Recently I was surrounded by people who were all very excited about this one weight loss method. It’s one of those that requires that you eat a very strict diet, eating the foods sold by this particular company. Claims were made that most people lost an average of four to seven pounds a week if you were a woman.
There were other health claims that sounded good. I’ve tried a lot of diets. Those that work for me are those that I can stay on for a long period. Those diets usually have a further health benefit than just weight loss. Weight loss is nice, but it’s superficial. Health, for me is far more motivating.
I tried the diet. I felt awful the first two days. I was practically vomiting and I had headaches that were an 8 out of 10 on a pain scale of one to ten. I could hardly eat. I pushed myself through this thinking it was a detox. However no one else had such strong reactions. Everyone was telling me that it was sugar and hormonal, except that for months prior I had been loosing weight slowly on South Beach and had had white sugar only twice in the last three months. Additionally, because I tend to be somewhat intolerant of gluten I had had white flour only twice as well (cake in two occasions in celebration of my birthday). Mostly I had rice for carbs and one serving of fruit a day. Everything else was protein and vegetable matter. It was unlikely that everyone else was eating less sugar than I was.
After a week I was still sick so I moved off the diet. What I found interesting was that I had questions about the healthiness of the diet and continue to do so. Further I know that a quick weight loss diet isn’t the best thing for anyone but at the same time I was seduced by the idea that I could loose this weight FAST. In fact, upon going off the diet, I immediately gained back two of the pounds that I had lost–although I was still eating very little because I continued to be sick for nearly a week after stopping the diet.
I also had a woman in my yoga class come up and ask me about the diet because she was struggling to loose weight and thought this might be a good way to do it. This despite my sickness and many recommendations against such a strategy by our yoga teacher. I found it interesting that we all hope and grasp for that magic bullet to loose weight.
Anyone can fall for it. I think we all need to try those things we feel we need to try, but when all is said and done, if you don’t feel great during the time you are eating the food, it’s not right for you. I’m not sure there is any diet or lifestyle change that is worth it if you don’t feel good on it.
I was taking a class a few years ago with a woman who was also a yoga teacher. She mentioned that she worked so hard to always keep her diet perfect and that she had to be in perfect shape.
She shared with the group, “I got it the other day. Balance isn’t always about being perfect. Balance requires fine adjustments from side to the other. It’s not just standing there–it’s adjusting. I realized that I’m like that in my life. I need to be more flexible with choices because I don’t always have to stand in that perfect spot of balance but can flex and adjust.”
I think these words are very important as we contemplate our health and disease. Some days we feel better than others. Some days we eat better than others. Each day is a different day.
I read, a lot. I’ve been told this is a great trait to have as a writer. I often feel guilty because I love to read books that I can devour in a few hours. I do read quickly.
I am a series mystery junkie. As I was working on this project, I read Espresso Shot
by Cleo Coyle. In it, I found this quote, on page 261 which I love.
I did understand wanting to be perfect. I used to strive for perfection in everything–my coffee, my marriage, myself. But life was naturally messy, and perfection required far too much ruthlessness. Being human was better. Humans made mistakes and moved on. Like Nana tried to tell me years ago: eing good was better than being perfect.
In the last decade or so I have noticed that normal has gone from being a bell curve to being on the edge of what is “optimal”. It’s not enough to be normal any more in one’s health, but it is important to be optimal. We work on getting those optimal areas whether those things are “normal” or not.
So what is normal? Normal is the most common manifestation of any particular characteristic. By this standard, the really amazing athletes that we admire have gotten outside the range of normal. Those men and women who climb mountains like Everest are outside the range of normal. This is simply because their bodies do things that the average person cannot. They can push themselves in ways the average person cannot, so in that sense they have stopped being normal.
We have this fascination with perfection and supra normal in our country. We no long want a normal amount of money that might make us comfortable (which is still a desire and an achievable desire in most European countries) we want to be rich. We don’t just want to be rich, we want to be rich, like Bill Gates. From a financial perspective, Bill Gates is not normal. His wealth falls well outside the bell curve of “normal”.
Looking closer at this desire, we often desire to “do what Bill Gates did”, largely because we see that as a way to wealth. I had a professor once who looked at us and said we shouldn’t try to be as good as he is in massage. Only he could be as good as he is. We should try and be as good as we can be. Then we might be better than he is. It is simple wisdom. We need to try to be the best of what we can be.
This best may not be optimal in many ways. It may not bring the outstanding wealth we think we would like but being our best will bring satisfaction on many levels. It is also far more likely to make our life a life of quality that we enjoy living rather than a life we have to work at keeping on top of.
In searching for an answer to why do we think that sickness is wrong, I came across Deepak Chopra’s book, Quantum Healing. I’m familiar with Chopra’s work and have probably read this book long ago. However, reading it with fresh eyes, I need to recommend it to others because of a couple of important conclusions.
On issue that I had with his Perfect Health book is that health is available to us all. He makes it sound so easy. But in Quantum Healing, Chopra points out that health and illness are very complicated issues. It’s not just about the patient. It is about the environment. It can also be about karma. Chopra brings a very important detail about karma into the discussion. Karma isn’t a personal thing, as having something be personal is all about the ego. Therefore, it is not my karma or your karma, but simply karma. That means that any of us may choose or be chosen to balance help balance the karmic scales whenever there is something evil that has been done. This means that we don’t necessarily pay exactly for our sins but we pay for the collective.
Within this book there is a lot of good information and lots of things to consider. It may be a bit difficult for those without a medical background. Most of Chopra’s work is very accessible to anyone but there are parts in here where he attempts to explain some complicated ideas. Overall he does a fine job but impatient readers may get lost.
One of my favorite acupuncture teachers talks about the fact that acupuncture and traditional Western Medicine are not so different. It’s one reason his lessons are so fascinating. There are two ways to look at a problem
If there is a leaf moving in the wind, we can see the leaf moving. We wonder what does it. We know it’s the wind, even if we can’t see the wind or touch the wind. Still, we know it is the wind.
This is like disease. We can treat it like we would treat the leaf that we can see and touch. This is what we do in Western medicine. We look. We take images. We test blood.
In acupuncture, we check the energetics. We know the wind must move the leaf and there is a problem. So we work with the wind. We listen to the symptoms and to the pluses. We look at our patient. We see the whole picture and we start working with it.
Both medicines are one medicine. Both can help the patient. There should be no competition or misunderstanding between practitioners of each medicine. We each do our part to help the patient heal.
Georgia should be where the blog begins because she is the reason this quest began at all. Georgia is my old calico cat. She found me one year at my old apartment complex. She was the cat that ran everything. She knew everyone and everyone was sure she wasn’t taken care of and yet we all did. She was quite a flirt. One woman who had been feeding her was moving and had two cats who weren’t interested in sharing and she asked me to take care of Georgia. Shortly after that Georgia bullied her way into my apartment past my alpha male cat (who was not interested in sharing his home with her) and into my life for good.
She came with me through many moves and sat with me as I lost the other cats I had at the time. She became the role model for the kitten I found and helped keep the new Siamese cat in line. As she was lying on the bed, looking old and sad I kept thinking I needed to know what she wanted when it was her time. My other cat had made it very clear that he wanted to die at home. I knew that deeply and instinctively. Georgia seemed to have no real wish one way or another.
I found an animal communicator at this time and I thought I should call her. However Georgia has always been there when I’ve talked to her and I think we have a good rapport so I decided to try it myself.
As I slipped into a meditation I talked to her about what was going on. I told her I didn’t want her to suffer because I didn’t know what was wrong, like Simone, my first Siamese did. Georgia said, “Well there was nothing wrong. She was just sick.”
And I said, “Well if I had know how she was sick, maybe I could have helped.”
Georgia said, rather crankily because I was obviously a bit slow on the uptake, “Why do you think sickness is wrong? It just is.”
What a profound statement from my little cat. I was thrown out of the meditation as I lay there considering the implications. Why do we think sickness is wrong? Where did we get that idea? And is there a way to change that attitude? What are the implications not only for sick people but for those around them? I started out on a quest. I am sure there will be a book but until then, there is this blog.
Many times if we start getting sick, we just push through because there’s so much to be done. Did you know, if you take the time to rest before you are really sick, you can increase your chances of either fighting off the bug or at least minimizing it’s impact?
At the first sign of illness in addition to adding in any supplements you may take, allow yourself some extra time to rest and maybe take a nap. Your body can use it.
We all struggle with exercise. I think the optimal amount is about 4 or 5 hours a week. I’ve been doing yoga which I love. I also walk regularly and I ski. It’s taken me awhile to get to the place where I can fit exercise in regularly. I’ve done this by making a regular commitment to it. Moving to North Bend where I have a commute, has made sticking to my commitment harder.
I bring a yoga mat to work so that I can do some stretches in my office between patients. I also try to walk at least around the block when I have a break. This keeps the energy moving and flowing. I don’t count those short walks as exercise, but every little bit helps. Remember, movement is good. We don’t move our bodies enough. Even a short walk at a break can help. Who knows? You might enjoy it and then find you have more time to start moving.