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Even A Healthy Diet Can’t Beat Lifestyle Overdrive

An all-too-common complaint from people we see—many of them first-time clients—goes something like this: 

“I eat super healthy foods, only organic, I exercise all the time,
and yet I’m still exhausted and find it hard to lose weight. 
What am I missing?” 

In these situations, the “less is more” approach is often what is needed.  No matter how much we try, we can’t out-eat chronically stressful lifestyles, toxic thought patterns, or detrimental daily habits with another “perfect” diet.  What this often boils down to is finding ways to do LESS, not add more to our overloaded lives. 

I remember several years ago hearing a cardiologist speak about his best friend, a former Olympian marathoner, who dropped dead from a heart attack one day after a casual run.  His friend’s sudden, unexpected death led this doctor to research how activity levels and stress affect our cardiovascular health. 

His conclusion?  We benefit most from a wide-ranging heart rate (known as Heart Rate Variability or HRV).  Another way of looking at this measure is that all of us, elite athletes and common people alike, are very good at training for ACTIVITY, but few of us know that we also need to train our bodies for REST. 

In other words, we need a wider range of both high and low intensity levels, activity and rest or stillness in our daily lives to thrive, restore ourselves, and maintain health.

Each of us needs to practice our own personal versions of Lifestyle Medicine:  caring for the small details of our daily lives that add up over time. 

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In addition to proper digestion and a nutrient-dense diet that meets your daily bio-individual needs, you can also do simple things like:

  • Set a regular bedtime to make sure we are having every opportunity to recharge
  • Take opportunities to slow down and rest regularly
  • De-clutter our homes and work environment to create spaciousness
  • Cut unnecessary “busy” activities out of your schedule
  • Minimize your social media exposure, and make time for quality interactions with people you care about that don’t include screens or other forms of passive entertainment
  • Increase your time spent in nature
  • Remove your shoes and socks and walk barefoot on the earth to restore your natural sense of groundedness

Perhaps the best gift we can give ourselves in this noisy world of breakneck doing is a chance to stop long enough to experience SILENCE somewhere in our day.  Silence is not only healing to our minds and our lives, but it opens up the possibility for us to listen to our bodies in new ways, too.  Then we can begin to see more clearly where and how to bring balance and nourishment into our everyday experiences.

So is a healthy diet still a game changer for our health?  Absolutely, without a doubt! 

But the foods we eat alone are not enough to reverse years of detrimental habits.  It also takes an entire makeover of our daily habits and practices, and our assumptions about what it means to be alive and thriving.

This article was also published on the Denver Post Your Hub website.

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