and send you on your way.
You also have to sort out the difference between "can't change" and "unwilling to change."
If you like sky diving with your significant other but find it stressful then you might have to give it up. If you are unwilling to do that than no amount of exercise, again as an example, will eliminate that stress - you'll actually have to give up sky diving. If you keep sky diving because you feel you must then it will be very hard to make yourself healthy.
At the same time if your significant other only loves you because you sky with them then perhaps that's something that should change.
It is also my personal belief is that human's were not designed for the "information age" and our minds and brains are not designed to handle the amount of input they receive in today's cellphone-based, TV new flash world. Literally every second there is input - news on TV, texts, emails, voice mail, calls, video chats, skypes.
From an evolutionary perspective our brains are designed for sitting around on the savannah waiting for the next antelope to kill. Maybe some flies buzzing, maybe an wiggling child, but not the constant barrage of data high tech data.
And often the data content itself is stressful as well - killings, stavation, war, elections that will determine our very future, endless talking heads telling us what to think and why.
Now sometimes health comes into play too here. You get a bad report from the doctor so you start to worry. That compounds the stress, that affects your work, your boss is angry, and so on.
The only advice I have here is you have to realize that the most important thing you have to worry about is you.
Whether you're the primary bread winner or a mom with kids or just a simple housewife you cannot do your job if your head and health are all messed up. If you're a parent then understand that your kids will be worse off if you die from stress (or make them live with your stress vicariously) than if you simply "pull back the throttle" a bit and change course.
If you cannot do your job, i.e., what's expected of you, then there will be stress.
So you have to take care of yourself first and foremost.
This kind of change does not usually happen over night so don't expect it to. You may need to plan things differently, organize your life or your time differently, take some time to accept that so-and-so will never help with mom, or whatever it is.
But in any case the first step is to get your mind on the right path with the serenity prayer.
Well, two things I think: you need to eat the right kinds of food and you need to be active in the sense of moving around and not sitting all day.
Exercise can temporarily eliminate the symptoms of stress by generating endorphins. While that's great while its actually happening if mom's sitting at home angry because you didn't iron her sheets exercise isn't going to make her any less angry.
Its only going to help you to deal with the anger.
I am not suggesting running marathons or anything like that. But walking around, moving around, biking, swimming, anything but sitting (which will soon be classified as a disease if its not already).
Eating right is the most complicated thing in today's world of the Standard American Diet (SAD).
Virtually everything food-wise you buy is adulterated with chemicals, pesticides, plastic, cardboard, ink, dye, filler, fat, crud, etc.
Again, our evolutionary bodies are designed to be sitting around on the savannah eating the last kill or digging up roots or finding berries - not eating Count Chocula from a plastic bag.
There is a vast array of expertise in the world about this issue and how to work around it.
And about the only think you can know for sure is that the SAD is really, really bad for you.
Its probably making your issues with stress worse, your health worse, and so on.
The good news is that its possible to escape the SAD.
There are good nutritionists around to help. Especially those that look at your blood chemistry and think about your nutrition relative to that. (Personally I don't like kinesiology, for example, because its based on subjective rather than objective input.)
You need to find a good one that you can work with. Look for a Naturapathy Physician to help you.
Your diet is bad for sure and it will take time to fix - not days, not weeks, not even months.
You've probably been eating a certain way for many years and your body is used to that. It will take time to change so don't rush it.
(And of course, modern medical insurance won't pay for this because modern medicine thinks its okay to eat twinkees and big macs all day long...)
The good news is that lots of people are now realizing what's wrong with the SAD and are pushing retailers to sell good food. We're not there yet but we're trying...
So the keys to getting well are deceptively simple:
1. Live by the serenity prayer.
2. Don't sit around, move around.
3. Learn how to eat good, nutritious food.
You are also going to have to do some of the work yourself in the sense of going on the internet and finding things out about food in particular.
Everyone is different and what works for one person might not work for another.
We are all unique mentally and genetically and "standard" practices, particularly in medicine and nutrition, are not a one-size-fits-all solution.
The internet will allow you to research symptoms and problems. But it will also try to convince you you have every disease in the book.
Personally I like to read peoples stories, not advertising by people selling something.
"I'm Paula from X and my son has Y and I went to the doctor and the doctor said Z and ..."
What did Paula do, why did she do it, and so on. Hopefully Paula is not selling anything and simply talking about what happened to her.
Lean from what she says.
AND NO NOT PANIC.
(Virtually every serious disease known to man has symptoms like "fatigue, can't sleep, and anxious.")
Chances are you are suffering from SAD, stress and lack of exercise and nothing more.
Use regular doctors to eliminate and rule out problems rather than treat symptoms.
And don't expect medical doctors to understand any of what I am writing - especially the part on nutrition (see this post I wrote a while back: "M.D. = No Knowledge of Nutrition").
If you want to you can succeed.
You will be fighting an uphill battle against advertising on TV, doctors, the medical establishment, everything.
Remember - they are all in it for the money and not your health - DO NOT FORGET THIS.
You need to get yourself better so you can do your job in society - whatever that is.
Don't give up.
It took a lot of twinkees or whatever to get into this boat, it will take time to get out
And, as they say, every journey of a 1,000 miles begins with the first step.
(In Part II I will talk about some of the common issues that face all of us in terms of nutrition and health. Most are here on this blog but I have to dig through them to find the best places to start...)