This story starts about two years ago. I was healthy enough, but knew I could feel better. Did I pick up a parasite or unwanted bacteria in some country in Asia on one of my long backpacking trips? Why did I have so much anxiety? My job as a travel writer and blogger was far from stressful. Soon after flying into a blissful hot winter’s afternoon in Phoenix, Arizona, I would start to learn what it was that was keeping me from my optimal body performance.
During that week, I would be staying with a college friend who was now finished with Medical School and teaching at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe. The following are rules which I now live by that were inspired by this visit.
I’m not going to list out a bunch of foods here that I think you should eat. There is too much of that going on. Anyway, I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist. What I will tell you is that each of us should be eating a diet that is right for our individual body. This means getting tested for food sensitivities. This test will let you know, most importantly, what you should be avoiding. Common food allergies are dairy products, wheat, gluten, eggs, nuts, caffeine, etc. The food sensitivities I’m talking about may not send your body into Anaphylactic Shock, but they will keep your body from performing at its best. You may not even notice the symptoms on your own, but your food sensitivities are causing inflammation inside your body. Learn which they are and eat a diet right for your body.
I’m not going to tell you that you have to run. In fact, running is high impact on your body. Instead, walk. A lot. True walking might not get your heart rate up for an ideal workout, but walking gets you moving. It’s better for creativity, too. Clears your head and helps you to think. Who could argue that a walk in the middle of the day is a bad thing? Can’t get out of the office? Find a time that works for you. Walking is low impact on the body and gets your blood circulating.
What is hydrotherapy, you ask? You might have done it before, but just don’t know it by this name. My adventures in hydrotherapy started long before our evening at El Dorado, located about 45 miles west of Phoenix. El Dorado Hot Springs is located above an underground hot spring of pure mineral water. The water is pumped conveniently into large bathing tubs and areas are sectioned off for private parties. We bought some bags of ice at a local gas station and created our own icy plunge bath adjacent to our hot one. Our therapy was simple: After soaking in the hot water, take a quick dip in the ice bath. This increases blood circulation among other reputed health benefits.
If you stay late at El Dorado, they can accommodate a few people overnight and have tent and RV camping as well, or just search on-line for one of the many hotels in Phoenix. But you don’t have to have an El Dorado nearby–anyone can use the same concept in their home shower. Contrast showers always start with a warm or hot water and finish with a more-than-30-second cold blast.
How many wellness experts are preaching the gospel of good quality sleep? But how to make this a reality in your intense schedule? Chances are you can’t get up any later, so that means getting to bed earlier. Set an alarm an hour before you want to go to bed and then get off your computer and other electronic devices with screens and start relaxing. Turning down the bright lights in your house also helps. You’re not just aiming for a solid 8-10 hours of sleep, but deep, good-quality sleep. Avoiding alcohol 3-4 hours before sleep helps you get a deeper sleep. Also, avoiding caffeine in the afternoon will help you be more calm by bedtime.
Sound crazy, you say? Over my dead caffeinated body! I used to think just like that. I was a caffeine junkie for years. Never thought I would or could give it up. But as soon as I did, about 95% of my stress, anxiety, and sleep problems melted away. My doctor says I would have wrecked my nervous system if I kept my former ways. I’ve been caffeine free now for more than two years, except for the small amount contained in decaf coffee and decaf tea. I’m not going to tell you that you have to stop drinking coffee, but I will tell you this: Be mindful of your caffeine intake. It is a drug. And…you won’t believe me on this, but decaf tastes as good as regular.
If I read another on-line post about smiling and being grateful, I’m going to…smile and be grateful about it. We all have struggles, difficulties, and tragedy, but there are things to be grateful about everyday. And we should recognize that. Simply acknowledging the joy of a deep friendship, a sunny day, a wholesome meal, or a comforting hug is enough to make yourself feel better. Smile, there is something to feel grateful about.
Such a simple and easy task can bring a significant improvement to dental health. For years, every time I visited the dentist, he would only have one question for me: Do you floss? The answer, up until a few years ago, had always been no. Since I’ve been flossing, I’ve never heard the question and have never had a cavity. It’s easy, only takes a minute, and makes your mouth feel happy. For travelers, floss is small, and convenient to carry with you. Develop good flossing habits. It’s as simple as that.
These ideas were inspired by my stay with an old friend, Dr. Heath McAllister, who has recently opened a clinic in southern California. If you’re ever in the Santa Monica area, seek him out at Lotus East-West Medical Center or Pure Vitality Rejuvenation Center.