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.

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Good Parenting Before Birth

Posted on by Denny Waxman

In a recent article in the Chicago Tribune five threats to a healthy pregnancy were listed:
poor nutrition in the womb, air pollution, Bisphenol A (BPA) found in many plastic bottles and the lining of soda and soup cans, depression and viruses. Out of this list we have the most control over our diets. A healthy diet also has the greatest ability to nourish and give protection to the developing fetus from environmental pollutants.

We recently completed a weekend in our year-long course at the Strengthening Health Institute where we discussed embryonic education. This has been a traditional understanding in the orient that has been passed down over the generations.

Embryonic education, which takes place before we are even born, is actually the most important education in our life. It sets our tendencies for health or sickness as well as our tastes in food, music and physical activity. This is consistent with the view of the fetal origins theory, which has been studied in recent years, where diet during pregnancy and infancy sets the future pattern for physical and mental health or illness. There are three main areas of this education: diet, activity and mental-spiritual practices. The dietary recommendations are based on grains and vegetables and include foods that are nourishing, strengthening and protective to the developing fetus. These include brown rice and other whole grains such as barley and millet, a variety of hard, fibrous vegetables, naturally pickled vegetables such as sauerkraut, beans especially azuki and lentils, miso soup and a variety of other foods.

Walking, cleaning and other daily, life-related activities are also important for the developing baby. Pregnancy is natural to life and activity and hard work are important to have a strong baby.

In a world filled with violence it is important to try and read or watch movies and TV shows that are peaceful and inspiring and to avoid shows and books that are violent, negative and overly sexually stimulating.

In my personal counseling practice I have guided many women through pregnancy. Many women who have followed these guidelines have expressed how happy they were that they discovered this understanding in time.

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A Response to Dr. John McDougall’s Article “Why Did Steve Jobs Die?”

Posted on by Denny Waxman

John McDougall’s latest newsletter is titled, Why Did Steve Jobs Die? I read this issue with great interest the moment I received it to see Dr. McDougall’s insight into a question that has many people wondering. Would Steve Jobs’ life have been extended if he had surgery for pancreatic cancer 9 months earlier? John McDougall answers this question with an emphatic no. He further goes on to say that his vegan lifestyle, which has been questioned, actually extended his life by slowing the development of his cancer. Dr. McDougall further suggests that chemical exposure and bad luck caused his cancer. This may well be the case but I think there are additional factors to consider.

Throughout my years of macrobiotic counseling I have observed that our digestive system, especially the pancreas and intestines, thrive on order. The pancreas has two functions: one aids digestive and the other regulates blood sugar. Our blood sugar level follows the rising and setting of the sun. In the morning blood sugar rises so that we can wake and be active. At night it lowers so that we can settle down and sleep, Orderly meal times, along with regular sleep and waking times, help to regulate the healthy functioning of our digestive system and pancreas. On the other hand, extremes in diet and lifestyle stress the pancreas, compromising digestion and making blood sugar erratic. Steve Jobs is famous for extremes in his diet, lifestyle and temperament.

The content of meals is also important to healthy digestion. Our body runs on glucose, a simple sugar. The ideal source of glucose is the complex sugars found in whole grains, beans and vegetables that break down slowly through the digestive process. Fructose, found in fruit and many common sweeteners, is another simple sugar that stresses the pancreas. A UCLA study published in the Washington Post states that pancreatic cancer cells proliferate on fructose and not on glucose. Could it be that Steve Job’s episodes of fruitarianism together with his extreme lifestyle promoted his cancer?

My book, The Great Life Diet, is a practical guidebook to creating healthy, balanced meals and lifestyle practices. It is one of my great regrets that I did not have the opportunity to guide Steve Job’s in these simple and life-altering health practices.

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Eight Glasses of Water a Day?

Posted on by Denny Waxman

An article in Scientific American has raised the question as to whether drinking eight glasses of water a day is fact or fiction. I would like to offer some insights into this. Originally George Ohsawa recommended limiting liquid consumption. This recommendation was changed years ago by Michio Kushi to drinking a comfortable amount to satisfy your thirst.

In the modern American diet almost everything is dry. Meat, chicken, cheese, pizza, bagels and chips are all dry. Coffee, alcohol and caffeinated drinks are dehydrating. When you have a plant that is too dry, water runs right through, even though the water is what it needs most. It takes time until the plant can accept and utilize the water. It is a similar situation with the modern diet. When we consume so many dry foods, liquids tend to run through us. We have more of a need to drink continually as see all the time these days.

In traditional diets as well as the macrobiotic way of eating most foods are wet. Cooked grains, beans, vegetables, soups, salads, fruits, etc. all have a high water content. The most important liquid we consume is through our food, especially when well chewed. This liquid does not just pass through us. When we drink some water or mild tea we easily become well hydrated.

In order to stay well-hydrated, try to consume a variety of cooked foods that are naturally moist and refreshing in addition to drinking a comfortable amount of liquid.

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