April 24, 2015

Why is it important to reset the body and mind with a yearly cleanse and a daily mindfulness practice?

Meditate_NatureDo you feel that your life is very busy? Do you choose carefully where you put your time and energy? You probably need a mindfulness practice.

mindfulness

Have you heard about the value of detoxification, but are unsure of why you should take time, spend money and put effort towards it?

 

If you want to improve the health of your body and mind…

 

If you want to have more energy and less stress…

 

This article is for you!

 

In our culture, we have busy lives. We need to choose carefully where we place our time and energy.  So why take time, spend money, and put effort toward detoxification?

 

Most of us are aware that excessive worry and high levels of stress can be detrimental to our health.  Yet, how many of us regularly engage with stress-management practices like meditation and mindfulness movement?

 

Though you might know it is a good idea, do you actually have a daily practice that you do as matter-of-factly as brushing your teeth?

 

Do you have a daily practice that helps reduce stress and worry? Do you have a daily practice that fills you with gratitude and love?  Even if you don’t, I’d guess that you have heard that meditation is beneficial and have perhaps tried some sort of mindfulness movement practice like qigong, tai chi, or gentle yoga.

 

Most of us recognize the value in a yearly vacation or retreat.  We have a sense that we need a bit of time away from work, and want to focus on family, friends, and relaxation.  Most countries have yearly vacation time as standard practices.  We could say this is like detoxification for the mind.

 

How about for your body?  What do you do on a yearly basis for your physical vehicle?  On average, Americans tend to gain between 0.5 – 1.75 pounds per year, and most of this happens during holiday time (1).  A National Nutrition and Examination Survey found that American adults between 25-44 years old gain weight at a yearly average of 3.4% in men and 5.2% in women (2).

 

So, holiday and vacation time may rest our mind and help reduce stress.  Our physical body, however, is frequently burdened during these times with extra weight.

 

When, then, does our body get a yearly reset?

 

What are Common Modern Health Practices for Mind and Body?

  • We tend to be good about taking a yearly vacation and resting the mind
  • Many of us pay attention to the importance of daily attention to physical wellness
  • While we know it would be beneficial, most of us are poor about attending to daily stress-management and mindfulness practices
  • Though many of us pay attention to regular physical wellness factors, we often ignore a more intensive yearly physical cleanse

 

Most of us realize the importance of taking action on a daily basis towards our physical well-being.  Modern-day cultures tend to recognize the importance of hygiene, regular exercise (though for many there is room for improvement here), and proper nutrition (also an area that deserves more attention for most of us).

 

Yet, there seem to be relatively few people I know that have a yearly ritual for a more significant physical reset.  There doesn’t seem to be the equivalent of a vacation for the physical body as a standard practice in much of our world today.  There is a movement, however, where some people are starting to cleanse on a yearly basis, usually in the spring.

 

On the flip side, we can see here that many of us take a yearly break from work to de-stress, but don’t engage in daily mindfulness practices..

 

What can we do to round out our health practices?

  • Attend to the basics we know are important (exercise, nutrition, sleep, vacations, etc.)
  • In addition to these, practice stress-management on a daily basis (meditation and mindfulness movement are great choices)
  • On a yearly basis, assess the physical practices that may be slightly detrimental, and let go of them for a period of time (perhaps 1 month) while stepping up the nutrition and exercise

 

Do you think you might benefit from a yearly timeframe that you attend more fully to your body?  Could you let go of your vice(s) and adapt a more structured diet for 30 days?  Would you be willing to also up your exercise for this period of time?

 

For those interested in doing this, here are a few suggestions for 30 days:

  • Eliminate caffeine, alcohol, and recreational drugs
  • Reduce or eliminate refined sugar, gluten, processed/packaged foods, genetically modified (GMO) foods, non-organic produce (especially those on Environmental Working Group’s dirty dozen list), and conventionally raised meats
  • Choose grass-fed or pastured meat and eggs when possible
  • Add plenty of organic cruciferous vegetables, dark leafy greens, and colorful fruits and vegetables (try for 3-6 cups of a variety of these foods per day)
  • Drink only filtered water and herbal teas, and see if you can drink ounces of liquid equivalent to half your body weight in pounds
  • Walk and/or do the exercise of your choice on a daily basis.  See if you can get in 10,000 steps per day (about 4 miles of walking), and get out into nature at least once per week (for a longer hike or bike ride)
  • Get at least 7-9 hours of restful sleep every night
  • Discontinue the use of electronics 2 hours before you go to bed
  • Take at least 1 and better yet 2 days per week not doing or even thinking (as much as you can) about work. Instead, focus on having fun and relaxing

 

Does this sound like a helpful yearly reset for the physical body?  If you were to do this practice on a yearly basis, do you think it would be helpful toward your overall health?

 

For those of you who would like to really optimize this yearly practice, and take it a bit further, there is more than can be done.  If the above is already a stretch for you, don’t worry about what’s below…just focus on doing as much of the previous suggestions as you are willing and able.  For those who want to do even more, see below for additional suggestions.

 

To take it a step further, you can also add the following:

  • Eliminate all corn, soy, grains, and dairy
  • Optionally, you can also eliminate legumes and nightshades
  • If you decide not to eliminate dairy, choose grass-fed, full-fat dairy
  • At the end of the 30 days, add back one food group at a time for at least 3 days. See if you have any negative reaction during that time.  If you have a detrimental reaction, eliminate that food for a longer period of time (perhaps 6 months) before trying it again.  If after 3 days you have no reaction, add the next food and continue this process.  Make sure that gluten-containing grains are distinguished from other grains when doing this process, as gluten sensitivity is more common than reactions to the other grains.
  • Take 7-10 days that you are not using electronic devices like your computer, cell phone, tablet, TV, or similar items (this of course depends on the nature and requirements of your work, but if you can time this with a period that you can be mostly “off the grid,” this can be a very helpful addition.

 

 

References:

1. Yanovski, Jack A., Susan Z. Yanovski, Kara N. Sovik, Tuc T. Nguyen, Patrick M. O’neil, and Nancy G. Sebring. “A Prospective Study of Holiday Weight Gain.” New England Journal of Medicine 342.12 (2000): 861-67. [Link]

2. Williamson, D. F., H. S. Kahn, P. L. Remington, and R. F. Anda. “The 10-Year Incidence of Overweight and Major Weight Gain in US Adults.” Archives of Internal Medicine 150.3 (1990): 665-72. [Link]

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Your guide on how to be gluten-free during the holiday season, in a non-gluten-free environment.