Revolutionary Resolutions Day 7

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Welcome to the last day of our Revolutionary Resolutions series. Today we’ll tie everything together with the seventh step.

7. Cultivate the spirit of health.

We can move in the direction of health, or in the direction of sickness. Depending on the totality of our diet and lifestyle choices, we move in either the direction of health or in the direction of sickness. If you are experiencing health problems but you are taking steps towards maintaining better diet and lifestyle practices, then you are moving in the direction of health. Recognize and express gratitude for your current state of health, regardless of what it is. Health is about the sum of the parts. Try to keep this in mind as you try to make diet and lifestyle changes this year.

Thanks for joining me for this series on the 7 Steps to a Great Life. While we are now into the second week of January, it’s still not too late to make a revolutionary resolution. Adopting one or two of the 7 Steps is a great resolution. Making small changes to your diet and lifestyle practices are the first step in making 2012 a revolutionary year. You can always find more information on the 7 Steps in my book, The Great Life Diet.

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Revolutionary Resolutions Day 6

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Only one more day left in this series! Make sure you check back and read over the previous posts on the other five steps.

6. Format is more important than quality.

The format of your meals is more important than the quality of your meals. On Day 3 of this series, we learned that a complete meal includes a grain dish and a separate vegetable dish. Ideally, all the components of your meal should be of the best quality possible. However, what if you go out to eat and the restaurant doesn’t serve whole grains? Or what if you go over to a friend’s house for dinner and the vegetables are not organic? In these situations, there’s nothing you can do about quality, but you can control the format. In the restaurant scenario, stick to pasta and a salad, or some white rice with a vegetable dish of sorts. In the situation at your friend’s house, don’t worry about the quality of the vegetables and enjoy the meal, as long as you try to include a grain product and a vegetable dish. If you stick to this format and are flexible with the quality of your meals, you are far more likely to consistently make healthy choices while enjoying your food and feeling satisfied.

Tomorrow we’ll be finishing up this series, so be sure to check in again for the last of the 7 Steps.

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Revolutionary Resolutions Day 5

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Just in case you just started reading this series, each day I am focusing on one of my 7 Steps to a Great Life. Adopting one or a few of my 7 Steps is a great way to begin the New Year because they are resolutions that you can actually keep. Every one of the 7 Steps is a small change with a big return. Check my other posts for the previous four steps.

5. Create a more natural environment.

Your home should be a recharging station- a place where you can relax, return to balance, and enrich life. You should look forward to coming home each day. While we all might not be living in our dream apartments or houses, there are some small things that you can do to make your home more pleasant.

Try keeping green plants around at home, especially in the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. Ordinary, green house plants are best, nothing fancy. Plants absorb many harmful contaminants, such as formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide. Many building materials, such as plywood, particleboard, decorative paneling, floor covering and carpet backing contain formaldehyde, which is thought to contribute to the high cancer rate in the United States. You can also find formaldehyde in grocery bags, facial tissues, permanent press clothing, tobacco and cooking and heating gas. Wow. Happily, houseplants will absorb formaldehyde and other unwanted substances while generating the negative ions in the air we breathe.

Despite their name, negative ions are actually a positive thing- they promote a feeling of freshness and well-being. When you open the window and let sun and fresh air into a dark room, you are actually changing the positive ions to negative ones, which is why the room feels great after letting in some fresh air. This is also why it’s a good idea to let some fresh air into your home for a few minutes every day, even if the weather is less-than-ideal.

Check in again tomorrow for another resolution worth making!

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Revolutionary Resolutions Day 4

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Welcome back to my series on the 7 Steps to a Great Life. Check my previous posts for other ideas for resolutions for a revolutionary 2012.

4. Make your daily life active.

This isn’t about what you think it’s about. I am not suggesting that you subject yourself to a purgatory of Stair Masters and step classes. Everyone thinks they need “exercise” but what we really need is to move our bodies, to challenge ourselves physically and mentally, and to play.

Rather than “exercise,” I recommend that you try to do life-related activities. Walk to the post office, or park in the back of the lot and carry your groceries farther. Squeeze in a quick walk in the morning, or on your lunch break, or after dinner. 30 minutes of walking outside a day, rain or shine, is best to balance both your body and your mind. Try a yoga class, or go for a bike ride. Remember, physical activity should be enjoyable!

What do you do to move your body?

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Revolutionary Resolutions Day 3

Posted on by Denny Waxman

See my previous posts for more ideas for revolutionary New Year’s resolutions. Today we’re going to talk about the format of the meals.

3. Eat two or three complete and nutritionally balanced meals every day.

Repeat after me: a meal is not complete unless it includes a grain and a separately cooked vegetable dish.

Grain and vegetables together form the basis of balanced nutrition. If you center your meals around whole grains and a variety of cracked grains (think brown rice, millet, whole grain pasta, barley, couscous, etc) supplemented by a separately cooked vegetable dish, you will be getting the most complete nutrition and you will feel more satisfied after your meal.

Notice that I said a separately cooked vegetable dish. This means that a grain dish that includes vegetables (such as vegetable fried rice or a pasta dish with lots of vegetables) does not count. Think steamed greens, squash, pressed salad, blanched vegetables, etc for your separately cooked vegetable dish.

Here are some examples of nutritionally complete and balanced meals:
Brown rice with chickpeas, steamed kale
Oatmeal with maple syrup, blanched watercress
Pasta with vegetables, pressed or raw salad
Couscous with vegetables, blanched salad with carrots, radishes and napa cabbage

Read The Great Life Diet for more information about the format of meals.

What are some of your favorite balanced meals?

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Revolutionary Resolutions Day 2

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Good morning, and welcome to the second post in my series on revolutionary resolutions for 2012. Each day I’ll be focusing on one of my 7 Steps to a Great Life, which make perfect 2012 New Year’s resolutions.

2. Keep your mealtimes regular.

If you’re like most Americans, your mealtimes are probably not regular. You might eat lunch at 3 and dinner at 10 one day, and then each lunch at 11 and dinner at 6 the next. Maybe you sometimes skip lunch. It’s really important to have regular mealtimes. All of your physical and mental cycles follow the sun’s movement, so if you want regular bowel movements, regular menstrual cycles, balanced emotions, regular blood sugar levels and a better metabolism, I suggest that you try to keep your mealtimes as regular as possible. If you notice that you crave lots of sweets or baked goods or that you are fatigued in the afternoon, your blood sugar levels might be off. Eating regular meals will help immensely.

If it’s too much for you to regulate all of your mealtimes, make lunch your focus. Start your lunch between 11 am and 1 pm every day for a week and see how you feel. Once you have lunch regulated, then try eating breakfast or dinner around the same time every day. For more information about this, read my book, The Great Life Diet, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @dennywaxman

Join me tomorrow for Step 3!

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Revolutionary Resolutions

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Thank you for joining me this week as I discuss each of my 7 Steps to a Great Life. If you have one resolution for 2012, make it one of my 7 Steps. Don’t feel pressured to implement all 7 Steps at the same time (unless you are experiencing serious health problems, at which point you should seek the guidance of an experienced macrobiotic counselor). Just pick one or two to begin, and take it from there. You are bound to experience better health and live a “great life” by adopting one or a few of the 7 Steps! For more in-depth information about each of the 7 Steps, read “The Great Life Diet.”

1. Take time for your meals every day.

This means that you sit down to eat without doing other things. If you eat while driving or watching TV, this takes the value out of your meal. Suppose you are having your teeth cleaned. If the dentist is texting or watching TV during your appointment, would you feel like you were getting the value out of your appointment? Uh, probably not. If anything, you would go find a new dentist! The same goes for eating. You will gain the most nourishment out of your food and you will feel more satisfied with your meal if you are not distracted while you eat.

The next important aspect of Step 1 is to stop eating three hours before bed. This is especially important if you wake up feeling groggy. Why is this? It takes three hours for your food to leave your stomach. When you eat three hours before bed, you still have undigested food in your stomach. This means that your body is working hard to digest your food while you are sleeping, instead of repairing itself and discharging toxins accumulated during the day. You then wake up feeling fatigued because your body has been expending extra energy throughout the night to digest, instead of resting and repairing.

I’ll be revisiting this Step in the future to go into more detail, but join me again tomorrow as I discuss Step 2! Also, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @dennywaxman.

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Getting the Most Out of Your Sleep

Posted on by Denny Waxman

When I was reading the New York Times the other day I came across this question and I have a slightly different opinion than the printed response. We eat and drink during the day for activity. At night we utilize the foods we consumed during the day to maintain and rebuild our bodies. While we are sleeping our bodies are cleaning, maintaining and repairing themselves and gathering physical and energetic excess to be eliminated in the morning when we rise. Most people have their morning routine which usually consists of going to the bathroom, washing, brushing our teeth, doing a body rub and stretching. All of these practices help eliminate the excess we gathered during the night.

Our organs, brain and nervous system also recharge at night during sleep. Our need for sleep is determined by how efficiently our bodies can clean, repair, recharge and eliminate. The length of our sleep also determines how refreshed we feel from our sleep. We get the deepest and most refreshing sleep between midnight and 4 am. Going to sleep before midnight is important so that we can be in a deep sleep during these hours. It is hard to feel refreshed the next day when we go to sleep after midnight.

A healthy person generally needs between five and eight hours of sleep per night. Stimulants like coffee or alcohol as well as eating before sleep can increase our need for sleep. Through adjusting our daily habits, diet and activity we can get the deepest, most refreshing sleep in the shortest amount of time.

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Summertime and the living is easy

Posted on by Denny Waxman

Many thanks to the many artists who have covered “Summertime” for the inspiration behind this title. For a lot of us, living has not been easy in these past few months. Between the major Japanese earthquake and Fukushima nuclear disaster in March, ravaging tornadoes in northeast, central and southern United States, flooding of the Mississippi River, and the still uncertain economy, the spring season had its fair share of harsh moments. With the summer season almost upon us, we now have the opportunity to take a breather and enjoy a respite, but only if we know how to accurately adapt our diets and lifestyles to the seasonal change.

First, we must understand the energetic impact of this season. The energy of the year peaks in summertime. It is the most yang season, as evidenced by nature – as the energy of spring climbs upward into summer, tree and flower buds slowly grow and then explode into bloom. Our world has become luscious, green and alive overnight.

For most people, this strong, active energy necessitates in eating and living a little more yin and passively to stay in balance with the season and our environment. As always, consider your lifestyle as an individual and how it is best for you personally to adapt to this change in season, but in general:

Dishes need to be cooked less, and more light fresh dishes should be introduced into daily meals.
Enjoy all of the seasonal fresh vegetables and fruit that are commonly grown in your area.
Instead of adding oil early on in cooked dishes, add it at the end.
Avoid eating baked, fried, salty and animal food dishes.
Avoid overindulging in liquids and spices.
Be aware that summer is a sensitive time for both your heart and small intestines.
And make sure you eat at least one sea vegetable dish a week, particularly those using nori.

Overall, this is the time to let your condition get a little more expanded and flexible, but be careful about overdoing it – one easy way to keep your condition balanced in this season is to eat less, but still keep your mealtimes regular every day. “Regular meals regulate all of your body’s cycles — physical, emotional and mental. They make your energy and life more stable.” (From “The Great Life Diet”)

Imagine this season like its 9 Star Ki element – fire: Once a fire is ignited, as long as there is fuel to burn, it will keep its flame alive. Similarly, to produce and prosper in your own life, you do not have push that hard to see projects and relationships flourish this summer. Lay back and relax – allow the energy of the season to work for you.

Summer gives us the opportunity to develop the more peripheral yin aspects of our personalities. It’s also the easiest time to be supported personally by the energy of our environment and nature, so dream big and bring ideas into fruition. Maximize this opportunity by living simply and structured. “Order and structure are what give us vitality, adaptability and creativity, confidence and a zest for life.” (From “The Great Life Diet”)

And of course, take time to explore the outdoors and walk for at least 30 minutes every day. I like to say that walking is “the brown rice of physical activity” because it helps to keep the mind balanced and the body flexible.

I hope you will join me in having a wonderful summer. And please consider visiting us at the Strengthening Health Institute these next couple of months at one of our many programs or at our monthly potluck dinners.

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Corrections and Additions to Concerns Surrounding Recent Events in Japan

Posted on by Denny Waxman

I am enclosing some corrections to my original email and a letter from Bruce McDonald, the owner of the Natural Import Company. Reading his letter has brought this tragedy even closer to home. After eating the foods from these suppliers for some time I feel that I know them personally and now feel this loss even more strongly.
I will again forward more information as I receive it.

Corrections from John Belleme and Yuzo Iwata:
Onozaki miso is not made in Sendai. It is made in Yaita-city Tochigi prefecture, a long way from Sendai.
Johsen shoyu is made in Sendai Miyagi prefecture.

Letter from Bruce McDonald unedited:

Three of our suppliers were directly impacted by the disaster.

1. San Riku Bay wakame. The bay was completely torn up and worse most if not
all of the divers and processors were killed.

2. Sendai nori area is completely destroyed.,.

3. It is too early to tell about Johsen. They are located in the mountains
about 50 miles northwest of the nuclear plant and were not affected by the
tsunami but they still have no power and no phones so we don’t know much.
The prevailing wind is west to east so the radiation exposure might be
minor. Again, too early to tell.

Most of our suppliers are south of Tokyo. So unless there is a Chernoble
type of explosion that breaks open the reactor and causes a massive
radiation release, our other suppliers should not be affected. The Japanese
government is testing everything now that is exported and will not allow any
tainted product to be shipped abroad.

Before people get too worked up about low level radiation, they should
realize that there are 104 nuclear plants in the US all of which are leaking
The worst one is in Vermont which is so old and obsolete (at least 5 years
beyond its safe operating lifespan), that it is leaking radiation constantly
through its containment walls.
Radiation is everywhere…it’s all about the levels of contamination as to
whether it poses a health risk.

We are currently sourcing wakame, OG shoyu and miso from Kyushu in southern

Best Regards,

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