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.

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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

Carbs are NOT the Devil!

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When most people decide they need to drop a few unwanted pounds the first thing they usually do is lay off the carbs.  I must admit I’ve been guilty of doing the same thing a time or two. I think it was sometime in the 90′s that carbs became the enemy of the american diet – at least as far as weight loss was concerned.

Well, I’m a big advocate of living simply and practically. It’s the premise for which my blog was created. I wanted to teach people to live healthy lives by implementing practical strategies. It’s never necessary to go to extreme measures to lose weight. Ultimately, those quick fixes don’t last because they are not sustainable. To consume high protein low/no carb diets don’t work in the long term.

Here’s the thing – our bodies need a combination of nutrients to survive. In particular, our bodies need macronutrients. Macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories or energy. Nutrients are substances needed for growth, metabolism, and for other body functions. Since “macro” means large, macronutrients are nutrients needed in large amounts.

The three most common macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Carbohydrates are the macronutrient that we need in the largest amounts. According to the Dietary Reference Intakes published by the USDA, 45% – 65% of calories should come from carbohydrates.

So this is why when people go on low carb diets they have very little energy and find it difficult to be productive. Carbs provide us with a valuable supply of energy.

Here are the main reasons why the majority of our calories should come from carbohydrates:

  • Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel.

  • Carbohydrates are easily used by the body for energy.

  • Carbohydrates are needed for the central nervous system, the kidneys, the brain, the muscles (including the heart) to function properly.

  • Carbohydrates can be stored in the muscles and liver and later used for energy.

  • Carbohydrates are important in intestinal health and waste elimination.

Most people associate carbs with higher calorie foods like sugar and starches, especially bread and potatoes. But those aren’t the only sources. All carbs are not created equally. Simple carbs provide less nutritional value than complex carbs.

Simple Carbs are found in foods like table sugar, brown sugar, molasses, jelly and jam, fruit drinks, soft drinks and candy.

Complex Carbs are found in foods like green vegetables, sweet potatoes, corn, lentils, beans and peas.They are also found in whole grains and foods made from whole grains like oatmeal and whole grain breads.

So if you are trying to lose weight and want to cut back on carbs, just choose wisely. You want to exclude the starchy, high sugar foods. You want to include more of the energy producing complex carbs.

Here are some final tips:

1. Don’t consume all of your carbs in one sitting; spread them out over small portions so you can keep your energy high and body fueled.

2. It’s best to consume carbs in the morning when your body is calorie-deprived from sleeping. Your glucose tolerance is typically at its highest during the morning, so having breakfast with a big portion of your daily carb intake is very important. Complex, slow-absorbing carbs like oatmeal are great choices for a delicious, nutritious breakfast.

3. Don’t eat carbs in the evening because most people aren’t doing any physical activity at that time. Consequently, your body won’t burn the carbs you consume, and those carbs will more likely be stored as fat.

4. Your complex and fibrous carbs like legumes, whole grains, and veggies should be spread out evenly throughout your meals. That means you should eat veggies with all of your meals except breakfast.

So, now you know why carbs aren’t the devil. If consumed properly, and in the right proportion, they can be your friend.

Reference Links:

http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/handouts/macronutrients.htm

http://www.nutritionmd.org/nutrition_tips/nutrition_tips_understand_foods/carbs_versus.html