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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Great Frustrations

Posted on by Denny Waxman

In my macrobiotic counseling practice, I often say to my clients, “if people say it is good, I say it is bad.” It is my automatic response to hearing someone praise the health virtues of a certain food. I know this sounds completely arrogant or at the very least contrary. To me it is an expression of a deep frustration. It is a frustration that has been growing within me for many years.

So many of my clients come to me saying that they have been eating a healthy diet, yet they are here to see me for a life-threatening problem. I find a huge contradiction there. My experience is that a healthy diet leads to lasting health. My approach to health is simple; good food, good activity, and a good attitude. Food is the starting place that has the most power over our health.

Recently I read an article in the Atlantic about teens wanting to lose weight and not knowing how. The conclusion of their research was that the actions of obese teens do not reflect their desire to lose weight. Now, this is where my frustration grows again. I find it hard to believe that most obese teens do not want to lose weight. Rather, I think that they have a frustration that prevents them from losing weight. Their frustration is that what they are told does not work. As a result, they get frustrated and give up trying to lose weight.

Why is it that common beliefs about weight loss do not work?

First of all, the calorie theory does not work. Eating fewer calories and working out more do not lead to sustained weight loss. The secret to sustained weight loss is simple: if you have a healthy, balanced way of eating and natural activity, you will feel satisfied. When we are satisfied with our diet and activity we never need to think about our weight. Healthy weight is the natural outcome of a balance in diet and activity. Weigh loss systems are doomed to failure if they are based on restriction. Inevitably, frustration and restriction lead to excess weight. This is not an idle theory. I have helped many hundreds of people lose weight effortlessly with these basic principles.

The modern diet causes a deep biological frustration that cannot be satisfied. It does not satisfy our basic nutritional needs. Exercise and eating less do not solve the problem. This can be seen all around us. If we teach children the basics of a healthy way of eating through the enjoyment of unprocessed whole foods and daily activity they will automatically achieve a sense of satisfaction which leads to healthy weight. The simple steps outlined in my book, The Great Life Diet, lead to sustained weight loss naturally without feeling deprived. You will learn how to be satisfied with your diet and activity and lose weight naturally. It is a great way to start the new year.

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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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Regulating Thyroid Issues Naturally

Posted on by Denny Waxman

A recent article in the New York Times discusses a link between psychiatric troubles and imbalances in thyroid hormones. Quite often subtle imbalances in thyroid hormones can create depression, anxiety and other psychiatric problems.

From a macrobiotic or energetic point of view, the thyroid is the balancing point between the pituitary and adrenal glands or, you could say, mind and body. The pituitary gland at the base of the brain is the major endocrine gland that regulates all others. The adrenal glands, just above the kidneys, help regulate vitality, metabolism, and help us deal with stress. The thyroid shows an overall balance between mind and body. Problems in the throat region can also be related to difficulty in expressing ourselves or in accepting situations.

Many of my clients express how much more positive, energetic and calm they feel, even after one visit. When we add balance into our diet, activity and lifestyle practices, our hormonal system including these major glands naturally rebalance themselves. The adrenals like beans and root vegetables and the thyroid likes leafy greens and the natural sweetness of vegetables such as onions, carrots and squash. Walking outside also helps all upper body problems.

No Comments | Tags: Adjusting Your Diet, Articles and Research, Exercise, Macrobiotic Philosophy, Macrobiotics, Mental Health