Surviving in the Modern World: Back to Basics
by Ann Lee, ND
Everyone knows how difficult it is to lead a healthy lifestyle in the modern world. The stress itself is the biggest obstacle to health. That is why I am sharing with you tips that you can use for life.
Supporting Your Adrenals: Many of us rely on coffee to get through the day, but this taxes the adrenals. Instead, be aware of your energy dips through the day, whether you wake up refreshed, and whether you are wired at night. A naturopathic physician can help you to evaluate your adrenals further by running testing that will determine your cortisol levels throughout the day.
One way to normalize this energy curve is to take an adaptogen, a substance that helps one to adapt to stress, as well as nutrients that support the adrenals. It is best to go to a naturopathic physician to figure out the adaptogen and targeted adrenal nutrients that fit your needs. To help with reducing coffee, substitute green tea during your energy dips. This is a great way to still get some caffeine, but also to incorporate a wonderful antioxidant that has anti-cancer properties. Get to bed at a reasonable hour, as any sleep prior to midnight is more restorative.
The next step is to incorporate stress management techniques so your adrenals do not have to do it all alone. Find a practitioner in your area that provides hydrotherapy, homeopathy/flower essences, emotional freedom technique (EFT), cranial sacral/CORE bodywork, and more. Seek out fun activities and join organizations so that when you come back to work, you feel refreshed and more effective. You can also explore your community, which is a great way to make connections to build your support system. Managing stress and supporting your adrenals is a critical aspect of living in the modern world.
Nourishing the Body: The next mammoth task for anyone living in the modern world is learning to nourish the body when you are always on the go. There is limited time to cook, but it is important to avoid eating on the run, as this makes it easy to make unhealthy food choices. It is easier and more satisfying in the beginning to focus on beneficial foods rather than to eliminate foods. There are many different systems to approach this, and some great starting points include the blood-type/genotype diet, Ayurvedic system, or Traditional Chinese Medicine dietetics. It is important to choose a system that will individualize your diet to fit your constitution.
Practical points include eating a protein-rich breakfast to help stabilize your blood sugar for the day. The easiest and fastest way to prepare breakfast and pack in superfoods is a protein-rich smoothie in the Magic Bullet. A protein-rich lunch with fresh greens is important to keep yourself awake during your energy dips. It is important to have protein, carbs, and good fats in all meals, and to take the time to chew your food for better absorption. Easy snacks include nuts and portable fruit. Cravings usually indicate a deficiency of some sort, and should be investigated by your naturopathic physician. One way to determine whether you are properly nourishing your body is having good digestion without heartburn, gas, or bloating, and regular formed bowel movements.
If digestive issues remain, the next step is to figure out your food sensitivities. An elimination diet is the most effective way to determine your food sensitivities, but is less practical when there is the additional stress of food planning and being diligent with your food choices. An affordable alternative is to run an IgG food panel with your naturopathic physician to figure out your food sensitivities.
Proper hydration is essential. Start with half your weight in ounces of water, but then adjust by targeting light yellow to clear urine as long as you don’t take a lot of B vitamins that makes your urine neon yellow. Aim to always carry water around with you either in glass or stainless steel to prevent PCB exposure from plastic, and remember that more water is needed if you are drinking diuretics such as tea.
Stress easily disrupts the gut flora; thus a good probiotic and having digestive enzymes at hand whenever you may need a little extra help is beneficial. Supplement your diet with a multivitamin, mineral, and fish oil, as well as vitamin D3 to make up for the lack of sun exposure in the northeast. Have your naturopathic physician determine the best dosages to fit your needs.
Movement and Detox: Exercise is the best way to detox as well as relieve stress. It is important to find a fun activity or recruit a buddy. Find a way to hold yourself accountable, as the hardest part is making exercise a habit. Consider an exercise buddy or personal trainer to report progress to and demonstrate the ability to reach your goals. Make sure to give your body time to recover, and incorporate strength training. You should have increased energy from exercising, not decreased energy. It is much better to track your progress via percentage lean muscle mass rather than weight. A BIA (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis) machine can measure your percentage lean muscle mass, fat, as well as water metabolism. It is critical to warm up and cool down with stretches and simple exercises like cross crawling, which has the added benefit of coordinating your left and right brain. Exercising is for the mind, body, and spirit!
Vision and Positive Attitude: Follow your passion and your dreams by writing down your vision or creating a vision board for you to be inspired by every day. These activities add clarity to your desires, and are powerful visualization tools that activate the universal law of attraction to manifest your dreams into reality. You can either do it the old-fashioned way via collage, or if you are technically savvy you may want to check out http://www.visionboardsite.com/. The law of attraction works by attracting into our lives anything that we give attention to, regardless whether it is positive or negative. Thus it is important to have a positive attitude by being aware of negative thoughts and converting them into positive ones.
Overcome any limitations you have placed on yourself or fear of what others will think. Incorporate all aspects of your life, including career, family, social life, and tie them to the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspect of your being. Challenge the idea that any aspect of your life must be sacrificed to have a great career or family. You CAN HAVE IT ALL, even if it is challenging.
Give yourself credit when times are tough, as this is an on-going process for life. Every setback is an opportunity to learn and make yourself a better person, and overcoming them will make you better equipped to help others and fulfill your life’s purpose.
About the Author
Ann Lee is studying naturopathic medicine and acupuncture at University of Bridgeport. She plans on practicing in Connecticut and New York.