Skepticism is sometimes absent when one embarks on a journey towards health (or enlightenment, or financial freedom, marital bliss, etc). Exploring the subject of health one is bound run into the New Thing time and time again. The newness of the New Thing causes an revolution in thought which is so exciting. And this excitement gives the New Thing automatic and often unearned credibility. This happened to me when I began my process of health education and discovery, still happens sometimes. I get turned on by some bit of wisdom, a new nutrition plan, a book, a film, a supplement, and later realize it isn’t right for me. The process of becoming healthier, a process I continue, is a learning process. Here are some of the things I have come to believe and wish I had known earlier:
1) When you get sick it is not necessarily because something is wrong. Fevers, fatigue, and vomiting are certainly signs of illness, but not signs that something is wrong. Illness is often a sign of your body doing something right, like cleaning up a mess. So, the next time you are getting a fever say “Good job, body!”
2) Just because a physical complaint or symptom is typical does not mean it is normal.
3) Hours and hours of cardio will not make you healthy, strong or skinny. If you like to run or bike or swim, do it. Or don’t do it. But DO be active. And lift weights.
4) Aspartame is bad for everyone’s health (really, I did not know!).
5) Gluten is bad for many, many people’s health.
6) If you clean up your lifestyle and diet radically it is possible to experience a physical change in 7 days that will change your life forever, truly.
7) In the triad of health (structural, chemical/nutritional, and emotional) do not underestimate the power of negative emotional stress to cause your health to start circling the drain.
8 ) Touching the hot stove and moving the hand away is pain, touching the hot stove over and over is suffering. When something makes you feel bad physically or emotionally (margaritas, playing small, that certain brand of frozen pizza, staying up too late, the list goes on . . . ) to continue to indulge or allow it to be a part of your life is the definition of insanity.
9) On the other hand, making “Never again will I…” proclamations is easy. Following them is hard. Make your goals small enough to accomplish so you can achieve some successes, then turn up the ambition. And do not indulge in self-criticism. Reflection, honesty and loving kindness are enough.
10) Cast iron cookware is great. I know this does not really keep pace with the other things on the list, but I have owned many cheap and expensive pans over the years, and nothing beats a seasoned cast iron pan. Eggs doesn’t stick, they clean up easily, they’re inexpensive, and you can bake in them too. And they don’t have that toxic non-stick stuff on them. So glad I noticed my friends Rachel and Ray, arbiters of smart, using their cast iron last Spring, I may not have realized.