I divide my approach to health into four basic pillars. In my opinion these pillars are all equally important. You do need to include all of them if you really want to achieve a lasting improvement in your health and quality of life. While you may want to start working on those four pillars at the same time, they could also be regarded as steps. In my experience – your mind comes first and until you heal your mind on the deep subconscious level, all sorts of demons will be coming up and interfering with you staying on track with the other pillars and all your life goals by that matter.
No matter what your intentions are, your mind will keep coming up with reasons why to breach your diet. Despite the best intentions, your sleep will not be as replenishing as you would like it to be and you will struggle to pull off the recommended eight hours per night. As a result of both, you will not feel as physically well as you would like to in order to stick with the exercise regimen that you want. I believe it’s necessary to start healing the mind first or at least at the same time as addressing nutrition and physical exercise. I describe the pillars below in the order of priority for someone who is only at the beginning of the journey.
Based on my experience, I have absolutely no doubt that our emotional and psychological well-being is the overall determinant of our health and quality of life. Unfortunately, most of us have been raised in various unhealthy settings and taught early in our lives that there is something wrong with us, our emotions, our reactions to situations and our wants and needs.
We learned to suppress these feelings and to judge ourselves for having them. We learned to suppress who we really are in favour of what we think we need to be in order to be accepted. We keep on living our lives, suppressing and blaming ourselves, trying to talk ourselves out of feeling in certain ways. We trudge through our lives pushing more and more stuff under the carpet.
At the beginning, it seems that the space to shove stuff into is bottomless. But at a certain point, we hit a tipping point. We can hide nothing more under the carpet. The bottle is full. In fact, it’s pressurised and the contents are already spilling out. At this stage, people either chose to start taking antidepressants or do the work and excavate everything that they have previously stuffed inside. If you chose to embark on the journey of excavation and emotional purging, you will be rewarded – but it does take time and patience. You can’t expect decades of emotional destruction to be healed in a week or a month. You also need to be prepared that the stuff that will be coming out will be very painful. Reliving early childhood trauma is no fun.
I have tried multiple approaches to release this stuff with very successful results. Transcendental meditation, Inner Bonding and programmes by narcissistic abuse recovery guru Melanie Tonia Evans all worked well for me. Still I would advice anyone embarking on this journey to consider starting psychotherapy. Not the superficial cognitive behavioural therapy – the in-depth type designed to bring stuff out from the unconscious to the light. It has worked wonders for me. I do believe I have quite a bit to say in this area. I grew up in an extremely dysfunctional family and experienced all sorts of mental health issues from quite an early age. Though I have never been properly diagnosed, my symptoms throughout my teens and early twenties were pretty much consistent with mild borderline personality disorder. I don’t suffer from any of these symptoms any more.
We are what we eat. There is no doubt about that. All the tissues and cells of your body come from the building blocks contained in the food we consume. If what you eat is crap, your body will not be able to keep itself healthy. This is the reason why we need to pay great attention to our diet. However, there is no one size fits all solution. Research points to the fact that genetics play a key role in what type of diet would suit you. Not everyone will thrive on vegan or vegetarian diet and you will need a certain level of self-experimentation to find what is best for you.
There are, however, general guidelines. Processed foods, junk foods and sugar are a total no. Nothing positive will come from eating this type of stuff. Avoiding added sugar is a must – this stuff make you age faster and is pretty much bad for everything. Your diet should consist of loads of vegetables and good quality protein and some fruit. There is a lot of fringe research backing the idea that various complex health conditions can be successfully managed and reversed by a carefully observed diet. The way I eat is based on the Wahls Protocol, a hunter-gatherer type of a diet developed by American Professor of medicine Terry Wahls. Wahls used this diet to reverse her multiple sclerosis. I have managed to get my endometriosis under control using this diet. Some sceptics dismiss such experiences as anecdotal. I don’t agree. On my journey, I have slipped up many times and I can say that every time I get off track with my diet, my symptoms worsen. The first place it shows is usually my digestion and my skin. This stuff works but you need to focus on your individual food sensitivities for best results.
Astronauts in space age ten times faster then humans on Earth. The reason for that is that in the microgravity environment, your muscles and bones are not challenged and simply waste away. The same applies for people on Earth. Just look around. You can see it starting from the age of 30, maybe even earlier. While some people remain fit and youthful, others lose their youthful lustre and their energy levels drop.
Why is that? Is it about genetics? I don’t think so. It’s about life style. If you choose to challenge your body and keep bending, moving and strengthening it, you are essentially telling it to keep building itself up. And it will. Research on astronauts shows that after their return back to Earth, their muscles and bones eventually, with a proper exercise and nutritional regime, return to their original strength. I can honestly tell you that in my mid-30s, I feel physically much better than I did in my mid-20s. My body feels strong and flexible and I love it. I feel happy in my skin. What I did, in addition to embarking on a super healthy way of eating, is returning to gymnastics – a sport I used to love as child but quit at the age of 14. It wasn’t easy coming back to gymnastics at 31. There were many challenges to be overcome and many lessons to be learned. But after three years, I am more then reaping the benefits. There are some amazing role models out there such as the awesome 67-year old pole dancer Greta Portanelli.
Her body looks fab – and it’s because of intense regular exercise. Research shows that intense exercise does not only slow down ageing and reduce the risk of heart disease but also improves the outcome of cancer treatments. There is more to moving your body then just vanity reasons.
A healthy life requires a healthy environment – both socially and naturally. To maintain our physical and emotional well-being, we need to purge our environment of toxic people and reduce our exposure to all sorts of toxic chemicals. We also want to reduce our own environmental footprint and start making environmentally friendly choices as much as we can. All of that is equally important. I believe people need to start educating themselves about very many things that would enable them to make the right choices to create an environment that really supports their highest good. I cover many of these topics on my blog. That includes learning about narcissism and stopping feeding manipulative, exploitative and narcissistic people (and gosh there are many of them), as well as understanding how our own consumer behaviour can be changed to make life on this planet more sustainable. I do believe in personal responsibility and respect to others and the environment.