Foundational Health Building

GM Sky Scrapers

What do I mean by foundational health building?

We build houses.  We build skyscrapers.  We build cars and trains and buses.  We build computers.  We build countless different things in our country.  What do they all have in common?  They have FOUNDATION.  They have a structure that has to be in place before the other stuff can be added.  Health and our lives are no different.  We simply cannot have healthy lives or bodies without having some foundational support first.  Without going into too much detail, what are these foundations?  Let’s take a quick look.

ENVIRONMENT:  This is step number one.  Make sure your living environment and workspace are good.  Clean air, low stress, good lighting, etc.  Hectic, stuffy environments just will not work long-term.  Taking in fresh air, clean water, sunlight, and grounding are great foundations.  These are the basics.  

NUTRITION:  We have physical bodies guys.  We simply need good nutrition for our bodies to perform optimally.  This is like having the right parts and tools to build your house.  The directions may be great, but if the materials are not there it just doesn’t work.  Different people have slightly different “parts required.”  This may be akin to different genetics, and why people tend to do best on different diets.  Focusing on super-foods and fresh local food is best.  Fruits, vegetables, organic animal products are great.  Let your body guide you.  Cutting out the junk, as always, is a good step as well.

GOD/SOURCE:  This is a super-deep topic that is beyond the scope of this post.  Ultimately, you need to personally figure out who or what GOD means to you.  Is he a good guy?  Is he a bad guy with a whip?  Does he owe you something?  Are you thankful for him in your life?  Your view of God is HUGE in your personal life.  This may be one of the most important foundational principles to work on.

FAMILY:  Family is big as well.  Having healthy family relationships is paramount to a healthy life.  When we are running around with conflicted relationships, unresolved issues, and unspoken resentments; things don’t tend to work out too well.  Focusing on fixing these damaged or broken relationships is challenging work.  However, working on family issues is critical if you want to have solid foundations.

MOVEMENT:  Life is movement guys.  We were born to move.  Not to sit at desks all day.  We don’t need much.  Anything helps.  Light cardio, jogging, biking, swimming, kayaking, mini trampoline, strength training, hiking, walking, bodyweight stuff, whatever.  Anything you will stick to is great.

SLEEP/R&R:  Sleep is where we recover.  It is where we integrate our day.  Dreaming is where our unconscious mind comes out to play.  Are you sleeping enough?  Are you relaxing enough?  Sometimes we are relaxed but don’t get enough sleep.  Sometimes we get enough sleep but we can’t relax.  Both are foundational to health and healing.

Those are the big ones guys.  Everything else comes on top of these.  Let’s fix the foundations and build from the ground up.

-JOE

Doing Enough?

Uptight.

Are YOU doing enough today?

Are you doing enough at your job?  I’m sure you could be doing better.  What about your health?  Your eating clean.  But are you exercising?  Are you getting daily sun exposure?  Are you working on your emotions?  Are your kids happy?  Is your wife happy?  When does it end?  Most of us are taught something here.  THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS DOING ENOUGH!  There is always something else we could be doing better.  There is always something we could be resolving.  So where do we find a balance?  Many people are truly not doing enough.  Many of us are trying to do too much.  So how do we figure this out?

PRIORITIZE:  Create priorities for your life.  We tend to focus too much on the things that don’t really matter and not enough on the stuff that really matters.  The ironic thing here?  When we focus on the stuff that REALLY matters, we find that we don’t strive so much on the little things.  What are the things I would advise working on?  Focus on the big things in life first.  GOD, FAMILY, HEALTH, RELAXATION, PASSION, PURPOSE, INNER PEACE AND HAPPINESS, FRIENDSHIPS, etc.  Don’t stress so much about how clean your car is, how much you can bench press, what your “macronutrient” ratios are, what you are NOT doing, etc.  These just are not important.  In fact, when we find ourselves focusing too much on TRYING to be perfect on superficial things; it often tells us that we are not listening to something bigger going on.  Why do you feel the need to vacuum your house every day?  Why do you feel like you have to defend yourself against what people think about you?  Why do you change the channel to avoid viewing something uncomfortable to you?  We need to build our houses with the proper foundations.  Tomorrow I will discuss the proper way to do this.  In the meantime, remember you’re a human being.  Remember that most of us are doing the best we can.  Often, it is WHERE we are putting our efforts that is the problem.  Remember to take time to rest and relax.  Remember you ARE doing enough in a lot of areas in your life. =)

-JOE

Metabolic Typing

Mixed salad leaves with candied bacon, crouton...

What is “Metabolic Typing”?

Honestly, this is just a fancy way of categorizing the way we eat.  Ever wonder why there seems to be so many different diets out there that people SWEAR by.  There are vegans.  There are paleo people.  There are starch eaters.  There are low-carbers.  They all think that their way is best.  Are they all right?  Are they all wrong?  What is going on here?  Enter Metabolic Typing.

METABOLIC TYPING:  In my own words, metabolic typing is a dietary theory that leaves room for differences in genetics, ancestry, climate, age, and location.  We come from different areas of the planet.  Our ancestors ate different things.  Humans have traveled the world and filled the globe.  We are all human, yes?  Yes, but we all come from different places.  We are in different phases of life and do different activities.  Trying to fit EVERYBODY into the same box just seems a little arrogant and crazy right?  Ultimately, there are infinite numbers of metabolic types because we are ALL different and unique.  For the sake of sanity, most people break down the types into three main categories.  Let’s take a quick peak and give a few tips on how to succeed as each one.  Keep in mind that your metabolic type can and often does change with the seasons, age, activity levels, and so forth.  Listening to your body and eating real food is always a good guide.

PROTEIN TYPE:  This is the realm of the “modern paleo” diet trend.  Lot’s of meat and fat.  Regardless of what vegetarians or “vegans” tell you, some of our genes require meat and fat to do well.  How much?  It depends on the person.  Protein types are usually people who feel best having some sort of animal protein a few times a day.  They usually crave dark meat, rich meats, eggs, butter, fat, full fat cheese, etc.  Nuts are often sought after as a snack.  This person is usually inclined towards strength-training and doesn’t do quite as well with cardio exercise.  They need a bit more sleep than most to feel good.  What gets this type into trouble?  Overeating.  Especially on crappy food.  These include all pasteurized dairy products, grilled or heavy cooked protein foods, fried eggs, too much bacon or preserved meats, roasted nuts, etc.  How to balance this type?  Focus on QUALITY over QUANTITY first.  Get yourself good quality, grass-fed meats, fish, fats, and eggs.  If you kilter towards animal foods, go with raw cod liver oil, raw butter, raw or lightly cooked eggs, rare fish and other meats, bone marrow, etc.  If you kilter towards plant foods (most don’t), go for the avocados, olives, coconuts, raw nuts, etc.  Another pitfall for this type is eating too many carbs or sugar.  They will usually crash if eating a lot of sugar by itself.  An example would be drinking a LARGE glass of orange juice first thing in the morning without anything else in your stomach.  People naturally slide more towards the protein type on the scale in the winter months.

MIXED TYPE:  Ah, the mixed type.  These are the “middle-of-the-road” people.  They are usually the least picky of eaters.  They can get by on pretty much everything as long as it is fresh, real food.  Cravings will shift often.  Sometimes we want some juicy rare lamb.  Sometimes we want a big bowl of vegetables or some fresh juice.  Maybe I didn’t want any fat for lunch, but boy does it sound good at dinnertime.  Mixed types are exactly how we sound.  Everything in moderation right?  The best foods for you?  Fresh fruits and vegetables as they feel right.  Some fresh juice in the morning maybe.  Moderate amounts of animal foods.  You may find a super heavy breakfast will weigh you down.  For example, a mixed type usually will do better with a lighter breakfast, as opposed to a big plate of eggs and sausage links.  The mix between preferences for animal and plant foods usually is mixed as well.  Sometimes animal fat does the trick.  Sometimes plant fat hits the spot.  Keep a wide variety of foods around and choose what feels best at the time.  This type usually likes some bodyweight exercise as well as cardio.  Problems?  It is easy to go off-balance.  Sometimes we eat too much protein and fat and get bogged down.  Sometimes we eat like the carb type and get jittery or anxious.  This all has to do with learning your own bodies preferences.  As usual, things change with the seasons and activity levels.

CARB TYPE:  The carb type eh?  This is usually where vegetarians lie on the scale.  Personally, I believe that most people need SOME high-quality animal products to be healthy long-term.  There are few people who do well in a cold climate on a carb diet.  My guess?  Most CARBS and heavy sugar fruits grow in tropical climates.  Some of us evolved in those regions.  Others evolved in colder regions.  So what are the characteristics of the carb-type?  A little hyper.  Quick to move.  Quick to think.  Usually favors cardio exercise.  These people often get cold easily in the winter, but LOVE the summer months.  Sometimes they are mixed types in disguise.  (If I eat a ton of sugar I will be very FAST for a while also.)  The difference?  This type of thing sustains the carb-type during the day.  What are the best foods for carb types?  Primarily fruits and vegetables.  Relatively little meat and fat here.  These types usually prefer plant sources for the bulk of their protein and fat.  Maybe a few eggs or some white fish or chicken here and there.  An example of a BAD meal for the carb-type would be a giant breakfast with a lot of rich meat, butter, bacon, or fatty fish.  Being a carb-type is NOT an excuse to go eat a bunch of “junk-food.”  Just as the protein type has to be wary of bad fats and overcooked proteins, the carb-type needs to watch it with the processed starches and sugars.  Things like potato and corn chips.  Granola.  Cereals.  Sweets.  “Healthy junk.”  Gluten, processed foods, and sugar are best avoided by everyone.

So those are the types guys and girls.  As a general guideline, you will slide more towards a protein type in the winter and when you are doing strength training, or are under stress.  You will usually slide towards the carb type in the summer months, doing a lot of mental-activity, and doing more cardio exercise.  Don’t “LOCK” yourself into any one category.  We change just as the seasons change.  Let your body be your guide.  Metabolic typing can be a good system to help you figure out where you are on the scale and adjust accordingly.  Happy hunting =)


-JOE

“ACTIVE” RELAXATION.

Dandelion wind

You REALLY should relax man!  Take a deep breath.  Find your center.

Is taking a small break from our stressful lives really all that we need?  A moment in the midst of calamity can do wonders, don’t get me wrong.  But are we actively unwinding our clocks on a regular basis?  Stress winds us up a lot.  We don’t usually take much time to just BE and RELAX.  This is especially true if we are going through stressful events, rough jobs, health problems, bad relationships, problems with children, etc.  Add to that bad food choices and malnutrition.  It is so easy to wind up and never unwind.  Enter “Active Relaxation.”

ACTIVE RELAXATION:  This is something you set aside time for.  It can be anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour or longer if you wish.  10-20 minutes would seem ideal for most people.  What does active relaxation look like?  It can look like anything you want it to.  The main ideas?  SLOW your breathing, relax, and let go of tension.  Some good examples of activities that promote active relaxation of the body would include tai-qi and qigong, some slow yoga, very slow walking, belly breathing to meditation music, laughter, slow spiritual reading, or plain old meditation.  Affirmations is a great way to relax as well.  Repeating phrases with our breathing can help rapidly calm the system.  Phrases like “I unwind and relax with ease,” or “I deserve a breather” are great.  Affirmations can be anything you want them to be.  Anything that helps put you in a state of deep calm.  For most of us, we only realize how stressed we have been when we truly relax.  It is unfortunate, but most of us rarely reach the state of true relaxation.  We let the worries and stresses of the day wind us up more and more, then we get stuck there!  So let’s learn to un-stick ourselves and practice a little “active relaxation.”  I can’t help but share the 5 principles of “REIKI” with my readers.

JUST FOR TODAY I WILL NOT WORRY

JUST FOR TODAY I WILL NOT ANGER

JUST FOR TODAY I WILL DO MY WORK HONESTLY

JUST FOR TODAY I WILL HONOR ALL LIVING THINGS

JUST FOR TODAY I WILL COUNT MY MANY BLESSINGS

Enjoy =)

-JOE 

OUT WITH THE OLD / BEING PRESENT

English: My closet

OUT WITH THE OLD.

The old standby right?  Sometimes the only way to take in new in our lives is to get rid of the old.  This doesn’t necessarily mean throwing things away.  It can mean altering things.  It can be a new frame of mind.  It can be getting rid of old habits.  A lot of times we think of throwing out old junk.  Well let’s look at different types of “junk” we carry with us.

STUFF:  This is the one most people think of first.  It is an important one as well.  Physical “stuff” weighs us down if we let it.  Extra furniture.  Clothes we never wear.  Gadgets we have long forgotten.  Maybe a bunch of spare books lying around.  It is very hard for us to let go of our “stuff.”  We are taught to accumulate things in this country.  To save things.  To build up your stuff.  But does that really do us much good?  Look at the other animals in the wild.  They are not burdened with stuff.  They move wherever they go.  For most people, moving is a big deal.  Moving when you are young, energetic, and have relatively few belongings seems simple.  As we get older, less vital, and accumulate more; the idea of moving becomes a lot bigger challenge.  Take inventory of what you really need and get rid of the rest.  Often times, getting rid of old things makes room for new things that we actually need in our lives in the present day.

WEIGHT/BODY GUNK:  Gross I know.  But this is the case with many people.  Our sedentary lives and eating styles cause us to gain weight.  In my opinion, it isn’t just the weight that is the problem.  It is the toxins, gunk, and clogging that come with it.  We get bogged down.  Our livers, kidneys, and colons get clogged up.  We feel heavy after eating.  All of these things bog down our lives.  We can’t go through life with much enthusiasm or energy when we have all this stuff in our bodies that is not supposed to be there.  The answer?  CLEANSE.  IMPROVE THE DIET.  Cutting out processed foods, gluten, and pasteurized dairy is a great place to start.  Doing some simple herbal cleanses can make a world of change as well.

EMOTIONS:  We have emotions for a reason guys.  When we stuff them down, they just come back later.  Have you cried lately?  Hit a punching bag or some pillows?  All of us accumulate this stuff.  We hold frustrations towards people, God, ourselves, life, etc.  If we want to be truly present in our lives, we need to let these things out every once in a while.  

MENTALITY:  This is a tough one.  Is it worthwhile?  You bet.  Sometimes the biggest thing holding us back isn’t our weight or our stuff.  It is our mentality.  Do you think you will never get ahead?  Do you worry all the time?  Maybe your view of yourself, God, or society isn’t a good one.  This isn’t so much about removing bad mentality as it is about reframing your own view on things.  This is a basic problem for all people.  It is hard to change our mentality.  We are taught to think a certain way.  Usually, changing our mentality means facing resistance from ourselves, friends, and family.  Sometimes changing mentality will lead to big changes in our lives.

FEAR:  This is the big one guys.  All of these things usually boil down to a fear on some level.  Why are you afraid to let go?  What is the underlying issue really going on here.  Look at what you are afraid of eye-to-eye and face the tough stuff.  When you can start truly facing your fears of your own past, present, and future; you will be on the path to living in the moment.

Ultimately, removing the old from our lives is one of the best ways to make room for the new.  Don’t all of us want a little new in our lives?  New clothes, new jobs, new vacations, new LIFE!  Our old baggage, unhealthy bodies, and fear usually is what stops us from living our dreams and passions.  Let’s learn to constantly take out the “used” and make room for the PRESENT.

-Joe

New Year, New YOU!

 

English: Independence Day fireworks, San Diego.

2013 HUH?  WE MADE IT.

 

 Hopefully it was a good year for you.  If not, it is time to rejuvenate.  It is time to rethink your life.  It is time to make peace with the old so that you can more efficiently let in the new.  Our past has a bad habit of tying us down and holding us back.  Our past wants to be resolved.  This could be anything.  It could be past emotions or trauma.  It could be a sick body.  It could be a gunked up computer.  It could be a messy apartment or an old wardrobe.  Look at things in your past (present) that are affecting you today.  Is it really in your past if it actively affects your present?  We all want to evolve.  We all want to grow.  To heal.  To learn.  So what are some simple steps we can take to get moving on it?

 

INVENTORY:  Take inventory of things you don’t need anymore.  Only keep the things you can honestly keep out of LOVE.  Maybe that means taking a hard look at some feelings or thoughts that should be let go.  These could include grudges, conflicts, traumas, resentments, fears, etc.  Maybe you don’t particularly want some family heirlooms that were passed on to you.  Maybe you really want to improve a damaged relationship.  Maybe you really don’t ever wear those clothes, use that cologne, or put on those shoes.  Do you read those books ever, or do they sit on your shelf?

 

DECIDE/COMMIT:  Decide to let go of the things you don’t need.  This is really the hardest step.  Most of us keep at least an unconscious inventory of our “stuff,” or our “baggage.”  Deciding to let this stuff go is often the step that trips us up.  Letting go of books, old magazines, clothes, fitness equipment, etc isn’t too complicated.  Letting go of long-standing emotional issues may be a lot more challenging, but can also be some of the most rewarding decisions you will make.  Committing to following through with your decisions is an important part of the process.  Often this means going up against resistances.  Resistance usually comes from inside ourselves.  It can also come from outside.  We have to be brave enough to pass through these to achieve our goals.

 

WORK:  Do what it takes.  This is a tough one as well.  Sometimes jobs are easier than we thought.  Sometimes they are harder.  It can be like writing a short paper or it can be like writing an exhaustively long book.  Taking out some old clothes or books is one thing.  Selling off some old furniture may be a bit more challenging.  Dealing with long-standing emotional traumas or faulty thought patterns may be yet more challenging.  Do what it takes.  Commit to the things you really want to change.  We all have ideas in our heads about the things we would like to change.  Sometimes these are external things like our “stuff.”  Sometimes these are internal things like our feelings or thoughts.  Which is more important?  Honestly, I would take a look at the inside first.  Internal processes are what is going to have the biggest impact on your life.  Is it the most visible?  Maybe not in the beginning.  We are constantly reminded in our country that what is on the outside is what matters.  What can be “seen.”  I think outside success is great, but it usually comes from inside first.  Let’s do the work it takes to create new OPTIMIZED INDIVIDUALS.

 

-JOE

 

RECOVERY?

Rest

What does recovery mean to you?  

Does it mean rest?  Relaxation?  Time off?  Healing?  All of these could apply.  What is my definition of recovery?

RECOVERY:  Giving your body, mind, and spirit everything that it needs to recuperate after periods of stress.  Giving yourself time, space, and permission to allow different parts of you to affirm this recovery. 

What kind of stress depends on what type of recovery you may need.  Do you lift weights too much?  Maybe you need some time off from that.  Maybe you work too hard with your mind and need some time-off to recharge.  Sometimes our daily lives are so hectic that recovery is not possible without changing critical factors in our lifestyles.  Maybe you are in an abusive relationship that is creating havoc in your emotional world.  Is your job physically exhausting you beyond your capabilities?  Maybe your diet isn’t one that advocates good health.  There are several factors that will determine your ability to recover.  Let’s look at a few of them.

DIET:  Diet is critical to recovery.  WHERE you need the recovery may depend on what types of things you are working on.  Fresh, whole foods are best for everyone.  A wide variety of foods are good for everyone.  After that, things start to differ.  Are you primarily a mental worker?  Possibly more fruits, veggies, plant fats, etc.  Doing a lot of physical stuff?  You may be  drawn to more protein and animal products.  Just make sure whatever you eat feels right for you.  If it is non-processed and properly prepared (ie: not fried, roasted, pasteurized, boxed, etc), trust your taste buds to let you know what is right for you.

SLEEP:  Sleep is obviously huge.  This simple step is missed by a lot of us.  We either get distracted and busy, or we get overly stimulated by stress and our environments.  The end result?  Most of us don’t sleep enough.  We “get by” on a certain number of hours.  Sleep is our bodies recovery system.  It is like recharging a battery.  Sleep with the seasons if possible.  A lot of new research is pointing to stimulation of hormones by our favorite electronic gadgets.  Blue lights, computer screens, microwaves, HD tv’s, etc.  People attempt to sleep next to power strips, cellphones, computer cords, etc.  These things all have the ability to “trick” our bodies into hyping up.  This is a tough one to crack.  As far as the lighting goes; there are really only two solutions.  One is to avoid looking at these lights past about 7 at night to let your body naturally wind down.  The other is to get an inexpensive pair of “blu-blocking” sunglasses.  These things block out the stimulating effects of the light while allowing you to check email, write blogs, surf online, etc.  Making your bed an “electronics-free zone” will also produce noticeable improvement in your sleep.  Most of us sleep in the midst of dozens of wireless networks these days.  Turning off your wireless at night is a great thing to do.  Getting grounding mats is another wise choice.  These things help discharge static build-up and negate much of the negative effects of airborne wireless devices.

EMOTIONS: E-motions are HUGE.  Emotions can dramatically interfere with our ability to relax, unwind, and sleep.  Are you constantly in conflict over something that happened to you last year?  Are you fighting with your spouse?  Do you worry about the kids or your job?  Mental and emotional states are big.  Technically, they are separate categories but I am throwing them together here.  Figure out where your stress is coming from.  There are only two places.  Externally or internally.  They are tied together, yet distinct.  We can both have the same experience and perceive it differently.  Maybe flying down the highway is fun for me.  Maybe it freaks you out.  The external event is the same, yet the stress created in you will be dramatically more.  So what is the point?  Figure out what stresses YOU out.  Is it something coming from the outside?  Things like a bad work environment, bad relationships, financial pressures, working too much, etc can all fall into this category.  These are things that tend to stress most of us out.  Internal events may include worrying, depression, emotional conflicts with family members, God, or friends, and thinking too much in general.  All of these can interfere with your ability to recover.

ACTIVE RECOVERY:  Active recovery would refer to things you can do to “aid” your recovery process.  These include working-in exercises like qigong, tai-chi, gentle stretching, slow walking, etc.  They also include bodywork such as massage and physical therapy.  Things we can do during the day to aid our bodies in their processes.

TIME:  This one has the potential to be annoying, yet it is a huge part of the process.  We live in a society that is driven by time-constraints.  Everything takes up time.  Recovery is no exception.  Are you willing to put in the time to recover?  Are you willing to change some of your other plans?  Sometimes intense periods of stress require large periods of time to recover from.  Sometimes we take our boat pretty far away from shore before we realize that we need to get back to the island and sleep a bit.  Sometimes we end up having to sleep on that boat on the way to the island =)  Let’s create the time to dedicate to recovery.

Recovery is a big part of life guys.  Ultimately, the goal is to not wear yourself thin in the first place.  Take steps to ensure that you are living within your own limits.  We are human beings that sometimes choose to live more as robots or machines.  We need good food.  We need sleep.  We need connection and love.  We need time off.  We need time off.  These really are not optional.  Let’s give our bodies, minds, and spirits room to recover =)

-JOE