Wellness WINS- A letter to a Friend

I had a good lengthy conversation with a lifelong friend a few days ago and we started talking about health, wellness, getting older, getting achey and getting better. I’m a big believer in taking ownership of your own healing and overall wellness and I’ve always been an advocate of alternative methods. He has some current health concerns and some of that is tied to his weight and fitness level but some of his concerns are normal concerns of anyone 40 and older. I think we can all agree that getting old sucks. Some handle it better (mentally, physically and emotionally) than others but I think we can all find some common ground within the concept of aging as a total effing bummer.

So he had recently taken at crack at Keto and was pleased with the results as far as controlling his weight and even shedding pounds. Unfortunately, the Keto diet (lots of meat, cheese and eggs) wreaked havoc on his inflammation. He struggles with stiff, achey joints and deals with Gout on a pretty regular basis. Red Meat is at the top of the list of foods to AVOID if you have gout. So it doesn’t sound like a Keto diet is the best strategy for him.

I have a few of my own inflammation related ailments. For the past few years I’ve been struggling with sciatic pain in my right leg that is the apparent result of spinal stenosis. I am also starting to see (and feel) early signs of arthritis in my hands. Other than that I feel great. I’m very proactive and diligent when it comes to eating right, taking supplements and doing the right things for myself to keep my mind and body in the best shape possible. I managing everything without meds and I’m really hoping to avoid surgery. So I’m all about alternative methods of mastering your own wellness. I have a 3 year old son so I’m basically in a must-win situation. Not only do I have to keep up… but I want to stick around. I want as much time on this planet as possible and I want to stay fresh, keep a sound body and mind. It’s a daily battle to stay healthy in this day and age and I, like many other wellness warriors in the world, have my routine. My regimen is the result of years of tinkering and getting to know what works for me and what doesn’t. I told my friend I would share some of my “Best Practices.” These are tips, tricks and health hacks that I’ve researched, explored and incorporated into my daily and weekly routines. This is all subject to change since I’m constantly trying new things but right now, as far as a general wellness routine, this is what works for me….

  • DRINK WATER: Hydration is an absolute top priority. I drink 2-3 Liters of water a day. I drink almost a full liter in the morning before I have any coffee. COFFEE SHOULD NOT BE THE FIRST THING YOU PUT IN TO YOUR BODY IN THE MORNING. First move out of bed for me is to chug some water. I don’t necessarily throw back a whole liter at once but over the course of 30-45 minutes I usually have 1 liter of water (I prefer naturally alkaline spring water but ultra purified or distilled water is ok too). I’ll usually sip on another liter during the day and one during the day and knock another liter out between dinner and bedtime. Chug a bunch before bed. The downside of drinking so much water is that you’ll have to pee quite a bit throughout the day… so plan accordingly… but don’t get discouraged. Do it. Totally worth it. STAY HYDRATED.
  • COFFEE: I drink it black. No cream, no milk, no milk substitute. I DO have 2 scoops of hydrolyzed collagen and one teaspoon of coconut oil with my coffee. Sometimes I’ll add one of those collagen creamers or mushroom powders to my coffee but the coffee tends to get kind of gritty. Which kind of messes up the whole morning coffee experience.
  • WHOLE FOODS: This is hard because so much of the food and/or food products available to us are processed in some way. TRY to eat as many WHOLE and RAW foods and as little processed foods as you can. Raw fruits and vegetables will SAVE YOUR LIFE. Just keep this concept in mind. The fewer the ingredients the better. This is a big rule of thumb for how we feed our son and we follow that direction ourselves, as much as we can.
  • BLUEBERRIES: Try to eat a handful of day. This is the one fruit that you MUST incorporate into your daily routine. If you can’t get fresh blueberries, try the frozen wild blueberries. “In two different models of aging, blueberries have now been shown to extend life span. Blueberries contain specific flavonoid molecules that fight DNA damage and slow age-related damage to brain cells.” https://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2012/7/blueberries-boost-longevity
  • BREAKFAST: I eat a lot of oatmeal (I make own special power mix). I eat scrambled eggs a few times a week. I also have smoothies or a simplified protein powder almond milk concoction. Every now and then I’ll throw in some avocado or almond butter toast. I modify all of these meals so enhance the nutritional benefit.
  • OATMEAL: I eat a massive bowl every couple of days. You don’t have to eat a MASSIVE bowl. I do because I love it. I heat up some steel cut oats (preferable but any kind will do), then once its cooked (or heated up) I add 2 Tb of chia seeds, 3 Tb of hemp seeds, a. half cup of frozen wild blueberries, a 1/4 to 1/3 cup of chopped walnuts, a Tb of coconut oil and 2 Tb of maple syrup.
  • YOGURT/KEFIR: Great for maintaining calcium and protein intake PLUS you get a lot of probiotics. I aim for organic but sometimes I go the cheaper route. If I like the brand and/or the company itself (good and ethical practices), I’ll buy conventional. I, personally like the whole milk Greek style. I add a few tablespoons of hemp seeds and maybe drop in some maple syrup for a little extra flavor. KEFIR is like Yogurt on steroids. Not a great analogy when talking wellness but you get my point. The amount of probiotics in Kefir is through the roof compared to your average everyday yogurt. Read the labels, you’ll see.
  • MAPLE SYRUP: YES! I sometimes add maple syrup to sweeten yogurt and oatmeal. I know we should all try and avoid sugar as much as possible but you also have to live a little and since I do a fairly good job of avoiding overly-processed foods and refined sugar, I feel like it’s ok to use Maple syrup to make plain whole mild yogurt more palatable. PLUS, Maple syrup is packed with nutrients. Pure Maple Syrup is not only high in antioxidants, but every spoonful offers nutrients like riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, calcium and potassium. Which is something you definitely don’t get from refined sugar or honey, which is mostly fructose. So there.
  • PROTEIN DRINKS: I have one of these almost every day but I have it for breakfast a few times a week. Smoothies are great but if you are short on time, a protein powder mixed with a scoop of Amazing Grass, or Maximum Vibrance superfood powder and some oat or almond milk in one of those shakers is a nice fast way to get some solid nutrition in the morning. Protein powder suggestions: Vega Sport Premium Protein, Garden of Life Sport Organic Plant Based Protein, Sun Warrior Warrior Blend, Four Sigmatic “Repair,” Plant Based Protein with 1500 mg of Mushrooms and adaptogens.
  • AVOCADO TOAST: Mash up an avocado with a teaspoon of olive oil, salt and pepper (I add cayenne pepper) and put that on some sourdough or multi grain toast (spread some coconut oil on that bread after you toast it… so good). Avocado is packed with healthy fats and also has a solid serving of ZINC, which is really good for the immune system.
  • INTERMITTENT FASTING: Now that I’m sharing all these great meal and nutrition ideas, I do an 16 hour fast 1-2 days a week, which basically means I skip breakfast and have my first meal around Noon. So after dinner, from roughly 7-7:30PM I don’t have anything else to eat or drink but water and a cup or two of unsweetened black coffee in the morning and then I have a lunch around 12PM. Do your research on fasting but I personally feel super energized after a fast. I feel like body kicks into cleansing gear and starts removing toxins from my system and I always feel really good afterwards.
  • Ok that’s all I have time for today and I know I haven’t covered lunch, dinner, supplements, stretching, workouts and all that other good stuff but I’ll get back on this for you and send a follow up letter soon. 
  • PS… SNACKS: Let me recommend some on the go snacks (protein bars, etc): These are the bars I eat on the go, all the time: Rise Bar “Sunflower Cinnamon,” RX Bar, Perfect Bar, Vega Sport Bar, “Raw Rev Glo” Vegan protein bars. I also eat raw cashews and a lot of pumpkin seeds… sometimes that’s my whole lunch>>> I will often grab a bag of “SuperSeedz” pumpkin seeds and eat the whole bag as a meal…. but you can snack on them throughout the day or even put them in a salad. Pumpkin seeds are SUPER good for you. A serving holds 8 grams of protein and each bag contains 5 servings. If you eat half a bag… do the math…. that’s 20g of protein.
  • Ok I gotta go. Let’s touch base soon…. because I have more thoughts and suggestions.

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