Three years ago, I had a health scare. At 30, I found out I had high cholesterol. It was a shitty thing, of course, but it was shittier, because I thought I was doing all the right things. I had been been going to yoga 2-3 times a week, I had been restricting my calorie intake as much as possible, I had been taking one cheat day a week, and I had been avoiding juices. But it was obviously not enough!
I decided then and there to cut out the bullshit. I wasn’t going to listen to anyone who was sponsored by some random corporation and I would base all of my health stuff on scientific research. Science was my new guru. I had followed the other gurus, but they had failed me. Even though I did what they asked, I had failed.
I needed a change, so little by little, I started reading up books, and blogs on health and fitness research and I started including one by one the techniques I speak about below, in order to bring my cholesterol back to normal within 2 months without drugs, and to get to the best freaking shape of my life. No longer would I be one of those skinny fat people. Skinny on the outside, and so unhealthy on the inside.
I wanted to share all of my research and these techniques with you, because all of them are free to implement, easy on the wallet, and also, in my opinion, convenient to add on into your daily routine. But that’s just me.
Health Should Be Your Penultimate Goal
Before, I give you the secrets from the vault, I want to say a few words on health.
Why does it really matter? I mean, we can screw with our health, I mean, we are still young, right? Also, if something happens to us, there are pills we can pop, and surgeries we can get. In addition, by the time, we get into our 50s or 60s, there will be technology out there to fix everything!
Here’s the deal, guys and gals. If you want to live that ideal life of yours, where you travel the world, scale those mountains, dive those oceans, walk those cobblestone streets.. where you dance the night away at a music festival in the middle of the Nevada desert… where you hang out with cool people from all over the world… where you are living every day in a state of flow… You need to be in good health to get there!
First Money, Then Health?
Woah… I thought it would be the other way around, you say.
[bctt tweet=”I mean, first I focus the shit out of my business, then, I can focus on my health, right?” username=”BoomShikha”]
Do you know how much strength, mental and physical, and focus, is required to run a business and to live your ideal life? Do you know how hard it is on a body to live in that optimal state day in and day out? I know that I need to be in the best shape of my life every single day, otherwise, my business will suffer, because I won’t have the focus, strength, motivation, or creativity to make anything great happen.
I get up every day and start off my day with a bounce, because I am in great shape, and I made it happen, and I keep on making that happen. Your health should be priority from day 1, not from day 1052. Right now!
Right on, let’s get on with the real gist of this blog post. I’m hoping, you get why health is paramount, over anything else, and these are the techniques I used based on science to get there. Booyah!
This was the first step I took on my journey to becoming healthier. I eliminated gluten from my diet completely. I did it after reading the book, Wheat Belly, by Dr. William Davis MD, who is a Cardiologist. I chose this book carefully out of all the others out there, because of the research that he put into it. I wanted to ensure that I wasn’t just reading garbage. Critical thinking, people! Just because they wrote a book, doesn’t mean they know what they are talking about.
Okay, so you can obviously read the book on your own if you wish, but these are the few things that spoke to me from the book, that caused me to change my diet. He gives a history on how wheat has been convoluted by genetic modification so much that it isn’t the same wheat our grandparents used to eat. Our bodies are unable to process it properly nowadays.
“Gluten sensitivity can range in severity from mild discomfort, such as gas and bloating, to celiac disease, a serious autoimmune condition that can, if undiagnosed, result in a 4-fold increase in death,” said Jeffrey M. Smith, executive director of Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT) in a statement released on their website.
Smith cited how a “possible environmental trigger may be the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to the American food supply, which occurred in the mid-1990s,” describing the nine GM crops currently on the market.
I also noticed a significant reduction in bloating, sugar cravings, sleep disturbances, and mental fogginess, by giving up gluten for just 7 days. Wondering what would happen if I gave up wheat for more than 7 days, I tried it, and the results were fantastic. I lost a lot of belly fat, and fat around my hips, without any increase in exercise. I slept better. My teeth got whiter. I noticed I could focus better.
If I ate gluten intentionally to see how my body would feel, I noticed an instant increase in bloating, and stomach discomfort. Obviously, results vary person to person, so I couldn’t say the same would happen for you. But read the book and see how it works out for you.
This wasn’t a big one for me, because I dislike sweet stuff in general. But I still decided to intentionally make sugar-free a part of my life. This means no added sugars.
The main thing, though, that caused me to shift away from adding sugar to my occasional tea, or eating a cupcake, was the research that showed that sugar is as addictive as cocaine!!! I saw the study online a few years back, and it blew my mind. I looked through my diet, and I noticed in order to fill my plate, I used a lot of rice in my diet, as I couldn’t eat wheat in all of its various delicious forms. Rice is almost pure sugar when it goes into our bodies.
Sugar Is Sugar Inside Us
It doesn’t matter what the food looks like on the outside, we have to think about what the food does when it gets into our bodies, and a lot of foods convert straight to sugar in our bloodstreams. Giving us a big hit of sugar (or dopamine) that we don’t need.
According to brain scans, sugar is as addictive as cocaine, the California-based endocrinologist told CBS News’ “60 Minutes.” It causes a euphoric effect that triggers dopamine, the chemical that controls pleasure in the brain. The average America eats a third of a pound of sugar every day — 130 pounds a year. Lustig says his research proves that the sweet stuff causes heart disease and cancer, as well as Type 2 diabetes and obesity. And its not just the added sweeteners we add to our foods, like table sugar, or the desserts we eat. Sugar is everywhere in foods where we least suspect it, including breads, yogurt, peanut butter and sauces.
Nowadays, I’m extremely careful with the foods I consume. I always check labels to see what the food item contains. Most foods have sugars hidden inside of them, and you will be surprised at some of the foods that contain sugar that you never imagined!
This is a weird one for most people.
[bctt tweet=”People can imagine cutting out sugar, but cutting out booze??! Heavens, no!” username=”BoomShikha”]
My main dice with alcohol is that it’s added calories that I don’t need, and I don’t like the taste of alcohol. It isn’t delicious to me. I also dislike how it makes me feel. I don’t like depressants and I don’t need a disinhibitor, either.
If I am going to put some drug into my body, it better cause some hallucinations or give me the power of communing with the source. Not just allow me to talk to strangers, better. I can do that on my own.
Alcohol Is All Sugar
I have already mentioned that sugar is a major culprit in a lot of diseases that we have in our society. This article from Harvard illuminates my reasons for quitting alcohol really well:
On the personal level, heavy drinking can take a toll on the body. It can cause inflammation of the liver (alcoholic hepatitis) and lead to scarring of the liver (cirrhosis), a potentially fatal disease. Heavy drinking can increase blood pressure and damage heart muscle (cardiomyopathy). It has also been linked with several cancers: The World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research indicate that there is convincing evidence linking alcohol use to cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, breast, and colon and rectum in men, and probable evidence that its use contributes to liver cancer and colorectal cancer in women. (18) The risk is multiplied for drinkers who also smoke tobacco.
This is more than enough for me to avoid alcohol like the plague. This is a hard one because most people look at me like I’m crazy if I don’t drink alcohol. I have had alcohol two times in the last two years, one was a couple of sips of champagne for my brother’s engagement party, and another was a sip of champagne at New Year’s.
I don’t know where to begin with meditation. I think meditation is the end-all of be-all. If everyone on this planet could start meditating, we would fix all of the major problems of the world in a matter of months. But that is perhaps wishful thinking on my part. I attribute almost every major change in my life at least partly to meditation.
The Basics Of Caloric Adjustment
The biggest effect on my weight loss due to meditation has been due to caloric adjustment. Read below:
According to new research, mindfulness sharpens a person’s ability to recognize internal cues that signal hunger and fullness. In a 2016 study, researchers taught people a short body scan meditation that primes them to become more aware of their own body… The meditators then received either a small or large Snickers bar. Later, they were allowed to eat as many chocolate cookies as they liked.
Something special seemed to happen to the people who did the body scan meditation. While they didn’t necessarily eat less than everyone else, they adjusted their cookie consumption to compensate for what they’d already eaten—meaning that people who had the large candy bar ate fewer cookies than people who had the small Snickers.
What does this mean for you? Well, less mindless binging. I used to finish a whole family pack of Miss Vickie’s Jalapeno chips (my arch nemesis) in one sitting. I had no connection to my body or my stomach or my hunger cues. Now, I know when I’m full, and I know when to stop eating. Not only that, but because of the mental training that meditation provides, I am able to be the master of my knowledge, and actually use it. As you know, knowledge is useless without action.
We can survive a week without water, but water is life. Every chemical reaction that happens in our body needs water. Our body is 70% water, and our brains are 75-80% water. The importance of water cannot be overstated.
But did you know that hunger cues are the same as thirst cues in the hypothalamus, and by the time you are feeling thirsty, you are already dehydrated. This means, many times when we are feeling hungry, we might actually be thirsty – I have started drinking a huge glass of water every time I feel a pang of hunger, to see if it is actually thirst-related, or hunger. In most cases, that hunger pang goes away, and I go back to work. Also, I try to keep a huge bottle of water next to me at all times, filled up, so I can chug it at regular intervals, never getting to that point of dehydration. (Check out this awesome infographic on water and the human body).
Water as soon as you wake up
I wake up and drink a bunch of water, at least a litre, right away. Even if I am thirsty or not, it gets my metabolism going, and fills up my stomach. Thus, even if I was hungry, I can now survive for a couple of hours longer, while I complete my morning routine. I also always carry at least a litre of water around with me, everywhere I go. I’m the crazy water lady, but I never want to run out of water, and be thirsty. I want my brain and body to function at optimal strength and optimal water levels help with that.
Remember, if you are feeling thirsty, you are already dehydrated!
“The rule of thumb is, if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. So keep well hydrated by drinking plenty of water, even before you begin your outdoor activity,” said Dr. Irvin Sulapas, a primary care sports medicine physician and assistant professor of family and community medicine at Baylor.
Movement – 10,000 Steps
I have become a huge fan of Katy Bowman in the past few months. Her book, Movement Matters, is one of my favourite reads, and I have incorporated a lot of her teachings from it into my life. Two things that I pulled from it that has been invaluable to me? Firstly, movement is important to our bodies and genetics, as food, water, and air. Movement is a form of nutrition to our cells. Our cells crave movement. They want to be moving all the time. Our ancestors used to be constantly in motion, walking 5-10 miles a day, and moving about their caves, or camps. Secondly, human bodies are bio-mechanically built for walking! Not for crossfit, or zumba, or even yoga, but walking!
For author and scientist Katy Bowman, walking is a biological imperative like eating. In her book, “Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement,” she suggests there are movement nutrients, just like dietary nutrients, that the body needs.
“Walking is a superfood. It’s the defining movement of a human,” said Bowman, a biomechanist based in Ventura, California. “It’s a lot easier to get movement than it is to get exercise.”
Researchers say emerging evidence suggests that combined physical activity and inactivity may be more important for chronic disease risk than physical activity alone.
“Actively sedentary is a new category of people who are fit for one hour but sitting around the rest of the day,” Bowman said. “You can’t offset 10 hours of stillness with one hour of exercise.”
[bctt tweet=”I realized from reading Katy’s books, that my cells were craving more movement. ” username=”BoomShikha”]
Working on the computer for up to 15 hours a day meant I don’t move. I need to add more movement into my diet. So I got an app, Pacer, on my iPhone and started tracking my walking. Making sure to get at least 2000 steps every 2-3 hours.
The final thing I wanted to chat about was Intermittent fasting. I kind of fell into it by chance. I have a very long morning routine, and I usually eat my last meal around 7pm. So, oftentimes, it ended up that I would have 12-14 hours in between dinner and breakfast. Also, because I didn’t crave food as soon as I woke up due to lack of gluten in my diet, I wasn’t starving in the morning, and I could wait a few hours to eat.
Mice And Fasting
I started losing weight throughout my body without even trying and I wondered what the hell was going on. I started reading up on Intermittent fasting, and the research was interesting.
In a 2003 mouse study overseen by Mark Mattson, head of the National Institute on Aging’s neuroscience laboratory, mice that fasted regularly were healthier by some measures than mice subjected to continuous calorie restriction; they had lower levels of insulin and glucose in their blood, for example, which signified increased sensitivity to insulin and a reduced risk of diabetes.
Mattson thinks that intermittent fasting acts in part as a form of mild stress that continually revs up cellular defenses against molecular damage.
Fascinating, don’t you think? Now, I have never been able to fast for days on end, but I can do this intermittent fasting thing. It’s much easier for me. I have done these fasting sessions, where I have had two tiny meals, and fasted for 19 hours a day. That was hard, but still doable. And the pounds just slipped off.
I love this stuff! It makes me me go wheee! Also, I’m in the best shape of my life, and the pounds stay off, without much effort. I don’t exercise like a maniac, perhaps a bit of yoga two or three times a week. Perhaps not even that. But these techniques have helped me stay in the best shape of my life! Let me know what you think?
Again, results vary for different people. Obviously if you have any conditions, don’t just go crazy trying all of these techniques out. Consult your doctor before doing anything major. I am extremely healthy, so, testing on myself has been fine. But I never ever recommend other people to test these techniques out without first talking to a health specialist.