Friday, April 10, 2009

The Definition of Insanity

The Definition of Insanity

As a massage therapist, I need a lot of energy to perform my job at the level I pride myself on. For the past few years, however (since my boy was born), I had been struggling with dwindling energy levels, especially in the afternoon. I initially chocked it up to being so busy with work and family life, and not being 20 anymore.

As my energy dropped, so did my activity level, as I just didn’t have the energy to work out after a long day at the office. Then my food intake actually increased, probably due to the fact that I was sitting around more! Then I was more tired and so the cycle went!

I was also inundated with food allergies after the birth of my son, and this affected my energy levels as well. I started working on the allergies on my own by eliminating foods, and eating a mostly raw, vegan diet.

These measures helped me greatly with my allergies, and also improved my energy levels, and that is when I started really looking at what I was putting into my body, and expecting to get back in return.

So I took it a little further, slowly adding or subtracting things from my life. I gave up caffeine, increased my activity level every day (no matter how tired I was), cut out almost all processed foods (not an easy task!), and began paying more attention to what my body was telling me.

All I can say is wow! I honestly don’t think I have ever felt better. I am still tweaking things, and of course I have my “oops” days (like the bag of Reese peanut butter/chocolate bunnies), but for the most part my diet and exercise plan has been completely transformed. Along with it, my figure, energy, skin, and outlook have transformed also. I have even noticed a reduction in my chronic pain levels, even though I am working more. (Yes, I too suffer from chronic pain – I kinda abuse my body doing my job, and it lets me know!)

So why am I telling you all this? It is because I kept eating and drinking the same things, wondering why I was so tired all the time, thinking it must be my thyroid, or chronic fatigue, or some other disease affecting the way I felt. I just couldn’t accept the fact that it could be all my doing, as I wasn’t eating “that bad”.

I have heard before that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again expecting different results.

The links between diet and chronic disease are well documented, and yet we go on eating and drinking whatever we want, not realizing we are slowly poisoning ourselves, and wondering why we are gradually getting worn down and developing “age-related conditions”, blaming everything else and looking for answers external to ourselves.

We wouldn’t even think of putting bad fuel into our vehicles, and yet we put bad fuel into our bodies every day, and expect them to run clean for years and years. It just isn’t going to happen! (We also overfill our tanks, which whether it is with good or bad fuel, slows everything down and uses up too much energy.)

So stop. Take a step back and really look at your health plan, and start making changes today, one by one.

Here are a few simple things to start with:

1) Clean out your cupboards. You can’t clean out your body if you have trash calling you from your cupboards. Store bought cookies, granola bars, crackers, chips, white flour products, white rice, most breakfast cereals, muffin and cookie mixes, and almost all processed foods should not regularly inhabit your kitchen.

2) Now that your cupboards are clear of bad fuel, fill them up with clean burning fuels. Fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains (try brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, or wild rice), beans, lentils, nuts and seeds, lean meats and low fat dairy.

3) I know I have said this before, but you should always have a supply of veggie sticks in the fridge. Put them in a zip lock on the top shelf (so they are the first thing you see), and have a yummy hummus right beside it so that you have a quick healthy snack always at hand. Peppers, asparagus, snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, radishes, carrots, celery, and rutabaga are a few examples.

4) Exercise every time you think of it for 30 seconds. Do jumping jacks, run in place, do a few sit ups while watching TV, take a brisk walk around the block after dinner. Just add a few short, high intensity spurts of activity into your day. Everyone has 30 seconds to walk up and down the stairs a couple of times while waiting for their toast to pop, or their popcorn to cook.

5) Think about the stimulants you are putting in your body. Coffee, tea, pop, sugar, chocolate. They all give you a temporary burst of energy, but all inevitably end in a crash, leaving you wanting more. Sounds like a drug, doesn’t it? I admit that I am an addict. I love white flour, sugar and chocolate. It is a daily struggle to stay away from those things, but I know that they are literally poisons, and I am so much healthier without them, not only now, but in the future.

6) Before you grab something to eat, take a second and think about what you are about to put in your body. Is it filled with vitamins, minerals, or amino acids, or is it filled with sugar, fat and processed carbohydrates. Fill your tank with real nutrients, and then top it up occasionally with a little junk food if you like.

You need to switch your way of thinking. Sure lots of people drink coffee, eat sugar, and hardly exercise, and look perfectly healthy. Look at the bigger picture though. More and more people are getting cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and arthritis, even people who “looked perfectly healthy”.

If you feel like you are out of energy by midday, and can’t accomplish the extra things you want to do, just think about how this lack of energy is affecting the things your body wants to do to help itself heal and maintain optimal function.

You are investing in your health every time you ingest empty foods and sit watching television; you are just investing in a bad stock. That’s insane!