Health & Wealth Archives

This post comes originally from http://www.radiantcore.co.uk.

 

“Know yourself” sounds trivial but asks for the truest devotion to the process of learning who you are, including the Shadow Self. It is necessary for personal growth and, in my opinion, it is necessary for a meaningful life.

Knowing is recognising and accepting yourself, your both sides. There is one that comes from “light” and there is the other one that comes from “darkness”. What is “light” and what is “dark” is based on your own moral judgement.

Striving to be good

I used to think that my goal in life was to become spotless. As a young adult, after years of teenage rebellion, I finally come tot he point where I wanted to become honest and moral, living in praise to God. I spent years to approach the ideal, yet I was far from it.

What surprised me was this. The more pure I strived to be, the less holy I was.

How could it be? I could not understand it at all.

I did my best to improve myself.
I spent hours on internal practices.
I put all my heart in.
I dearly cherished the intention to love and do good to others. But …. there was a basic dissonance in me, an incongruence which led astray.

How could it be? I could not understand it at all.

It has taken me countless hours of reading, thinking and testing ideas. Until … one day …. I finally got it.

I “saw” the fault in my reasoning, which was this. I wanted to live by highest morals, but I chose to do it either by fighting or rejecting the shadow in me.

It did not work.

Why?

The answer seems to be a paradox. But … let me explain.

Duality

Our world is co-created by polarities. The duality is ever present.

Day and Night.
Work and Rest.
Heaven and Earth.
Fire and Water.
Individuality and Commonness.
Similarity and Difference.

Do you reject a night and decide to accept a day only? Can you choose not to rest or not to sleep? Can you work 20h a day? You can pretend you are doing it for some time, of course, but it will not work long term. Day and night define a rhythm and the natural way is to live in agreement with it.

There is a duality in us. As a start. The problem begins when you and I choose to fight it.

Shadow and the fight

Every Saint, every Holy person describes the fight with his or her Shadow. And again, the more holy they attempt to be, the more temptations they have. Read any of their texts and you will see it clearly. The Shadow (or Sin, or Alter-Ego, or however we name it) exists, whether you and I like it or not.

Yes, many years ago I used to think that I was called to fight the Shadow and conquer her. But with years and experience I’ve understood that Shadow is a part of me and I cannot truly defeat my Shadow, hence myself.

What Shadow needs is understanding not a fight.

Shadow is part of me and contains all unprocessed fears, expectations, imaginations and wishful thinking. It also contains disapprovals, dislikes, disappointments, perhaps also anger, hatred, social conditioning or traumatic experiences. Or more.

Shadow is part of me which is ugly and I don’t like it.
Shadow only grows in power because I have casted her away and marked as bad.

The truth is that Shadow is a part of me and needs recognition. It does not mean that I need to accept wrong doing that Shadow feels attracted to, perhaps. Instead, I need to give permission to my own negative feelings (as judged by myself) and outlooks, without extra emphasis or importance.

Let go

This is the key.

I simply notice and observe that, say, I am angry or furious at a given time. I allow my unholy thoughts to be there without any unnecessary excitement. I allow emotions to flow. I give permission to myself to find safe ways to let go of whatever comes.

Every emotion is healthy when it flows in a proper way. Sometimes it is necessary to shout and show anger. Sometimes it is necessary to cry. Sometimes it is necessary to be super sad, or furious.

As a therapist, I can testify how emotions (which often contribute to the Shadow) tense the physical bodies. I know how digestion is impaired because of grief, disappointment or stress. The emotions that are either repressed or in overflow. I know because I palpate the body and find the knots, stagnation or blocked valves (say between stomach and duodenum). Once I release the tension, the body fully relaxes. The person extends, smiles and often falls asleep.

It is a powerful moment when healing begins.

The paradox

The paradox is this.

If you want to know yourself, you need to see who you really are. From the tiniest level to the grandest perspective. This includes accepting yourself from all the angles you may pretend they do not exist.

Say, accepting the one who is afraid and small.
The one who is jealous or nasty.
The one who sits in the self-pity pit, mumbles and complains all the time.
The one who is constantly anxious what others would think of her.
The one who constantly blames others for her lack of progress.

So, the paradox is this.

You cannot fight your Shadow.
You cannot reject your Shadow.
You cannot neglect or cast away your “bad” part.
You cannot work on improving yourself by focussing on doing the “good” only.

Similarly, like you cannot pretend the night does not exist, by pretending there is only a day available to you.

You accept both a day and a night and live in congruence to what they bring. You live actively during a day and you calm down and rest at night.

Similarly, you accept both your (Light) Self and your Shadow Self. You choose to become your best active Self, but you also give a calm attention to your Shadow Self.

Shadow and Light

If you want to grow, if you want a lasting change, you need to shine light (which is conscious attention) on your Shadow Self to help her integrate with the Self.

Shadow lives in ignorance and kicks because she demands attention.

The attention is acceptance and understanding.

When this happens, the Self relaxes because she becomes an integrated Whole.

Who shines Light.

anger and pain deception

Anger, anxiety and emotions

I am at a crossroad.

Not exactly standing there, as I changed the paths a while ago, but still very conscious of the old path. It is challenging to walk in a new direction, which apart from passion and love, generates lots of anxiety. Every step is an effort in the presence of adversity, unfavorable circumstances and family commitments.

This transition time has made me search deep inside to find out how much divided I feel. I have again become conscious about the Body and Mind separation I have created in my life.

Unity relies on co-operation between various organs and their channels on a high level as the Chinese medicine says, or on the co-operation of cells deep inside. It is never fixed or frozen, but always balancing, changing to find its own harmony at the very moment.

In the Chinese medicine, you appreciate the individual components, but you emphasize their relations. You always reflect on the context as well as the individual. Unity also relies on letting us recognize emotions, including unpleasant ones such as anger, which are then expressed in safe ways.

According to the Chinese medicine specific emotions influence particular organs, while the condition of the organs influence us to experience particular emotions. For instance anger and frustration will influence the condition of liver. There is always a feedback loop, a subtle dance between our Thoughts, Emotions and the Physical. They all co-create who we are.

The emphasis on emotions made me more conscious about my own. I usually have the come-and-go relation with my emotions. At times I become more conscious of them, to only neglect them later.

I have had a busy and stressful life for many years now. It was partly generated by unpredictable consequences of earlier choices, partly by the events, and partly by my response to them.

Nothing in life had prepared me for what was supposed to be a blissful motherhood. Despite my own efforts to create it so, it was not.  The kids, truly a blessing in my life, have also come with challenges I had no idea how to deal with. Their being poorly and my constant search to help them get well, fear for their survival, sleep deprivation, physical exhaustion, resign from job, sacrifice of own passion and sanity at times, inability to catch up my breath made me strong on the surface but vulnerable inside.

I had to push hard to make it through and I did.

My kids have made a tremendous progress since then. They have just began to leave their handicaps behind and slowly open their wings to fly. I really appreciate that.

Anger repressed

Nevertheless, all this has left a mark. For years I have unconsciously repressed my anger for the way things did happen. Life has come with a wild and scary ride, far different than the ideal I envisioned.

This year I have some time for introspection. Yes, I am angry for how things did happen. Logically, it doesn’t make sense, of course, as life just happens. There were things beyond my control, and even if I could have had an influence, I had lacked skills or knowledge. I could have only done my best which I did. I know it. My mind knows it. I understand it is useless to feel angry. But I cannot deny that I am.

Really angry.

I allow this anger to surface and be expressed. I talk to my brain and mind of how angry I am. I breathe some anger out, talk to myself or vent it through pillow hitting. I know it all sounds super silly, but it’s a child in me who got angry for the unbearable difficulties she had to face and did not know how.

Sure, it’s a call to grow and I recognize it. I have been consciously letting my anger surface. Knowledge is power and in this case, knowing my anger have existed and revolted my physical body, helps me to facilitate my growth now.

It takes time but I’m glad I have been doing it. As a result, my low back pain (a friend since the last pregnancy), fatigue and other physical pains began to wander in the body. It is very interesting to observe as it only provides a hint the ideas of Dr Sarno are correct.

Dr Sarno’s and Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS)

If you have any chronic pain, fatigue or health problem, be it IBS, stomach ulcers, allergy, MI, chronic fatigue, or any auto-immune disorder, I challenge you to read his books. These are an easy read, in contrary to The Great Pain Deception: Faulty Medical Advice Is Making Us Worse by Steve Ray Ozanich, which although much more informational, is also harder to read.

Sarno’s points are very clear. We all become frustrated, unhappy or angry at some point. Sometimes we face loss or go through a traumatic event. The emotions are strong and powerful, yet we freeze in the moment in order to
sensibly deal with what will have to follow.

Also the pace of life and the stress of handling jobs, kids, family and finances is way too much for many. Yet, we have to be strong and manage. So, we do. Behind our conscious attention we repress anger or any other emotion related to stress, disappointment, embarrassment, shame and so on.

We don’t feel it. We don’t know it is there. We don’t even suspect it is there.

On the surface we are lovely, kind and gentle individuals.

Yeah … With hidden rage.

The understanding is that the mind doesn’t want to deal with the unpleasant feeling consciously so it moves unresolved conflict (say strong emotions but inappropriate to the situation) to the Subconscious or cast them as Shadow as Jung would have said. To prevent us from suspecting that Shadow exists, or the exploration of Shadow, the brain/mind focuses our attention on what is physical and can be felt instead: PAIN. Sarno calls is TMS – Tension Myositis Syndrome.

In his own words, from Healing Back Pain: The Mind- Body Connection:

“The word tension is used here to refer to emotions that are generated in the unconscious mind and that, to a large extent, remain there. These feelings are the result of a complicated interaction between different parts of our minds and between the mind and the outside world. Many of them are either unpleasant, painful or embarrassing, in some way unacceptable to us and/or society, and so we repress them. The kinds of feelings referred to are anxiety, anger and low self-esteem (feelings of inferiority). They are repressed because the mind doesn’t want us to experience them, nor does it want them to be seen by the outside world. It is likely that, if given a conscious choice, most of us would decide to deal with the bad feelings; but as the human mind is presently constituted, they are immediately and automatically repressed— one has no choice. To sum up, the word tension will be used here to refer to repressed, unacceptable emotions.”

Note that Sarno is not the usual guy, but a Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University School of Medicine. Until his retirement in 2012 he was attending physician at the New York University Medical Center. So, he was certainly knowledgeable  about the physical body and pain. Yet, in his medical carrier he discovered that in majority of cases, the cause of pain is psychomatic (emotional).

His ideas are controversial in the main stream medicine, of course, so don’t be surprised his approaches are not promoted. You may also neglect them as silly, too, but before that, read on.

How TMS occurs

When emotions (think energy) are repressed they create blockage. The energy is stuck and this stuckness may be reflected in muscles, tendons, or nerves. Even more, strong emotions influence the way we breathe: often fast and shallow, or the way we keep our posture, often looking down, head in the shoulders, slouching and constricting the lungs.

We are often hyperventilating. This is usually caused by insufficient carbon dioxide dissolved in the body tissues (yes, it’s correct, these are the principles of Bohr effect, which calls for another post), which leads to oxygen waste, meaning our tissues are deprived from oxygen. As a result, instead of  effective cellular respiration, our body drives metabolism toward ATP-inefficient process of glycolisis. We have little ATP (energy currency) and we begin to feel tired.

Therefore, the biochemical process (behind the repressed emotions) is oxygen deprivation. The autonomic nervous system (ANS) will also diminish blood flow to muscle and nerve tissue. Blood flow is regulated by peptides (usually with hormonal activities) which tell blood vessels walls to constrict or dilate. This, in turn, influences the amount and speed of blood (and oxygen) in particular tissues.

From this point of view, when emotional energy is repressed it causes an inner tension throughout the working of ANS. Muscle and nerve tissues receive insufficient oxygen, and, in addition, the lymph experiences stasis because blood flow is diminished and the lymph nodes cannot release their waste products.

The result is physical pain, numbness, fatigue or weakness.

In summary, Mind (brain) will repress emotions into Subconscious because it chooses to prevent us from experiencing unpleasant feelings. This causes an inner tension in our nervous system, beyond our awareness, which leads to biochemical changes in muscles, tendons and nerves. This will create pain and we are deceived that the pain is the real problem, while in meantime Mind has only avoided the processing of uncomfortable feelings.

Conflict is spared and we focus on the physical.

And … We are stuck. The pain is there, we feel horrid and nothing seems to help us.

How to help yourself

You may consider the Sarno’s ideas plain and silly, especially if you experienced a physical trauma, say a herniated disc (but … according to Sarno herniated discs don’t cause pain), lifting a heavy load, or you have a medical cause, say gluten intolerance for your IBS.

But …

I encourage you to adopt a tester’s mind. You simply consider the Sarno’s ideas as true and you diligently test the hypothesis.

The mindset of a tester is a mindset of a person who likes to have fun and see what happens without any specific attachment to the results. Why? Because a test is meant to provide you with feedback. When you accept that you have been just testing, it is easy to modify the approach accordingly or truly abandon it if necessary.

Recognize any traumatic or difficult situation before the emergence of your pain or weakness. Is there any anger, sadness, grief, frustration, shame deep inside? If so, become conscious of it.  Face the dark feelings.

Let the emotions surface in safe ways. Choose to write down of what was bothering you, find a friend to pour out your heart, cry at home, make a collage to express your frustration, hit the pillow till you feel empty, or go and play tennis or football.

Find a way to channel your dark feelings, but above that – become conscious that they are there.

Face what is hidden in you. The treasure of unpleasant feelings waits there to be appreciated and transformed into a New you, without pain.

The only way forward in personal growth is to consciously participate in the positive and the negative, including the darkest nights.

***

Immunity soup

This post was originally published on www.radiantcore.co.uk.

***

Nourishing soups are perfect for the season. It is a good time to boost the immunity 🙂

Immunity

In the western medicine, immunity is understood as a network of cells, organs and chemicals which work all together to protect the body against invaders. Two mechanisms are considered here: specific cellular immunity and nonspecific deference.

The two most important types of white cells on guard are lymphocytes and macrophages, while the most important molecular chemical components are antibodies and cytokines. Lymphocytes work with antibodies to destroy specific antigens in the cellular immunity. Macrophages work with cytokines for a general destruction of invaders, damaged cells and debris in the nonspecific immunity. In addition, there are also natural killer (NK) cells which respond rapidly to viral infected cells in the absence of antibodies. They are critical to the so-called innate or natural immunity.

T-lymphocytes (T-cells) mature in thymus (and somewhat in the tonsils as the new research suggests). Each T-cell has a programmed receptor to recognize a specific invader. There are three basic T-cells: killer T-cells, helper T-cells and suppressor T-cells (which turn off killer cells days or weeks after the infection to prevent the inflammation).

B-lymphocytes (B-cells) are produced in the bone marrow (in adults) and distributed to the lymph tissues (spleen, tonsils, etc). When B-cells attach to foreign antigens they are transformed into plasma cells and produce antibodies (IgG, IgA, IgE, IgM) specific to the particular offender. Other B-cells become memory cells which patrol the body for the future possible invasion.

While many people believe that herbs have either a weak action on the immune system or stimulate it in a wishy-washy way, the opposite is true. Individual herbs have powerful and usually specific effects on the immune system. There is a good amount of research studies showing the effectiveness of many herbs.

When it comes to the consolidated action which enhances immunity, there is hardly any other herb so powerful as astragalus (except for Siberian ginseng perhaps) and medicinal mushrooms such as shiitake.

Astragalus membranaceus

I am a big fan of this herb because it has proven invaluable for me. The root is used in cooking, decotion and tincture.

The action of astragalus is comprehensive. It enhances the body’s own natural killer cell activity, as well as the activity of T-cells and macrophages. It stimulates immunity by increasing the production of antibodies, and encouraging the transformation of stem cells into immune cells. Astragalus also restores immune function in cancer patients with impaired immune function.

Robyn Landis and K. P. Khalsa (see below) note that ”astragalus stimulates phagocytosis (mechanism to remove invaders), increasing the total number of cells and the aggressiveness of their activity. Increased macrophage activity has been measured as lasting up to seventy-two hours. It increases the number of stem cells (the ‘generic’ cells that can become any type needed) in the marrow and lymph tissue, stimulates their maturation into active immune cells, increases spleen activity, increases releases of antibodies, and boosts the production of hormonal messenger molecules that signal for virus destruction.”

It is used both as a prevention (i.e. immune tonic) and a direct immune mobilisation when infections occur. It is helpful for cold and upper respiratory infections, and the prevention of flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia. It has a protection function for the liver both from viruses and side effects of medication. In China it has been used along side of chemotherapy and radiation thanks to its ability to stimulate the production of bone marrow (hence red and white cells).

Contraindication for using Astragalus is when you are on immunosuppressive drugs or a nursing mother. Caution is needed, and a careful dose, in case of high fever.

Shiitake mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are also all-round mobilisers and strengtheners of the immune system against viruses, bacteria, cancer, and parasites. Lentinan, one of the major “ingredient”, stimulates both the production of T-cells and their aggressiveness, as well as boots the action of natural killer cells, and macrophages.They also have anti-cancer activity, preventing metastasis of cancer to the lungs.

Immunity boosting soup

To make the soup you need at least dried astragalus, ginger root, and vegetables, especially the root vegetables. Shiitake and reishi mushrooms are great but you can stay with the astragalus only.

Immunity boosting soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Ingredients
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 bulb garlic (at least 10 cloves), minced
  • 2-5 vegetables of choice, e.g. parsnip, a piece of swede, carrot, celery, beetroot, sweet potato
  • 1 piece of fresh ginger root (1½-inch, 3½ cm)
  • 5 pieces sliced dried astragalus root or 3 Tbsp of cut astragalus root
  • 1-2 cups fresh, sliced shiitake mushrooms (or 1 cup dried)
  • 1 large reishi mushroom, if available
  • 1-2 cups of broth or stock
  • 1.5 -2 litres of water
  • Herbs: marjoram, thyme, basil, curcuma powder and cayenne powder, if desired
Instructions
  1. Dice garlic and onion. Shred ginger. Melt butter (or heat oil) and sauté garlic, onion and ginger until soft and aromatic.
  2. Bring water and broth to boil in a pot.
  3. Add the sauted mix, astragalus, shiitake and reishi mushrooms to the pot. Cover with a lid and simmer for 1h 30min hours.
  4. Dice vegetables and add to the pot together with salt and the herbs of choice, e.g. marjoram, thyme and rosemary. Cover with lid and simmer for further 30min.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 2 hours more.
  6. Remove astragalus and reihi mushroom.
  7. Reheat, add additional salt, pepper, curcuma and cayenne if desired.
  8. Serve.

Important:

Since ginger is very warming and opening the pores in the skin, please stay warm after the soup. It is ideal to eat it as an afternoon or evening meal. If you go outside into a windy/cold weather, please dress warmly with a scarf on the neck.

Where to buy:

If you want to buy astragalus or Shiitake use JustIngredients, Amazon, herbal store, health food store or a Chinese market. Shiitake mushrooms have also been sold fresh at Tesco and AbelandCole.

References:

  1. A list of more than 600 references on Astragalus can be found here.
  2. David Hoffman, Medical Herbalism – the science and practice of herbal medicine. Healing Arts Press, 2003.
  3. D. Winston and S. Maimes. Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief. Healing Arts Press, 2007.
  4. P. Holmes The Energetics of Western Herbs: A Materia MedicaTIntrgrating Western and Chinese Herbal Therapeutics: p.1, Snow Lotus, 2007.
  5. R. Landis, Robyn, and K. P Khalsa. Herbal Defense. New York: Warner Books, 1997.
  6. J.A. Duke, The Green Pharmacy. 1998.
  7. Plants against liver cancer.

weight loss

Weight loss

Many people approach weight loss as a task of optimizing a simple mathematical equation:

# calories IN – # calories OUT

In other words, the dogma is to eat less or burn more.

There is usually a preferred way to go. Some choose to eat (much) less to minimize the IN-calories, while others choose to burn more by extensive physical exercise and training. They maximize the OUT-calories.

The brave ones attempt to do both. And while they may have stunning results short term, such as fantastically sculpted body, there is usually the darker side of the coin. This is the invisible side of their loss of energy, constant fatigue, nutritional imbalances and cranky moods. The best way to know this is to ask their spouses, family, friends and co-workers.

If this simple equation above could only work. Yeah … All the dieters / exercisers would have been super slim once and for all.

But they are not.

The calorie restriction and/or extensive exercise may work, of course.
Short term.
For young people.
In some circumstances.

However, the majority of people over 30 will generously loose weight at first (if this happens) to only gain it back some time later. (People below 30 oftentimes can achieve better results thanks to their fast metabolism.)

Dieting and exercise may become a way of life. A life of calorie counting, food restriction, and perhaps malnutrition.

Is it a part of your life? Have you tried another diet or training? Oh, yes, the initial success followed by the weight gain again.

The simple truth is this:
A healthy body will loose weight and maintain appropriate weight as a natural course of events (assuming a healthy approach to well-being and daily movement, of course).

We have a perfect example of this phenomenon. KIDS. I mean, active kids who consume high calories, but are on move. There are differences between them, as some may be slimmer than others, but overall, they are in good shape and have great levels of energy. They can eat a lot of calorie-dense foods but still remain lean and healthy.

The healthiest kids are robust and just eat. Not necessarily the healthiest food under the sun, but they eat a good amount of food. Saturated fat, lots of sugar and carbs and proteins.

***

Why is loosing unnecessary weight difficult?

A more important question is: Why did you get the extra weight in the first place?

The answer is simple.

The body is not healthy (optimal), at least in some aspects. You will not maintain the optimal weight unless you address these internal imbalances.

The equation for the IN-calories minus the OUT-calories does not account for what is the most important in your body:

the emotional, hormonal and metabolic environment.

This environment is primary because it defines how food is digested and utilized, and what is going to happen with the calories that arrive. In addition, it is also the content of calories that matters in the context of your past health/disease history.

There are many ways to Rome, and there are many ways to loose weight if you choose to focus on that. The real decision, however, is how to optimize your health first, and maintain the optimal (healthy) weight, second. This is a long term perspective, meant for years. Not a quick fix.

Metabolism

The magical word behind your health, energy and optimal weight is metabolism. This is the key to optimize I believe.

Let me define metabolism now as in most cases we have a wrong idea what it is. I used to think that metabolism refers to the speed of digestion and elimination.

Wrong.

Metabolism refers to the characteristics of cellular respiration. This means how much energy (counted in the units of ATP, the energy currency in the body) your body produces from food, oxygen and carbon dioxide you provide all the time (yes, you need carbon dioxide as well as otherwise oxygen will not burn glucose, check the Bohr effect). If the preferred mode is the oxygenation of glucose, then the process is optimal and you will produce a good amount of ATPs. The metabolism is fast and the energy is there.

If however, glycolisis (fermentation) is the dominant mode (as it occurs e.g. in cancer, under a strenuous cardio exercise, in poor breathing, when the thyroid is compromised etc), then there is little energy produced. As a result, in time, you are energy deprived and fatigued on daily basis.

There are many factors that play a key role in metabolism. The main ones include well-functioning thyroid (and parathyroids), nutritional balances and diaphragmatic slow breathing. But there are many more.

Eating less for weight loss

What happens when you eat less food/calories than needed (and you exercise)?

You believe that in the context of calorie restriction you will force your body to burn adipose tissue (fat) for fuel.  But … you fall into the fallacy of the math equation above.

Weight loss often happens initially. This is the anti-catabolic stage, where body burns the stored fat for fuel. This often feels great and there is the initial hype. The mistake most people make is that this immediate effect is the result of their dieting. They believe that it will continue for a long time.

This is not the case though.

There is the cumulative effect of calorie restriction which is more important. With time (say a few weeks to a few months), when you slightly/greatly deprive yourself of food, the body will stop burning fat and choose to store fat instead. The loss of weight becomes minimal until it stops.

Why?

Because your body is smart. It recognizes it gets less food/calories than it needs so it has to protect itself in order to survive. Your body has a constant “red signal” switched on. There is a danger of starvation. As it is semi-starved after a number of weeks, it will choose to store energy for the hard times. The most efficient way is to store fat. (Of course, first glucose in the form of glycogen is stored in the liver but once it is full, extra glucose will be turned to fat as well.)

To achieve that, the body has to slow down metabolism. This means that the hormonal balance is down-regulated: less thyroid hormones are released. In addition, the balance between leptin and ghrelin, which maintain the satiety and hunger at check as well as the control over the adipose cells, may be compromised. Perhaps, there is also more fermentation going on than oxidation. If this is the case, you will become energy depleted which means you will have hard time getting out of bed and going through your day.

Finally, the body will skip the metabolically expensive tasks (such as female periods) and will use other substitutes to get the fuel for the daily functioning. In practice, this means burning muscle tissue. If the later happens, you may still loose weight, but this loss is achieved by muscle loss, while your fat will stay happily around your waist, say. This is rather bad as you will become weak, drained and simply lifeless overtime.

What is the consequence in a long term?

Your calorie-deprived diet or/and extensive exercise, even for a short time such as four weeks, has slowed down your metabolism and compromised the working of your thyroid. This has a far reaching consequence.

Every cell in the body depends on the thyroid hormones because they regulate the speed with which metabolism works. Thyroid produces about 80% T4 (thyroxine) and about 20% T3 (triiodothyronine). T3, however, is the active form and possesses more power than T4. Thyroxine has to be converted into T3 (in the liver) to be used in the body. The thyroid hormones regulate your heart rate and how fast your intestines process food. So, if T3 and T4 levels are low, your heart rate may become slow and you may experience constipation or a weight gain. Interesting, isn’t it?

As a result, when you are back to eating the “normal” way (aka stopping the diet), your slowed metabolism will still keep your body prepared for the hard times. You will keep storing fat. More fat than before the diet, in fact. So, you are soon back, weight-wise, to where you started.

Welcome back to the real you.

But now weakened and compromised.

Why?

Because your gentle thyroid is out of balance. The thyroid gland is the key to health in my view. It regulates or influences the majority of important functions in the body: heart rate, body temperature, breathing, energy levels, nervous system, muscle strength, body weight or menstrual cycles.

Are you going to follow another miracle diet or an extensive exercise program?

If so, you are on the way to create hormonal imbalances, which in turn, will make you predisposed to many complex and/or chronic diseases. And these are the real ones.

Healthy, instead the short-term slim

Instead of asking the question: “How to loose weight?”, I would rather ask “How to be healthy?”

When you are healthy, which means that the working of the body are optimal, weight loss will come naturally, if this is needed.

How to achieve that?

There is no one size fits all solution, simply because everybody is unique with respect to her/his metabolic, hormonal and emotional environment. But there are some guidelines.

First of all, it is your responsibility to develop a healthy relation with yourselves and food.

Real food.

By real food, I mean the natural one. Food that grows on fields, trees or comes from animals. It is butter (not margarine). Lard. Vegetables. Fruits. Meat. Whole milk (not skimmed). And so on.

No bars. No protein powders. No fat-reduced, cholesterol free or sugar free products.

What to eat?

My personal approach is to eat as much as you need (this excludes emotional eating) to feel satisfied. (Remember that eating less than your need will work against you long term. ) Eat a variety of food, including a good portion of animal fat from milk, butter, lard etc (yes, you need this fat because otherwise you will lack the vitamins A,D,E and K), vegetables and fruits.

My super miracle food is eggs (soft yolks only) for its unique choline content and fat we need so much and potatoes/yums (with milk and butter). I am also personally in favor of eating relatively high-fat. I know, I know … It is super unpopular and considered a crime perhaps by mass media. However, this works for me, and I understand why. So, I don’t bother what others think 😉

Everybody needs carbs, proteins and fat, in amounts suitable for the specific metabolic and hormonal conditions. If you are afraid of eating fat (or anything else for the matter), learn first how food is digested. Look at biochemistry. You will learn interesting things, not in agreement with what we are being told 😉

The food to eat is the food in season and the one that occurs naturally in the country you live in. Eat in a balanced way. For instance, eat more salads or fruits in hot summer, but nourish yourself with warm, dense stews and soups in the winter.

What about exercise?

If you think about demanding exercise, ask yourself whether the exercise supports you and gives you more energy long term.

If we look at research then we will find out that the daily micro-movements and efforts, standing up, walking the stairs, walking to work / bus stop / school, chopping vegs for soup, vacuum cleaning, gardening, cleaning, tidying up, are exactly the ones that keep our muscles at work. These daily micro-exercises are exactly the ones that keep burning the calories we want out, by keeping us “oiled” and supple muscle-wise.

If you want to improve your physical being and burn the calories the natural way, keep standing up often during a day if you have a siting job, and take any possibility to walk or do your daily chores. Then, if you like, add exercises which match your current energy level. I am personally in favor of stretching or gentle movements such as in yoga, pilates or tai chi.

Still want to follow a diet?

I am not in favor of any particular diet, unless it is meant for therapeutic / healing effect, certainly not for the purpose of weight loss per se. If you want to choose a diet to follow though, do your research first whether the particular diet will nourish you or create hormonal/nutritional imbalances, instead. You can win a battle but loose the war, so to speak.

Look whether a diet you want to choose will:
– help you get and maintain the appropriate body weight
– keep your cravings at bay
– improve brain function and mood
– improve skin condition, strengthen hair and nails
– nourish you
– stabilize the blood glucose levels
– promote regeneration and quality sleep
– strengthen the immune system
– prevent health disorders
– improve digestion and elimination
– increase energy supplies and vitality
– be based on real food not the processed ones,

and be simple to follow and maintain.

Be in charge

It is your life and your health. Own it.

Don’t merely follow the gurus or authorities. It is your responsibility to educate yourself at the fundamental level.

Once you understand how food is digested, how hormones work in the body, how important adequate nutrition and calories are, how crucial relaxation is and sufficient sleep, you will simply be able to design your own food-style, i.e. what and how you eat to keep you well and healthy.

Wishing you a happy journey to your optimal health!

***

 

relax_into_stretch

Photo courtesy Inge Duin. See more of her quilts here.

Have you ever done stretching exercises?

If so, then you know the wonder of going with the stretch. When you stretch, let’s say, you bend your spine down while keeping your knees straight till your hand reach the floor. Put the palms down.

This stretch should be experienced through the spine as well as the hamstrings. If it is easy for you, walk your hands further on to increase the stretch, till you can barely handle it.

Here comes the key point.

When you are stretching you are challenging the muscles for elasticity. If you get tense at that moment, the stretch is painful or, uncomfortable, to say at least. But… when you relax with the stretch and into the stretch, this very discomfort becomes nearly pleasurable. It is still discomfort, mind you, but your body is both allowing it and accepting it. It sees the purpose of such a conscious extension.

The ease follows, which is not the ease from discomfort, but a meta-feeling of a higher level acceptance and understanding. In the stretch, in the very pull of the muscles, the body sees a promise of something greater. The promise of graceful movements. It is a joy in disguise.

The extension gives hope for supple joints and the flexibility. The body loves it deeply.

***

When a problem or a challenge occurs in your life, you may choose to attack it head on. You may want a solution and you may want it fast. This may work out in some cases, but it does not, when the solution involves your transformation.

If the solution cannot be worked out straight away or soon, what do you do?

Well…  Perhaps…

You gather more knowledge.
You collect more understanding.
You test various approaches and try new ones.
You research and investigate.
You seek help from others.
You move beyond the obvious, the standard and the norm.

Yet, the progress is negligible. When you manage to solve an aspect of your problem, a new angle arises to complicate the whole picture even more.

You feel like paddling a canoe in a raging river.
It is wild and unpredictable.
The harder your try, the more difficult it gets.

Imagine now, for a change, that your problem is not a wild river, but a small pond that you have already investigated pretty well. The solution you want is a bright coin lying at the bottom.

When you attempt to paddle like crazy, get better equipment (say, knowledge) or techniques (say, understanding) or ask friends to paddle with you, you only stir up the mud and create the foam.

Perhaps …  in all your eagerness of paddling and the splashes you created, you have indeed mistaken a pond for a river. All these efforts, well-intended of course, and optimized for effectiveness, all the anxiety, and the action are in vain.

They all obscure the surface of the pond. The waters are murky. There is nothing to be seen.

How can you look for the coin?

Stop your paddling and stand still. Stay still long enough for the waters to get calm and clear.
Relax into the stretch.

Just allow things to be.
Live as if you have everything you need.
Live as if your problems have never existed.

Maybe it will take one day, a week or a year.
Let your coin reveal itself.

It will.

***

Have you ever had a child or a family member with an overwhelming health problem?
Have you ever encountered a sudden limitation,  a serious lack of money or a loss?
Have you ever had so much on your plate you could barely make from day to day?

What do you do then?

Do you get angry and rebel?
Do you keep hacking the problem?
Do you educate yourself to come out with new solutions?

Relax instead.

Relax into your challenge.
Open your chest.
Accept what is and live as if the solution has been found.

This simple step takes the pressure of you to come out with action or plans to hack it.

Sometimes loving attention is all that is needed. To yourself, your family member or a friend.

In the state of relaxation, your parasympathetic nervous system is at work. This is your optimal state.

Your intuition is enhanced.
Love comes freely.
You live in the zone.

***

Cherish your intentions.
Calm your emotions.
Look around.

The coin is there to be found.

***

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