I’m hearing more about lifestyle medicine these days (thank goodness!), including another movie “What the Health” on the problems of “big health” (pharma-central health care and advocacy, processed food and other areas where $ over-rides health). Like life itself, it’s more complicated than good guys and bad guys. I love health advocacy groups, and taking funds from big pharma, is well, OK – so long as it funds lifestyle – and while pharma is often used when lifestyle ought to be the first line of treatment, drugs do save lives (with side effects). It’s just not black & white.
The American lifestyle – including:
- An over-processed, nutritionally devoid, inhumanly raised food supply,
- More sedentary lives,
- And inadequate ways of handling stress (we love us some comfort food & screen time).
All add up to bodies more likely to express the chronic disease tendencies in our family histories. We have so much room for improvement!
In the post-truth age, I am going to do my best to tell you my whole truth on this.
It’s hard to live well today.
It’s nearly impossible to eat well all the time. That’s OK, because you do not have to be perfect. If however you have biomarkers of disease (like high fasting blood sugar and A1c, lipid labs suggestive of cardiovascular disease) or symptoms (achy joints, weight gain, skin issues) that something is out of balance, you’ve gotta give it a try. You’ve just gotta keep trying. I love to eat and sometimes overeat (my 55 year-old metabolism is slowing down down down despite exercise, and that’s probably a good thing in the long run) so managing my weight is a constant companion. So, I practice.
It’s hard to get adequate physical activity. The evidence and advocacy groups say you need at least 30 minutes of moderate movement most days of the week. Ten-thousand steps might need to be elevated to fifteen (which doesn’t matter if you, like me, sometimes come in at the 1,000 range!). In order to be healthy, as you age, you’ve got to move. Quite a bit. As much as you can. Your life needs to be physical (even if you have limitations – if you can use your arms but not your legs, use your arms. There are a million ways to do it (I walk and clean and garden and do yoga and even, recently calisthenics classes – weights). I still need more. I sluff off. When I do it I feel better – less achy, higher energy. So I practice.
It’s hard not to get stressed out. Life is upsetting. We are past the Co2 tipping point, for goodness sake. That’s really bad news. We are losing a lot and need to learn to let go. But what we are losing often feels really important. And so it is. That’s why I carry around a book that helps me work on non-attachment. My own personal practice is non-attachment while caring. It’s tricky, but a really good practice. It works for me. So I practice.
So, what to do?
- To work lifestyle medicine – the heart of preventive health, or being in balance with the earth and our own bodies, we do need to wake up. To not buy the cultural norms being sold to us. To know that both fake news and true healing are alive and well in the food and health industries. Health is in the nuance – in the middle ground between fake and true.
- We have to know who we are and show up for our own lives in a real way. To be honest, I don’t care what you eat in any given moment. I do care if you enjoy it, and very much hope that you do. Whatever you decide to eat, decide to do, decide to be, do it all out, have fun with it, learn from it and carry on. There is a full, true, healthful version of you in there, and I so wish that you dance in that version more of the time.
- I can’t see a way around getting up. We have to participate in our lives in a physically and mentally active way in order to be healthy. We need to dance and clean and hunt and play golf and badminton and what ever else we love to do.
At this point in time, lifestyle medicine is a little radical – a little against the grain. It’s a little uncomfortable and might feel a little judgmental – who do you think you are, doing all that self-care?! That’s a really good questions.Pinterest
Here’s my answer of who you are: you are a divine expression of God. That’s why you deserve to be your fullest expression. That’s why you deserve to take fantastic care of yourself.
Go forth and practice! Let your freak flag fly!
There are more than 3 lies being fed to those trying to follow healthy lifestyles that lead to natural healthy weight, but these three are an excellent place to start. These 3 lies point to the truth of feeling better, being healthier, and authentically expressing and doing what you are here to express and do.
Did you know that size does not necessarily correlate with health? In over twenty years of clinical nutrition practice, I have seen many people – women and men, who are technically overweight yet metabolically healthy. Too, I have seen many women and men who are slim yet metabolically imbalanced in mind, body, and spirit. In today’s culture, with a highly refined diet and ever-increasing stress, for many it is harder than ever to lose weight. It’s not impossible, but it just may be aiming at the wrong target.
You and I have a job to do. It’s to stop feeling bad about who we are, and start taking fantastic care of ourselves. It’s to stop believing lies and half-truths designed to make us feel bad and to follow healthy satisfying and balanced eating and physical activity that works to make us the healthiest, happiest version of ourselves that we can be.
Here are 3 big lies that are keeping you heavy, and the truth that will point the way to feeling fantastic:
1.If you can’t lose weight there is something wrong with you.
It’s not you. For years I’ve spoken to women who feel responsible for weight gain and feel like failures because they can’t achieve the weight they were in high school. They are successful in all areas of life – big wage earners (despite economic discrimination) who run families, have healthy relationships, and yet in this one area, unsuccessful.
The toxicity in the food supply, years of metabolic dysfunction, an unhelpful mindset, and the resulting stress is the perfect storm to feeling unwell and defeated. The fact of the matter is that what will make you feel better – no matter the number on the scale – are your daily habits and choices, and your mindset.
2. You have to be ever-perfect at a diet for it to work.
NOT (usually) true!
Deprivation diets don’t work. Starvation or fasting diets, even intermittent fasting, which has some merit, has the dirty little secret of lowering your metabolic rate, sometimes by a lot and for a very long time. There may be a variety of advantages to lowering metabolic rate (it may make you live longer), but please go in with eyes open. If eating less is not something you’d be happy doing evermore, save yourself the time and grief – don’t do it.
The truth of the matter is that small changes, that you are able to practice day after day without feeling deprived, is the only way forward. Most people can’t transform overnight, but I have seen lots of folks do great with a step-by-step path. If you feel the energy of transformation, there are ways of taking advantage of it without it setting the stage of yo-yoing your way to nowhere.
3. It’s all about calories.
So NOT true!
Energy balance (calories in as food and drink minus calories out as activity and metabolism) is important but quality (nutrient density, macro-nutrient balance and quality) matters just as much or more. If you have inflammation in your body – if your joints are achy, if you are bloated (swollen, really) you can do ‘all the right things’ for weight management and not get anywhere. Cooling inflammation with thoughtful choices is critical and independent of calories. Beyond that, how you eat matters as much (even more) than that. Taking your time to chew your food (can you slow down to take 10 chews per bite?), and taking a few moments to breathe and enjoy your food with all five senses can go a long way to improving your digestive wellness and your weight.pinterest
As a high-schooler, I developed bulimia. It was a seemingly easy (or at least doable) solution to an impossible problem; how to eat all those cheeseburgers and cokes and milkshakes that everyone else was eating and still look as slim as the models in the magazines. I could almost do it. But not quite. I tell that full story in Every Bite Is Divine.
For decades now, I have been thinking and writing about how yoga can help us to be more fully aware of who we are. But there is a shadow underfoot. I’m a 55-year-old post-menopausal woman and I feel fantastic and beautiful. I’m an excellent yoga teacher at the top of my game. I don’t, however, fit the beauty ideal of the yoga world. The media world of yoga is getting awfully slim. Sigh.
But that’s not the whole of the yoga world. There are beautiful women and men of every age, of every size, or every color and creed using the gifts of yoga to feel better, look better, live longer and be the fullest expression of who they are today. If that’s you, look around this space. See if there is something here for you. Come be part of the conversation of how we live and love each day in a balanced, happy expression of our unique and blessed place in the wonder of nature and life.
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