March 1st, 2016 at 5:29 AM
Hello from Reston,
Welcome to March! We’ve had our first taste of warmer weather on the east coast and the groundhog has predicted an early spring. Make plans to get outdoors and get some sun (see habit #10 below).
The first article I’d like to share focuses on Denmark’s attempt to become an all organic country without GMO crops. This might seem daunting to those in the US, where we fight over GMO labelling.
One of the key points in the article is that according to a United Nations (UN) report, small organic farming may be the key to true sustainability, “While some people point to GMOs, chemical-intensive farming and monocultures (the practice of growing only one crop in a field at a time) as answers to feeding the world, the findings in this UN report say a shift toward local, small-scale farmers and food systems is actually the only way it can be done without causing irreparable harm to soil, water, and air quality.” There are several lessons learned that we can take away from Denmark’s efforts, including reducing food waste, making food safer and paying food service workers respectable wages.
This month I want to focus on habits. We all have them. Some habits are healthy (making time to exercise) and some are detrimental (smoking). If you think about what defines us as individuals, we are really just a collection of habits. Are you a night owl or do you arise early? Do you bring you own lunch or buy it? Do you go to the gym before work or at night or never? ? If we want to live a healthy lifestyle, we must try to adopt healthy habits and get rid of the bad ones.
Recently I read a book by Tyler Bramlett entitled, “27 Body Transformation Habits”. Today I want to share with you the fifteen suggested daily habits from his book. In case you are wondering, the other 12 habits are to be performed on a weekly or monthly basis. If you are really interested in getting his full advice, I guess you’ll have to buy the book.
Tyler Bramlett’s 15 daily habits:
- Drink enough water – you should be consuming half of your body weight in ounces each day. I weigh 180 pounds, so that means my daily goal is 90 ounces of water. Remember that your body is over 60% water. You can’t operate optimally when you are dehydrated.
- Eat your veggies – you really can’t eat too many veggies. Tyler suggests having a big salad for lunch, veggies in your protein shake and lots of veggies with dinner.
- Eat protein, especially in the morning – Protein, along with healthy fats, will keep you satiated and level out your blood sugar.
- Build a strong digestion – Tyler advises taking a probiotic supplement and to eat fermented vegetables such as kimchi or sauerkraut. He also recommends that you do not drink water while eating a meal or within an hour post meal. Drinking water during or right after a meal will dilute your digestive juices and not allow maximum uptake of the vitamins and minerals from you food. This habit can be difficult in group settings, especially when eating out. Socially it seems we are encouraged to drink a lot when dining in restaurants or at parties.
- Get some sleep – Try to aim for at least 7 hours per night. Sleep in a dark, cool room and avoid all electronics 30 - 60 minutes before going to bed.
- Breathe deeply – Aim to meditate for 5-10 minutes each day. Practice proper relaxation breathing in and out through your nose. Place one hand on your belly and one on your chest. The breath should come from the belly, so the hand on it should go up and down. The hand on your chest should move minimally.
- Read a daily affirmation – One of Tyler’s monthly goals is to create a specific goal for each month. Examples might be that you plan to get back to the gym, give up potato chips or try to get and extra hour of sleep each night. He suggests reminding yourself of your monthly goal before going to bed. Before you remind yourself of what you are working to achieve, he suggests you “whip yourself into a frenzy of gratitude” by simply thinking of some of the things in your life that you are grateful for. He believes that by reminding yourself of lots of positives, will leave you in a better state of mind. Then read the affirmation that focuses on a specific area where you need improvement.
- Walk every day – “The average American walks only 5117 steps per day” as quoted from the book. Shoot for 10,000 steps per day. Remember the number #1 rule of Primal fitness is to move more.
- Do some exercise – Everyone, no matter how old, needs to strength train to maintain lean muscle mass and strong bones. Shoot for 3 strength training workouts per week. These workouts don’t have to be long, they can be about 20 minutes. You also don’t need to go to a gym or even use weights, as there are plenty of great bodyweight workouts (see fitness tip of the month).
- See the sun – The sun has gotten a bad rap. Truth be told, the sun is really the only way to get vitamin D, unless you take supplements. Obviously, in the winter in the northern parts of the world, it’s not conducive to going outside shirtless. Everyone should supplement with vitamin D. I advise a minimum of 2000 IUs daily.
- Touch the earth – Electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) are all around us with Wi-Fi and wireless services. Excess EMFs can damage you at the cellular level, causing increases in cortisol and insulin, which ultimately causes you to store more fat. Simply walking barefoot in the grass for a couple of minutes can bleed off EMFs. Again in the cold of the northern climates, this may not be reasonable. You can simply kneel down and touch the earth with your hands as well.
- Take a cold shower – Cold water therapy enhances your immune system, keeps your metabolism running higher and decrease inflammation. If you want to increase you fat burning, cold water therapy causes your brown fat cells to burn more white fat cells. White fat cells are stored in areas where we don’t want excess fat to accumulate. Tyler recommends adding a 2-5 minute cold water rinse at the end of your morning shower.
- Laugh a little – Laughing floods your body with positive endorphins and is great for your immune system. Just Google laughter and cancer to read many amazing stories.
- Read something – President Harry S. Truman once said, “not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” Try keeping a book or books by your bed. Once you are done with electronics for the night, read to help get you relaxed.
- Eliminate Obesogens – Obesogens are household toxins and they disrupt fat metabolism. Even worse they can be cancer causing. Tyler’s top five tips to cut down obesogens are to stop drinking from plastic bottles, avoid store bought air fresheners, avoid packaged and processed foods, don’t cook with non-stick pans and stay away from chemical household cleaners.
So how many of these daily habits do you practice? Truth be told when I read this book, I already was doing 11.6 of the habits (numbers 1-6, 8-10, 13-14 and parts of 15) per day. Since finishing the book I’ve also starting reading a daily affirmation and touching the earth. The hardest habit for me to adopt is the cold shower. Maybe I’m a wimp, but it is just brutal for me each time I try to stand under a cold shower. I still need to start buying natural cleaning supplies and ditch my non-stick frittata pan.
My advice to you is to focus on adding one or maybe two habits per months. Don’t overwhelm yourself by going for the whole list all at once. Even if you are only practicing just three of these habits now, if you add just one healthy habit a month, in a year you be doing all fifteen!
Fitness tip of the month: 30 Minute Bodyweight Tabata Workout
The great part about the workout in the following link, is that all you need is some floor space and your own bodyweight. The link suggests performing seven exercises, each for four minutes in a Tabata format. If you are not familiar with the Tabata timing, you simple perform a movement for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. You repeat the same 30 second interval seven more times, for a total of four minutes. It really helps when you have an App to give you an audio queue when to exercise and when to rest. There are plenty of free Tabata Apps available. The nice part about this link, is that for each exercise there is a video clip demonstrating the movement. Feel free to substitute any exercise you want to mix things up.
Recipe of the month: Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
The recipe in the following link makes a super easy and delicious side dish. As you may recall quinoa is not in the grain family. It’s a seed or a member of the chenopod family. When hosting a barbecue or dinner, this salad can be made in advance and since it is served cold, there is no need to do anything except serve it to you guests. Enjoy!