Strategies for Spring Cleaning: Mind and Body!

by Wendy Midgley, MEd, RD, LDN, CDE and Deb Brothers-Klezmer, BSN, RN-BC, CRRN, NCTMB

Enlightenment as true health may seem unattainable for so many of us, but getting rid of the poisons that Buddha spoke of (toxic emotions) could be, from this point of view, more urgent than anything we can do at the level of food, drink, and natural cleaning products.

 Only when freed of delusion, greed, and anger–can we return to an enlightened state in which we live with the knowledge that we already have everything we need. Only this will truly stop the rampant consumption of modern life.  

 Teachings of Alejandro Junger, MD from his book CLEAN: Remove, Restore, Rejuvenate–

Spring is almost here!!!   For folks such as ourselves (in MA), THIS Spring could not come soon enough.   Record snowfalls for Boston and Worcester beat out those of Alaska this winter!

March 20th 2015 ushers in the official start of Spring, and the Vernal Equinox—when the Sun is positioned above the equator–and day and night are about equal in length all over the world. This particular March 20th also includes a powerful solar eclipse.

And leading up to March 20th, the Earth has been blasted with intense geomagnetic activity from solar storms and solar flares (from active Sun spots).   Such solar energy can affect GPS devices and radio signals, as well as human beings who are sensitive to electromagnetic energy.

Another notable day this March is World Water Day March 22nd.  This day (EVERY March 22nd) was created by the United Nations in 1993. It is a day to celebrate water and to shine a spotlight on global water issues around the world.

                                             Water free to flow

***The human adult body is ~ 60% water and water is VITAL to our lives.***

SPRING invites us to review:

  • What NEW ASPECTS are needed for ourselves?
  • What “needs to go?”

 With the MANY powerful energies available this March—we are provided with perfect recipes and catalysts for initiating BIG changes. Symbols of new growth and creative opportunities abound!!

***Why not harness these energies and make some changes?***  

***Re-group, clean out ‘the sludge’, re-calibrate, push the RE-SET button, and RESTORE health and well-being.***

***CLEAN OUT old ways of thinking…… as well as CLEAN UP what we eat and drink.***

If your diet has not been perfect this winter, and you have not moved or exercised enough–you are not alone. If you have felt “bah humbug” too many days, no self-judgment!     Intend to begin again.

 STEPs for SPRING CLEANING of the MIND and BODY:

  • FOR MIND and EMOTIONAL HEALTH:

 –Practice Conscious Breathing. Breathe IN a thought, feeling, color, word or image that makes you feel good. Hold the breath for a minimum of 1-2 seconds to allow for oxygen and carbon dioxide to exchange.

 –Breathe OUT that which no longer fits who you currently are. (make sure your exhalation is longer time than your inhalation.)

–Observe any negative thoughts that may arise, with non-judgment. RATHER: Focus on what you are grateful for, what is pulling you in positive directions, what thoughts make your energy rise, light up,  and EXPAND (vs contract.)

Step out of DRAMA!   At home and at work. You can watch the show, but not be part of it.   Drama keeps us “fixed” and distracts us from moving ahead in life.   Protect your personal space. Press your DRAMA DELETE BUTTON!

 –If you are caught up in your own personal (inner self) drama “loops” and “triggers”, allow yourself 15 minutes per day to fully moan and groan (to yourself) about whatever bothers you. Then move on.

Clean out closets,  clean up clutter. Donate books, clean clothing,  and small appliances that work.  There are many “drive-up drop boxes” on major roads, available for books and clothing.

  • FOR BODY HEALTH:

Review your prescribed and over the counter (OTC) medications, as well as nutritional and herbal supplements, with your MD or health care provider. Maybe it’s time for a modification.

CONSUME ADEQUATE FLUIDS. Stay hydrated!   Keeping in mind we are 60% water:   Fluids keep everything moving in our bodies (blood, lymph, nutrients, detox chemicals, tears, urine). Water provides the milieu for flushing out toxins.

Water and fluid needs vary from person to person. They also vary within the same person, depending on time or year, cold or hot temperatures, exercise, sweating, pregnancy, lactation, illness or disease.

A “common Rule of Thumb”:  Drink 6-8 cups (8 oz each) of fluids/day.

The Mayo Clinic recommends MORE:

  • AVERAGE MAN: 13 cups fluids per day (3 quarts plus 1 cup—or 3+ liter
  • AVERAGE WOMAN: 9 cups per day (2 quarts plus 1 cup—or 2+ liters)

Mayo Clinic also reminds us: on rare occasions, some folks drink too much water–which can affect electrolyte (sodium/potassium) balance.  http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256?pg=1

NOTES:

  • If you eat a lot of leafy veggies, fruits, and soups:   you will increase your fluid intake.
  • Excess caffeine and alcohol intake can lead to dehydration and loss of nutrients.

MOVEMENT:  MOVE MORE in general.

Go outside, bundle up if still chilly. If you live in a warm area, work in your garden, do some yard work, play golf, swim, OR just walk more around the neighborhood.  Think about a new walking program or exercise class you may want to take.  Then take an action step towards that goal.

SLEEP:

Recommendations for the average adult:  7-8 hours quality sleep per night.  Sleep needs vary amongst individuals.   Some people find they need less sleep in summer when more energizing sunlight hours are available.

If you have serious sleep issues: you may want to consult with a Sleep Disorder Specialist.   The quality of our sleep affects our health and our whole life!

RELAX!     What works for you?   Possibilities: Meditation, quiet time,  conscious breathing, getting lost in a good book, cooking, music, being in the garden, yoga or Tai Chi, getting in the hot tub? Swimming or boating. Hiking or biking in the countryside. Sitting near ocean or stream–listening to the movement of water. There are many options.

Pick 2-3 and EN-JOY them regularly.

Do something CREATIVE.

What “something new” could you try? A new hobby, day trips to favorite places, a new project that will benefit others,  as well as yourself.

  • CLEAN up YOUR NUTRITION.

As Dr. Junger explains in his book CLEAN–we need to remove foods and substances that aggravate our health and restore our intestinal balance and overall systems health– in order to feel rejuvenated again. It is possible!

–Clean out the refrigerator, freezer and cupboards of highly processed foods laden with flour, salt, sugars, and fats.    If items have old shelf dates, toss them out for sure. (Some sources say we shouldn’t even keep dried spices for more than 6 months!)

–Make space for MORE vegetables, fruits and organic products. Create room in the freezer as well as the refrigerator.

–If you like meats and animal products: buy free-range chicken, wild caught fish, and meats from grass-fed cows. Most of these options are now available at large chain supermarkets. (as well as places like Whole Foods Market)

–If you think dairy products and processed wheat items may bother your intestines–do a trial period of 2-3 weeks dairy-free and gluten-free.

Besides DAIRY and GLUTEN: common allergens/food sensitivities include EGGS, CORN, SOY, PEANUTS, and TREE NUTS. Individual allergies may include fish, shellfish, beans/legumes, sesame seeds/tahini, or even a particular fruit or specific vegetables. Some experts list SUGAR as a possible allergen.

For a good GUIDE to a trial ELIMINATION DIET: we suggest JJ Virgin’s books: The VIRGIN DIET and JJ Virgin’s Sugar Impact Diet (cookbooks available, too.)   Food Plans and Shopping LISTs are included in her books. Also check out her website: http://jjvirgin.com/   Tips, Videos, Books and more.

–Some folks with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)–particularly symptoms such as gas, loose stools, cramping, abdominal pain)–may find benefit with a LOW FODMAPS diet.   With IBS–some common, otherwise healthy vegetables, (such as garlic and onion) may be major culprits in creating discomfort.

SEE: Kate Scarlata, RD’s BLOG and website for great ideas: http://blog.katescarlata.com/

You may also want to check out the work of one of the following Health and Nutrition specialists.   Find a plan you resonate with, and use it as a guide.

  • Joel Fuhrman. NEW book: Eat to Live: 200 Delicious Nutrient-Rich Recipes for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, Reversing Disease, and Lifelong Health. His 2014 book: The End of Dieting, How to Live for Life.   website: www.drfuhrman.com

 His focus is plant-based nutrition.   He does incorporate small amounts of meats, fish and poultry–for those who want/need these items.

But he believes most of us should focus on MORE vegetables. A HEALTHY vegetarian diet keeps us more alkaline (vs acidic.) Acid states are associated with increased inflammation and disease.

Dr. Fuhrman also has created a quality rating system, on a scale of 0-1000, for vegetables and other healthy (as well as not so healthy) foods. At the very top of this list is KALE (1000 score)  followed by COLLARD GREENS. At the bottom is cola (-0-, the lowest score), and corn chips (almost at the bottom).

  • Mark Hyman, MD  Numerous books. The Blood Sugar Solution: The UltraHealthy Program for Losing Weight, and accompanying cookbook:  The Blood Sugar Solution 10 Day Detox Diet Cookbook (and accompanying cookbook with more than 150 recipes). Also check out: http://drhyman.com/
  • Kathy Madonna Swift. (Functional Medicine/Integrated Medicine dietitian) See her book: The Inside Tract: Your Good Gut Guide to Great Gastrointestinal Health) written with Gerard Mullin, MD, and her most recent book: The Swift Diet: 4 Weeks to Mend the Belly, Lose the Weight, and Get Rid of the Bloat.
  • If you want to follow a TOTALLY GRAIN-FREE DIET (also totally gluten-free) we suggest Diane Sanfilippo’s book: Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and A Whole Foods Lifestyle;  and her website: balancedbites.com

 NOTE: Some people want to follow a deep cleansing, detox type diet–which CAN set the foundation for better eating and long-term health changes, long run. But if the approach is very severe and restrictive–and you are taking a number of medications or have serious health issues–be sure to consult your MD or personal care practitioner first.

***We can clean up our insides by EATING a HEALTHY DIET ON A REGULAR BASIS—the best cleansing diet of all!***

We leave you with these ideas for Healthy MEAL CHOICES and snacks.

 AM IDEAS:

  • Gluten-free hot and cold cereals: such as gluten-free oats with berries and chopped walnuts or almonds; gluten-free quinoa flakes, 100% rice krispies or rice chex, buckwheat flakes or cream of buckwheat.  Almond milk, coconut milk, or rice milk.  Fruit like blueberries, other berries
  • Organic yogurt with mixed berries 1-3x/week
  • Gluten-free toast or English muffin with almond butter of sunflower seed butter.
  • Organic eggs with spinach, peppers and/or other veggies, organic cheese (or no cheese)
  • A “green shake” made with with chopped up spinach or kale, berries, chia seeds, and almond milk
  • Leftover dinner foods: veggies and “clean proteins”

LUNCH and DINNERS:

  • Rice bowl with veggies, chicken or shrimp
  • Tuna salad (no more than 2x/week–due to mercury)
  • Gluten-free pasta with chopped tomatoes, olive oil, fresh basil, pine nuts,  plus side of veggies
  • Quinoa sautéed with red pepper slices. Add pine nuts. Serve with grilled fish or chicken
  • Home-made turkey and black bean chili
  • Home-made stuffed peppers
  • Home-made soups and stews—with lots of vegetables
  • Large salads with spinach, baby kale, tomato, cukes, red onions, variety of other vegetables of your choice; 1 hard boiled egg or chicken or turkey or grilled fish for protein   Vinaigrette, or lemon and olive oil and herb dressing.

***Incorporate more FERMENTED items like sauerkraut, tempeh, and kimchi in your diet. Fermented foods provide digestive health benefits.*** http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/7_must_eat_fermented_foods_for_a_healthy_gut?page=4

SNACKS:

  • Fresh fruit–especially the berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, black raspberries) and local fruits in season.  (Best to buy organic berries.)
  • A few rice crackers with almond butter or other nut butter
  • Mini green shake: variety of green veggies and some fruit
  • 10-20 nuts
  • Kefir beverage
  • Small portion of leftover lunch or dinner food

SUMMARY:

  • SMALL STEPS, practiced regularly, can turn into long term habit changes.
  • Choose 1-2 areas to work on–most important to you–and make an ACTION PLAN.
  • Assess (honestly): What is my CONFIDENCE LEVEL to carry this action plan to completion?

YOUR confidence level NEEDS TO BE at least 7 out of 10. If lower than 7, re-write the plan to be more realistic. An individualized approach is KEY.

PERMANENT CHANGES TAKE TIME and continued practice.

It is likely that it will take at least 2-8 months FOR CHANGES TO BE more AUTOMATIC. So stay with it!.

Recommended book by James Clear: Transform Your Habits: The Science of How to Stick to Good Habits and Break Bad Ones. website: http://jamesclear.com/

Huffinton post article:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-clear/

“The only way to get to (day) 500 is to start with day 1. So forget about the number and focus on doing the work.”      –James Clear–

 

We wish you an abundant, in-the-flow Spring , in all aspects of your Life!

Deb and Wendy

The Wellness Shifter Ladies 

 

ADDITIONAL REFERENCES:

 

(Breathe to Relax offers a portable stress management tool.)

 

  • (BOOK) Body Ecology by Donna Gates.

Excellent resource for gastrointestinal healing; practical suggestions for those who want to incorporate more naturally fermented foods in their diets

 

 

 

 

 

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