Mind Matters: Why What You Think Impacts Your Health

At some point in our lives, we’ve all either said or heard the phrase – “mind over matter.” It basically means your mind is more powerful than any situation you’re going through. So, if you put your mind on the right things, you can overcome your problems.

mindovermatter

Over the past few decades that mantra has evolved into a multi-billion dollar “self-help, power of positive thinking” industry.

Well, it’s not a con or a quick way to sell books or tickets to a conference. It turns out it’s really true. In fact, it’s scientific.

Recently, I had the privilege to hear a world-renowned neuroscientist speak about the neuroplasticity of the brain and the mind-body connection.

Dr. Caroline Leaf has spent the past 30 years researching the science of thought. In particular, how changes in thinking actually change the brain and can effect behavioral change.

At the end of her talk, I found myself incredibly enlightened, and convinced that these changes in thinking can definitely have a direct impact on health.

Actually, this isn’t so far removed from what I’ve believed for years. I subscribe to the belief that the mind, body, and spirit are interconnected and should be integrated when you’re trying to make any kind of significant life changes.

When you address the total person and not just the symptoms that have risen to the surface, it improves the likelihood of successful results. Most people don’t need a band-aid dressing to cure their ills, they need invasive surgery. Mind, body and spirit approaches offer that.

The health challenges we’re facing in our country require an intensive, comprehensive approach.

The Modern American Diet (MAD) should make you mad. It’s literally robbing so many people of their health and reducing their life span. Research shows that people are dying 25-50 years younger from preventable lifestyle diseases, the most common being obesity.

The obesity epidemic remains the biggest public health issue facing the country, and despite awareness of the need to get in shape, more than a third of the country is now obese. Consequently, the United States is the most obese major country in the world.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the obesity rate for American adults, aged 15 and over is 38.2%. What’s worse is they estimate the obesity rate will reach nearly 50% by 2030. That’s 1 out of 2 people AND that’s only 13 years from now.

That is STARTLING!

My intention is to incite a righteous indignation in you that inspires you to make the changes you need to live your healthiest life.

Let’s face it. Most Americans know what needs to be done to improve their health. Unfortunately, most are not motivated to do it. But if the statistics I’ve cited in this blog don’t motivate you, I’m not sure what will.

If you can change the way you think about food, you can put yourself on the path toward optimal health.

Here are some practical things you can do to get on the right course.

  • Look at food as energy. It’s intended to sustain you. So, learn to eat to live, don’t live to eat. I believe food should be enjoyed. But it shouldn’t be the crutch many have made it out to be. It’s too often used to overcome stress, loneliness, depression, etc.
  • Learn to listen to your body. It will tell you what it needs. If you’re feeling tired, replace the quick sugar fix with a more natural way to get the energy you need. Sugar fixes are temporary and have devastating effects in the long run. As an alternative, drink water instead of coke. Grab high protein snacks like almonds or walnuts to give you a boost of energy.
  • Also, pay attention to how your body responds to certain things. Do you feel sluggish after a high carb meal? Are you still tired after that donut? Did you feel more energized after a cup of green tea? Your body is always giving you clues to what it does and doesn’t like. Listen and then respond accordingly.
  • Constantly affirm and reaffirm your why. Remind yourself of the reason you’re on this journey. Is it to attain good health? To come off your high blood pressure or diabetes medications? To live long enough to see your grand-kids grow up? Whatever is your motivation, keep it before you. If it’s simply about fitting into a pair of size 6 jeans, that’s probably not enough incentive to sustain you for the long haul.
  • Include macro-nutrients in all of your meals. Every meal should include protein, healthy fat, and carbohydrates. Macro-nutrients provide energy when they are eaten in balance. Too much or too little of one will cause problems with energy levels and weight.
  • Eat your colors. When you have a balanced meal with the proper balance of proteins, carbs and veggies, it’s much healthier. Plant based and live foods like sweet potatoes, greens, carrots, and tomatoes tend to be very colorful. Processed foods tend to be nutrition deprived and bland colors – mostly white or brown.
  • Pay attention to portion sizes. When you begin to eat in a more balanced way, you’ll find you need less food to sustain you. Healthy fats like avocados and nuts are very sustaining. Add them to your regular diet and you’ll find you’re not as hungry throughout the day.

Obviously, I believe wholeheartedly in the vegan diet, but I also realize it’s not for everybody. There is no one size fits all approach to health and wellness. Having said that, research has proven that an increase in plant based foods and less meat intake contributes to significant improvements to health, including, reducing blood pressure, improving cardiovascular health, lowering cholesterol, weight loss, and more.

Finally, to complement your food choices, here are a few affirmations you can make each day to help you change your mind about your health: 

-          My body is a temple and I treat it as such.

-          I am in control of my life and my health.

-          I eat to live.

-          My food is my medicine, and my medicine is my food.

-          I am brilliant and I have a role to play that nobody else can play.

-          I am a good thing waiting to happen.

healthy

Remember, when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.

Until next time…

Peace, Love & Fitness!

References:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/06/18/the-rise-of-processed-and-fast-foods-and-the-ever-expanding-american-waistline/?utm_term=.f1ddb2bc684c

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-us-is-the-most-obese-nation-in-the-world-just-ahead-of-mexico-2017-05-19

Why you should REMOVE Whole Wheat from your diet ASAP!

It has been promoted as a healthy food, but it turns out wheat bread causes more harm than good. It’s constantly turning up on the list of foods that you should avoid.

For years we’ve been told to eat wheat bread as an alternative to white bread because white bread and refined grains in general are devoid of nutrients. But now many health professionals claim that bread and other sources of gluten grains are unnecessary and potentially harmful.

Here’s the problem. On the Glycemic Index (GI), which compares the blood sugar effects of carbohydrates, BOTH white and wheat bread increases blood glucose more than pure sugar. In fact, studies on carb restricted diets (which eliminate/reduce starches and sugar) suggest that individuals who are diabetic or need to lose weight should avoid all grains.

In his popular book “Wheat Belly”, Dr. William Davis discusses why he advises his cardiac patients to avoid wheat at all costs. Here are some of his reasons:

Wheat is addictive. When the gluten in wheat is digested, it releases molecules known as exorphins, morphine-like compounds that produce mild euphoria. After digestion, a component of wheat actually attaches itself to narcotic receptors in your brain. About 1/3 of people who give up wheat will experience some withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, moodiness, and insomnia.

• Wheat causes inflammation in the body. Dr. Davis has thousands of cases of patients whose cholesterol levels dropped back to normal after removing wheat from their diets. (High cholesterol is a symptom of inflammation).

• Two slices of whole wheat bread raises your blood sugar more than two tablespoons of table sugar and even faster than many candy bars.

Furthermore, a high wheat diet has been linked to obesity, digestive diseases, arthritis, dementia, heart disease, and lupus. It’s most commonly known for its link to Celiac Disease – which is an intense form of wheat sensitivity that damages the small intestine. The increase of people with this formerly difficult to diagnose disease has triggered a tremendous rise in the amount of gluten free products currently on the market.

I encourage you to conduct further research on this topic and to consider eliminating wheat from your diet. As a start, try removing it from your diet for 30 days and see how your body responds. To make the transition a little easier, you can switch grains. There are several non-wheat grains available, including millet, quinoa, buckwheat and amaranth. They’re easy to cook, taste good, and they don’t have the gluten and other wheat proteins that trigger weight gain, inflammation, and insulin resistance.

Do you think you can benefit from removing wheat from your diet? Please leave a comment.

Until next time…

Peace, Love & Fitness!

“Say it Loud – I’m VEGAN & I’m PROUD!”


When you follow a vegan lifestyle you get accustomed to compromising what you want for what is available. This mostly happens when I’m in a situation that was unplanned. You know, an impromptu lunch with a friend, or mostly when I’m traveling for work and find myself in a small town with limited to no restaurant offerings – besides fast food. I’ve grown accustomed to that, and I can usually make it work. But I had a situation occur to me last week that really annoyed me.

I was at a local conference center for a business meeting, and when we reserved the facility we ordered lunch. We use this place all the time and its typical for us to request one vegan meal and one gluten free meal for another member of our team. I have to admit, this place has always prepared the best options for special diets. In fact, without fail, one of our team members will always look at my meal and wish they’d ordered what I have. So, you can imagine my reaction last week when the meals came out and the gluten and vegan meals were plastic containers with a mere side salad – they literally looked like they came from the deli at Publix. I’d ordered deluxe box lunches for the team with a variety of wrap options for them, which included side items of chips, fruit, and a cookie. When I questioned the server about our meals they confirmed that those were indeed the special diet items. Of course, I sent the meals back and requested meals of the caliber of the those we’d received in the past.

I was upset by this incident for a couple of reasons. First, I was really hungry and the meal was grossly inadequate; second, I felt they hadn’t given us any consideration. There was absolutely no thought to what they sent out. That really offended me, especially because we ordered our meals in advance, this wasn’t some impromptu request. Even if it had been they could’ve done better.

As everyone else was eating and I was waiting for our revised meals, I really pondered the incident. Was I wrong to be so upset? Should I have just taken the side salads and “made it work” in conjunction with the side items the other team members had? I came to the conclusion that I should not have kept the peace. Since becoming a vegan I’ve always tried to avoid being “radical” and PETA-esque. That was one reason I feared becoming a vegan and for telling people I was one because I didn’t want to be judged. That moment was a turning point for me. I decided that I would no longer care about what other people think. I’ve chosen my lifestyle and I don’t want to push my beliefs off onto others; but I won’t compromise my beliefs nor will I conceal the benefits of living this lifestyle.

Now, let me tell you the rest of the story. When we wrapped up our meeting and as I was leaving the building, the account representative who I work with at that center asked to see me. She wanted me to know that they were removing the gluten and vegan meals from our bill, but most importantly they would change their policy. She’d spoken to the Chef and they agreed that it was inconsiderate to not provide us with options. Typically at that center when you order special diet options you are at the mercy of the Chef. He can just prepare whatever he wants. Well, as a result of my incident, they will now offer three hot options and three cold options for both vegan and gluten free diets. So whatever meal theme we choose for our meetings we will have options that coincide with those. I have to say I was not expecting that, but it felt really good to know that I made a difference.

Until next time….

Peace, Love & Fitness