Just because we have a certain age in years, doesn’t necessary mean that we have the same age physically. Some people can carry 10-20 years more in their bodies than their actual age. It depends on a lot of factors; nutrition, habits, sleep, stress-levels, exercise and thought-patterns. I think this is not understood by most people and that if we knew, we would pay so much more attention to our health and well-being. This age-pattern can be tested and analyzed when necessary, showing black-on-white how body is doing inside.
We are not always very careful about our physical health and sometimes it’s shocking to see what people do to themselves; Obesity and stress are 2 major factors in accelerated body-age and both these groups are growing fast. In these days of pollution (all kinds – including “bad” foods) we need to inform ourselves how to live healthy and take necessary measures. It will not happen by itself, every person is responsible for his/her health and needs to do the job. It is never easy to change lifestyle, especially when food has become your drug, but it can be done and within a week you will feel the benefits; more energy, stronger, healthier and happier.
You might think; “Nah, I don’t have time, money, energy….(fill in the blank) to do this”. Trust me, the day your health is endangered by your bad life-style and you are facing disease or worse you will find that you are prepared to do almost anything to reverse your condition – no matter the cost, time and energy. Better then to do it straight away and save yourself the anguish which disease brings – especially when you brought it on yourself!
- Nutrition: Basically the most important factor. Food can act as a catalyst to our health or it can become a drug that pollutes the body. It’s all about choices. I have come to realize that not everyone is aware of what they are putting into their bodies so learning and understanding is needed. I have found that the best way to understanding is doing. Start with an elimination diet for one month to clear and heal your body. From there you can, little by little, re-introduce different foodstuffs and really feel what they do to you. Allergies or over sensitivity to foods are not always obvious and you might find you are sensitive to certain things once your system is cleared and you can feel what happens in your body; bloating, gas, pain, indigestion. You can download an excellent, free, elimination program here that I have used both for myself and clients with great results. Use it for a month and see what happens. It might be a good idea to keep a diary so you can stay aware of the changes and reactions. The Elimination Diet program also tells you how to prepare yourself. Eating healthy is not more expensive than eating unhealthy – on the contrary; you will find yourself saving a lot of money when you change your eating-habits. You will also, more or less automatically, lose weight and then you can use that money to buy funky clothing for your new and beautiful body 🙂
- Abuse: (or addiction) This can be anything from certain foods, sugars, coffee, alcohol, fats, tobacco, aspirin (yes, aspirin) and drugs. This all needs to go. Once you start your elimination diet you will, after an initial withdrawal reaction, feel less and less need for the stuff. Addictive behavior is always emotional and the more you have “screwed up” your system, the more you feel the need of your “drug”. The body – and mind – goes out of whack.
- Withdrawal: I address this because I have found that many people give up because of withdrawal symptoms, often believing something is wrong. You will have to go cold turkey if your lifestyle has been bad. Every addiction creates a huge imbalance in the body, keeping it craving for more. Withdrawal symptoms can be head-aches, nervousness, irritability, emotional yo-yo, and even aches and pains. They usually last around 3 days, by then the body has (under the right circumstances) cleared itself and you should start feeling very good. The natural high you get from a healthy body is amazing! This might be a good time to go for massage or sauna which will help the detox move faster and more efficiently.
- Water: Water is life and makes up ca 70% of our bodies. Water is the most important nutrient to our bodies and is involved in every bodily function. We need to drink between 1.5 – 3 liters/day. Don’t drink massive amounts in one go, drink steadily through the day. During the detox stage this is most important since your body will start getting rid of toxins and the water helps flush them out. Think of it as an internal shower. Most people today are dehydrated and with bad eating habits this gets even worse: Sugar, for example, is extremely dehydrating, so each time you drink a soda you are actually dehydrating your body instead of hydrating it! If you want to know more about what water does in your body read this article. (I highly recommend you to read it.) Get a filtration system and use it for your tap-water. Not only will it save money but it is also sustainable; no more PET-bottles littering the globe! Tap-water goes through more control processes than any bottled water (which sometimes is just….tap water in a PET-bottle)
- Stress: Stress puts an enormous pressure on our body-systems. Not only does it overload but it also increases fat-deposits in the body. When you are stressed, the digestive system closes down and stops working properly which means that instead of using fat for fuel, the body starts breaking down and using muscle tissue. So along with getting fatter, you get weaker as well.
- Fat-cells: We have a given number of fat-cells in our bodies and they stay constant, so when there is weight-gain the cells actually get larger while the overall number stays the same. The fat-cells are an important part of our health and liposuction is not an option for weight-loss. Liposuction is a huge attack on our metabolism and can be very dangerous. We need all our fat-cells – and we want them lean and mean…
- Accountability: This is IMPORTANT! Find somebody you trust that you are accountable to, a little like a coach. Tell this person about your plans to clean up your diet and ask them to back you up. It can also be a therapist or a coach. Write a contract with this person, keep a diary, connect with this person on a regular basis and be honest about what you are doing (also when you fall off the wagon) and how you are doing. When you feel yourself flagging, reconnect with your “coach” to get back on track. Another option is to go through this program with other people, staying accountable to each-other.
- Habits: Habits are hard to break and when you start a dietary program you are always facing your habitual every-day-life. You need to make changes. If you have a family they will also have to change (clean up) their nutrition. Don’t fall for the habits; pizza and beer with the friends, Friday cosiness with the family. You can do all what you used to do, you just need to tweak it; have a salad instead of pizza, have water instead of alcohol. Exchange the crisps and candy for nuts and fruits – there are always options. And if you feel you really can’t handle it, then don’t go there until you feel strong enough.
- Falling off the wagon: This is a biggie. We all fall off the wagon every once in a while and this does not mean that we have failed. Brush yourself off and get back on that wagon! Apologize to yourself, forgive yourself and get back on track. This does not need to be a major set-back. Talk to your “coach” and try to figure out how and why it happened. Once you understand that, you can refrain from falling into the trap again.
- Alcohol: Not only is alcohol toxic to your system, it is also a mental trap: Even one little glass of wine or a small beer will set you in a different mind-set; the “I can handle it” mind-set. This is when you screw up big time. There is a reason why ex-drug-addicts don’t drink alcohol; not because alcohol as such is a drug to them, but because it increases (actually maximizes) the risk of falling back into old patterns. So: NO ALCOHOL, not even the tiniest sip of champagne at a wedding…
- Planning: To make it easier on yourself and diminish the stress of changing your lifestyle you need to plan ahead. Make schedules one week at a time: Plan every meal for the week and put the schedule on the fridge. Make sure you have everything you need at home so you don’t run out. Unscheduled visits to the grocery store (especially when hungry) is the worst trap ever. You will end up buying stuff you should not eat. If you are clever you can prepare meals ahead of time to simplify your life, then you can also plan ahead for days when you know you will have less time. Plan your lunches and snacks that you bring to work and prepare them the day before. Make it as simple as possible.
In the next post I will talk about exercise and show you how you can easily incorporate it into your daily life without taking a lot of extra time or paying a fortune at the gym.