A stronger realization of the evil in drinking hit me recently when I stumbled on some news on Facebook. No, I was not dipping into the Sacramental Wine. A father who had had a couple of bottles too many took hold of the steering wheel and drove himself, his wife and stepmother to the embrace of death. Luckily, thanks to a Good Samaritan who was close to the murder (or manslaughter) scene, his son was rescued from the sinking car.
A quick Google search will, however, lead us to countless other stories of a drunkards killing strangers, killing family and friends, or even himself. Why then do we choose to surrender our sanity — and even our humanity — to this liquefied femme fatale called alcohol?
Statistics, according to the Drug-Free World Foundation, establish that alcohol kills more teenagers than all other drugs combined, and is a factor in the three leading causes of death among young persons: accidents, homicides and suicides. Not only that; youth who drink are 7.5 times more likely to use other illegal drugs and are fifty times more likely to use cocaine.
It has also been shown that at least 40% of violent crimes occur under the influence of alcohol. What is more, alcoholic drinks are getting cheaper by the decade. They are becoming more and more affordable, so no one is left out from this global entrapment.
It is therefore not doubtful that alcohol has wrought great havoc not only on our quality of life, but the quantity of the living. Though thinking right — in other words, sanity — can have its downsides, and though not easily forgetting or repressing sour memories can draw us into melancholy, alcohol is no true escape route. It does not offer an exit from the premises of our problems. It only switches off the light for a moment.
The problems — though invincible — remain. It gives us temporary breaks from challenges such as poverty, unemployment, strained relationships and so on; and many a time, it leads to permanent damages.
Away from the figures, the writer has personally experienced how alcohol can often embitter an otherwise great marriage and relationship. (Usually) the father spends a great deal of his income buying it for himself and friends, and he spends most of what remains trying to clean up at the hospital: liver disease cancer, malnourishment, gastrointestinal problems, osteoporosis and so on. He also spends a great deal of his time arguing with his wife and beating his kids — all for silly or no reasons at all. He even borrows or steals from his wife to fuel this indulgence of his. And so, there is nothing left in his pocket for the upkeep of his family, nothing left in his time for keeping up with his family and nothing left in his head to realize this tragedy.
For the youth, though the character and plotline may differ, the story often heads for the same ending: misery. It is a vicious, almost never-ending, cycle wrapped in shame and anguish. If we shut our eyes to the place of peer pressure, then it is either pain leads you to the consumption of alcohol or the consumption of alcohol leads you to pain — or both.
You are facing problems with your studies, your secondary school mates have all graduated and are probably married, and your project supervisor is there making life hell for you. Or your girlfriend whom you love dearly just left you bitter for leaving for sweeter pastures. Or you flunked your final-year examinations, have to sit in classes with your juniors for a year. So you decide to seek solace in the flames of alcohol. Well, stop! Don’t.
Don’t submit your sanity to a bottle of fizzles or wood soaked liquid before it makes you a fizzle yourself. Don’t hand over the baton of your senses, even for a night, for that is your greatest weapon against life’s challenges. You do not win by running. You win through strategy and hard work — and a drunken man is not capable of both. Alcohol is a drug like all others. It has got a glittering package. It has got a sweet voice. It even looks great from the top.
But underneath all these is a quicksand of unending, yet limitless, misery. Trust me, it is not worth it. But don’t take my word for it; check the statistics. Look around you. See what you do not want to see and see the reality for yourself.
Center for Healing, Growth, & Recovery Ministries
Reverend Marc Baisden, MACP, CMHC, Min. (C) 2019
We don’t have to hike for hours every day. But even going a few miles at a sturdy pace two or three days per week can have a tremendous impact on your health.
You’re getting your heart rate up and lifting your body weight as you trek up and down hills, making hiking the perfect cardio and load-bearing activity, all in one. Plus, you’re exercising the largest muscles in your body— namely your gluteus muscles and quads in your legs—which therefore has the most effect on your metabolism. And you’re strengthening your core, too. When you’re hiking over uneven terrain, you’re also exercising your smaller, stabilizer muscles—lots of little muscles that all add up. There’s a lot you can cover by just walking up and down hills.
Popular ways that people try to replicate this kind of physical activity are in the gym via stationary bikes or treadmills. These are obviously much better alternatives than not exercising at all. But when doing only the same repetitive motion that’s offered by stationary bikes or treadmills, you can’t really get the same kind of workout provided by hiking and navigating hills. Essentially, all of those stabilizer muscles aren’t working so hard. And, you’re not getting outside which is always the place I prefer to do at least a portion of my exercise. Do you live somewhere flat? No worries.
A brisk walk, followed by doing a few sets of squats while holding a dumbbell to your chest, qualifies as an awesome workout.
As for load-bearing exercise, remember that the gluteus muscles and quads should be your highest priority for enhancing your metabolism and building your overall strength. The seldom-done squats and deadlifts are hands down the best gym exercises you can do because of the emphasis on these bigger muscles as well as your core strength. Deadlifts have an undeserved negative reputation (the name doesn’t help—better would be “life-force lifts” or “anti-death lifts”!) that comes from too many people doing them inappropriately, with too much weight and with the wrong form. Just like hiking, bending over or squatting to pick up heavy objects is an ancient exercise; thus our bodies are well adapted to do them. But don’t risk an injury. Do them right. Your best bet?
Work with the theme “less weight, more reps.” Also these lifting exercises don’t necessarily need to be committed to with a bar. Using dumbbells or kettle-bells is a great, low-risk way to get started. And why not work with a trainer? I do, and I can’t recommend it highly enough!
Remember to maintain stretching as a part of your physical activity. Maintaining elasticity of muscles is vital for a whole host of reasons, the most important of which is prevention of injury, inflammation, and those everyday aches and pains. It’s important for maintaining good posture, too. A full body stretch doesn’t need to take more than a few minutes. Actually, a common mistake can be over-stretching, which can make muscles weaker. Of course muscles can be re-strengthened, but why put your body through unnecessary stress? If you choose a yoga practice, the idea is to hold the stretching poses for only seconds. It’s the strengthening poses that can be held for longer. There is some reasoning however for holding the stretching poses longer, and it’s for the releasing of deeper tension. So in a sense there can be a benefit to this.
My suggestion if you do the longer stretching poses is to do them only on an occasional basis, especially if building strength is what you’re going for.
As mentioned, I highly recommend working with a fitness trainer. What you learned in PE class just isn’t going to cut it if a deeper power for the sake of your longevity and life-force is what you’re going for. And going to the gym on your own and doing the same routine day in and day out only does so much. It’s much more effective and time better spent to shake things up. The variety of fitness activities is endless, and changing up the exercises you’re doing on a regular basis will make you stronger faster. A trainer knows best how to do this, and it needn’t be time-consuming. With the right kind of intensive exercise, you can get a lot out of a single hour, or even less.
Believe me, I’ve seen the results firsthand through trainers I have worked with, and by my own experience as a trainer at the Ashram. I’ve witnessed incredible transformations in people of all body types and starting out at all different levels of fitness.
Find the trainer who believes in sticking with the free weights. Free weights have exponentially more impact than machines. Remember that core and lower-body exercises are the most important since, as we discussed above, they’re the biggest muscles. Men especially tend to get preoccupied with upper body workouts, partly because they’re easier overall since the upper body muscles are smaller relative to the muscles in the legs. It’s a matter of balance between lower and upper-body exercises, but placing more of an emphasis on lower-body is the way to go. And of course we’re not talking body-building here. Again, we’re talking about ‘power-building’.
Keep in mind you don’t have to work with a trainer every day. Why not start with just two days a week? Of course a good trainer will teach you how to work out on your own, too. I’m confident you’ll be very impressed with what you get out of it.
The other days of the week? Hike or go for power walks! I am very much a believer in fast-paced walking. Too easy for you? Try carrying three to ten pound dumbbells (or water bottles) and pump your arms like you mean it. Now we’re talking. Or maybe you’ve got other athletic pursuits—sports that you like to play. Being physically active should be enjoyable, something you look forward to. Yoga, soccer, pottery (well maybe something a little more strenuous), swimming, and biking—they’re all good. Need I share my opinion of the contact sports like football that invite injury and wear and tear on the body?
Get creative. Join a softball team. Take up tennis. Play ultimate frisbee. Dance! (This one is among my favorites.)
Exercise is certainly neck and neck with diet, in terms of importance for overall health. They’re both critical links in the chain of well-being. On the note of diet, I recommend a sturdy dose of easy-to-digest protein following your workout. Naturally, and for the sake of purity and potency, I’m a fan of my post-workout smoothie with Infinity Protein, which is a blend of organic hemp and brown rice protein infused with muscle-enhancing herbs. And of course the Infinity Protein Bars too, which are hands down, the best bars in terms of both pure ingredients and flavor. Remember that when we neglect our diets, we lose the energy and enthusiasm we need to be physically active. It becomes hard to exercise even if we want to. So create the right chemistry with your diet and then pump the handle with exercise, with the restorative nutrition to follow.
As a motivating factor, it’s always helpful to remember your physiological health is intimately connected with your mental health – that’s your peace and happiness. No question a strong body is one of the foundational elements for a strong mind, only to make us more fit to better navigate through the world of modern-day stressors and still maintain a general sense of wellbeing.
It’s the strong mind and body together that build true power, and there’s no moment like the precious present to jump onboard. I say we go for it.
Over the last seventeen years the Infinity Superfoods have become a powerful force, enhancing the lives of many thousands of people, and it is an honor to have you as part of the team.
This article was written by Billy Merritt.
Click HERE to Learn more about his work.
The keys to building your physical power are so very important, and there being some real substance to them, they can’t be summarized in just one paragraph with a few bullet points. So give yourself the ten minutes it will take because these are essentials for your overall health and longevity. (Note: this is content that can be found in my book, “Infinity Health Manual“)
You only get one body in this life, so need I convince you of the value in what we’re going to talk about here? The reality is we’ve steered way off course in this modern day and age with what constitutes a truly powerful body. First, when I’m talking ‘power’, I’m talking about far more than just strong biceps, quads, and abs! Ha! It’s about a deeper strength that’s infused with an incomparable life-force that today is seldom experienced. The fact is, the majority of modern exercise is completely missing the big picture. I would like to explain why, and most importantly supply you with the essential keys to fix it; building your true physical power, that is.
Where we got off course
First, let’s consider that we humans have been around for hundreds of thousands of years, but it’s only been relatively recently in our history, with the development of agriculture, that we’ve settled ourselves into villages and, ultimately, cities. Before that, we were nomads, traveling by foot around the countryside in search of food and moving with the seasons. As a result, our bodies adapted to this kind of physical activity. Today, with our modern lifestyles, we’re far less active than we previously were. The bottom line is we do a heck of a lot of sitting, both at work and at home. The modern way of life is not what our bodies were adapted for. And today we see the effects: a commonality of obesity and a host of other issues like heart disease.
The Big Picture
As I’ve always focused on in my articles, our diets are vitally important for keeping our bodies strong. Eating healthy is an essential start, but putting fuel in is only half of it. You’ve gotta pump the handle!..and in just the right way.
Building a fit body through the right exercise does extraordinary things for many aspects of our overall health. Improved strength supports joints and bones and, especially, the spine. The spine, after all, is a pillar of the neurological “superhighway” through which the brain exchanges vital information with the rest of the body, and, in turn, is how the body takes care of the brain. Strong body and posture keep that superhighway healthy.
Other benefits? The obvious one is that exercise boosts our metabolism, thus reducing the amount of fat stored in the body. Leanness alone is worth the moderate effort it takes. Exercise also circulates nutrients and oxygen-rich blood to organs and every part of the body, essentially making everything stronger and more resistant to injury.
Furthermore, strengthening your body helps to eliminate everyday aches and pains. Your body heals faster. It’s ironic, isn’t it? Many people shy away from exercise because of aches and pains, and yet there’s no better way to avoid physical discomfort in the long-term than by strengthening the body! Exercise fortifies the parts of the body around those everyday aches and pains, creating an incubating environment for the healing of the weak areas. Building core strength can lessen back pain, for instance. The increased oxygen-rich blood flow reduces inflammation so the body’s restorative healing life-force can get in there to work its magic. Done properly (as we’ll discuss), exercise essentially becomes physical therapy. I never stopped being amazed when I would witness this at the Ashram Health Retreat where I worked as a trainer for many years. People would experience six days of intensive exercise and leave with their everyday aches and pains gone, or at least substantially reduced.
I’ve experienced it firsthand myself. Years ago, I suffered from a variety of aches. Due to inflammation, I had plantar fasciitis in the arches of my feet, carpal tunnel in my wrists, and pain in my shoulders (thoracic outlet reduction). I went to a series of specialists, some of whom recommended various surgeries. At the time I was wearing braces on my wrists and doing virtually no exercise other than limping around my living room. Finally, a doctor said something startling. “You need to take those stupid things off your wrists and get to the gym!” I took his simple advice and worked with a professional trainer and my aches and pains all went away within a few months. I didn’t need surgery; I just needed to make my body stronger. The impact blew my mind. What a lesson!
Need more reasons to exercise? The data are overwhelming that exercise is a great stress-reducer—quite unlike anything else. Plus, it gives you a sense of achievement, helping to build your self-esteem. How’s that for true power? Not to mention that you’ll pick up some peace of mind just by getting outdoors for fresh air and sunshine, something tried and tested for millennia.
Most people who decide they’re not going to take the time to stay physically active through some kind of consistent exercise have no idea how powerful it can be reflected in the mind and body and what they are missing out on. They lack the comparative experience. But for those who engage in it, they know the benefits can be enormous. Bottom line? The value of exercise is in its ability to significantly enhance life-force, longevity, and happiness. Priceless, wouldn’t you say?
As many of us know, there are two general categories of exercise: aerobic, also known as “cardio,” and anaerobic which is generally load-bearing or the expenditure of energy in bursts, like sprints. You need to get the heart rate up with sustained aerobic activity, but you need to build muscle via anaerobic activity, too. By building muscle with load-bearing exercise, your body naturally burns more calories on a consistent basis. You’re building a bigger engine which requires more fuel! So the priority isn’t necessarily losing weight, it’s building power which produces a leaner body.
There’s one particular exercise that, for the money, is the most efficient in combining both cardio and load-bearing activity: hiking. After all, trekking up and down hills is just what our ancestors did. The distances we are capable of hiking are commonly underestimated. During the one-week program at the Ashram, we’d hike with the guests ten to fifteen miles a day for six days straight! And not everyone was always the most fit. But again, hiking this kind of mileage is what we are adapted to do.
….. to be continue on PART TWO….
This article was written by Billy Merritt.
Click HERE to Learn more about his work.
Are you someone who builds trust or someone who tears it down?
The ability to build trust is a competency of high emotional intelligence. Being trustworthy means to be ethical when working with and relating to others. It means doing the right thing even when you know no one will find out. When you are a trust builder, others have confidence that your actions are consistent with your words and know that you have their best interest at heart -- not only your own. If you are a trust builder, you demonstrate respect for others’ experiences, understand the hurt that deceitfulness can cause, and bring more value to relationships than pain.
Those who are strong in this competency tend to share information about themselves and don't keep secrets. They treat others consistently and with respect, and maintain high standards of personal integrity. They maintain a lifestyle that they don't have to hide from others. When you hear them talk about something, you know that their actions will match up with their words, and you can count on them to deliver on their promises and commitments.
Those who aren't so strong in this competency aren't able to build open, candid, trusting relationships. They've most likely developed a reputation for lacking integrity, and often make promises that they do not keep. They will do what serves them best even if it means undermining another person to get what they want. They lie about little things, and lie about big things. If you ask them what their values are, you may get the 'deer in the headlights' look, as they often have troubles defining their standards in the name of being 'open-minded' or 'non-judgmental'. They tend to blame others for their mistakes and withhold information to keep them out of 'trouble.'
“Earn trust, earn trust, earn trust. Then you can worry about the rest.” --Seth Godin
It's impossible to lead without being able to build trust. When others begin to doubt you, they will think twice about following you and question whether or not you are worth teaming up with. They will mistrust your ideas and direction, and worry that you may be putting YOUR best interests before their own.
It's true that it takes a long time to build trust but only an instant to destroy it. One self-centered lie or act of deceit can ruin how others view you for days and months to come.
Why are some trust breakers? For many, the practice of deceit stems from deep-rooted fears…fear of being accepted, fear of being known, fear of punishment, fear of self, fear of being held to expectations, fear of letting others down, fear of being disliked, fear of being an disappointment...the list goes on and on. The thing is, we all have fears. We all want to be liked and accepted and valuable in others' eyes. But the difference between trust builders and trust breakers is that the trust builders face their fears by understanding that honesty and authenticity are what bring about those results, where trust breakers think dishonesty will get them there. But a life of deceit won't bring about deep, meaningful relationships that we all desire.
“It is true that integrity alone won’t make you a leader, but without integrity you will never be one.” -- Zig Ziglar
Not sure if you're a trust builder or a trust breaker?
Look over these statements, and give yourself a score for each, using this scale: 1= Always, 2=Almost always 3=Occasionally 4=Almost never 5=Never
1. I share my thoughts, feelings and decision-making rationale.
2. I am able to establish trusting relationships.
3. I am open to others' ideas and willing to be influenced by others.
4. I treat people with respect.
5. I am able to influence others as a result of talking with them.
6. I have developed a reputation for integrity.
7. I treat all people fairly.
8. I say what I believe rather than what I think people want to hear.
9. I strive to behave consistently with my expressed beliefs and values.
10.I practice what I preach.
11.I focus on solving problems rather than blaming or hiding.
12.I admit my mistakes.
13.I deliver on promises and commitments.
14.I ask others for their opinions.
15.I listen to people's thoughts, feelings, and concerns, and am able to feel empathy.
16.I solicit feedback about my performance.
17.I acknowledge the contributions and worth of others.
18.When there is a problem, I work directly with those involved to resolve it.
19.I treat people consistently.
20.I follow through on the things I commit to do, even if it's not convenient for me.
Now, add up your scores and see where you land, below:
1-20 - Your ability to build trust is high
21-40 - Your ability to build trust is moderately high
41-60 - Your ability to build trust is moderate
61-80 - Your ability to build trust has room for improvement
81-100 - Your ability to build trust needs serious improvement
“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” --Stephen R. Covey
If your ability to build trust needs some work, take heart. We are talking about behavior--what you do, not who you are. Behaviors can be changed. If you would like to shift from being a trust breaker to a trust builder, here are some developmental tips to try:
Team up with an emotional intelligence coach to help you set goals and hold you accountable as you begin this journey.
Practice listening to others in a way that allows you to know what's on their minds and in their hearts.
Always deliver on your commitments. No excuses. If you are one who tends to promise then cancel --stop making the promises in the first place.
Be emotionally available to those around you -- share the things in your heart without stretching the truth to make yourself look good.
Never knowingly mislead or lie. If you catch yourself doing it -- stop and admit the truth. It's so very freeing and you'll find people respect you when you admit it in the moment.
Articulate your values to those around you and ask them if your actions match up.
Admit your mistakes without blame or shame.
Get in the habit of putting others' needs in front of your own.
Check to see if what you do in secret matches up to your public persona -- if not, in which arena are you not being true? Then ask yourself why. Just being aware of the gap is a good start to changing behaviors.
Forgive yourself of past mistakes. If you've spent a lifetime lying, it's never too late to come clean and make a fresh start.
The next time you find yourself in a situation where you're not sure if you should be honest or not -- keep this in mind:
“For every good reason there is to lie, there is a better reason to tell the truth.” -- Bo Bennett
Putting aside your patterns of lying, deceiving and hiding, and stepping into the brave new world of integrity will open up the doors of opportunity for stronger, healthier relationships. Yes, it's going to take some work and effort. It may feel uncomfortable to begin to let others truly know you. You may face rejection and at times, disappoint people. But though it's can be a difficult process to shift behaviors, it's worth it. Becoming someone others can trust will help you develop the connection, both at work and in your personal life, that you need and desire.
This article was written by Amy Sargent.
Click HERE to Learn more about her work.
After the Kinkul has lived in its Kinkul Motel (Remember, Mommies and Daddies don’t know Kinkul Motel is the name for baby), for about two years, baby starts to act differently than before. It happens when Mommy or Daddy, or someone standing near, shouts “No” to baby and sometimes slaps baby’s hands or bottom, when the Kinkul is driving baby to something Kinkul wants and which is something Mommy and Daddy don’t want baby to have. The Kinkul doesn’t feel anything, but baby feels a lot of pain and baby doesn’t like pain one bit. When baby feels pain it lets out a caterwauling cry all by itself. You don’t like pain either do you?
Remember; Kinkul does not have a memory but now baby starts to develop one, Baby remembers when it gets smacked for reaching for one thing and not another. When Kinkul wants baby to reach for something, baby remembers getting smacked for, baby starts to act independently from the Kinkuls desire. In a way, the baby is telling the Kinkul “not now” and for some reason, Kinkul doesn’t bite baby because it didn’t get what it wanted when it wanted it.
Mommy and Daddy think they are training their baby to “behave.” Doing what your Mommy and Daddy tell you to do when they tell you to do it is behaving. What baby really learns is if you are bigger and stronger than the other person and can use force against that person, you can get what you want when you want it.
Something else start to happen to baby and proves the last point is true. Baby starts saying words and seem to understand the words Mommy and Daddy are saying. Of course, the Kinkul doesn’t understand words. Understanding words requires memory and a Kinkul doesn’t have a memory. But words are a powerful force that baby quickly learns to use to get what it and the Kinkul wants when they want it.
We notice the baby begins to want things the Kinkul never thinks about. When baby plays with other babies and it wants something the other baby has, baby uses force to take it away from the playmate. Mommy or Daddy blames baby for being selfish and shame baby for being selfish. But baby doesn’t understand selfish. Baby is just getting what it wants when it wants it. Who cares if the other kid is crying because it doesn’t get what it wants when it wants it. Besides, baby is bigger and stronger that the other kid so baby is supposed to get what baby wants.
By the time baby gets to be five or six years old, baby can’t tell the difference between what the Kinkul wants and what baby wants. Its O.K. to talk at home but not O.K. to talk in a place Mommy and Daddy call church. Or it’s O.K. to spill your drink on the grass but not on the carpet. Baby has learned it is good if baby does what Mommy and Daddy tell baby to do and bad when baby doesn’t. Baby doesn’t know what is good or what is bad, except baby gets spanked for one and praised for the other. Are you confused about what is good and what is bad?
It is hard to learn how to control the Kinkul. It is especially hard when Mommy and Daddy are not there to tell you. But I believe the Kinkul lives with you all of your life. It seems to me, the secret to a happy life is to learn when the Kinkul is controlling your acts to get what it wants when it wants it or whether you are acting in control of yourself. Now that you know about your Kinkul, it is easy to see the Kinkul acting in other kids and people of all ages. When I learned to tell the difference between my wants and the Kinkul’s wants, it became easier and easier to keep Kinkul from biting me by telling it “Not now!”
When I could tell my acts were to get something I wanted, I was able to think about it and make sure that what I wanted was good for me, helpful to others, considerate of others, and that this was the right time for me to have it. I’ve never been able to make friends with my Kinkul, but now, maybe it will be easier for you and me to be friends.
I do not present the Kinkul as a fact. Kinkul is just an allegory for the human condition that I have never heard described in any other term than Original Sin. All of the grandchildren I’ve told these stories to identified completely with IWWIWWIWI. Now when they are acting selfishly I tell them, “Looks like your Kinkul is biting you.” They stop their behavior, they look at me and smile, and then we laugh with each other and they do not return to the selfish behavior-and I like that.
My Kinkul stories are presented here because I submit for your consideration that it is not the concept of Original Sin and the concomitant sin nature of humanity that causes people to have problems with social interaction; rather it is the unchallenged, initially rewarded, and culturally reinforced approval of IWWIWWIWI and the presumption that is appropriate to use force to get it.
By eliminating the presumption that a child is evil because of the myth of Original Sin a child may be able to be raised without the parent’s righteously playing the blame and shame game.
We know the blame and shame game produces guilt and low self-esteem in a child. Maybe society could begin to help children transition from the selfish prompting force of wanting what they want when they want it which is as natural as its skin, to the controlling its compulsive body instincts in a mature manner without blame and shame.
This article was written by Lawrence McGrath.
Lawrence wrote the book: A Cry From The Heart: A Personal Essay
Click here to purchase his book on Amazon.
Mr. McGrath is an author, father and grandfather. A retired marine pilot, lawyer, college professor, college president, bank president, and consultant.
This topic is so very important for your overall health and longevity. Diet, exercise, hydration, even sunshine and sleep—it’s all connected. And one of the great results of living a healthy way of life. Taken care of properly, your body is less likely to experience illness. By maximizing those things that strengthen the body and minimizing the things that weaken the body, naturally you’ll be able to enjoy life at your greatest potential.
I’m not claiming that you’ll never feel under the weather, but I can state with confidence that your odds will be lower as your body’s immune system becomes stronger. The body is commonly underestimated when it comes to both prevention of illness and healing. We live in a society where often the first recourse is to turn to modern science, to depend on pharmaceuticals to fix what’s ailing us. But a body well taken care of has an extraordinary ability to take care of itself. Life-force created via lifestyle heals and is the body’s preferred remedy.
It’s important make a note here about cancer. Cancer prevention (and healing) is primarily about strengthening the immune system. Vitamin C (one of the essential antioxidants), as we know, is an amazing immune-system booster, reputed to be the most effective anti-cancer agent there is. Naturally this is what Infinity-C, a blend of superior high-vitamin C superfoods, is all about. Vitamin D is also a huge part of your immune system. It’s quite ironic that the correct amount of sunshine for vitamin D has proven to help with cancer recovery. (Of course too much sun should be avoided to prevent the opposite effect. This topic I cover extensively in Infinity Health Manual.) Note: part of why there is often compromise of the immune system during the winter is because we get less sunshine. This is why having additional vitamin C, beginning this time of year, is important.
Another important topic to address here is that the most common disease (I don’t like to word ‘disease’. Anything is curable; even broken genes.) of our modern world, is autoimmune disease. (I talk about this topic quite a bit in Infinity Health Manual. Autoimmune disease affects at least twenty-five million people in the United States. That’s eight percent of our population. And it’s rapidly increasing. As you may know autoimmune disease is when the immune system turns on and attacks the body itself. Besides allergies (the most common case), some of the more well-known strains include type-1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease, asthma, eczema, psoriasis, and celiac. The common denominator is attack on the body by the immune system. The most common effect on the attacked area of the body is inflammation, the swelling of tissues, making it unreachable for nutrient rich blood that is trying to come to the rescue.
Just forty years ago, autoimmune disease was virtually non-existent. Interestingly, in third-world countries, it’s still virtually non-existent. It exists almost exclusively in developed countries. So what’s going on? The simple fact is, it’s greatly correlated with diet and lifestyle. Yes, in some cases it’s genetic, but still, various things can be implemented to fix even genes. That, we will talk about soon.
Mostly it’s about adding vital nutrients that recover the intelligence of the immune system (the immune system works hand-in-hand with the neurological system) while cutting the toxic junk out. Believe it or not, adding a few things to your diet and removing a few others is what most often saves the day. Remember there are two powerhouse nutrients that are the most vital to the immune system: vitamin C and vitamin D. Some might think boosting the immune system would be the exact wrong thing to do in the case of autoimmune disease, given the fact that the immune system is already attacking itself. But what you’re really doing is restoring your body’s instinctive healing wisdom. The intelligence of the immune system is truly awesome, and it does a lot more than just fighting colds.
Naturally, to boost the body’s immune powers, it’s vital to cut out the junk, and to let the body heal itself. By now, you can guess what the food culprits are: processed sugar, low-grade animal protein, cheap oils, flour, and similar heavily processed food. Another huge “junk” factor is toxic chemicals. Toxic household items like cleaners and air-fresheners are proven to weaken the immune system significantly. Unquestionably, these can be causatives, at least to some degree, and over time the wear and tear of these pollutants weakens the immune system.
Another culprit: antibacterial soap and hand sanitizers were originally intended to take on the role of your immune system. In December of 2013, the FDA questioned soap companies to address the potential risks of using such products daily. The active antibacterial ingredient has been proven to be toxic, and ironically weakens the immune system. On top of this, there’s no evidence that antibacterial soap products are any more effective at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water. Finally, as of this writing, the FDA is working to ban these terrible soaps. Let’s allow the superior immune system to do its job!
And another: antibiotics and some vaccines are now linked to reduced immunity! What an irony! The data are real. These culprits kill the bad bacteria while also killing the good bacteria we need in order to maintain a healthy immune system. Antibiotics may play a role when the situation is desperate and life threatening. Even still, after utilized, there needs to be some follow-up damage control with a healing diet and lifestyle. Most important is replacing the intestinal flora that gets killed with the use of antibiotics. This is the role of a probiotic supplement (which is why it’s an important part of the Infinity Greens formula).
There’s another very important topic we need to address when it comes to maintaining a healthy immune system: stress. Stress is essentially anything that puts strain on the mind or body. This includes many things such as lack of sleep, anxiety, poor diet, anger, sadness, and guilt—essentially anything that makes us feel less at ease. The reality is that this is all naturally part of life to a degree.
Stress releases hormones like cortisol that, short term, aren’t such a big deal, as the body knows how to remedy this. But on a regular basis they create as much wear and tear as junk food. And ultimately stress makes the mind and body weaker. Believe it or not, stress is actually proven to be the primary source of all illness. The first thing stress weakens is the immune system, the body’s capability of protecting and restoring itself.
The idea here is how we handle stress, like taking action to remove the common stressful circumstances that come up in daily life. Another vitally important part of reducing the effects of stress is exercise, and more than most people realize. Here’s why: stress produces adrenaline. Adrenaline unused leaves the body weaker and the mind irritable and more vulnerable to low moods. So the idea is to “exorcise” the adrenaline, booting it out of the body to leave everything stronger at the end, including your natural ability to cope with stress in the future. The big picture here is to live a life that reduces the stressors and incorporates restorative anti-stress elements such as a healthy diet, time in the outdoors, exercise, esteem-building activities, and spending time with joyous companions.
With regard to any malady, a truly healthy lifestyle cannot be emphasized enough. The potential healing powers of the body are awesome. Truly. All we need to do is nurture it with diet, exercise, pure water, fresh air, and sunshine. And positive thinking, too! (Shoot, what does that one have to be so hard sometimes! Remember you’re not alone. And it’s part of what friends are for.) The magnificent life-force this can yield is the body’s preferred preventative of illness and remedy too.
This article was written by Billy Merritt.
Click HERE to Learn more about his work.
It is natural and fundamental for living beings to want to be happy, healthy, and free from suffering. Life would not have persisted for nearly four billion years were living things not motivated to, and reasonably good at, seeking favorable circumstances and avoiding unfavorable ones.
When you consider much of what people do in our day-to-day lives, it is mostly in service of meeting our needs for food, clothing, shelter, and a sense of safety, satisfaction, and happiness. We don’t necessarily awaken each morning and say to ourselves how much we hope it’s swamped at the office, or that traffic will be absolutely gridlocked, or maybe we’ll get into a car accident so we can practice with being grateful for the time we have.
Yet we know, despite our deepest desires for how our life will be, that all sorts of things can happen, and many of them range from a little annoying to utterly devastating. Our children can become addicted to the painkillers in our cabinet the dentist prescribed us last year. We can get laid off from our jobs. We can be raped or mugged or murdered or diagnosed with untreatable cancer. We can be vegetarian, alcohol, tobacco and drug-free, run marathons, and still, have a heart attack at age 60. As the old saying goes, people make plans, and God laughs.
When trouble comes, we all get through it one way or another, sometimes more gracefully than others, always hoping to get back and remain in calm seas for smooth sailing. Then something else comes along: the flu, a torn meniscus, a child who develops asthma or depression. It will never remain smooth sailing for long; that’s just not how life works. And yet, somehow, we keep hoping that life will be something other than what it is.
It sounds crazy. Maybe it is. It seems human aspirations are doomed to be awkwardly incompatible with the vicissitudes of life. Indeed, in most if not all of us, there is an undercurrent of dis-ease, a fear about what is to come, that the moment of something terrible happening might be in our future, and not just someone else's whom we read about in the news. So, what to do?
About twenty-five centuries ago, a man named Siddhartha Gautama, better known as the Buddha, left home in search of a resolution to human suffering. After many years of searching, of trying many different things, and close to death and despair from neglecting his physical health and making little progress towards his goal, he had a breakthrough when he simply let go and let the storms in his mind be as they were. He settled more and more deeply into his pure, conscious awareness of all of his sensations, thoughts, and feelings. What he discovered was that human beings suffer when we want life to be different from how it is.
But it's not the desire per se: it's our attachment to it, our belief that our beliefs about how life should be or could be, are more important than how life actually is. This, of course, is foolish. It's not that we have no control over our lives and circumstances, it's that that control is forever limited, and many things will happen that we do not expect, and perhaps do not want.
Yet what he also discovered is that if we can detach from that belief that our wishes are more important than reality, we can begin to find real peace.
The key lies in our conscious awareness. The more we identify with and rest in our awareness, the more we can just be with the truth of how things are in this moment, the more a kind of magic starts to work on us.
We naturally let go of a struggle with life that is deeper and subtler than we ever imagined. We may never want to be sick or hurt or die but are no longer ill-at-ease with the difficult truths of life. It is analogous to someone who is so unfit that they cannot climb a flight of stairs without getting seriously out of breath, who then slowly begins to exercise, a little more with every passing week, until perhaps a year later, they are able to run a marathon. Their body naturally transforms by being more and more active.
So it is with a meditation practice where we simply rest ever more deeply in our awareness of what is. In doing so, we find well-being that is beyond sickness and health, beyond happiness and sorrow, beyond birth and death.
In some sense, finding this power within us changes nothing: we can still dream and plan, take care of our bodies and minds with healthy food, exercise, and rest and relaxation. We still take care of others. In another sense, it changes everything, because it transforms our relationship with every aspect of our lives, and frees us to do all of these things with greater presence, love, and patience.
This article was written by Joshua Sandeman
Click HERE to Learn more about his work.
Getting it just right with the protein in your everyday diet will be reflected by many aspects of your health including your energy, longevity, and even your attractiveness (I’ll explain why below). Unfortunately, in this modern day and age, for the most part, protein consumption is ranking at ‘disaster-status’. The simple fact is the toll it’s currently taking on the majority of our population’s health is huge. This is why the info I have to offer you is critical. (I’ve trimmed this down from my book, Infinity Health Manual, to the most important factors for you, to make your next five minutes very well spent.)
Question – why exactly is protein worth our special attention in the first place? Because protein is the primary building block of muscle, ligaments, vital organs, skin, and essentially every cell in the body. You really are what you eat! That’s why. So I say let’s use the finest building blocks that we have available.
Unfortunately, as a species, we’ve made things complicated for ourselves, and our intake of protein is now a matter that desperately needs a shift. First, consider that for thousands of years, since our days as hunter-gatherers, our major source of protein has been animals. Before the advent of today’s food distribution, people could only eat what they could find in their immediate surroundings. Especially in the winter months, that could mean just meat and potatoes. But from our ancestors’ simpler days of hunting wild animals for food, we’ve gone down a different path. Today, our Western diet is plagued by poor quality meat—and lots of it!
Moreover, very definite data now exist that show a connection between the consumption of today’s animal protein and cancer and heart disease. Processed beef and pork have been newly classified by the World Health Organization as Level One carcinogens. That’s the same as cigarettes! Eek! Isn’t that nuts? And few people even know about this. Let’s consider this a red flag.
The Flaws of Modern Day Protein
The days of low-grade beef, pork, and chicken have caught up with us. This meat is definitely protein, but it’s the wear and tear on our overall health that comes with it that needs our attention.
Part of the problem is the type of saturated fats that come with animal protein. These are the fats that very definitely can raise unhealthy cholesterol—a separate book entirely. Even with the low-fat meat products, a little lard can go a long way, and not in our favor! I feel that the fats in meat are actually a big part of why we crave them. Ah, the smell of bacon many of us mysteriously appreciate. Because cutting back on all fat in our overall diet is a dominant theme, we eventually cave in and get our fat fix from animal products. But satisfying our need for fats with animal lard is akin to satisfying the sweet tooth with processed sugar instead of fruit.
Another consideration: meats are acid-forming. Quick lesson: our bodies seek to strike a healthy acid-alkaline chemistry that’s affected mostly by the foods we eat. All animal protein makes the body acidic (as does processed sugar, interestingly enough). An “acidic” internal environment ultimately translates into a decrease of calcium in bones and an increase of inflammation in tissues causing reduced blood-flow, which ultimately translates to a weaker body that simply ages faster than it regenerates. And in case you’re wondering, chicken is just as acid-forming as red meat, so you’re not really doing your body any favors by sticking with just “white” low-fat meat.
Additionally, metabolic waste from regular animal protein can accumulate over time in the gastrointestinal system. An eight-ounce steak isn’t eight ounces of protein, after all. A lot of it is indigestible animal matter which can build up in your large intestine and colon, slowly but surely weakening your digestive system, a vital pillar of your health.
Also, ever notice you’re tired after eating meat? Even just a chicken salad? This is because it actually takes a lot of work for your body to break it down to extract the protein. So if you do have any animal protein in your diet, you might want to consider limiting it as a dinner food.
But what about Fish?
I believe having a little fish in your diet can offer some overall benefits. Certain fish can be excellent food nutritionally and a far superior option to other meat products. One of the reasons is ease of digestibility. Another advantage of fish is the quality of fat. Remember fish oils contain omega-3 fatty acids which have the exact opposite effect of the fats in other meat products. These fats actually reduce unhealthy cholesterol.
With all fish, be sure to go with wild-caught and avoid farm-raised fish. A lot of the fish today are farm-raised where the fish are crowded together, producing unclean conditions that require major amounts of antibiotics and pesticides. Even salmon labeled as “Atlantic salmon” is, more likely than not, farm-raised. If salmon or any fish are wild-caught it will clearly say “wild-caught” on the label.
If fish is a regular part of your diet, it’s also important to be aware of fish that are known to be high in mercury as well as other harmful contaminants. Fish repeatedly testing high in mercury include tuna (especially albacore, ahi, and yellowfin tuna; skipjack tuna is okay), swordfish, shark, grouper, marlin, and mackerel. I suggest avoiding these entirely. Stick with the options tested to be low-mercury. These include salmon, trout, tilapia, sole, and most smaller fish. Other seafood like shrimp, oysters, and scallops tend to be okay too. In general, it’s the large predatory fish that have toxic levels of mercury, even with freshwater fish.
As for the Vegetarian Lifestyle
If you’ve been thinking of trying a vegetarian diet, I say why not? Today, with the large variety of foods we have available year round, we can in most cases get all the protein and nutrients the body needs without animal protein. Or getting your animal protein exclusively from fish can be an excellent option too.
I feel it’s worth sharing that for two years I was on the “Paleo” diet, a popular diet that is quite high in animal protein. I kept to the better quality options like bison, elk, venison, and meats of similar nature. These meats are definitely better alternatives to the more common meats like beef and pork. Even still, at the end of the day, I found that the Paleo diet yielded much less energy and sense of life-force than a diet without these animal products.
If you continue to have meat as a regular part of your diet, it’s still good to take breaks! Going a couple weeks without meat, adding more plant foods in place of it, allows your body to go through its important cleansing cycles.
While we’re on the subject, I should say this. Many people take an ethical position on the eating of meat. In case you’re wondering, my role here is nutrition and so I’m going to keep within those bounds. I’ll leave the ethical question to each individual reader. Nevertheless, I do feel that a primarily plant-based diet with the right foods is the superior option for overall health.
Where to Find the Right Plant Protein
Okay, so where can you find the plant foods high in protein, the plant foods you’ll need in order to compensate for cutting back (or maybe even eliminating) meat? Easy. Vegetarian foods with a reasonable amount of protein include raw nuts and seeds, avocados, beans, edamame, eggs, and dairy. Protein supplements can also play an excellent role here. But beware of whey or soy based protein. They’re culprits of constipation, like eating glue. Hemp and rice protein have the potential to be awesome, depending on the quality of ingredients. And you may have guessed it; Infinity Protein is the elite and at the very top of the totem pole! Click here so I can explain why.
Note: don’t make this mistake frequently made by people cutting back on meat: replacing meat with pasta, bread, processed grains, and other starchy foods. You’re looking for protein, not tons of starch! As for my recommendation of how many grams of protein to have per day, I’d put this in the same category as counting calories. Unnecessary. Follow the suggestions above and there’s really not a margin of error you need to be given since your body’s tastes and instincts will be allowed to do the job they were born to do.
Okay, so here’s the big picture.
The Western world eats way too much animal protein (especially the worst kind!). Kind of like unhealthy sugar. But in the end, it comes down to a lifestyle choice. And who wants a lifestyle that includes foods that slowly make you weaker, little by little chipping away at your body’s overall health and life force? Not you or I!
It doesn’t help, of course, that beef, pork, and chicken are so prevalent. And few people know how high-impact this part of their diet can be. But now you do. If you’re starting to become more and more sold on the healthier proteins, then fantastic. If we’d collectively cut back on the common low-quality meats, we’d be doing something extraordinary for ourselves (not to mention the planet would have a sigh of relief too!). Yes, we have the hunter-gatherer in our genes, but we also have the option to live a lot healthier than our ancestors did— and longer too. And as we’ve seen, because of today’s availability of healthier plant protein, this can be easy to do.
Over the last 17 years, the Infinity superfoods and health protocols have become a powerful force, enhancing the lives of many thousands of people, and my wish is for you to be part of it. Lastly, if you’ve experienced the benefits of what I have to share, then please forward this to your friends and family since naturally they will experience the benefits, too.
This article was written by Billy Merritt.
Click HERE to Learn more about his work.
Exercise and fitness are such a ubiquitous part of our culture today that it is hard to imagine a time when going to the gym after work was not seen as a normal habit. But, just a few decades ago, Americans were much less likely to exercise on their own. People may have been involved in sports, but seldom went to a gym just to work out or went for a run if it were not with a sports team or part of a training program. In 1960, President Kennedy went so far as to call America a "soft" and "under-exercised" nation.
Things began to change in 1968, when Dr. Kenneth Cooper published his then-groundbreaking book Aerobics, outlining the health benefits of exercise. Since then, exercise has become part of daily life for millions of people. Working out is now seen as essential for overall health and a healthy lifestyle.
While the physical benefits of exercise are certainly important, many people also choose exercise for the impact that it has on their mental health. Anxiety is on the rise, and the millions of people who live with anxiety are looking for ways to manage their condition. In addition to therapy and medication, exercise is one of the main ways that people choose to cope with anxiety. Many people find that exercising makes them feel calmer and blow off steam when they feel stressed. But does exercise really help anxiety?
Anxiety: A Growing Problem
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. It is estimated that over 18%, or 40 million, American adults live with anxiety. And, that number is increasing. A 2018 survey reported that 39% of respondents said they feel more anxious than they did at the same time last year.
People who struggle with anxiety experience some similar symptoms, including feelings of panic and worry.
Can Exercise Help Anxiety?
Yes, exercise can help anxiety. But, it also depends on the type of anxiety and the person. As with all treatments for anxiety, different things work for different people. Many people with anxiety have reported that exercise helps them better manage their symptoms of the condition and feel less anxious overall. But, it is important to try exercise for anxiety for yourself to see what works for you.
How Does Exercise Help Anxiety?
There are numerous ways in which exercise helps anxiety:
Exercise can be a release for people when they are feeling stressed or tense. If you have ever punched a punching bag during a boxing class, you understand how exercise and movement can help you unload your stresses. After a long day of work, or a fight with a friend, or when you are feeling anxious for seemingly no reason, moving your body and clearing your mind can help you let go of those feelings and prevent them from developing into deeper feelings of anxiety.
When living with anxiety, it is all too easy to get caught up in your thoughts. One triggering thought can spiral into many more and lead you to feel extremely anxious and unable to calm yourself down. Working out, whether you go to the gym on your own, attend an exercise class, go for a jog outside, or engage in any form of exercise, is a great way to distract your mind and stop yourself from getting caught up in anxiety-inducing thoughts. While exercising, your mind will be focusing on your body's movements, giving you a much-needed break from the thoughts that make you feel anxious. Sometimes, distracting yourself and having a good workout is enough to stop anxious thoughts in their tracks.
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, a feel-good hormone that naturally boosts your mood. In addition to making you feel happier, endorphins also reduce stress, which in turn can make you feel less tense and anxious. When you feel anxious, try taking a 10-minute break to move your body and stimulate the release of endorphins to see if their stress-fighting abilities help calm you down.
Lack of sleep or poor quality of sleep has been shown to increase rates of anxiety, especially among women. Anxiety can also make it harder to sleep, especially if you feel stressed and anxious at night.Exercise can help with both of these situations, as working your muscles hard naturally makes you more tired. Working out requires an immense amount of energy, so your body will be more prepared to fall asleep at night. Plus, exercise may make you feel less anxious overall, making you less likely to start feeling symptoms of your anxiety as your head hits the pillow.
the best exercise for depression and anxiety (and the best exercise in general) is one that you enjoy. If you try to force yourself into a workout routine that you hate, you will not be able to stick with it. You will always get the most benefit, both mental and physical, out of the type of exercise that you can do consistently. If your favorite workout is not on the above list, don't worry. If you already have a type of exercise that you enjoy and feel that it helps you manage your anxiety, certainly continue to do it. But, if you feel that your current workout routine does not help with your anxiety, try adding one of the above exercises into your routine and see if it makes a difference.
Other Ways to Manage Anxiety
While exercise helps many people cope with their anxiety, it is not the only effective way to manage anxiety. More traditional methods, like medication and therapy, should not be overlooked. Millions of people manage their anxiety with the help of a therapist or counselor, who can serve as a trusted confidant and offer valuable, individualized advice for coping with anxiety.
For many people, a combination of anxiety management techniques works best. If you are struggling with anxiety, remember that treatment is not "one size fits all," and it could take time to find the anxiety treatments that work for you. Get in touch with a therapist or counselor if you want to take the first step towards finding the best way for you to cope with your anxiety.
Reviewer Rashonda Douthit , LCSW
To read more articles like this, please visit: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice
Susan had a session with me at two in the afternoon. I was not feeling well after Destiny’s encounter. During lunch, my thoughts had been much more centered on love and kindness, and this reflection was hovering over me when Susan arrived. She’d been training with me for a couple of months.
I began chatting with her about these tender reflections. In the middle of our session, I said, “Susan, you know what I’ve begun to realize?”
“What?” she asked.
“That the foundation of health is love; how can we feel comfortable in our bodies if we are not in love with life? Does that make sense to you?”
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She looked at me as if she was thinking about it. Then she said, “Valeria, can you please get the mat for my next buttocks workout?”
We continued with the session as if I’d never brought up the insignificance of a fit body without a loving heart and a happy mind.
Karen was my last client for the day. We met at seven sharp, right after Steve.
Karen was an obese woman I trained twice a week. She was thirty years old, weighed 250 pounds, and was 5’ 2”. However, these numbers don’t say anything about her as a person. She was a painter who owned her own gallery in Manhattan. The serenity in her eyes and the way she smiled for no reason introduced her to me before she even told me her name.
She had been married for more than five years to someone who was in good shape. I knew this because her husband came to pick her up after our sessions. The conversation we had the first day we met left me pondering about life for days.
I asked the same question I asked every client before we began the program: What are your three main fitness goals?
Karen said she only had one goal: to enjoy the workouts.
I recall looking into her eyes as if she had not understood my question. I rephrased it, and this time I was more specific.
“I understand, Karen, and I will ensure that the exercises will be fun, but what I meant was, how many pounds do you want to lose?”
Again, she answered with a smile and said she didn’t care about the weight; she just wanted to feel good during and after the workouts. Furthermore, she said it didn’t matter if she didn’t lose any weight at all. Her peaceful eyes and joyful smile reinforced the truth of her words.
I could not believe this woman and how out of touch with reality she was. She was obese, for God’s sake! She could actually die of a heart attack at any moment, and my mind refused to believe that anyone could be at peace with a body like hers. It couldn’t be possible.
I insisted. I tried to force her to make a deal with me, and asked her to agree on losing one to two pounds per week.
Once more with the same serene, happy look on her face, she replied that I didn’t understand her. Patiently, she repeated that she was fine with her weight and that she enjoyed her work. She was a person who loved and was loved by her family and friends. Her life was a blessing, and she was grateful for what she had. There was nothing else to be added or removed to make her happier. The workouts with me were just to get her body moving while she had some fun.
I wasn’t amazed by her attitude, because I neither understood nor believed in what she was saying at the time. Nevertheless, after our encounter that day, I went home thinking about her, and I remembered a thought I’d had when I was a teenager, one that had returned many times throughout my life.
I would die young.
I believed I would not reach the age of thirty, despite being physically healthy.
Perhaps intuitively, I knew that my heart could fail at any time because of my lack of understanding of what life was really about: love and kindness.
I am convinced that Karen became my client for a reason—to teach me that to be healthy is to be loving. She trained with me for almost a year, and never lost any weight.
Karen was the healthiest client I ever had.
A simple practice we can engage in to cultivate peace and harmony is to give up hope and replace it with aspiration or motivation from the heart—that is, to stop waiting to be happy when something happens. Instead, rejoice in this very moment because what you are doing now should already be the realization of what you want to happen in the future.
Nothing in the past can hurt us when we have learned a lesson from it. Nothing can happen in the future that is not happening now. Our job is to recognize in the present moment the peace and joy in our hearts.
We have the choice to change our minds when we can't change the situation we find ourselves in. Instead of perceiving a commitment to finish our work with dreadful anxiety, we can live in these moments with a sense of excitement.
Embrace the challenge of being creative, thus tapping into the unborn parts of the mind that are not habitually conditioned to perceiving external events.
The main difference between anxiety and excitement is the energy behind these feelings: one is driven by negative thoughts (anxiety), and the other by positive ones. All of the unnecessary suffering in our lives is self-created, and so is our happiness.
When we are able to perceive reality with an inner “eye” that can’t see itself, our hearts will have become the source of unconditioned joy.
I now see that my "fit and healthy" lifestyle was made up of a series of these kinds of experiences. I was very disciplined, but this discipline was turning me into the opposite of a loving and happy person. I came to realize that the pursuit of a fit and healthy body could only be a positive thing if we’ve already recognized our spiritual hearts as perfectly fit to provide us with a life of happiness and peace. In other words, although a fit body can improve our health, earn compliments that boost our self-esteem, and give us a temporary “high” of accomplishment, without a content mind and joyful heart, our happiness won’t last long. When our health and feel-good states depend on external conditions and constant hard work, this can propel us into an endless, destructive cycle.
After many insights and lessons, I’ve learned to have self-love without selfishness; to recognize which behaviors are motivated by love rather than fear; to see how closely connected my past is to my present; and that love, joy, and peace are at the core of our true nature with regard to how we relate to others and the world. My new spiritual understanding not only gave deeper meaning to my life, but it has also caused external changes I could never have imagined.
Below you will find a sample of the diet that I was on for about two years before I competed with WBFF – World Beauty Fitness and Fashion. This dietary system, combined with weight lifting, can be of great help for losing weight, staying in shape, and building muscle and strength. But as I have mentioned throughout my book, Fit for Joy, this type of regiment mainly focuses on the physical body, which is only one aspect of our being. We are so much more than just our bodies! The approach to fitness that works the body in isolation from our mind and our spiritual heart is not what I do today, professionally or personally. My work at the moment is about integrating conventional physical fitness with spirituality.
These meal suggestions are only to illustrate what my personal journey was like. They are not approved meal-plan recommendations.
BREAKFAST Option One
8 oz cold water with a probiotic supplement
1 tablespoon matcha green tea + ½ lemon
1-2 whole eggs
BREAKFAST Option Two
1 salmon filet oven-roasted with coconut oil
BREAKFAST Option Three
Steel-cut oats, almond milk, berries
Any lean meat of your choice: white fish (sole, cod, flounder, or halibut), grass-fed red meat, tuna fish, wild salmon, chicken breast, turkey breast, sardines in water.
Eat with steamed veggies or a green salad.
Avoid sauces; instead use olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and avocado oil for salad dressing.
Snack - Best Options:
1 tablespoon spirulina shake with ½ oz. frozen organic berries and a teaspoon of coconut oil
Green juice (no fruit added)
Protein shake (whey protein)
Nuts (walnuts, macadamias, pecans, Brazil nuts)
Raw coconut flakes
Celery, cucumber, or carrots with almond butter
Kale chips or dried seaweed
Raw cheese (unpasteurized)
Sweet potato chips (homemade)
The same options as lunch
*Important – Avoid:
All sugar and sweets
Regular fruit, except for berries and green apples
Starchy carbs such as pasta, bread, rice, wheat wraps, white potatoes, etc.
Kombucha drinks or tea
All kinds of tea, but especially green tea (no sugar added)
Coffee (no sugar added)
Sleep 8 hours or more per night
Drink a gallon of water every day, as well as green tea
All vegetables and fruit should be organic
Adding lemon to your meals is great – it alkalizes the body
You can have a small piece of dark chocolate 85% cacao or higher, but not every day
Use stevia powder as the only sweetener
Diana was next. We met at five in the evening.
She came in ten minutes early and hustled past me on her way to the locker room, saying, “It’s been another busy day. Give me the hardest, most beast-mode circuit you’ve got, Valeria.”
My energy was very low at this point. I really didn’t want to train another client, especially a high-energy person like Diana. She was thirty-four years old and exercised every day in the morning before she went to work. Her jogging sessions lasted an hour. She usually met me in the late afternoons for her weight training.
Today was an upper-body session. While she lay under a sixty-five-pound loaded barbell, doing twelve reps of military presses, I asked her, “What is the most important thing in life to you, Diana?”
She was so focused on her reps that I wasn’t sure she’d heard me. As usual, she was having a serious conversation with the barbell. We didn’t tend to talk much. Her workout mood had always been to get the job done as well as possible and then leave the studio.
A few seconds later, she put the bar back on the rack. The next exercise was ab work, and she knew it. We had the circuits programmed in advance. She moved briskly to the yoga mat on the floor to do a set of twenty reverse crunches.
Her breathing was heavy. The circuit was intense. She was never happy with anything light or easy. I was still waiting for an answer to my question as I kept track of the number of reps, but I didn’t ask it again.
On the floor, while doing a quick stretch—bending her knees close to her chest while keeping her legs together—she said, “The most important thing to me is to keep moving forward through the days. When I wake up in the morning, I have a to-do list in my mind. I just go through it naturally. It’s a clear, focused, and precise daily plan I accomplish by the end of the day.” She finished her answer by the assisted pull-up bar, after fifteen reps.
Diana had been moving fast for the last thirty minutes. She performed all her exercises with the same focus and precision as she checked off her to-do list.
“Do you like your job?” I asked.
She was so focused on her spider plank ab work that her favorite movie star would have gone unnoticed had they walked by us. Sitting on the mat, wiping her face, she said that she got her job done, made great money, and was proud of herself. She worked out hard in one of the best fitness clubs in New York, and could afford my high personal training fees. She laughed and added that she ate out all the time, traveled, went out with friends for drinks; serious relationships and love were too complicated to give attention to.
You know that feeling when there’s nothing you can say to someone because they’re too busy listening to their own thoughts? That’s how I felt.
After we finished the workout, I reflected on how Diana’s life was not that different from her to-do list. It was programmed. She’d been in a cycle of living according to rehearsed habits, and her life had turned into a running race with no finish line or winners, an existence driven by nonstop actions. There was no space left to even think about love.
Diana followed the exercise program and ate clean while training with me. She achieved the fit and athletic look she wanted in three months. Her body composition transformed, but I wish her life had, too.
My next appointment was with Destiny at noon.
She called to say she would be almost twenty minutes late. I stared out at the street from the studio. There were many things going through my mind that day, even though my feeling of unhappiness was not connected to any of them. It was cold and windy outside, and I expected Destiny to come rushing in any minute.
Destiny was one of the most cheerful clients I had. She always went straight to me with a big smile, and gave me a tight hug and a kiss before we started training. She was a mother of two kids, taught school, and was overweight. Destiny was a high-energy woman with a very unusual fitness goal: to lose belly fat only. She trained with me three times a week.
When we met two months ago and I asked her about her fitness goals, she told me her husband would love to see her with a smaller belly, wearing the new pink swimsuit he’d bought for her that summer. She shook a colorful water bottle and took a sip, adding that she knew she was a bit overweight, but she liked her voluptuous body—except for her belly fat. Her husband had said all she needed to do to look great was lose belly fat.
It was not the first time I’d heard this kind of fitness request from a client, and I was used to it. I proceeded to explain to her that spot reduction was not possible with exercise and diet, and that while working out with me, she’d lose fat in her body overall, not only around her belly. Despite this, she was excited to get started. I don’t think she understood me.
We started training from that day on. She was doing great. Destiny had lost almost twenty pounds so far.
After a long, melancholic wait by the window, she came rushing in. She looked serious and worried. It was the first time she didn’t greet me with a hug and kiss. I hoped nobody had died.
We sat down on the sofa in reception. I faced her, but she looked down. She said she’d wanted to meet me in person to say something important. She didn’t want to send an email.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
She said she couldn’t do it anymore; I had helped her reduce her belly size and feel better, but she’d noticed that her thighs and buttocks were shrinking, too. It wasn’t what she’d expected. She was looking down the whole time, about to cry.
I listened to her quietly. I didn’t have much to say.
Destiny thanked me, then stood up and walked away.