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On a positive note! September 17, 2006

Posted by jeffrooney in Uncategorized.
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We are having our second (really first) spring in San Antonio after a thirst quenching rain. Flowers are blooming everywhere. Quite a respite from the months of drought.

OK, so I look at my very first post in this internet landing and realize it is rather on the negative side of things.

Well in keeping with balance today’s post is about simple and positive things that can enable people to begin to take control of their health. These are all freebies…hey that’s positive.

These are just a few areas of interest that I have found to be useful to myself, friends and clients. So anything in this post that is linked will take you to a site that delves more into these areas. There is much info on all these areas that is free. There are also references to books that can be checked out from the library or purchased, websites that can be joined and the like.

These areas are really the essentials of life —water, breath, nutrition, movement and spiritual health. BIG topics all of them. They ALL intersect each other but they also have their own definition as well. But I want to keep it simple. Once upon a time I used to work on my own car. Yeah that used to be possible to all you youngsters out there. Anyway one of the principles I learned in those days was to always start with the simplest thing (a loose battery terminal was a biggie) and progress to the more complex. I also learned about the principle that prevention was mightier than the cure. We can’t easily fix our cars these days but we can take control of the preventative maintenance (if we’ve got the bucks that is).

So we are starting with the issue of water, hydration. Quite a while back I read an amazing book called “The Body’s Many Cries for Water” by Dr Batmanghelidj. Our body’s internal environment is dictated by water and it’s many metabolic functions. This guys discovery was that many, if not most, people are walking around dehydrated. This has many consequences such as gastric problems, muscle and joint pain, effects on weight gain/loss and so on. Definitely check out his website. Incidentally, he died a while back and his wife is still maintaining the site and the research institute I believe. The short of it is that our body will communicate with us in many ways that it is thirsty. Often the sense of thirst in the mouth is the last resort. Gastric disturbance or muscle pain can also be “thirst indicators.”

Breath. It really starts here doesn’t it? When a baby takes it’s first breath it is a big leap into realm of living. This too is a big subject that I had to understand as a massage therapist. Most people are coming to you as a therapist with one thing or another where stress is playing a big role. Over the years I noticed the correlation between shallow or dysfunctional breathing and the issue of the stressors in that persons life. There are many resources on this issue. I started with Andrew Weil’s cd “Breathing – the master key to health”. It is a good basic lecture on the physiology of breath and the consequences of “ill breathing”. Of course, the Indian practices of Pranayama are the focus of most of the restorative breathing exercises. Just keyword simple breathing practices and tons of useful stuff will come up. As we’ll see later this issue intersects heavily with spiritual connectedness.

Now talk about a huge subject, nutrition is in the stratosphere. But here I will try really hard to stay on the positive tip…but oh heck. By and large the US approach to food and eating is really whacked. We are known throughout the world for bad movies that everyone loves to hate and fast food that is taking the world by a the storm. OK, I am deep breathing…trying to stay positive here.

Well a few basic thoughts. A couple of years ago I began to hear about the “slow food movement“, that’s right, it is the opposite of fast food. The premise is that we really need to be much more appreciative of our food. Get more connected to it’s many sources. Learn to enjoy cooking and then eating in a relaxed pace with friends and family. Cultures all over the word really excel in this respect and our culture has much to learn I believe. In addition and closely connected to slow food is the idea of getting foods as local as possible. Have you heard about the “100 Mile Diet“. I ran into this concept on our vacation in Vancouver BC a year ago. This couple decided to try for a year to eat only foods that they could find by local food producers within a hundred mile radius of their home. They have really started something that I think is a portent of the future. As transportation energy resources dwindle the belief is that there will be a movement to “relocalize” food production closer to the urban areas.

All of this relates to the issue of our foods vitality. The longer the distance things like produce travel the less vital it is when you put it on your table. Also industrial farming requires more toxins for production whereas many of the local farmers are more apt to use organic or less toxic approaches to growing their food and feeding their animals.

In general I advocate getting the freshest most colorful foods, moderate animal protein and supplement with vegetable protein like various beans and lentils, stay away from processed foods, and no trans fats. Learn which vegetables and fruits are more pesticide prone.

I believe in vitamin supplementation. I know the next title I am going to suggest is rather negative but give the book and the website a try. It is called “What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know About Nutritional Medicine May Be Killing You” by Dr. Ray Strand. Told ya! I have learned a good bit from his this guy. There are many other resources out there on this. Another kind of odd location for some really interesting interviews on nutrition and other alternative health stuff is Franklin Sanders’ The Money Changer website.

Now we enter the area of physicality, movement. Another area that our society struggles with for sure. Movement is and should be our human mode of existence. However in a culture like ours there are many short circuits to movement. We are a car culture and a high tech culture so many of our opportunities for movement absent or very small. It is almost like the thing with nutritional supplements. We have to find ways to supplement movement in our lives. An area that I have pursued is called the Egoscue Method. I started using it for myself and clients a number of years ago and eventually got certified to use the discipline in my practice. The basic idea is that we are largely living in a deficit of movement that prevents nourishment to our postural framework. When that goes awry lots of negatives start piling up. So this discipline specifically developed to address the body wide distortions occurring due to inadequate postural reinforcement. The website is a big resource of free and informative stuff and also options for pursuing further if need be. Look at the area on the home page called “Free Menu Updates.” It is also a discipline that works even better with personalized attention as you will see from the website.

I am also a big fan of just plain old walking for adding movement to my life often with my life partner Dianne. One thing I have noticed is that we are often led to extremes as we try to supplement movement into our lives. I think there may be some problems with extreme forms of physical fitness that can lead to what is called oxidative stress. Really this process is going on all the time but extreme attempts at fitness can escalate this phenomena and cause problems down the line.

Last but not least is the whole issue of spiritual development and attention. Some people may accomplish this through their religious practice others not. I think the short of it is that many of us can benefit from practices that help to connect us to our inner selves and give us a break from the pressures of the external world. Take me, I am a news junkie. Well I think that stuff takes a toll. I am always looking for a valve I can use to turn off that stuff. I use music, walking as I said earlier or simply taking a day without looking at the news, like on our recent vacation.
Many of you may be ahead of me on this but I think forms of simple meditation are worth the effort to include in your daily regimen. Sometimes I do this with brief use of deep breathing exercises. But increasingly I feel the need to really check in with my inner self and try to detox the mind and spirit a bit. I hear a lot from people that meditation is one of the hardest things to do. It is hard to have a singular focus on the present without letting all that other garbage infiltrate. But the very practice of meditation is a constant shooing away extraneous thoughts and focusing on your breath perhaps or a pleasant image or phrase that is meaningful. Hopefully other readers will comment in the future on what works for them.

Oh well, time for my morning walk.

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Comments»

1. Susan Fincher - September 19, 2006

Hey Jeff, Just checked your blog site. You’ve got some great information here. I got to meet Dr. Ray Strand last February in San Antonio. I have 3 of his books. He highly recommends the nutritional supplements that I take. They’ve been wonderful for me. Also, you are right on about moderate exercize and drinking lots of water. You can check out the supplements I use at my website: sufi@usana.com. I feel like they gave me my life back!
Blessings, Susan

2. Susan Fincher - September 19, 2006

Hey Jeff, Just checked your blog site. You’ve got some great information here. I got to meet Dr. Ray Strand last February in San Antonio. I have 3 of his books. He highly recommends the nutritional supplements that I take. They’ve been wonderful for me. Also, you are right on about moderate exercize and drinking lots of water. You can check out the supplements I use at my website: sufi@usana.com. I feel like they gave me my life back!Blessings, Susan


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