Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Top 9 Pro-active Choices for Health

I believe very strongly in taking personal responsibility for our health. Making informed choices in our every day lives is the first key to optimal health. Here is a list of nine choices I think are incredibly important for optimal health. (A later post will address things to avoid.)

1. Pay attention
Our bodies have incredible communicating abilities. If we are aware and attuned with our natural processes we will become easily informed of small mishaps within the body before they become disasters. By paying attention to our whole being we can realize the whole healthy beings that we all are. Paying attentions also means being aware of what gives you juice in life - to when you are most fulfilled, most joyous, and then living that way as best as you are able. Not living out our dreams is a sure fire way to health challenges.

2. Nourishing Herbal Infusions
I drink a nourishing herbal infusion every day. On the rare days I am unable, I really miss this health ally. Nourishing herbal infusions are like a powerful multi-vitamin that nourish our body. Since I've started drinking them daily there have been subtle, but important shifts in my body that would be hard to explain. More easily to explain is the lack of sickness I have had since drinking these daily. If you want to learn more about these infusions check out my earlier blogs.

3. Eating Organic Real Foods
When I was 23 years old I was diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disease the doctors said would first debilitate me then then kill me very young. There's nothing like a bad prognosis to get you inspired! After my initial diagnosis it took me about six months to get rid of all symptoms. I did multiple things during that time: acupuncture, energy work, and nutrition changes. I had always eaten very healthy. Even though I was raised in a small mormon town in Utah I sought out health food stores in unlikely nooks and crannies ever since I could drive. But, even though I was eating healthy, it was often "healthy" processed food.

(I am sure by now I don't need to list the incredible benefits of eating organic whether it be for the health of your body or the health of the planet, so I will assume we are on the same page with such a given.)

I no longer buy organic in a bottle or can. Everything we eat is fresh from the earth or fresh from the butcher. This has also made for much less fuss in the kitchen. Our meals are generally protein and veggies. So, Salmon and a Salad. Steak and Winter Squash. Chicken and Artichokes. Easy to cook, easy to clean, and absolutely scrumptuous.

Eating local is one of the most powerful things you can do for the health of the planet as well as the health of yourself, family and community. They say that most people's food has been shipped an average of 1500 miles before it reaches their plate. By eating food that has been shipped from so far away we lose our ability to take responsibility for our food. We don't know how this food was farmed, if the people who farmed it were treated fairly, we can't possibly know the damage that has happened because of the oil usage in the shipping of these foods. On the other hand by visiting your local farmer's market and getting to know your farmers you'll end up with dinner on your plate that you will have a connection with. The list could go on about the benefits of local food and on and there are plenty of other articles and books on the subject.

I also eat according to my Metabolic Type. This "diet" is a way of determining how individual bodies metabolize food and creating a lifestyle that is supported by that metabolic type. I really appreciate this method as it puts the responsibility of food choices in each person rather than making a generalized statement like: "the mediterranean diet is the healthiest way to eat." I am sure it is... for Mediterraneans.

When it comes to eating Real Foods there is an easy to way to determine if it's real or not. Just ask the question, did my ancestors eat this 200 years ago? No? Then you'd probably better stay away from it now.

4. Dance, Yoga, Qi gong
There's nothing like exercise - especially the kind that feeds your soul. Dancing is a given in our household. I've done yoga for many years now and really appreciate the many aspects of this ancient art. Qi gong is something I have only done through tapes and DVDs, but even still I have to say it's incredible powerful. The days I choose to do Qi gong in the morning are the days I am vibrant and full of energy.

5. Spend time outside
Being outside reminds me of why I am on this beautiful earth. Seeing this valley and our river teeming with life makes my heart swell and is a strong reminder of why I believe humans are here - to caretake all life. Being outside in the sunshine also has the practical application of giving me essential nutrients like Vitamin D.

7. Bodywork
Call me biased, I am a bodyworker, and I also absolutely love bodywork. Whether it's Structural Medicine, Craniosacral, Reiki, or general massage - I'll take it. Often seen as a luxury, I think it's a necessity. Regular bodywork can help us to avoid injury and prevent other structural problems before they start. And, as someone who regularly works with structural issues: It's much easier to solve them 20 years ago.

8. Say thanks
Upon waking, before eating, after eating, as the deer play in the yard, as I drink clear tasty water, as a client walks away with reduced pain, as I walk by my plant friends I give thanks. I give thanks to remind myself of all the good things in life. I give thanks, simply to give back.

9. Love and relationships
There's no greater thing on earth than love, whether it be love for ourselves, our partners, friends, family, the earth and the creatures we share it with.

I'd love to hear what your pro-active health essentials are.