Just One Thing For Health

>> Tuesday

YOU HAVE control over your mood to an astonishing degree. Anything from taking a nap to having a snack to antivirusing your mind can make you feel better in a very short time.

Some people are hesitant to improve their mood. People have told me before, “that’s just the way I feel right now,” and imply that if they were to try to change their mood it would be dishonest. Hogwash. They clearly haven’t thought that one through. Your mood changes like the weather. You are not your moods any more than you are the water that moves through your body.

It would be similar to saying, “My body just stinks. That’s the way I smell right now,” and that is your reason for not showering. As if showering would be dishonest. It’s just stupid. If you don’t want to put out any effort to feel better just because it feels better, then think about doing it for your better health. Or do it because it will improve the moods of those around you. Or because it makes you more effective in dealing with people. There are many good reasons to improve your mood and no good reason to continue in a bad mood when you can easily change it.

One man told me it bothered him that when he was at work and he was in a bad mood, his co-workers didn’t like it. “I feel like I’m obligated to pretend to feel good when I don’t.”

“What makes you think you’re obligated,” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he sighed, “they try to cheer me up, or they give me a bad time about being grumpy, or they get short-tempered with me like they’re mad at me for not feeling good.”

“That’s interesting,” I said. “I remember reading a study on charisma. They had three people in a room just sit there. One of them was naturally charismatic, and the other two were not. They were told to just sit there and not say anything for a little while. At the end of that short time, without saying a word, the moods of the two less-charismatic people had moved toward the mood of the charismatic person.”

He looked puzzled.

“In other words,” I explained, “They tested the moods of all three before and after sitting in the room together. Let’s say the charismatic person was feeling irritable beforehand. Maybe one of the other people was feeling cheerful. After sitting in the room, the cheerful (but uncharismatic) person was more irritable.

“All I’m saying is that moods are contagious, and that is especially so when someone is charismatic, like yourself. So probably when you’re in a bad mood, it starts ruining the mood of the people around you and they are resisting that.”

“What, so I’m responsible for their moods now?” He didn’t seem to happy about this.

“There is some good and bad to just about anything. When you’re charismatic, it’s great because you make friends easily, people like you, you're more persuasive, you have more influence on others, and so on. But on the other hand, people pay more attention to your moods and that may seem like a burden, but it is nothing more than being in a position of leadership. Charisma is a power. And like the uncle in
Spiderman said, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’”

He laughed but he got the point too. And I hope you do too.

Whatever the cause of your mood, it is almost always true that you can do something about it. If you feel stressed, you can meditate or do some aerobic exercise. If you feel like you have no energy you could have a cup of coffee or go for a walk or take a nap. If you feel angry, you could use the antivirus for the mind or write in a diary or talk to a friend. If you feel lonely, you could reach out and communicate with someone or read a good book on relationships. For more ideas, check out The Top Ten Ways To Raise Your Mood.

Ask yourself how you can improve your mood at the moment, and keep asking until you come up with some good answers, and then pick one and do it.

When you want to improve your mood, simply ask the question: What’s one healthy thing I could do today to feel better?


The Moodraising Effect of Constitutionals

>> Sunday

ABOVE ALL," wrote the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, “do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts....”

Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher, went so far as to say “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”

A walk taken regularly for the sake of one’s well-being is called a constitutional. Kierkegaard and Nietzsche were in good company. Gandhi, Darwin, Emerson, and many creative (and long-lived) people throughout history took constitutionals often. You can too. Here’s how to have a good one:

Walk at a pace that’s easy and pleasant. Don’t make your constitutionals do double duty as an exercise program. A constitutional is closer to meditation, but it’s not a “discipline.” It’s more like a vacation, and that’s exactly the attitude to have.

Bring a little pocket-sized notebook and a pen, but don’t try to get ideas. Of course, you’ll sometimes think of things you want to remember. Taking notes is a way to free your mind — once your idea is down on paper, you’re free to forget about it for the moment.

Walk for longer than fifteen minutes. A half hour to an hour is good. You need to do it long enough to let your mind relax. This is a temporary vacation from our compulsion to do, and it needs to be long enough to have an effect.

ON A WALK, you get a fresh perspective; you can find solutions to problems; you look at things more clearly. You become calmer, saner and healthier. It’s easier to think because, 1) you have the time to think, 2) there’s nothing else you need to attend to, and 3) your brain is getting more oxygen.

This way of taking a walk is aptly named: It’s good for your constitution — your overall well-being, body and mind. You have a right to some quiet time to yourself, so exercise your right. A haven of peace and sanity awaits you...only a few steps away.

This is a chapter from the book, Self-Help Stuff That Works.


A Fountain of Youth

>> Monday

FEELING SLIM and healthy is good for your mood. The following is an article by Klassy Evans about one powerful way to improve your health.

THROUGHOUT the millions of years of our evolution, life has not provided our species with food in the abundance we enjoy in the free world today. Most of us have never in all our lives gone even one day without food.

And that is very unnatural.

Oddly enough, our bodies aren’t capable of dealing with it. The development of agriculture and a steady food supply is relatively recent, and our bodies have not evolved any adaptations to this new condition of plenty. So our desire for sweets and calorie rich foods — a desire that has helped us survive — now is our downfall. The free world is becoming obese. We eat several times a day, day after day after day. Non-stop.

The non-stop part is the real problem. It was necessary in our evolutionary past to eat all the sweet stuff we could find. It was good to eat all the meat you could eat when you killed an animal. Nearly all mammals — from your dog to lions — wolf down dinner. Eat as much as you can as fast as you can. Store as much fat as you can because tomorrow you may not have anything to eat.

Until recently, people have always gone through lean times. Your ancestors often went days without enough food. Some of them went weeks and even months without enough food. And the only ones who survived were those who were fat enough. You body wants to put on fat. Fat equals life itself when you don’t have any fruits to eat or game to kill. The only people who lived through the lean times were those whose bodies had stored the most fat.

Your body wants to store fat so you crave high caloric foods. This is a really good thing — as long as you go through lean times.

But now you don’t ever go even a day without food. It’s probably a big deal to even miss a dinner. And THAT is the real problem. It’s not so much that you over-eat: It’s that we don’t go through lean times.

But you can. You can add lean times to your life. Deliberately. Go without food for a day. It’s called fasting. Try it. Don’t eat anything tomorrow. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Just drink water and lots of it. Not one bite of anything.

What will happen? Well, let me tell you about some lions and some mice. There were some lions in a zoo and they were getting out of shape and listless. Their health wasn’t the best. So they decided to feed them every other day instead of every day. Same amount of food, but they let them gorge one day and then receive absolutely nothing the next. It’s closer to the way they live in the wild.

And what happened with this feast-or-famine feeding style? It was really good for the lions. Their health improved. The lean times were good for their health.

I say lean times are good for our health too.

They also have been testing mice and when they feed them every other day, they live longer and stay younger looking longer, better coats, higher levels of activity from those mice that eat every day.

There’s something about not eating that is very very good for mammals. Lean times are somehow essential to good health. Our bodies apparently do a lot of good work when they're not busy digesting food.

You see, your body has to not only digest your food and break it down into usable parts, but also it must manufacture what you need out of those parts. But it can’t do both at the same time. And digesting food always comes first (you can't leave food rotting in the guts).

So, as long as your body is busy digesting food, it isn’t producing the hormones and assembling the proteins you need to repair tissue. The time it normally does this is at night when you fast because you’re asleep. And the other time it does it is during periods of little or no food.

Keep in mind that more of the hormones you need to stay in a good mood are manufactured during the night if you go to bed with an empty stomach.

That means there are two things you can do to have better health. First, go to sleep with an empty stomach. Stop eating three hours or so before you go to bed. That way, when you fall off to sleep your body can spend all eight hours of sleep rejuvenating your tissues instead of digesting your dinner.

When you go to sleep on an empty stomach, you get a lot more rest and rejuvenation. And I want you to note I did not say "go to sleep hungry." There’s a time after you eat when you’re stomach is empty but you don’t feel hungry yet. That’s the state you’re after.

By the way, another good thing about going to bed with an empty stomach is it reduces heartburn.

The second thing you can do to improve your health is to make sure you endure some lean times. You need to fast.

How often? Well, some volunteers agreed to eat every other day like the lions and mice. And you guessed it: It improved their health and even though they were told to eat twice as much food on the days they ate, they still lost weight.

When it comes to mammals, apparently we’re at our best living a feast-or-famine life. We have a healthier body and less body fat. Such a deal!

Now, do you need to fast every other day? No. You would be extremely health if you did, but you don’t have to go that far. You will get improvement from any amount you can do. Go without any food tomorrow and you will be healthier for doing it. Go without food once a week has even more benefit. I decided to go without food two days a week. I chose Mondays and Fridays because they are very busy days for me and I’ve found it’s almost a blessing to not have to stop and eat. And, when I want to eat, having something to do that needs to be done helps me think about something besides my desire for food.

I personally find fasting peaceful. Yes, sometimes I feel hungry, but a glass of water helps a lot and the hunger fades. It just comes in waves. It is NOT a constant feeling.

I think the first time you go without food it feels rather scary. There’s a feeling something really bad will happen if you don’t have enough food. But nothing bad happens. I go about my life not really aware I’m fasting. I walk around town doing my errands or ride my bike. I don’t feel faint. I don’t pass out from exertion. Once I even did a very strenuous hike to the top of a mountain, though I felt like I didn’t have my normal oomph. I still was able to do it. The Apaches used to go for several days without food when they were riding hard and didn’t have time to stop and kill game and cook it. They thought nothing of it.

If you’re healthy, you can go a day without food. In fact, your body would love to have a day without having to digest anything. You can’t wash the floors when the room is full of guests.

I’ve been fasting Monday and Friday. And it has changed my life. For one thing: I’m losing weight. I find it much easier to not eat than to watch what I eat. Much easier. There’s no trying to control my appetite by stopping once I’m eating, which I find difficult. It is just easier to not get started. Besides, everything I see will still be there tomorrow. I can eat it then. Not really a big deal. There are so many benefits to fasting — like a lot of extra time — that not eating is actually sort of fun.

I feel free of it all when I fast. I don’t have to figure out what to eat or go shopping for food. I don’t have to cook anything all day long. I don’t have to clean any dishes. Plus, the day is free of meal interruptions. I can keep doing what I’m doing and don’t have to stop for lunch or dinner. It makes for productive, satisfying days.

What has surprised me is I’m not twice as hungry the next day. Most people must have some of this response because even the volunteers who were told to try to eat twice as much on the food days just couldn’t seem to do it, so they lost weight even though they weren’t try to.

There is also another benefit to all this. On the days I eat, I’ve stopped worrying about overeating. It doesn’t matter much any more. I can relax. I can eat what I want. Well, I eat good food, nutritious food, but I’ve stopped being so concerned about how much I eat and shifted my attention over to making sure I fast enough.

The problem the developed countries are having with obesity isn’t so much because we’re overeating. The problem is we are underfasting. And if you will concentrate on increasing your fasting time, first by going to bed empty so you make the most of your nightly fast, and second by imposing at least a weekly fast, then you will be giving your body what it so desperately needs: A little famine.

By the way, periods of famine actually improve not only your physical health, but your mental health as well. When they deliberately starved volunteers during WWII to simulate the starvation that many people in Europe were enduring and how best to recuperate from that, they found that even though these men had become skin and bones, when they recovered their weight, they were actually healthier than they’d been. Blood pressure was lower. Depression and anxiety was lower. These people were truly better off for their period of starvation. It did not damage their health like you’d think such a horrific experience of months of starvation would do. The body evolved to count on lean times. It was such a regular occurrence in the evolution of human beings, primates, mammals, and probably as far back as single-celled animals, that our bodies are actually harmed by the LACK of lean times.

Fasting is every bit as important to your health as exercise and stretching and eating the right foods.

And one last comment: Eating every other day increases your life. You will live longer if you fast. And those years will be much better years. You'll be healthier. You'll feel better.

Try it. For the next month instead of trying to eat less, just fast more. That’s all. Just go without eating for one whole day. And do it again and again. Even as much as every other day.

Once you’ve seen how good it is for you, consider fasting for longer. Investigate fasting. It’s the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth.



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Feel good more often and become more effective with your actions. Check it out on Amazon: Self-Help Stuff That Works.

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