My family history has been plagued by some big medical issues— lung cancer, emphysema, diabetes, skin cancer, thyroid cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure— and these are just the ones I know about. Although (and Because) none of these affect my personal body, I have been on a mission to keep it that way. I know there is not a lot in my control, but I have discovered 8 practices/focuses that, I believe, will help me with my mission.
*Disclaimer: I have a general practitioner that I see at least 2x a year for medical advice and check-ups. Along with a dermatologist that lets me know if all that baby oiled lifeguarding has come to haunt me. *
I once believed the research that dairy was the one thing that you could survive wholly on- feeding my hunger with yogurt, cottage cheese, and mozzarella on a daily basis as I watched my face breakout, listened to my stomach roar, and my GI tract get all out of whack. If dairy can cause all that havoc, how could it possibly be THAT good for you? This is the same product that waves the pink breast cancer symbol proudly, but is also the number one cause of the same disease- creating a vicious, greedy cycle. (first step) Focus on pulling dairy out of your diet.
- hemp milk and almond milk
- Coconut cream and canned coconut milk (full fat)
- I make my own vegan Parm from raw cashews and Nutritional yeast
I have always enjoyed cooking, creating recipes and discovering new items. Even in college, I remember going to the grocery store to walk through the produce section to discover and awe at the displays. (Second Step) Color Matters, A LOT- EAT THE RAINBOW! Creating beautiful dishes that are picture worthy, not only look pretty, they are also the most nutrient dense.
Before I had children, I started to embrace the whole food mindset. With that came my disdain for sugar (Cancer’s best friend)- (Third Step) Replace processed sugars with more natural ingredients like maple syrup and honey in baking and never looked back.
While I don’t have the above mentioned illnesses, my quest toward optimal health and wellness has not been all sunshine and roses. In fact, I have had some very difficult moments; visits to a psychiatrist, heated conversations with my therapist, and many moments when the debilitating anxiety had me paralyzed. For many of you, mental illness may sound like a self affliction or something one can just get over – You know – Don’ t Sweat the Small Stuff, right? I believed the same thing, until it came and knocked me over.
My ambition and drive was dragging me down. Instead of using it as a tool toward success and achievement, I was beating myself up for not achieving more- breaking the glass ceiling. Through therapy I discovered how affective mindfulness practice was. I used to juggle through a fog of tasks- my day was not a success unless I DID all of the things, but then… through mindfulness I became present in my job, with my family, and with myself which has allowed me to feel fulfilled. Mindfulness has decreased my anxiety, regulates my emotions, and has helped me be a nonjudgmental observer/listener during crucial conversations. (Fourth Step) Practice mindfulness
My world had me on this figurative treadmill almost all of my life, trying to succeed, drive toward every goal and every ambition. When the treadmill STOPPED I discovered I had everything I had ever desired. It stopped almost so abruptly that I didn’t understand how to function without it. I didn’t know what to do with myself. By focusing my attention on what I earned, what I worked so hard to get, and expressing gratitude for it has improved my happiness level. I am lucky to have had this year of reflection and intention so that I could STOP and appreciate my life. (Fifth STEP) practice gratitude as it is the BEST way to improve happiness.
- Every morning breathe in someone you are grateful for, exhale and think of why you are grateful. Give yourself a few moments every morning or every evening to stop and practice gratitude.
The first chapter of Raj Raghunathan’s book “If You’re so Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?” led me to dedicate my intention on valuing happiness. I stopped striving toward what I believe happiness was and observed what happiness I already had. This practice made mindfulness and gratitude so much easier for me. (Sixth Step) Value your current ‘happy’
I wrote a post about the 5 R’s. a few months ago- please take a second to go back and read through some of the small changes that you can make on your holistic journey. The environment can be so toxic, and it can affect and derail a person every step of the way no matter how ‘holistic’ they think they are- the environment you live in (we live in, our children live in) is tearing us all down. (Seventh Step) Take small steps to positively impact the environment.
A plant-based lifestyle has been the most impactful decision I have ever made for myself. At first, I held a lifestyle that consisted of 100% plant based whole food- no wiggle room. This put a lot of strain and stress on me and my family which wasn’t worth it. I am currently 80% which was encouraged by Dr. Michael Greger’s book How Not to Die, and in his book How Not to Diet that is coming out this week. Not only is the plant-based diet better for me it is best for the environment.
- decreases your carbon footprint
- Conserves water
- Saves plant and animal habitats
- Improves environmental outcomes
- Cleaner Air
(Step Eight) Go Plant Based – even if it is just 1x a week
When I say ‘holistic health’ I am not trying to get you to think about an incense, sage burning, alternative medicine guru, with moon chanting/dancing. (although, every one of those things intrigues me) I am just encouraging the treatment of the whole person. Colds, illnesses, and cancers invade our bodies when our minds, environments, and diets are at their most toxic.