Brain Food

20161213_183954Last night I drank caffeinated green tea after dinner and it kept me awake half the night. When I finally gave up on sleeping, I went downstairs and watched the YouTube videos of Dr. Daniel Amen. The guy knows the brain inside out and is passionate about the care of this amazing organ. Ironically, sleep is one of the brain’s critical needs.

And I’ve known this. I’ve stressed the importance of sleep to my kids over the years, to the point of sounding like a broken record. When we haven’t had enough sleep, we don’t function as well, we are more prone to poor eating habits, skipping exercise, irritability and accidents. I knew it would not bode well for me to be wide awake at 3 a.m., and yet I was not sorry to be taking in Dr. Amen’s knowledge.

20160602_170831-2Diet and exercise are also critical to healthy brain functioning. We know this already, right? But I usually think of these things as important for my body and my heart. Rarely do I focus on the fact that I am caring for this incredible, elastic bundle of nerve cells. And what really makes me want to jump up and down is how the brain’s upkeep affects our overall happiness in a BIG way. Our mood, judgement, creativity and attention are all  results of the brain. I would say all those things together affect the spirit. As Dr. Amen says, when your brain works, your life works. 

What are you feeding your brain? 

That is the question I am going to ask myself from now on.
20160503_111231I am feeding it eight hours of sleep most nights, plus exercise and meditation. And I am feeding it some pretty yummy things too, like spaghetti squash and shredded zucchini and quinoa stuffed peppers and salmon over spinach. 20160801_171519-1

 

Our brains needs a lot of water, and of course, intellectual stimulation and empowering thoughts. We can nurture and stretch our brains, or let them atrophy. We can feed them well or neglect them.

We can literally grow and heal our brains by making healthy choices. 

I’m drinking the decaf tea tonight.

My brain has some sleep to catch up on.

 

 

 

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Finding the fun in healthy

It seems to me that aligning body, mind and soul is the ultimate goal of everyone, consciously or not. When out of alignment, our bodies tell us so. We feel lethargic, over-stressed or uninspired.

When in alignment, we feel vibrancy, energy, peace and creativity.

How do we align?

Perhaps we each have our own way. There are so many ways. We can start with our thoughts, or our environment.

Or we can start with the body.

Moving the body.

Feeding the body well.

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Tangy Lentil Salad

 

I promised myself that turning fifty would be the catalyst for becoming the healthiest I’ve ever been.  And I’ve got to say, the journey is a blast. I’m seriously having the most fun on the path to good health than I’ve ever had.

Fun is the answer!

facebook_1472724379117For me, that means trying new and healthy recipes, sometimes mimicking those I’ve enjoyed in restaurants. Fun is visiting a new juice bar with my daughters, researching the best blender to purchase, reading some of Jason Vale’s books just for fun and then getting inspired by his near perfect health. https://www.amazon.com/Jason-Vale/e/B0034IZDB6/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1472730018&sr=8-2-ent

Fun is a long walk with my husband or a new playlist for my solo jog.

It’s my favorite yoga class or paddling a kayak under a beautiful blue sky.

It’s a pile of books to read that feeds my mind and distracts me from the sugar I am not ingesting.

It’s having all the energy I need to be as productive as I want to be. I love love love this.

Being productive feels fun. 

Fun is writing  when the words  are  flowing, finally, after a bout of writer’s block. What is writer’s block anyhow? I think it’s just like any other energy block; remove the sludge in all its forms and open the channels.

Flow.

Momentum.

Health.

Inspiration. 

It’s basically free and fun and feels fantastic. 

 

Opening the creative conduit, aligning with the purest energy that is ours for the taking, is a far better buzz than I will ever get from the best margarita ever made. And I do like margaritas.

It’s lighter than stuff.

Sweeter than chocolate.

Good for the body= clarity for the mind=joy for the soul.

Oh joy!

 

 

Holistic High

A holistic lifestyle will make you high. And it’s legal. And it doesn’t have to be costly. A holistic lifestyle can make you feel healthy and clear headed and great in the present. As a bonus, it can move you forward. How do you let it move you forward or heal you? You embrace it, you live it, make it part of your identity. What we’re all after is to feel good. It sounds so simplistic, but when you think about it, every single choice we make is an attempt to feel good or to avoid feeling bad. When we do something for someone else, it’s because we feel good about doing it. When we follow our passion, live with purpose, do our job, try to learn something new, take a shower or cook a meal, it’s always because it feels good to do so or bad not to do so.

Those afflicted with an addiction are just trying to feel good, at least momentarily, and also trying to avoid feeling bad- or feeling at all. Their addiction is centered on wanting to feel good and not wanting to feel bad. And then it turns very bad. Though he credits AA for giving numerous addicts a fighting chance of recovery, columnist and recovering addict John Cheese points out in his writing that this organization focuses somewhat on the spirit while neglecting the rest of the person. Come to think of it, I do have an image of the recovering alcoholic, smoking and inhaling platefuls of cookies at meetings, while they hand their will over to God. What if one of the steps was to exercise or change their diet or meditate? To clean out their bodies and their surroundings?   What if they were encouraged to become addicted to a healthy lifestyle? Some of them do and doesn’t it make their recovery less fragile?

I think people need a holistic lifestyle and not just those people facing addiction or stress (who doesn’t have stress?) or those living with health issues. I think people facing life need a holistic life style. Who wouldn’t be better off nurturing body, mind, and spirit?

So what is a holistic lifestyle? I mean, that’s a broad term and can’t possibly come in a one-size-fits-all package. I guess each person creates their own version –like a smorgasbord of mindfulness- but it will likely include at least some of the following:

Yoga or other forms of exercise https://musingsimplicity.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/simply-yoga/

Whole foods and water https://musingsimplicity.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/our-nutritional-guru-the-body/

Simplify https://musingsimplicity.wordpress.com/2014/08/10/simplify-your-way-to-a-healthy-weight/

https://musingsimplicity.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/extreme-decluttering/

Meditation https://musingsimplicity.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/the-gift-of-silence/

There’s also an array of alternative healing techniques such as acupuncture, reiki, and other varieties of energy healing. Like de-cluttering, these treatments clear the blocks in your body so that the healing and effective energy can flow through naturally, like it’s supposed to. These methods work and are increasingly becoming accepted as valuable compliments to western medicine.

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Here’s the bad news, which is really good news in disguise. It takes a little while to make good habits become actual habits and not just temporary experiments. Also, feelings tend to flow more easily through a clear mind and body, so any unwanted angst that was kept at bay may begin to surface. Those who allow it to happen and stay present with whatever comes up have struck gold! I love the line that was in the movie Wild: Your power comes from the same place as your pain.

So just like we have the option of jumping in to clear clutter, we also have the option of jumping in to a holistic lifestyle. One change makes the next easier and soon we are gaining momentum. The experiment becomes a lifestyle. We can ride the wave of this natural high and when the inevitable challenges of life appear, we’re as ready as we can be to meet them.