~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #208
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“Health is the outcome of the small choices you make on a daily basis.” —Dr. Frank Lipman, author of How to Be Well: The 6 Keys to a Happy and Healthy Life
The pillars of a healthy life have been enumerated by many an expert, but it was in Frank Lipman’s book How to Be Well that delineated and described them in such a way that found me nodding my head in agreement throughout the entire book.
The concept of living simply luxuriously adheres beautifully with Lipman’s six pillars: what we Eat, the Sleep we get, the Movement we engage in, how we Protect and prevent, finding regular time to Unwind and quality opportunities to Connect all contribute to build a life of good health beyond our physical, but as well including our mental and social lives as well. At the core it is about knowledge and understanding, and just as importantly, it is about understanding the propaganda that swirls around us claiming to offer health hacks, but in reality prevent us from truly living a life of true wellness.
What ideas, products and beliefs should we let go of to live well?
1. Counting calories
~Love Food, Love Your Body – 10 Simple Tips, episode #8
~From altering your hormones so that your body is not registering hunger correctly which then makes you eat more as well as increasing your cravings for sugar, sugar as Lipman calls it is “public enemy number one”. With 80,000 processed foods on the market, 58% of them contain added sugar and that includes items you would never have thought to contain such an ingredient (granola, pickles, baked beans, protein bars, etc.).
3. Processed Foods
Compared to malware on our computer that jumbles the information in order to confuse, Lipman recognizes that most of us know that processed foods are bad, but we can be bamboozled into eating them never-the-less. When I read Michael Moss’ book Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, I was mortified by their antics, but then felt empowered to eat smarter and not fall prey.
4. Prioritizing exercise over sleep
“Sleep is not a luxury; it is an absolutely esential act of daily mainteance, and it is your ally in keeping your brain sharp and youthful.”
5. Remove toxic cleaning products
Forget most labels, such as “green”, “natural” or “with essential oils” as they often do not adhere to U.S. federal law when it comes to hazardous compounds. As well antibacterial products for hands and household use can contribute to drug-resistant bacteria. In lieu of fabric softeners and dryer sheets, Lipman recommends using a little vinegar in the rinse cycle instead.
6. Grooming products with toxic chemicals
Check out the “Never List” at beautycounter.com to determine which products to look for and to never purchase products which contain them (they also have a downloadable pdf which is pocket-size for easy reference).
8. Chasing bliss
Instead pursue a purpose. While it will take time to figure out what gives your life purpose as you come to better understand yourself, your gifts, the world, etc., choosing to pursue a perpetual state of happiness is a fool’s pursuit.
What ideas should we embrace?
1. Fat (healthy fat)
Fat does the opposite of added sugar; it is something we need in our diet and it gives us stable, longer-lasting energy, controls hunger and helps to regulate our metabolism. Lipman’s rule of thumb when it comes to fats: If it comes from nature, it’s probably healthy, and if it’s made in a factory, be it feedlot or process plant, it’s probably not.
2. Become a savvy food shopper
Just as in life it is important to be a critical thinker about the information we receive, this also encompasses the food we purchase. First and foremost, eat whole foods when possible. When fresh produce, local meats and dairy are available, support your local farmers and ranchers that way you know how your food came to be on your table. Lipman shares, “We have an industrial food supply that has favored profit over health for so long that it’s made disease-causing foods mainstream and health-giving foods fringe.” Food for thought – pun intended.
3. Enjoy broth
Lipman shares that the collagen in broth is gentle yet nourishing, healing and supportive for overworked and damaged digestive systems as well broth delivers healthy fats, fat-soluble vitamins and minerals to our bodies, counters inflammation and supports the joints and skin, as well it boosts the immune system.
A recipe is included in his book for bone broth as well as pairing ideas.
4. Salt (just not highly processed table salt)
~As an essential micronutrient, it plays an important role in our body helping it to regulate muscle, heart, nervous system and brain function, as well as blood flow and fluid balance. Lipman reassures that so long as you are “eating a clean, whole-food diet and our seasoning your food with salt to taste, your body makes the adjustments to maintain equilibrium”. Just make sure to eat unrefined salt, rather than regular table salt (highly processed salt).
~Listen to my conversation with American expat living in France and cookbook author and cooking class instructor Susan Hermann Loomis in episode #192 as she gives some insight into cooking and eating salt.
5. Simplify cooking
~Watch the pilot episode of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen, TSLL’s new vodcast.
Let go of recipes, use a slow cooker, let the quality of the food bring the flavor.
6. Eat the stalks
From broccoli to cauliflower, even the woody asparagus stalks, these hard-to-digest carbohydrates give good bacteria a feast (the is a good thing). Lipman shares that the prebiotic benefits include ensuring a thriving microbiome. Munch on these chewy options raw or cook them along with the rest of the vegetable.
7. Go to bed when you are tired
Our sleep cycles are smart (which is why jet lag is brutal). When we listen to them, we are listening to a wise sleep sage.
8. Investigate when your sleep goes awry
Often when we are unable to sleep, it is a sign that something in our lives needs to be addressed, adjusted or effectively dealt with so we can move forward.
9. Follow a strength training program
Since most of us do not work at jobs that require physical exertion, it is important we welcome this healthy stress to onto our physical bodies regularly. Offering protection from disease as well as enabling our bodies to “meet the demands of and carry the loads of life (joints, tends, ligaments, muscles, etc.), strength training can also reduce the risk factors for diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
~Have a look at what I learned when I scheduled time with a personal trainer earlier this year to set up my own strength training routine, episode #201.
Any opportunity you have to move, seize it. From the exercise routine you follow, to walking to the market, taking the stairs or getting outside on your lunch break to take a stroll, do so.
~To Get and Stay Fit: Keep It Simple, episode #190
11. Use a foam roller
Lipman recommends using a foam roller five to ten minutes a day to massage the tired muscles and tendons we have kept quite sedentary throughout the day. Also, using a roller helps with circulation and kneading sore muscles which also increases the oxygen flow to the brain.
~Shop foam rollers here.
12. Shop at farmers markets when you can
~David Lebovitz Talks About Making Paris His Home, episode #182
13. Dry brush your entire body
Similar to using a roller, dry brushing your body from head to toe improves circulation. Making strokes with your brush that all run to your heart, making this a habit will also improve your body’s glow as dead skin cells are also being removed.
14. Become mindful
Being mindful is the opposite of choosing to multitask. When we choose to be mindful, we are choosing to be present, to be self-aware, to respond rather than react. While being mindful is not something we can do once and make it a default that we do without thinking, it is something that requires of us to be entirely present thus improving the quality of everything we do throughout our days.
15. Say no to overcommitting
One of the benefits of being mindful is that we are aware of what we are capable of and respond in kind rather than by default. Saying no could be literally saying “no thank you” to invitations or creating “no work zones” in your home.
~An Everyday Necessity: Deliberate Rest, episode #139
17. Commit random acts of kindness
Kindness in our behavior, in our words, in our expression of sincere appreciation. When we choose to commit random acts of kindness, we experience what Lipman calls the “helper’s high”. Physically our bodies do change as serotonin levels rise and cortisol (released when we are stressed) goes down, as well as our blood pressure.
18. Learn something new each week
Not only is it exciting and confidence boosting when we learn something we weren’t aware of previously, we are actually helping our brain out as well. By learning new tasks and information, we are creating new neural pathways which “can prevent degenerative diseases like dementia”.
~3 part series – The Benefits of Reading
19. Celebrate small victories
Perfection can be the barrier that stands in our way of celebrating along our journey. Lipman states “This anxious pursuit of perfection can be a hindrance to getting and staying healthy because it denies the reality of nature: Health is a dynamic state, constantly changing and in flux, and it is different for each person. There is no ‘perfect point’ of guaranteed balance, and striving for it can drive you crazy.”
I wanted to end on this point because even though the book offers how to live well, we are always on the journey toward refining our lives. We will never reach a point of perfect health and be able to stay there. We must be diligent and regularly apply the knowledge we knew which was reaffirmed today, apply the new information we discovered and continue to learn more about our unique bodies, lives and selves.
The first step is understanding and once we know how, we can then go about living well so that we can enjoy our lives to the fullest.