prescription to “eat healthier” ??

Chronic and persistent inflammation due to stress, lack of sleep, and diet is the root of so much more illness than than we’re letting on. The doctor knows the answer, but will prescribe medication to relieve the symptoms, or clean up a resulting sickness, which can often be detrimental to our overall health (antibiotics, etc.). After all, would we ever accept “eat healthier” or “sleep more” as a prescription? Don’t get me wrong – get your vaccinations, take antibiotics for Lyme Disease, etc., but a cold (and more) can be best avoided by sleeping and best cured by… sleeping.

This is major gap in our relationship with medicine today and not enough people are talking about it. It’s putting (often times expensive) band aids on chronic lifestyle related illnesses so that we don’t feel a need to take care of ourselves. Habits don’t change overnight, but if there’s one priority, then creating a healthy lifestyle (even if over time) should be it. It’s the foundation for taking care of family, making decisions, and having good mental health (after all, the brain is the body). This is not going to happen through exercise, forget entirely about exercise: it’s all about the food.

Relegate meat to a side dish. Dairy and bread is an every-now-and-then. Green leafy things, other produce, legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils), and nuts are the main affair. When you cook your hands should first be washing dirt off of whole foods from the ground, a bush, or tree. Turn some music on and add some spices, oils, salt and pepper – learn how you like it. Have a rotation of go-to staple meals. Look for vegetarian recipes (even if you aren’t vegetarian). Eat as much as you want. Don’t count calories. Stop caring about what you look like (it doesn’t matter); start caring about how you feel. Have wine, have ice cream.

Pursuing health is an uphill climb that pushes you to carve out time and devote mental energy towards creating a new lifestyle (my thoughts on goal-setting) . This could be just a little bit, every day, until some day it all adds up and before you know it, you’ve arrived – healthy is easy because it’s just how you live. Invest time and money into your food journey. Health is wealth and the ROI is exponential.

i’d pawn diamonds for sleep

Nothing is more luxurious than a full, deep night’s rest – waking up feeling, not like you have to somehow make it through the day, but instead, ready and pulling in the day with a lasso: the parts to enjoy and the challenges. I just slept eight and a half hours (diamonds on my neck). But no one will put any money into selling this idea of luxury to you. You can’t swipe a card and buy REM sleep. It’s one of the most elusive, priceless luxury goods not on the market. Known to some, but not all – available to some, but not many. The investment is time, energy, and focus on getting the most out of every night, both on an individual and societal level. For some of us, we’ve got to admit we’re prioritizing meaningless things over sleep and health – late night entertainment and overworking (recognition, achievement – for our corporate, late nights: do you ever just say, “hey, I gotta go – will start again tomorrow”?).

And this is where I’m going to stop calling sleep a luxury in a sense of what we all deserve. We have to demand a better economic system that doesn’t force people to sacrifice sleep at the expense of getting by. Sleep is a basic need to feel human – get your emotions right and find the answers. It doesn’t cost anything but stepping off the throats of the middle class and those in lower economic tiers (stifled by time & stress). The ability to take care of one’s health feels luxurious, but should not be reserved for a select few. Where health is wealth, this will be an America where we can all be rich.

goal setting: unambitious, but consistent

How to eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Long, complicated projects, or drastic lifestyle changes, are at risk of never being achieved or attempted because the jump from now to that seems unfathomably far. I have a method, though, that involves breaking down a project into daily, seemingly inconsequential, but achievable tasks. Keeping with this theme, let me first break down the method I used:

  1. Envision
  2. Define
  3. Do

First, have a vision for what you’re looking to achieve – an actual picture in your mind of what that looks like. For me, I wanted the easy, minimalist home life of my favorite YouTuber, Jenny Mustard – not necessarily the clean/white aesthetic, but the void of clutter and the air of simplicity. I wanted to drink water from wine glasses on the couch next to folded blankets.

Second, define the breakdown. For my vision, I figured I could best achieve it by decluttering my living space (organizing, decorating, etc, would not be my primary focus). I first considered where I was starting: I was a functional hoarder who’d saved everything from my high school track shoes to 7-year-expired dried oregano. With this in mind, how did I want to break down this monumental decluttering project into achievable, daily tasks? The difficulty for me was not as much the time it’d take to declutter, but instead the finite emotional energy of wrestling my aversion to “wasting” or “getting rid of something I might need.” What do I think I could accomplish daily, even on my worst day, that would add up over time? In 2019, I set a New Year’s goal to get rid of one item a day, for a year.

Along the way, I learned the most important part of “Do” was keeping it simple: today, what item will go? Some really good days I got rid of more than one thing, but on the harder days I didn’t let myself get overwhelmed and discouraged by making the task an harder than it had to be. For example, I often saved the task of deciding what I should do with the item – sell, donate, or throw away – for another day. This helped me keep my momentum.

I’m now on my 9th month (started my NY resolution in December) and the daily task I defined at the beginning has become a daily habit. Even better, this one good habit has sparked other good habits related to my goal of maintaining a living space. For example, I buy far less, since I know very well that, one day, I will have to deal with this item in the back of the closet – so do I really need it? Even when the year is up, and I’m no longer getting rid of something daily, I’m confident that the habit will linger in some form. Because I did it over time, and thought about it every day (even if for only 2 minutes) this one daily habit has snowballed into a lifestyle change.

In short, the method is about choosing a task that is very unambitious day-to-day, but will create a drastic change over time because of it’s effect on other habits as well as pure addition. Other possibilities:

  • For a vision of a Instagram-healthy-diet, the task could be changing nothing else but eating one vegetable a day (i.e. some carrots with your cheeseburger)
  • If you imagine waking up every day feeling fit and energized, the task could be moving 15 minutes a day, whether that be walking around the block, a serious workout, or anything in between.

I’m going to try this out for future visions as well, always considering where I’m at and defining a daily task from there: one that is unambitious, but consistent.