Sorry about that title above. I realize that it sounds tired and regurgitated like so many health and wellness articles. You know, the ones that certain friends endlessly share on Facebook and Twitter? You might be sick of hearing about a magical detox, meditation and finding yourself, and that’s okay. It’s safe to say that I read around 100 of those types of articles a week for research, and I’m here to tell you that I understand your contempt. But please don’t take this as a bashing or mockery of certain practices (some that I firmly believe in and use myself) that can be profoundly helpful to others, even if some of the benefits are short lived and permeate the scent of snake oil.
I didn’t get to where I am today by following any one particular dietary theory, new exercise routine or breathing technique, etc. But I did find optimal health, happiness and a new sense of freedom, so the title stays. True health and sustainable change involves experimentation, failures and many moving parts. It’s NOT EASY and there is no magical solution out there… unless you consider hard work and dedication a magical solution – if you do, I applaud you. Everyone has a different version of what health, happiness and freedom mean to them as an individual. Let’s take a look at the proper definition of each, shall we?
Health: The state of being free from illness or injury.
Happiness: A state of well-being and contentment. A pleasurable or satisfying experience
Freedom: The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.
Take a moment to reflect on and answer these questions:
How do you strive to be free from illness or injury?
Are you in a state of well-being and contentment and living a pleasurable or satisfying experience?
Do you feel imprisoned or enslaved?
Below are 5 suggestions from me; a gunshot survivor, someone who struggled with cravings and addictions and someone who never thought that finding health, happiness and freedom was ever possible:
1. Don’t Allow Cravings to Ruin Your Life
I’m comfortable supporting clients with cravings (some people crave food like addicts crave drugs) and addictions because I’ve been there and understand how easily they can take the wheel and steer our lives down roads we would not go down otherwise. Cravings and addictions are deeply seeded and often never dealt with, leading to a truly unhealthy life (mentally, physically and spiritually) and often an early death.
If you feel as if you can’t control your cravings or you find yourself managing your vices, know that this is not normal. Please talk to someone and look for support before it’s too late.
2. Stop Dieting
Diets are a $66 billion dollar industry in the US alone and they don’t work. Okay, they work for a short period and then *BOOM* the weight returns when the dieting stops. There are MANY reasons that diets just don’t work. From what your mother ate in the womb to the transfer of genetic material to our body clocks to environment to our gut bacterial population. Most often a diet seems to work because the chosen diet puts the body in a calorie deficit, which forces the body to use fat stores for energy causing weight loss. This is the way to lose weight quickly and has made many people incredibly rich off of some simple calorie calculating.
Beware that this type of dieting often causes eating disorders, guilt about eating, decline in physiological processes, concentration, comprehension and overall judgment. If your idea of good health only equals losing some weight you might want to reevaluate what being heathy really means to you, especially in the long term.
3. Believe in Something Bigger than Yourself
Whether it’s the universe, Buddha or the love you feel for your child, the belief in something bigger than ourselves helps to curb ego and give life more meaning.
Happiness is an elusive concept, find it where you can.
Forget what your friends, family or coworkers have to say about what you should be eating because 99.9% of the time they’re wrong. The nutritional and chemical make-up of each individual is different and therefore dietary needs vary from person to person. Finding what’s best for YOU as an individual is key.
A great place to start down this path is to try an elimination diet to acquaint yourself with any food sensitivities that could be causing problems without you even knowing it.
5. Habits Become Lifestyle
Find your reason to add new and healthy habits slowly into your life as they will eventually become part of your lifestyle. This is the root of sustainable health. Some of the benefits of tearing down the house and rebuilding piece by piece are clarity, strength, weight loss, less pain, less depression, a more positive outlook, joy, happiness, freedom, younger looking skin, more stamina, a leaner body, better sex, less cravings, less fear and better sleep.
Simply put, it feels good to feel good. Not to mention that you’re adding healthy and vibrant years to your life!
Christopher Hostetler is an Integrative Health & Nutrition Coach, proud father, musician, writer and Muay Thai enthusiast residing in Los Angeles. He has made self evolution through nutrition, lifestyle, and mental and physical wellness his life’s work.
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