I love this recent post by Mark Sisson because of its positivity. When it comes to our health, it seems that we are so often stuck in a mindset of deprivation and hardship and with the thought that it is all SO MUCH WORK. It’s all about focusing on what we have to cut out food-wise, how much we have to work-out, and what toxins we need to be on the look-out for, otherwise we shall all DIE NOW. We seem to approach it from the angle of fear, instead of positivity.
Being healthy, fit and slim is depicted as being hard and impossible without all that deprivation, those long hours slogging on the treadmill and washing our hands every 5 minutes to kill germs. And often, very often in fact – people weigh it all up in their heads and throw their hands in the air with the thought that being healthy, fit and slim is just not worth all the effort and hardship.
I have family members who could transform their health, and that of their families, if they decided to make some simple changes to how they eat, but for them it’s just too hard, and not worth it. But that’s the point. It is made out that it is SUCH a torturous process to maintain vibrant health that many people would rather just coast along, sub-optimally, taking medication to manage health-conditions, and accepting that flagging energy, bloated tummies and frequently getting sick are just normal parts of life.
But, if I try and broach the topic of nutrition with them, this is their usual reaction:
Even healthy programs like the Whole30 are often approached as an exercise in extreme deprivation and self-control. It becomes focused on all the things you CAN’T eat or drink, and ends up as a series of rules that are there to, essentially, stop you having fun for 30 days. Even just reading that last sentence makes me never want to do one again. But then I’ve done it 5 times now – and really pretty much enjoyed each time. So much so that I pretty much eat that way all the time. How is that even possible?! I hear you say! Well it is all about how you approach it.
What if you stopped viewing it as a time of “doing without” and instead focused on all the incredibly delicious foods you CAN have, all the nutrients you will be nourishing your body with, and the benefits you will feel as a result?
What if you look at it as a luxurious month-long spa for all the cells in your body. A time when they can each reset and heal and return to their vibrant, thriving selves, and a month where your organs are pampered and massaged back to full functionality, and where your gut lining is given the “facial” of its life, leaving it smooth, blemish free and in glowing health?
Sound cheesy? Well this is essentially what a Whole30 is. There is no “deprivation” involved. You are not told to go hungry, stop eating or to count calories (ugh) or to weigh yourself each week, with the specter of disappointment hanging over the dreaded scale.
It is possibly the most indulgent thing you could do for yourself. Taking a month where you choose to only eat the most nutrient-rich foods that will nourish your body, where you take time to get enough sleep each night, where you get plenty of sunshine and nature where possible, and where you focus on returning to your (oftentimes forgotten) state of vibrant health. How could indulging in a dinner of juicy organic grassfed steak followed by a relaxing bath, and allowing yourself to go to bed at 10pm be, in any way, a deprivation? By the end of the Whole30, your taste buds will have changed – they will have become more sensitive to real food, instead of the daily assault of artificial additives. Your hormones will also become accustomed to functioning how they were designed to, without the huge highs and lows that come from eating refined carbohydrates and processed foods, and you will find that your cravings will have quietly disappeared. Is that not something to look forward to?
So, next time you decide it’s time for a reset, maybe try some of these tips to make it a little more enjoyable. So that it is no longer the “dreaded Whole30“:
1. Focus on foods you CAN eat – all the wonderful meat, seafood, healthy fats, vegetables and fruits in all the millions of combinations possible. On what other “diet” can you have eggs and bacon for breakfast. Guilt free. And know that it’s GOOD for you?
2. At every meal, spend a moment imagining how each of the foods you are about to eat is going to nourish your body and bring about vibrant health.
3. Be creative with your meals. Having a dry chicken breast with broccoli every day for dinner will wear thin pretty fast. Play around with food and mix it up. There are so many resources available now online, there really is no excuse to be “bored” with meals. And most of them are pretty quick to prepare.
4. SLEEP. I cannot stress this enough. Apart from food, sleep is the biggest life-style factor that can positively affect your health. Sacrifice some TV, surfing the internet, or even work (unless you are a brain-surgeon or the president) for a full 8-9 hours each night. Do this for a month, and I promise you, you’ll feel amazing. The healing, regenerative power of sleep cannot be underestimated.
5. Exercise smartly. Getting up and running 10 miles, or swimming for an hour every day, whilst enjoyable for some people, really isn’t actually promoting health. Choose something that involves lifting weights, practicing agility and involves high-intensity conditioning (CrossFit anyone?). You’ll get, by far, the best bang for your buck. And then go for a hike, go kayaking, stroll on the beach… All those things are great additional ways to move your body and get out in nature.
6. Get some direct sunshine every day. This may be hard in some places – trust me I know after living in miserable England for far too long, but where possible, get out and expose some skin to the sun. The power of sun-derived Vitamin D is phenomenal, and does not compare to that of supplements. If necessary move to a sunny place like I did!
7. Get outside every day. Being in nature is healing – both for the fresh air, and the contact with the earth.
Trust me, your experience will be completely different.