Sunday, November 2, 2008

7 Steps To A Much Healthier Life

So you want to get healthy, but don't know where to start. Here I break it down for you into what I think are the first and foremost steps in turning your health around. Don't overwhelm yourself and try all seven steps at once. Take it one week at a time. Become successful with step 1 for one week before implementing step 2. Here we go.

Step 1. Replace ALL soda and bottled beverages with pure water.

Most soda and bottled beverages contain high levels of refined sugar and/or toxins such as aspartame and sucralose. I strongly believe that if you are drinking one or more bottled beverages per day, cutting this habit is the number one thing you can do for your health right now. The sugar (typically high fructose corn syrup) in soda and bottled beverages is not metabolized the same way as other sugars and has been conclusively linked to obesity and diabetes. Choosing diet soda is not the answer either. Many studies have shown that people who drink diet beverages gain weight anyway. Additionally, the sugar substitutes are toxic chemicals that can cause other health problems and should not be ingested under any circumstances.

A reason to avoid soda other than the fact that it contains harmful chemicals, is that soda is an acidifying beverage. Disease thrives in an acid environment. Otto Warburg won the Nobel Prize for demonstrating that the main cause of cancer is an oxygen deficient/acid environment. Additionally, calcium loss will result as the body attempts to remedy the acid condition with alkalizing substances such as calcium. Hmmmm... it sounds like that might be coming from your bones...

One formula to address the question "how much water should I drink everyday?" is to drink half your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water. I suggest you get a large water bottle and take it with you to work and wherever you go. If you are not used to drinking this much water and find yourself going to the bathroom very frequently, just stick with it for a week, and your body will adapt.

Step 2: Eliminate fried foods.

Fried foods are detrimental for two reasons. 1. They contain trans fat and/or 2. They are usually fried in vegetable oil. So, what is so bad about these two facts?

1. Trans fat is an artery-clogging fat that is formed when vegetable oils are made to be solids at room temperature. This kind of fat is not found in nature and has been linked to cancer, neurological disorders, birth defects, nutritional deficiency, among others and should be completely avoided. Start reading the labels on any packaged food and look for "Hydrogenated", "Partially Hydrodenated", and "Shortening". Strictly avoid these foods. Also, note that fast food is loaded with this fat and should be avoided.

2. Vegetable oils such as sunflower, safflower, canola, and soybean oils are polyunsaturated fats which are highly susceptible to heat damage. Heat causes oxidative damage creating free radicals. Translation: these oils after heat exposure become cancer causing.

The bottom line is, there is absolutely no reason your body would want you to eat french fries or doughnuts.

Step 3: Eat a fresh, green salad every day.

Most of us could really benefit from a daily dose of fresh, raw vegetables. This could be a great source of natural vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Don't turn it into a bad food by adding a chemical-laden dressing bought at your local grocery store. Olive oil (extra-virgin, cold-pressed) with a dash of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice makes an easy dressing. Add minced shallot, dijon mustard, or garlic powder for more flavor. If you have any fresh herbs around, don't leave those out.

I make a wonderful, vegan, Ceasar copy-cat dressing made with an Almond base. It does take some preparation, but will make your salad taste as good as junk food. You can pile it on and not feel the least bit guilty. For a quick solution, try the Quick & Tasty Dressing For One. Find the recipes in my blog archives. There are so many online sources for quick, homemade, healthy dressings. Just do some looking around.

If you struggle to get the greens in every day, read my article on the easiest way ever to consume your salad every day!

Step 4: Avoid processed foods and fast food.

These kinds of foods are high in calories, low in nutrition, high in the wrong kinds of fats, and full of strange chemical ingredients. They will only serve to take away from your overall health. We are all looking for ways to save time, but do not sacrifice your health by going to the drive-thru or putting a packaged meal in the microwave. It is not worth it. How much is your health worth to you? My health is absolutely worth a little extra time and a little extra money. Cutting corners is not a good strategy for health. Avoid foods that are far removed from their natural states. You really are what you eat -- Remember this! What you eat literally becomes a part of you. Build with high quality, natural substances that will keep you strong and well-functioning for the entirety of your life. Here is a simple rule to follow: if it has more than 5 ingredients or ingredients that you can't pronounce, don't eat it. All fast food falls into this category.

Step 5: Eat fresh fruit for breakfast.

When you wake up in the morning, before you eat anything, grab a piece of fresh fruit. This fruit wakes up your system, requires no effort for the body to digest, promotes elimination, and is alkalizing, cleansing, and nourishing. Fruit should only be eaten on an empty stomach. Combining fruit with starches and proteins causes gas and bloating. Thus, the morning is a perfect time to get your fruit for the day. Remember: Fruit First!

Step 6: Find an enjoyable form of exercise and schedule it in to your day.

Exercise is very important to overall health. You can improve cardiovascular health, bone density, circulation, flexibility, and more with exercise. People come up with a lot of excuses for not exercising. A big key to success is to schedule it into your day; make it mandatory, not optional. Also, make it fun! If you hate running, don't run.

Believe it or not, but you can get great exercise with just 4 minutes a day! That takes away your lack of time excuse, doesn't it? All you have to do is pick four exercises and do each one as hard as you can for 20 second intervals with 10 seconds rest in between for one whole minute. After four minutes, you should feel like you got a work out. Here's an example for you to start with:

1. Full Body and Cardio: Squat Thrusts. Start standing with your feet shoulder width apart. Drop down to a crouching position and put your hands on the floor. Thrust your legs out behind you then jump back to a crouch. Stand up and repeat. Advanced variation: when you thrust your legs out behind you, do a pushup before coming back to the crouch. Also, jump up in the air when you come up to a standing position.

2. Upper Body: Pushups. If you are a beginner and struggle with pushups, start with an incline. Put your hands on a bench or wall.

3. Lower Body: Lunges. Take a big step forward with one leg and bend the knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Your knee should not extend beyond your toes. Your leg should make a right angle. To do this in one place you can push that forward leg back to meet your back leg. Or do it walking style by bringing the back leg to meet the forward leg. Then repeat the exercise with the opposite leg.

4. Abdominals: Flutter Kicks. Lay on your back with your hands under your bottom. Raise your legs to about 45 degrees off the floor. Alternate bringing one leg up and one leg down while keeping them straight. This should look like a flutter.

You can find hosts of bodyweight exercises to mix and match. I just happened upon a site today that has a whole circuit of exercises listed, described, and illustrated. That website it located here: Another good site with bodyweight exercises by category is found here. Also do a Google search for "Body Weight Exercise". You will find plenty of great exercises that don't require any equipment. Take some time and jot down a few four-exercise combinations. After you wake up in the morning and have eaten your fresh fruit, you will have a daily workout ready to go.

No more excuses!

Step 7: Begin supplementing with high quality superfoods.

It is a well known fact that most of our soil is very depleted of nutrients which in turn causes our food to be less nourishing. It can be very difficult to get all the vitamins and minerals our bodies need even when eating a wide variety of vegetables all day long. Supplementation provides a way to ensure daily that we are not becoming deficient in essential nutrients. Be aware that not just any multi-vitamin is going to provide that assurance. Most multi-vitamins sold at your favorite drug store are basically worthless. Synthetic versions of isolated vitamins are not well absorbed by the body. The solution is to find a superfood from nature as close to its natural state as possible and minimally processed. The following are my top three recommended daily supplements:

1. Spirulina
2. Chlorella
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Spirulina and Chlorella are micro-algae that grow in fresh water. These micro-algae contain an astounding array of nutritional elements including vitamins, macrominerals, trace minerals, essential fatty acids, protein, nucleic acids, chlorophyll, and phytochemicals. They are thought to contain every nutrient required by the human body. These micro-algae are not only nourishing but also cleansing and detoxifying. Spirulina and Chlorella should be taken on a daily basis as a food. You do not have to worry about overdosing.

I recommend that you purchase Nutrex Hawaiian Spirulina from This is a high quality Spirulina for only $0.09 per gram. Buy Kyoto Chlorella from This is a quality Chlorella for only $0.12 per gram. If you take 10 grams of Spirulina and 5 grams of Chlorella every day, that is an investment in your health of $1.50 per day. This is much cheaper than paying for cancer, depression, or other degenerative diseases. Make it a life-long habit.

Omega-3 essential fatty acids are essential because the body has to get them from the outside; it cannot manufacture them when needed. Omega-3 oils are found in flaxseeds, walnuts, marine oils, and fatty fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for cognitive function, mental health, cardiovascular health, joint health, and preventing cancer. The reason we should supplement with omega-3 is because the standard American diet provides for too much omega-6 fatty acids. The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 should be about 1:1. However, with the popularization of vegetable oils, Americans consume these fatty acids in the ratio of about 20:1. An excess of omega-6 fats actually causes serious health problems. An omega-3 supplement will greatly help balance consumption of these oils.

Now that you have read through my first seven suggestions for your road to health, go back to the top and make a resolution to implement step one starting right now. These seven steps are by no means the complete picture, but my purpose for this article is to provide a starting point without getting into complicated, health-nut details (that will come later!).

Start here. Conquer the first 7 steps. And keep reading the Lemon Letter to fill in the gaps and continuously improve your health.

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