Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Primal Bliss (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Eat Like a Caveman)

In the months since my miscarriage, I’ve been thinking a lot about health. My health, my husband’s health, my son’s health, and my parents’ health.

My health, because of the miscarriage: Not because I think I was in terribly poor health, but because I want to be in optimum health for another pregnancy, and of course just because it’s a good idea.

My husband’s health, because of course I want him around for a long time, and because, in conjunction with me, we serve as health role models for our son.

My son’s health, because I want him to have a radiant and happy life.

My parents’ health, because my mother is, for the first time in her adult life, taking responsibility for it, and because my father is feeling so poorly that he, too, is looking at making major changes, or facing curtains.

I realize ever more what an illusion “medical care” is. I think that it is wonderful in emergencies, accidents and a very few diseases, and I’m grateful that it exists. But too many of us, myself included, have trusted in medicine’s ability to swoop in and take care of our problems. This isn’t entirely our fault, as most of us have been trained in this mentality from day one.

For a host of reasons, beginning with the shockingly bad and careless treatment I received in the area’s “best” hospital after my son’s birth, I have started my own quest for personal responsibility in health, mainly so I can be healthy and happy and avoid as many medical practitioners in my life as possible. (As it becomes abundantly clear, too, that the system is hopelessly broken, it is in our financial interest to practice personal responsibility in health, too.)

However, I’m not into quacks, charlatans and other health gurus. That’s just making the same mistake of entrusting your health to a different subset of people. So it’s not really a move into “alternative health” that I’m making, but rather an alternative approach to health.

What that leads me to is that I am considering evidence—all evidence—from credible, science-backed sources and weaving that into a plan for what works for me and my family. I’m proceeding carefully and also radically into a mode of self-experimentation, starting with diet and fitness.

In short, I’m eating and exercising like a caveman.

Actually, after months of research, I’m following the majority of the advice behind the “Primal Blueprint” and a month in, I am shocked at how much better I feel (and look).

Before I go into what results I’ve gotten, I’ll just say that it’s a no-brainer that your health should be your biggest priority in life. If you are living in a way that shortchanges your health, short-term or long-term, you will have many obstacles on the path toward living your bliss, simply because so much of your time will be taken up with illness, discomfort or more serious problems. Trust me. I know how much time my dad spends at the doctor’s office. It’s mind-boggling.

And the thing is, I don’t think most people (my dad included) are lazy, have poor impulse control or are gluttonous overeaters. I think there is something wrong with the way we’ve been taught to go about fitness and diet and it is just not working, as evidenced by the chronic illness, obesity epidemic and even just people like me, who had minor, chronic ailments, despite doing everything “right.”

My troubles really began after my son’s birth. I had no problem losing the weight from pregnancy (which wasn’t much to begin with: about 25 pounds), but keeping my blood sugar stable has been a challenge for the last two years. I had a couple of hypoglycemia incidents that had me sick, nauseated and in bed feeling so bad that I contemplated going to the ER. Then the constant feeling of being run down. Granted, a newborn will do that to you, and since he didn’t sleep through the night until he was 15 months old, that had some hand in it, but I knew instinctively it wasn’t the whole story. Then, despite a regular walking/running exercise routine, yoga, “healthy” food and being hungry all the damn time, I realized I wasn’t heavy or overweight, but just puffy. If I was doing everything right, why wouldn’t I be in great shape?

I’m open to radical ideas; it’s just the way I am now. I listen to something, and apply my own analysis and do my own research to see if it’s credible or not. I am not interested anymore in “knowledge” that is received or common.

So I found the blog Mark’s Daily Apple linked from a favorite website and here I am.

I don’t eat any grains. None. No wheat, no rice, no corn, no oats – you get the picture. No refined sugars, either. I eat plenty of veggies. Lots of grass-fed, organic meats with lots of fat. Wild fish and shellfish. Pastured butter and organic heavy cream. Eggs. Nuts. Olives. Some cheese. Lots of coconut and coconut products. Fruits, some chocolate and some alcohol.

I follow the exercise advice, too: Move frequently at a slow pace. Lift heavy things. Sprint once in a while. That’s it.

In one week, I stopped being hungry all the time. Before, I couldn’t go two hours without a snack. Now, I could probably go from breakfast to dinner without eating if I wanted to. No more blood sugar crashes. No more foggy brain. Better sleep. Most of all, just so much more energy. My mood has improved, and I am happier and more even-keeled. I just feel better all around.

As if that weren’t enough, how I look has changed, too. My skin looks more radiant and is clearer than it has been in two years. (I actually got carded recently, which hadn’t happened since becoming a mama!) I think my hormones have balanced out, too, which helps with the skin issue. I’ve lost eight pounds, and my body fat percentage—immovable for years—has finally started declining. I can see muscles in my legs that I’ve never, ever seen in my life. My stomach is flatter, and my clothes just fit better.

I can’t wait to see what the next few months bring. I don’t expect that I’ll never ever eat another slice of cake or a piece of pizza, but I don’t plan on going back to the way I used to eat. If I should get pregnant again, I can add in some quinoa, sweet potatoes and other high-nutrition carbs to round things out. (Pun intended, ha ha.)

The point of this post is to share some anecdotal evidence with you, and challenge you to look at what advice you might be following regarding your health that you have never questioned or analyzed and see if there is room for changes that might improve your life.

Health--good or bad--is not permanent. I realize that simply because I have found a way of eating and living that is working for me does not mean I will never fall ill or get injured or what have you. But what it does mean is that I am comforted that I have found something that I can do, that I have taken responsibility for, and that the rest is out of my hands.

When I feel good and have my health and do daily work to maintain good health – that is part of the path toward a blissful existence. When I don’t feel good and have fallen ill or injured - that is the nature of being alive, so I will not agonize over it, but will do all I can to heal and feel my feelings and accept what is.

I wish radiant health and happiness to all of you.


p.s. If any of you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them in the comments.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A quick hello...

I'll be back very soon with new posts. Have been very busy with work and travel. But fall always brings new insights and new ideas about how to shift into a more bliss-oriented life, so stay tuned...

For now, I will leave you with some images from my recent trip to Maine. (Which, by the way, was so good for my soul.)