Have you tried various medications, but you still aren’t feeling much better? Or does a medication seem to work for a little while, and then the effects appear to wear off, leaving you right back where you started? Medical research has demonstrated, time and time again, that therapeutic lifestyle changes can work better and last longer than medication. For example, the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes fruits and vegetables, seafood, and healthy fats like olive oil, is associated with a lower risk of heart disease and dementia, decreased incidence of asthma, and better memory. Including generous amounts of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower helps protect you from colon cancer. Decreasing inflammation in the body reduces joint pain, lowers your risk of diabetes and cancer, and is associated with increased longevity. Medical journals are full of evidence pointing to why my methods work.
Hopefully, you are feeling pretty motivated to make some changes at this point; you might be asking, So what are some things I can do right now, today, to get started? I can’t wait to feel better! I am going to tell you about six changes you can put into motion immediately, that will help you start feeling better very quickly so you can begin to change your life.
First, start with what I call “gratitude journaling”. This is a great exercise for restoring positive energy around you. Basically, you just need to list a few things for which you are grateful – it can be your loving family or friends, fresh air, or your current state of mind. Start by being thankful that you have decided to take this important step in your life, to take charge of your health. You owe yourself so much gratitude for finding the strength to make these changes for yourself. The idea is to turn your inner energy back around to the positive, so you can radiate that in your life.
Next, take a moment each day to take your PSQ, or your Positivity Self-Assessment Questionnaire. You can download a free copy of this questionnaire from the Resources section of my website, www.dranna.flightless.us. This is basically an inventory I created for my patients, to help us identify where they may be holding onto psychological barriers which prevent them from moving forward and working to optimize their own health. It contains seven basic affirmations, and you will rate yourself on how you feel about each of them. The seven affirmations are:
- I am happy and joyful.
- I am content.
- I am energetic.
- I am productive.
- I am social and friendly.
- I am alert.
- My mind is focused.
- I feel good about my body
The third thing you can do are some dietary modifications. You will need to embrace this mantra: “No white, no wheat, and no sweet, and very little red meat. If you can pick it, peel it, fish it, hunt it, milk it, grow it, then, for the most part, you can eat it.” That will be your basic guide to choosing foods for optimal health. What this means is reducing the carbohydrates you consume, eliminating those refined sugars that are making you feel so terrible, and eating more whole foods and leafy vegetables. This is eating more along the lines of how nature intended. Also in keeping with nature, try to eat according to the season. Nature gives us different foods according to the season, and this is no accident; nature is trying to provide for us what is best for our bodies. Shop at your local farmer’s market, and make seasonal fruits and vegetables staples of your diet. This is also a great way to eat more organically and avoid pesticides and harmful chemicals in your diet. Another thing you need to do is reduce dairy and red meats from your diet; these foods are high in extra hormones and we want to detox those out of your body. Also, wheat is another culprit in symptoms like bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation; our bodies really were not meant to process the amount of wheat we consume, and getting gluten out of your system will make a huge difference in how you feel. Finally, try to keep 4 to 5 hours between meals, and follow the low glycemic diet (no sugar) to keep your blood sugar levels low. This may seem like a lot of information all in one step, and it is, but these are all important changes that will help you feel better very quickly.
The fourth step is to take a probiotic. This is just a very simple thing you can do, but it will help to re-balance your gut and get your digestive system back in order. This is especially important if you have been on antibiotics. We are working to get your digestive system working correctly again, and this is one very quick and easy thing you can do to make a huge difference.
The fifth step has to do with PMS, so if that has been a problem for you then you will be very happy you made these changes. Detoxifying excess estrogen is the key for dealing with premenstrual syndrome, and some of the dietary changes we have already discussed will be really helpful in doing that. There are some additional steps you can take as well, such as adding some flax seed oil to your diet and consuming omega-3 fatty acids, tofu soy, and fermented miso or tempe. You should also look into a supplement like MightyMaca Greens, which you can find on my website. One final thing you can do to balance your hormones is to use a bioidentical progesterone cream during the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle – that’s the second half of your cycle after you ovulate. This can also help you if you’re menopausal, in dealing with your symptoms which are caused by estrogen dominance. Even just a low dose of 20 mg has been shown to work wonders for most patients.
The last step is exercise. I am not going to tell you to do one exercise in particular; the important thing is just to get your body moving. Doing something you enjoy is most important, whether it is a belly dancing class or yoga or simply going for a nice walk and getting some fresh air. Movement stimulates your brain to produce oxytocin, which is a mood-boosting chemical that will help you feel happier, positive, and more motivated. This is something you can do today; just put on your shoes and go for a walk, and feel those changes happening within you.
These six steps I have outlined for you will get you started on your path toward a healthier mind and body. Try not to feel overwhelmed; do the simpler steps first and they will get you motivated towards working on the more complicated ones. Remember that you have already accomplished the biggest, most important step: You have made the decision to take control of your health and change your life. Congratulations on that accomplishment, and good luck on the next stage of your journey.