Eating real food, and moving naturally, are the foundations for health and well-being. In order to truly thrive, however, one must make some significant changes to one’s habits, behaviour, attitudes and lifestyle.
The following are some basic guidelines to the Live Now, Thrive Later lifestyle:
Electric lights, TVs and Computer screens trick our bodies into staying up late by suppressing the natural production of sleep hormones. We then artificially tear ourselves from sleep using alarms clocks creating a state of perpetual sleep deprivation.
There is compelling evidence that chronic lack of sleep is one (of many) underlying causes of the obesity and health epidemics sweeping the modern world.
You should be able to wake naturally without an alarm, if not, you are not getting enough sleep. Switch off your TV and any computer screens at least an hour before bed, and keep lighting subdued. Sleep in a pitch black room, free from noise and electronic equipment. By all means keep an alarm as a back up, but you should be waking up feeling refreshed before it goes off.
To the Sun that is! We have been told to fear the Sun, that its rays are harmful and will cause skin cancer. There is mounting evidence however, that in fact a lack of sun exposure could be a much bigger risk to your health, and perhaps more likely to lead to cancer!
Vitamin D deficiency has become endemic in the modern world. We spend too much time indoors, and when we do get chance to get outside we mistakenly use sunblock or actively seek shade. Get outside every opportunity you can, with at least your arms or legs exposed. Get your vitamin D levels checked with a simple blood test.
If you have dark skin and are living at northern latitudes, or even if you have light skin but never see the light of day, you may even benefit from a vitamin D supplement.
Even daily sessions of exercise and/or training cannot fully counter the deleterious effects of an otherwise sedentary lifestyle. The human animal did not evolve to sit all day at desks or in cars.
Walk or cycle all or part of the way to work, rather than taking the car. If it’s too far to go all the way, use public transport for the remainder and opt to stand. If the only option to get from home to work is a commute by car, change your job or move!
Once you’re in work, switching to a standing desk is a great move, but even prolonged standing in the same position is not ideal. Find every excuse to keep moving you can!
We have become conditioned into a belief for the need of constant consumption. Hunger is a sensation to be feared and avoided at all costs. Happiness comes from constant comfort and instant gratification. To lose weight you must eat more – Don’t skip breakfast, and eat every 2-3 hours to keep you metabolism burning.
The truth is, most of us don’t actually know what real hunger is. Most of the time food is eaten out of habit, convention or boredom. Skipping meals will not lower your metabolism or damage your health. On the contrary, it is an easy and convenient way to help burn body fat, and has been shown to have significant health benefits.
2-3 meals per day of real food is more than sufficient to sustain you. Don’t snack in between, or drink calorie containing drinks.
Try a 24 hour fast at least once, if only to understand what real hunger is, and to realise the need to graze all day is simply a clever marketing ploy. If it works for you, consider implementing intermittent fasting (IF) as a regular habit.
Go on a Low Info Diet
This need for constant consumption extends from the world of food to all aspects of life. We have become conditioned into the need for constant stimulation, be it through TV, radio, internet, newspaper and magazines.
Place self imposed limits on your use of all the above. Either get rid of your TV altogether, or at least limit yourself to watching select programs on demand. Limit your internet time, only checking email/social media networks once or twice per day, and disable mobile internet and any message notification alerts you may have. Get used to switching off your phone or leaving it at home for longer and longer stretches, and realising that nothing bad will happen!
Freeing yourself from the need for continuous consumption/stimulation, will free you to be more productive.
Learn to derive as much, if not more pleasure, from cooking great food as from eating it – Particularly if that food is real, healthy, nourishing food to be shared with friends and family.
Whether you have your own business, or work for a company, limiting your access to email and phone calls will enable you to be more innovative and creative, rather than constantly reacting.
Use this increased productivity, to reduce the time you need to devote to work.
Develop some creative hobbies – Learn a craft, make your own music and art.
Attempt to write as much as you read, whether it be through keeping a diary or blog, through to writing a novel or book.
Meditation does not necessarily mean sitting cross-legged in an incense filled room chanting a mantra (though if you wish to do this that’s fine!)
Attempting to balance input with output, or consumption with production, is all well and good, but sometimes we need to learn to just BE.
Meditation can mean many different things to different people, but essentially it is about quieting the noise inside your head, and being able to let go of your thoughts in order to find a moment of tranquillity and peace.
I’d recommend “The Mindful Geek: Secular Meditation for Smart Skeptics
Michael W Taft” as a great resource to get you started.
Kids love to play, but as we get older we are told to grow up and get serious. We have important decisions to make and responsibilities to consider. Play time is over!
But it doesn’t have to be. Every one of us owes it to ourselves to rediscover the simple pleasure of unadulterated play – That is, getting lost in the moment doing something fun and frivolous with no external reward other than the pleasure of the act itself.
Question everything. Everything you see on TV, hear on the radio or read on-line or in the papers. Question everything about the way we live, and every aspect of your life.
Human beings have populated every inhabitable section of the planet, and yet now many of us are happy to spend our lives frequenting the same few tried and tested locations. You don’t have to travel to remote jungles or desolate mountain ranges to explore (though I’d highly recommend it), you can start with the unknown areas of your own town or city, of which I’ll bet there are many!
Make an effort to learn something new everyday. Remembering of course, to question everything you learn! Learning a second language is a great way to keep your brain in shape, and also get a different perspective on life.
There are many good things that have come out of civilisation – Guaranteed access to food, shelter and warmth for example, but we tend to take these things for granted. Learn to really appreciate all the good things you have in life, and not to worry about things that don’t really matter.
Love/Respect yourself by eating, moving and living well. Love/Respect other people and their opinions. Love/Respect the animals you eat, and the environment of which you are a part.