This article is written in February, 2011 and requires a little backup before you, my reader, can understand the context that leads to what I am writing. In December 2009, just as I was making my new year’s resolutions, although I have always been an advocate of holistic health, I came to realize that I felt old. Now some would say at 58 years old that would not be an uncommon state of affairs, but probably for all of us it can also be a wake-up call to start a new journey towards optimal health.
2010 was a great journey and at points during the year I felt 15 years younger, was three stone (42 pounds) lighter and approached each day with maximum energy and vitality. But to everything there is a season, and in the fall I enjoyed more sweets more glasses of wine with friends etc. Therefore, the new year once again has me starting the mind/body/spirit push towards optimal health. Because it works so well, and after just a few weeks I am feeling so much better, it occurs to me that you too might find interest here. This article is about three things that will help you to focus your mind, your body, and spirit within you towards optimal health. It is written with the deep hope that you will find it provocative and will take steps on your own journey.
The Power of Your Mind
It's a cliché to say "the power of our mind" but nevertheless that power cannot be discounted. For instance, if you are someone who enjoys going to the gym then your mental talk when you go in suggests that you will have a good time. If you are more like me, ambivalent at best and horrified at worst about working out with other people in small amounts of clothing then your self-talk will need some readjustment before you can get the best out of that experience. The same is true for all aspects of our lives, isn't it? What we think about determines our quality of life, and our subconscious mind will make sure that the things we think about come into a reality, therefore when I am starting on a journey to optimal health my first step is to regularly feed my brain with positive, growth oriented, writing or speaking. There are a lot of resources, I'm sure you have your favorites. My favorite is Philosopher's Notes by Brian Johnson. I listen to a short 15 minute MP3 audio synopsis of a positive thought book every day. Within the first 10 days, every time I start this routine again, I notice that my outlook becomes more optimistic.
Last year I learned about the power of maintaining an alkaline balance in my body. I had been unable to lose weight because my body was so acidic that it held onto fat to protect itself from the acid environment I was creating inside of me because I ate primarily the common Western diet. I was amazed to learn that acid does not have to do with the food, but how the food metabolizes in the body. Wheat, meat, sugars, fruits, refined foods of any kind, metabolize acid, or more acid than their unrefined counterparts.
I can't say it's not tricky to change your diet completely. Of course it is. So many things create our eating habits, most of them cultural and social, less of them agricultural and geographic. That's why I'm comfortable with an 80% solution. 80% of the time I eat at home and have complete control over what I do. Thanks to the work of Robert Young, and the pH miracle, I learned many quick 10 minute recipes for completely alkaline foods which are both delicious and deeply satisfying to my body.
When I brought my pH level from a 5.5 to a 7.5 where it belongs, the weight just fell off. I lost that three stone in less than six months. I never felt deprived or unhappy, in fact quite the opposite, I was feeling more and more energetic and younger by the month. Research has shown (in a saliva test given to 1718 cancer patients) that 47% of them had a pH of 4.5, in fact all but 9% of them had a pH substantially below 7.5, so it is no coincidence that are pH being neutral provides an environment in which our cells can flourish.
Of course our bodies like to move, although when I have grown into a couch potato for a while, hiding from the cold weather I may have forgotten it. I found out last year that part of being young is finding movement that you really enjoy. For me that involves bike riding and I have come to love living in Ireland and doing long bike trips across our wonderful countryside. Second on my personal list is teaching water aerobics, as much because I love teaching as because I love the activity. Last on my list is working out in the gym, but fortunately I found a person who has turned me onto a quick 15 minute fat burning workout, and I can manage that. On your list of activities, what do you love to do, like to do well enough, maybe often for other reasons, and, finally, can put up with? Perhaps we need things from all three categories to do a really good job of moving our bodies. I would suggest we all remember that variety is the spice of life, and mix in some new and fun activity with our routines and rituals in exercise.
I started by calling this a mind/body/spirit journey, so where does exercise fit in? For me, it has come to fit with spirit. The fact that this is true surprises me beyond comprehension, but nevertheless it is what I have come to understand. When I am bike riding I know the feeling of being one with the universe -- experiencing that magnificent openness and vitality that comes only at peak moments of experience of life. I have come to realize that this feeling is what life is all about, and if it takes getting on my bike regularly to allow that openness to occur, then bike I shall.
Blessed are those of us who have found something that awakens their body and their spirits together, for then optimal health is easier. For me it is biking, for my brother it is sailing, for women friends of mine it is gardening, it matters not except that in order to journey to optimal health we need to know what moves our minds, our bodies, and our spirits forward. I sincerely hope that these few words will have sparked some memory or interest in you and that you will be successful in finding ways to capitalize on your own personal journey to optimal health.