Minimalistic Health our Step One..
As January goes racing by and all my plans of how much I want to rest over the holidays becomes a distant memory I got to thinking and reading all the blogs and posts about minimalism that keep hitting my inbox. Marie Kondo’s TV show has just hit Netflix and one or two other bloggers on minimalism that I follow have both put out books to assist in this process and it got me to thinking, why is it we are so focused on all the things we own or want to get rid of when really we should be focused on our bodies and all we want to get rid of or change with in our current state of health?
I have been a practicing Naturopath for more than 20 years now and have seen some amazing advances in what we know about the body and our understanding of how it works, Epigenetics, inherited issues , detoxification pathways and how the immune system and microbiome are so vastly important to overall health. With all the great advances and insights we should be charging ahead and have super health right? But this is not happening, I am seeing people that are more and more confused in regards to their health, what ‘popular’ diet they should be following, what type of exercise, meditation and breathing should they be doing?
Everyone is overwhelmed by the wealth of information but at a loss as to how and when we apply it or how to even create the time and space to actually do any of it.
Maybe we need to go back to basic principles, have a detox of all the health information and just simplify to locate our core health and wellbeing. What if stopping is what we need, taking stock of how we are feeling on a mental, emotional and physical level? Listening to our body rather than seeking external information and education.
Traditional Naturopathy has a list that was created well over 100 years ago, its basic and its beautiful in its clarity of health, it is referred to as Natures 7 Doctors/Healers. I have seen this abbreviated recently in social media to 6 healers but believe me when you see what number 7 is you will need to keep it. It is the idea that if we focus daily/weekly on these 7 points it is the clearest and simplistic way to support your health and wellbeing.
Natures 7 Healers
- Whole Foods / healthy diet
- Clean water
- Fresh air / breathing
- Mental and emotional wellbeing / balance
Yes, it is that simple (sort of).
When I teach and speak with corporates or new naturopathic students I often put this list up and at first glance it looks too simple and very obvious, but then you need to reflect on what each of the points mean and how many of these on the list you are actually doing. I have found that the majority of busy people only manage 2 or 3 of the 7 on a typical day. The exception to this is those that exercise on a daily basis as exercise often then cascades into almost all of the other points being activated as well.
So as January comes to its halfway mark soon and all the things you wanted to work on in the new year become a frustrating goal rather than reality, maybe we should step back and take each of these 7 healers into consideration. Maybe focus on one per month and really get into the groove of making sure you do one thing well rather than spreading yourself too thin with goals and wishes for 2019.
So that is my challenge to you, it's simple, decluttering all the overload of health information out there that can potentially allow you to simplify and clarify what is actually going on with your health and your body. Being late into January already lets go for the easiest one first and take Clean Water to the next level.
What clean water actually means is to be properly hydrated with fluids that are useful to your body. Depending on your size, activity level and climate that you live in this could be a very changeable intake but let's simplify it down. Go for the 1-1.5 litres per day of pure, clean water and then add on extra fluid for the volume of exercise that you are doing.
We all have different sweat rates during exercise and it is best to know what your own personal sweat rate is. If you weigh yourself before exercise on a digital scale (naked is best) and then go out and 30 minutes or one hour of exercise. Upon returning home or to the change room of the gym, strip down, towel dry off to remove excess sweat and weigh yourself again. 1 kilo lost is approximately 1 litre of fluid lost through metabolism and sweat. 500 grams = 500ml lost etc. Now you know your approximate sweat rate for whatever exercise you just undertook. Its not a perfect test but is close enough for a safe calculation.
So the focus till the end of the month is drinking enough healthy liquid to support daily life and exercise undertaken, but what I would also challenge you to do is to look at all the other fluids that you ingest and take a good look at which ones may not be adding to your overall health. Do you need to stop drinking liquids with artificial sweeteners or loaded with sugar? How about your coffee and tea intake? I am not asking you to completely give these up but I am asking you to create some good boundaries and habits around their intake.
Of course we also need to look at alcohol intake, now that the holiday season is past it is an especially god time to reassess how much alcohol you are actually having. Yes you could stop it all together if you want for a while OR set a realistic amount that is likely not going to have a negative impact on your overall health. How much is that you ask? In my naturopathic opinion I would LOVE people to cut back to 2-3 drinks per week for a few weeks, to give their liver a holiday as well as to break the habit of daily ‘destress’ drinking that tends to increase over the years.
So there we have it, my New Years, health plan to simplify and focus on the basics. Let's take baby steps, one step each month to support and nourish our bodies and by the end of July we should be seeing some real results and insight into overall constitutional health and wellness.
I hope you join me on this journey, maybe keep a small diary of one or two sentences a week of how you are going with this 7 step idea and what is is feeling like for you. I am not asking for a big overhaul or time consuming effort, just simple focus on the basics.
Thanks for taking the time to think about your health and hope you enjoy the journey.