I have spent over 40 years studying the body and health, both illness and wellness and how the physical systems work and break down. I have also spent the last 30 years studying how we can prevent those systems from breaking down by adhering to a healthy lifestyle. I have dedicated the last 25 years of my life to studying how our thoughts and attitudes influence our health and wellness. I can summarize my findings by using four questions to evaluate your health and wellness or lifestyle.
What are you eating?
What are you drinking?
What are you doing?
What are you thinking?
Chances are if you are not feeling “well” or suffer from “dis-ease” one or all of these questions include some unhealthy practice. The most important question is What are you thinking? But first let’s look at the others.
What are you eating?
Let’s look at what you are eating. There is so much written about diet today that many have been suffering from mass confusion. The truth is the laws of nutrition have not changed much and we still need to eat a variety of foods to stay healthy. There is no magic bullet and no magic diet. We are hear to enjoy food and eat what feels good and healthy and give us pleasure. We need to eat to live and live it up while we eat.
So what feels good and what does feel good mean.
In a nutshell after studying all the diets and after going on many of them myself, I conclude the healthiest way to eat is:
- With variety
- Not too much meat
- Fish at least once a week
- More plant based
- Limit dairy products
- Lots of vegetables and a some fruit
- High fiber grains in breads, cereals and pasta
- Protein at every meal
- Limit simple sugars and avoid high fructose corn syrup
- Eat what your body is calling you to eat.
- Eat the foods that bring you joy and energy.
- Eat in moderation
What about drinking?
It is no secret that water is important. Our body consists of 75% water. Our cells and organs need water to function. Water keeps every thing flowing. Water is cleansing. The most important thing you can drink is water. There is controversy about the amount of water one needs, but there is no argument that we don’t live very long with out water. Can you over do water? Of course! We can overdo everything.
What about other beverages? There are other ways to get fluids into our body. Fresh fruit and vegetable juices are wonderful supplements for health.
Coffee and tea have some benefits, but only in moderation. They are caffinated beverages and actually encourage our system to eliminate water. They actually can dehydrate us. The plusses of coffee is that it is a stimulant and can give us energy when we are tired and also, let’s face it-those of us that love a cup of coffee with the morning paper are drinking it because of the ambiance of it-for how it feels as it goes down and more than likely because we are in the habit of drinking it.
Tea is a little different. Caffinated tea can be a stimulant and Green tea has been reported to prevent and even attack some cancers. All the data is not in.
Tea has been found to have some strong antioxidants that help prevent disease and in some cases aid in curing cancers.
Decaffeinated herbal teas are not only refreshing but can have some medicinal value. Herbal teas have a connection to relaxation and quiet.
Wine and alcohol seem to have a place in a healthy diet, when consumed very moderately. For men this is about 2 drinks a day and for women no more than 1 drink a day. A drink is 6oz of wine, 8 oz of beer, 1 oz of liquor. Beyond this amount alcohol does more harm than good. Alcohol adds calories to the diet and also can be dehydrating.
Whenever you are consuming any beverage other than water it is best to have a glass of water with the other beverage. This allows you to enjoy the beverage of your choice but also to dilute it and allow the water to rehydrate your system.
What are you doing?
Whatever you do it must be in line with your values and goals. Your body needs to move so hopefully you are doing something other than sitting or driving. Your body needs walking and bending and stretching and playing. Without movement on a regular basis your body will become stiff and your entire system will suffer.
The doing should include daily exercise of some sort. It needn’t be so strenuous you dread doing it, but it should be enough that your body has to make some effort and in the act of doing the body is lubricated. Walking is by far the best and most natural exercise. Buy a pedometer and make your goal 10,000 steps (5 miles) a day.
Are you working at a job you love? Gardening is great doing. What about traveling. Are you doing some traveling – even if it is exploring a local park or place you have never been to? Pretend you took an airplane to come to this beautiful place and enjoy all the sites.
Do what you love.
What are you thinking?
This is the most important question, because if your thinking is in order all the other questions will fall into place. We do not over eat or drink or become sedentary because we are happy people and it feels good to our system. Generally happy people are full of life and enjoy what they eat, what they drink and what they do. Unhappy people abuse food and drink and either do nothing productive or resent everything they are doing.
This is the most important question to ask yourself.
Recently I was talking to someone who said, “You know, I am doing everything right. I am eating practically a vegetarian diet, I don’t drink, I don’ smoke, I work out with weights every other day and then walk and do aerobics 4 times a week, but I still feel like crap.”
So I asked – “What are you thinking?” she said – well –that is a problem. My thoughts are very conflicted. “ She proceeded to share some of her most recent issues. The main source of conflict is her interpersonal relationships and some issues at work.
That was it. She could do all of the exercise she wanted and eat very healthy indeed, but if her thinking stays conflicted she will continue to feel bad.
Each person needs to examine his or her own thoughts. What do you think from one moment to the other? What motivates you? What are your values? Who are you? What do you believe?
These are the questions that need to be examined in order to fully be healthy and alive.
And while you are questioning you may feel like crap, because it may be the first time you are really honest with yourself. It may be that for years you covered up all of your conflicting thoughts with distractions. Some people become workaholics. Being deep in thought about a project that needs to be completed prevents you from looking deeply within at your true thoughts.
Everyone is struggling in his or her own way with the existential questions. Some have found answers enough to move forward and live life fully. Others retreat to a mountain where they feel most comfortable with themselves and no interpersonal relationships to contend with. Look deeply within. You can only hide from yourself for so long