It is true, I think, that good health does not as often happen in a great big overhaul of diet and lifestyle as it does in just staying attentive to what we eat and how we spend our time day in and day out, making smart modifications as we go along. Regular, incremental steps gradually taken over the long haul will keep us healthy and fit into maturity and beyond.
In my last newsletter/blog, I offered Six Steps to consider as we move further into Spring, each of which will bring us closer to living with optimum health, energy, and vitality. If you changed one or two things from that list, you have, no doubt, noticed some positive results in how you are feeling during the day and sleeping at night. If not, you can take another look at them right here, and begin.
We continue today, then, with the Second Set of Six Steps. You can begin with these or add them on to what you began earlier. The point is to keep adding and refining diet and lifestyle, making more and more healthy choices as you go along. Results will appear and they will be dramatic.
So, we continue.
7. Experiment with Protein.
Everybody agrees that we need protein. The questions around protein always seem to revolve around issues of the amount and the sources.
To be sure, there is adequate protein from plant sources – vegetable protein. People usually venture into a more plant-based diet for one of three reasons.
The first reason is better health. There is more evidence emerging all the time about the relationship of high meat consumption and poor health. Heart disease, some cancers, arthritis, fibromyalgia, digestive disorders such as GERD and IBS, Crohn’s disease, and constipation, ulcers, obesity, begin the list, and there are more.
Second, more people are becoming concerned and dismayed about the very poor treatment of animals in the animal farming community, as well as the anti-biotics, unnatural-to-the-species feeding and caging practices that are now well known. Animal cloning, irradiation, toxic sludge, E.coli bacteria, mad cow disease, genetic engineering, and growth hormones are also practices that are being brought more and more into question in recent times.
Third, the high level of animal consumption in this country is one of the largest contributors that exists to climate change and depletion of soils.
On the other hand, some people really do do better with some meat in their bodies. For centuries, many cultures have been eating animal protein: Eskimos, Native Americans, Africans, Europeans, Chinese, and Tibetans, to name a few. Rather than insisting on animal protein at every or almost every meal, though, it’s a good thing to try cutting back a bit and see how your body feels. The average amount of consumed animal protein in this country is so high that most people find that they feel fine with less of it, and often appreciably better.
The key here is to be observant about what your body really needs of meat. There are many other foods that provide far more nutrient value than meat. It is wise to eat high quality, organic, free-range, grass-fed forms of animal. If the animals you eat are healthy, you will be healthy. Try eating smaller amounts at a time. Keep portions to the size of your palm or smaller. Combine meat with plenty of vegetables. They will help your body to digest the meat, which is more work for your body than plant foods. Finally, pay close attention to how you feel after eating this protein or that protein.
8. Eat Fewer Processed Foods- Re-think Convenience.
Packaged foods have been heat-treated in one way or another, rendering them far less valuable as energy sources than they were in a more natural state.. Additionally, most of them contain dangerous additives and coloring – things we were never designed to have to process and that eventually cause or contribute to most illnesses.
Packaging of food costs money. Try comparing the price of a cup of almonds to make a quart of fresh almond milk to the price of one of those nice boxes filled with an inferior product. Remember, too, that the word “natural” on packaging is meaningless.
9. Make a Habit of Nurturing Your Body
- Get a massage occasionally, or a facial.
- Do a hot towel scrub.
- Make friends with your hot water bottle..
- Enjoy some nice clean lotions, bath washes, fragrant candles, and nice music in the bathroom.
- Pay attention to the cycles of the moon and the shifting seasons.
- Factor in and additional 25% every time you estimate how long something will take.
- And so on….
10. Enjoy Regular Physical Activity.
This comes naturally at this time of year after having been more confined during the colder months. What are you most eager to get into, or back to after the Winter?
Regular exercise not only strengthens muscles and improves heart and lung function, but can also reduce your risk of major diseases, stimulate the growth of new brain cells, and even add years to your life. Studies show that just 30 minutes of physical activity on most days is enough to reap big benefits.
Do what moves you!
11. Find Work that You Love.
And if it’s not in the job that you must have at this moment in your life, find some volunteer work that is fulfilling and useful. Finding work that is meaningful and that gives us a sense of purpose is one of life’s necessities.
12. Develop a Spiritual Practice or Enhance the One that You Already Have.
The word “spirituality” comes from Jewish work “ruach,” which means “breath”, or “source of energy.” I like to think of it as life being breathed into us, rather like birthday balloons that come to life and “dance” when they are infused with helium.
Spirituality is the driver in us that keeps us questioning what it is that gives us meaning, purpose and direction, and invites us to connect not only with the deepest parts of ourselves, but with others, and with God, or whatever we identify with outside of ourselves as the ultimate source.
It is also about the quality of our connections to whomever and whatever is important to us and involves a sense of mystery or wonder when we ponder and understand that we do not entirely make ourselves.
Some people derive their spirituality from connection to Religion. For others there are other avenues. It’s allowing ourselves to ask and move towards answers that satisfy us with the deeper questions that is an invaluable contribution to our health and sense of well-being.
Again, there is no hierarchy with these 12 Steps to Better Health. Begin anywhere and follow your own timing and path to the others, and you will experience great results. There is no “there” there. Rather, it is the choices that we make day after day that move us toward an abundant life in body, mind, and spirit.
I wish you well on the journey.