Daily Archives: July 15, 2012

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for July 15

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

What is the texture of life?

Texture is that finely woven fabric of life that demands we have a congenial environment. It asks that we be industrious toward success, and that we should have a way of life, a purpose. We should hear the music of life and taste the bitter and the sweet.

Texture requires us to research every experience and learn the lessons in it. It orders us to communicate with life and make discoveries about ourselves and progress toward a texture where the coarse has been refined.

Frequently we should examine the texture of life to identify the quality. How wide is my world? How high is my sky?

All of us should know our own makeup, our capabilities, our gifts with which we have been divinely endowed. And we should think long on these words from Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Renascence:

“The world stands out on either side no wider than the heart is wide. Above the world is stretched the sky, no higher than the soul is high.”

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Available online! ‘Cherokee Feast of Days’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler.

Visit her web site to purchase the wonderful books by Joyce as gifts for yourself or for loved ones……and also for those who don’t have access to the Internet:

 

http://www.hifler.com
Click Here to Buy her books at Amazon.com

Elder’s Meditation of the Day
By White Bison, Inc., an American Indian-owned nonprofit organization. Order their many products from their web site: http://www.whitebison.org

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day July 15

Elder’s Meditation of the Day July 15

“We are nothing compared to His power, and we feel and know it.”

–Black Hawk, SAUK

Inside of every man and woman is a place of knowing. In this place is the knowing that there is a Great One, the Great Mystery, the Holy One, the Great Spirit. We can deny this all we want but we know what we know. This place of knowing is at the very center of our being. It is gratifying to know that God cannot leave us. It is said we are spiritual beings trying to be human. With this power in our lives, we can accomplish much. We can do many good things for our people.

Oh Great Spirit, I know of Your power. I love the days when I can feel Your presence. Let today be one of those days. Let me walk today in Your beauty.

 

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July 15 – Daily Feast

July 15 – Daily Feast

A shallow river that is not deep enough to hold all the water that runs into it during the rainy season is always in danger of pushing out of its banks. When it overflows, everything is in danger. Those who live near such a river know the must be prepared. They have seen havoc wreaked on everything in its way. But they have the same feeling about people who are so like the river. Such people have no control and no depths, and tend to push into the lives of others persons. Many of the walls we build are to protect us from intrusion. The Cherokees remember that need for a li s de lv to di, safety or protection, and will not again be caught in the floodtide.

~ No man of my race has ever stood there before. The flood rises, looking upward I see a steep, stony path. I lead the way up…. ~

STANDING BEAR

‘A Cherokee Feast of Days’, by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

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Daily Motivator for July 15 – Imagine yourself

Imagine yourself

Imagine yourself full of energy and enthusiasm, getting up each morning  excited and positive about the day ahead. Imagine yourself being highly  effective, able to achieve whatever you set out to do with confidence and  ease.

In your mind’s eye, see yourself working with discipline and focus, able to  quickly and easily make the right decisions, always knowing what to say and do  in every situation.

Imagine yourself being the person you’ve always wanted to be. Imagine living  the life you’ve always dreamed of living. See it in detail. Visualize it with  richness and intensity. Know you can have it. Know you can do it. Know you can  be it, with absolute certainty.

Imagine yourself being the best you can possibly be. Make your image of  yourself a positive one, and you’ll program yourself for success. Imagine  yourself at your very best. Hold that image firmly in your mind, day after day,  moment by moment, and you’ll absolutely find a way, and live the life, that will  make it real.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator 

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Daily OM for July 15 – Earth Chakras

Earth Chakras

Caretaking The Soul Of Gaia

As we walk upon the earth, we walk upon a living being more similar to ourselves than we imagine. Just like us, the earth has both a physical body and an energetic body, complete with a chakra system identified by ancient mystics and modern scientists alike. Gaia, as the earth is called when acknowledged as a living entity in her own right, has her own life force and her own path of unfolding, separate from us, but including us. Human beings and Gaia are intertwined on every level, not just the physical, and an awareness of her chakras can help us to acknowledge, heal, and enable her on her path, just as she selflessly returns the favor to us.

It is generally agreed that Gaia has seven major chakras distributed evenly across her body and connected to one another via two lines of energy that intersect at various points on the earth. The first chakra is located at Mount Shasta in Northern California; the second is in Lake Titicaca in South America; the third chakra is in Uluru-Kata Tjuta in Australia; the fourth chakra resides in Glastonbury in England; the fifth chakra is at the Great Pyramid in Mount of Olives; the sixth chakra is in Kuh-e Malek Siah in Iran, and the seventh chakra is in Mount Kailas in Tibet. In addition to her seven major chakras, she has minor chakras and other vortexes of energy that are significant to her life-energy system, and all these energy centers need caretaking. Just as we can heal ourselves through our own chakras, we can heal and support Gaia through hers.

While it would be a wonderful experience to visit one of the earth’s chakras, you can always participate in loving and healing Gaia wherever you are. Maintaining an awareness of the regions in which her chakras reside can be very powerful. You may place photos of the locales on your altar, sending healing energy to each of her chakras during your meditations. As you consciously connect your energy system to her energy system, the true meaning of groundedness reveals itself—it is a relationship with Gaia in which we acknowledge our calling as the caretakers of her soul.

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5 Ways to Stay Healthy When Traveling

5 Ways to Stay Healthy When Traveling

by Megan, selected from Experience Life

I don’t care what that old cliché says. Ask  anyone who travels on a regular  basis  and they’ll tell you: Getting there is  most definitely not half  the fun. At least  not if you’re a health-conscious person. Traveling, whether  for business  or pleasure, can wreak havoc on everything from  your meticulous  workout routine to your measured-down-to-the-last-carb          eating plan. The  result is a potential double whammy.  Not only do you feel less than your best   self while on your trip, you may also find that, upon  returning, you’ve lost  the motivation and momentum to return to your  healthy habits.

While keeping in shape and eating well on the road can be challenging,  it’s  far from impossible. Particularly if you’ve been more or less on  the straight  and narrow while at home. “If you’re already exercising,  eating right and  sleeping decently, you’ll have a solid foundation to  stay healthy and deal with  the stress you confront when traveling,” says  Alisa Cohn, an executive coach in  Brookline, Mass. So before you add  another mile to your frequent-flier tally,  heed the  following healthy-travel tips, which take you from pre-takeoff to   post-touchdown and everything in between.

Arrive in Good Shape Whether you’re going by plane,  train or automobile, you can usually  count on one thing: encountering some  surprises and setbacks. In terms  of logistics, it might be a delayed train, a  massive traffic jam or a  lost suitcase. In terms of your  personal regimen, it  might be a missed meal or an especially  uncomfortable hotel room. That’s no  reason to stay home, of course; you  just need to adjust your  everything-will-be- flawless expectations.

“Before you head out the door, accept that obstacles will pop up, and  have a  strategy to deal with them,” says Cohn. Long lines at the  airport? Bring  reading or listening materials (books on tape are ideal)  to pass the time. A  two-hour stop on the tarmac before you even take  off? Engage in a series of  deep breaths to center yourself, then pull  out a notebook and start writing  some of those long-put-off letters to  dear old friends.

Even if your trip is a best-case scenario, you need to be especially  mindful  of your physical health. If you’re flying, staying hydrated is  your No. 1  priority. Most plane cabins have between 10 and 20 percent  humidity, which puts  them on  a par with most of the world’s deserts. To counteract the  aridness,  which can sap your energy, squelch your immune system and slow  your blood flow,  drink half an ounce of water for every pound you  weigh, per day. (This formula  applies once you touch ground, too – the  more hydrated you are, the better your  body and mind will function.)

It might also be wise to bring your own supply of H2O; a recent study  from  the Environmental Protection Agency found that one in eight  airplanes – or  nearly 13 percent of the domestic and international  airline fleet – has water  that fails to meet U.S. safety standards.

Skip caffeine and alcohol, as they further dehydrate you. Instead, when  the  beverage cart comes around, ask for cranberry or orange juice.  “Cranberry juice  is full of antioxidants and is a quick boost to your  immune system,” says  Philip Goglia, founder of Performance Fitness  Concepts, a nutrition and fitness  clinic in Los Angeles. (It’s also full  of sugar, though, so don’t overdo it.)  An 8-ounce glass of orange juice  contains a solid dose of vitamin C (good for  immunity, which can suffer  during travel), plus 400 to 500 milligrams (mg) of  valuable potassium.  The body excretes excessive amounts  of potassium and  sodium during long flights, according to Johnson Space  Center researchers,  which can lead to decreased muscle strength and  diminished physical and mental  reflexes.

Or consider another good, low-cal drink option with a vitamin and  mineral  boost: Stow a few packets of Emer’-gen-C drink mix in your  carry-on. Pour a  packet in a big bottle of water before you take off and  you’ll have your  beverage needs handled for the entire flight.

Nowadays, the food on planes is as scarce as it is scary, so be sure to   bring along enough wholesome food and snacks to hold you over (pack some  snacks  for the airport, too, so those hubcap-size cinnamon buns or  king-size bags of  Fritos won’t tempt you). Strive for lighter and more  nutritious foods that can  handle a few hours without refrigeration, like  raisins, string cheese, trail  mix, individual packets of applesauce or a  pita filled with spinach and goat  cheese.

Because traveling requires long bouts of sitting, periodically standing  up,  walking around and stretching are vital to keeping your blood  flowing freely  and your body functioning optimally. On an airplane, you  should get up and move  around at least once an hour and, in a car, stop  at least every two hours for a  stretch break. If you’re stuck in your  seat, try to move your legs regularly.  Flex and point your toes, do  circles with your ankles, extend your legs at the  knees. For another  good seated stretch, place your left hand on the  middle of  your right thigh and twist your head, neck and back until you  feel a good  stretch in your back. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the  opposite side. Stay  active on the ground too: While waiting for your  flight, walk around the  concourse. You’ll have plenty of sitting time on  the plane.

Make Time to Sweat Once you reach your destination, you  might feel tired or  jet-lagged, but keep in mind that when you’re on the road,   exercise is the best way to keep your energy levels high and stress at bay, says  Suzanne Schlosberg, author of Fitness for Travelers: The Ultimate Workout  Guide for the Road (Houghton Mifflin, 2002). Also, when your days are  filled with  dawn-to-dusk business meetings or other activities, your exercise  time  might be the only peaceful moments you have to yourself.

To reap the benefits of exercise, though, you have to make it a priority  and  schedule it into your daily itinerary. “Doing it first thing in the  morning is  the best way to guarantee you’ll get a workout in,” says  Gregory Florez, a  personal trainer and spokesperson for the American  Council on Exercise.

  • If possible, book a hotel with at least a basic gym. No dice?  Use your  room. Bring along exercise bands, which can double as dumbbells  for weight  training, a Pilates ring, a yoga video or DVD (call ahead to  see if rooms have  VCRs or DVD players) or a jump rope.
  • Not into  packing your own equipment? Ask the front desk for a map of the  area  and recommendations for walking and running routes.
  • Bad weather? Hit the hotel stairs or do a strength routine in your room using just your body weight. Schlosberg recommends a circuit of pushups, triceps dips, back extensions, crunches (both regular and twisting, to work your obliques), lunges and heel raises. Do eight to 20 repetitions of each move.
  • Pack your fitness essentials: running or cross-training  shoes, socks, a  sweat- wicking shirt, shorts and, for women, a sports  bra. If you’ll be  exercising outside, depending on the temperature, you  might need sweatpants,  running tights, a windbreaker or heavier jacket, a  hat and a pair of gloves.  Don’t forget your heart-rate monitor. (OK, so  you may have to pack an extra  bag, but it will be worth it.)
  • If  you’re a dedicated exerciser who follows a tried-and-true routine,   reset your expectations for workouts on the road. An all-or-nothing  attitude is  nothing but trouble when time is tight and so many factors  are out of your  control. “Aim to maintain – not improve – your fitness  level,” advises  Florez.
  • If you have only 30  minutes, and you’re used to an hourlong workout, dial  up the intensity by adding intervals to cardio sessions.
  • One  last tip: Schedule a quick workout as soon as you arrive. It will help   you lose that restless, groggy feeling you get from sitting too long,  and it  will also improve your chances of sleeping well that night. Try  to arrive early  enough so you can check into your room, drop your  luggage and don your workout  wear. It doesn’t have to be a long workout –  even 15 minutes will make a huge  difference. “But doing it right away  is critical,” says Florez, “otherwise,  your chances of exercising  dissipate dramatically. Once you begin to check  email, switch on the TV  or start making arrangements with friends or   colleagues, it’s all over.”

Eat Right and Often With a Burger King beckoning at  every freeway exit and  airport concourse, and executive-dining establishments  serving up giant  portions of heavy food, traveling can set you up for weight  gain. The  key here is to be strategic, and to use the support systems at your   disposal.

The cardinal rule: Don’t wait to eat until you’re really hungry. “If you  do,  it’s a guarantee you’ll overeat when you get the chance,” says  nutritionist  Goglia. In the morning, don’t leave your hotel without  eating an energizing,  healthy breakfast. Goglia advises setting up a  standing room-service delivery  of oatmeal or eggs and fresh fruit. On  your day of arrival, ask that it be  delivered at a specific time every  morning, so you don’t have to think of it  the night before. If you know  that stopping for lunch might not be possible,  request a box lunch –  like a grilled chicken sandwich, fresh fruit and an  oatmeal cookie – to  be delivered when your breakfast arrives.

When you head out for the day, bring along a few  nutritious snacks – such as  raw almonds, raisins, apples, bananas or  oranges – and munch on them throughout  the day to fend off hunger  attacks. Room service not an option? Hit the local  grocery store and  load up on bananas, apples, trail mix, whole-grain crackers,  bottled  water and other nonperishables to keep in your room. Don’t be afraid to  offload some of the stuff in your minibar to make space for your  self-supplied  yogurt, juice or hardboiled eggs.

At dinner, the trick is to avoid getting stuffed with oversized servings   that can exacerbate jet lag and other digestive woes. Begin with a  broth-based  soup, salad or veggie-based appetizer, advises Chris  Filardo, MS, RD, of the  Produce for Better Health Foundation in  Wilmington, Del.

“Studies have shown that you eat about the same volume of food every  day,”  she says, “but the caloric content can vary greatly based on the  choices you  make, so fill up with low-density salad and soup before  diving into your more  substantial entrée.”

If you’re not particularly hungry, consider ordering two appetizers in  place  of an entrée (of course, if all they have is popcorn shrimp and  buffalo wings,  don’t bother). If you’re up for both dinner and dessert,  play a game of  if/then: If you’re craving a huge steak, order one – but  then choose berries or  similar fruit for dessert. If you’re drooling  over a slab of chocolate cake,  have it – but go with grilled fish and  steamed veggies for your entrée.

Catch Some Z’s Sleep is as vital to your health as  proper exercise and nutrition, but  it’s a much less tangible goal when  traveling. “You can’t will yourself  to go to sleep if you’re not tired,” says  B. T. Westerfield, MD,  president of the Kentucky Sleep Society. You can,  however, lower the  barriers to a good night’s slumber, which include, among  other things,  jet lag, an uncomfortable pillow and external noise.

When it comes to jet lag, realize that for every time zone you travel   through, it generally takes your body a day to adjust. Going from  Chicago to  Minneapolis won’t throw you out of whack, but flying from  Philadelphia to  Seattle will. If it’s possible, plan on arriving a day  or two before any big  meetings so you can adjust, advises Westerfield.  There are also some measures  you can take to minimize jet lag.

  • About  a week before your trip, adjust your schedule at home to slowly   integrate the new time zone. If you’re flying from the East Coast to the  West  Coast, for instance, stay up an hour later than normal. (If you’re  flying in  the opposite direction, get up an hour earlier than usual.)
  • On  travel day, try to schedule your flight so you arrive in the early   evening and then stay up until 10 p.m. If that’s not possible, and you  arrive  in the morning or afternoon and need a nap, take one no longer  than two hours,  and no closer than five hours before bedtime. You might  also try an  anti-jet-lag homeopathic remedy ( www.nojetlag.com) or anti-jet-lag diet ( www.antijetlagdiet.com) for additional support.
  • If  you have trouble sleeping that first night or two, you can opt for a   natural sleep aid like melatonin. Take 3 mg to 5 mg about three hours  before  you wish to sleep,  suggests Westerfield. Several studies have found that  melatonin can be  effective for preventing or reducing jet lag, particularly for  crossing  five or more time zones and when traveling east, according to the   National Sleep Foundation.
  • Exercise before you travel and right  when you arrive, according to a  University of Toronto study. Also soak  up some sun as soon as you land. Natural  sunlight is the best way to  reset your internal clock.
  • At night, follow your usual bedtime  routine, says Eileen McGill, the sleep  concierge at New York City’s  Benjamin Hotel. “If you always read or shower  before bed, do the same  thing on the road,” she says. And bring some  personal  items from home to re-create your regular environment. If  you’re attached to a  pillow from home, pack it. Bring a favorite,  soothing bedside picture and some  lavender essential oil to freshen a  stale-smelling room and scent your linens  before bed.
  • If you’re a  sensitive sleeper, consider accessories like an eye mask to  block out  light and a sound machine to  provide a soothing background of “white  noise.” Foam earplugs have saved  many a traveler located too close to a noisy  ice machine, elevator or  intersection.
  • If you’re tense, take a warm bath to work out the kinks. Finally, ask for an  extra blanket and then set the  thermostat to a sleep-enhancing mid-60s, advises  McGill. A too-hot room will have you tossing all night.

Aim for a Righteous Reentry You’ve successfully survived  your trip and are on the way home. But  don’t make the mistake of thinking that  your trip ends when you walk  through the door and plunk your luggage down. You  need to make a smooth  transition into your regular life, and that requires some  forethought.

Try to allow yourself a day for reentry into the real world before  returning  to work. For example, if you have to work on Monday, then come  home on  Saturday. If you are returning  to a significant other or small children, stop  thinking about work on  the trip home from the airport and focus on the people  who will greet  you. “If your kids or your spouse tumble out of the house to  meet you,  and you’re still working in your head, that’ll just cause unneeded   aggravation,” says Libby Mills, a Philadelphia-based lifestyle coach.

If you’ll be coming home to an empty house, straighten it up before you   leave (being greeted by chaos and dirty dishes is a huge energy drain).  Have  some kind of quick, healthy meal available, like an organic frozen  dinner or  pasta with steamed vegetables, so you’re not tempted to call  Domino’s. Drink a  big glass of water to rehydrate and go for a 20- to  40-minute brisk walk to  clear your head.

If you’ve traveled long or far, give yourself a break when it comes to   diving back into your regular fitness routine, advises personal trainer  Florez.  You may be unmotivated or jet-lagged for the first few days, and  pushing  yourself too hard could backfire, sapping your energy and  lowering your  immunity. “On your first day back, aim for half your  normal workout and  remember to devote a good amount of time to  stretching,” says Florez.  “Stretching helps work out muscle tension and  the accumulated physical and  mental stress that come with travel.”

For the next two to three days, strive for 10 to 15 percent less intensity  than your usual routine, then resume your  regular sessions at full strength.  “However, if you’re feeling unusual fatigue or muscle soreness, dial it back  again for  at least two more days,” Florez says. Otherwise, you risk  both  additional fatigue and an injury, which could set you back significantly.

The last step: Take stock of what went well on your  trip, and what could  have gone better. Were there specific  things you wished you had brought along  or planned for? Keep a running  pack-and-plan travel list on your  computer,  then adjust it following each voyage. Tape the list to your  carry-on so you’ll  have it on hand when you prepare to go again.

Prepare well, harvest your own insight, heed your own advice and, before  long, you’ll have healthy travel down to a science.

Dimity McDowell is a freelance writer who specializes in sports and  fitness.

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Tips to Avoid 6 Common Travel Scams

Tips to Avoid 6 Common Travel Scams

By Samantha, selected from DivineCaroline

Travel season is heating up along with the weather, which means scammers  are  bringing their A-game in hopes of separating you from your money.  Whether  you’re taking the kids to Disneyland, spending a romantic week  in Aruba, or  heading to Duluth for your cousin’s wedding, you need to  know what to look for  to protect yourself.

The fact is, travel scams vary widely, from pickpockets to legal resort  charges—don’t assume that  legitimate businesses can’t legally scam you, because  many can and  will. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reports that Americans are   tricked out of $10 billion per year in travel-related scams. From shady  cabbies  to too-good-to-be-true vacation packages, here’s what to be  aware of:

Time Share Scams

If you live in the U.S. you’ve probably gotten calls for a free or   incredibly cheap vacation to Mexico or some similar warm destination  with the  caveat that you sit through a time-share presentation.  Seems reasonable, and who wouldn’t  want a vacation home for which they  don’t have to pay full price or maintain?  The problem arises when you  succumb to the hard sell, and then are never able  to actually use the timeshare because it’s oversold. Many of the timeshare condos are illegal,  or nearly so, and you could  lose tens of thousands of dollars with no  recourse but to complain to the BBB.  If you are interested in a  timeshare, do your research and go through a  reputable company with good  customer reviews.

Surprise Fees

Surprise fees and charges are a problem in all corners of the travel   industry, from hotels and resorts to airline tickets. Travel companies  are  legally allowed to quote ridiculously low prices and then tack on  fees for  things you expected to be included, such as use of the gym or  pool, or the  ability to check your bags. Even if you don’t use the gym  or pool, resorts can  require all guests to pay their “resort fee,” which  can make your vacation a  lot more expensive than you expected. Experts  recommend using a travel agency  that will give you an “all in” quote so  you know exactly how much you’ll be  paying before you go.

Rental Car Scams

When you rent a car, you are given the opportunity to look for and  report  damage before you drive it off the lot so that you aren’t charged  for damage  you didn’t cause. However, some shady companies count on  your either not doing  the inspection, or not noticing hidden damage such  as under the car so that  they can charge you for it later. Customers  can also be charged a “loss of use”  fee and most will suck it up and  pay, but then the car—damage and all—is  returned to the fleet to gouge  the next person who comes along.

Cabbies

Cabbies, especially in foreign countries, are notorious for overcharging.  They can do this by setting the  meter for the night/weekend rate during  a weekday, quoting an unreasonable  price, or “dropping” your large  bill, then switching it for a hidden, smaller  one and accusing you of  underpaying. You can protect yourself by calling a  reputable cab company  from your restaurant or hotel instead of hailing one on  the street, and by knowing the going rate in advance.

In Las Vegas, a common taxi scam is for the driver to unload your  bags in a  hurry and then drive off without you realizing that one of  them is still in the  trunk. It pays to always be alert and on your toes  when traveling, especially  in Vegas.

Imposters

A typical way travelers get scammed is by people pretending to be  someone  they’re not. For example, it’s becoming increasingly common for  scammers to  call hotel guests in the middle of the night claiming to be  the front desk.  They say there was a problem with your credit card and  need the number again,  counting on the fact that you’re too sleepy to be  suspicious.

In other countries, scammers will pose as “tourist police,” and demand  to  check your wallet for counterfeit money. They’ll look official and  may even  flash a badge, but after they disappear you’ll realize your  cash went with  them. “Hotel inspectors” in Europe may ask to check your room—one  distracts you while the other  helps himself to valuables left on the dresser or  desk. Don’t let them  in, even if they look official.

Summer Vacation Shysters

Summer is a busy time for scammers and con artists, and they work in  a  couple of different ways. Fake travel companies will advertise   too-good-to-be-true package deals to college students who want to go  somewhere  awesome for their summer break and don’t have the patience or  experience to do  their research. The students will buy the cheapest  deal, and then the company  will disappear—with their money.

Another common ploy is for scammers to check Facebook or other  social media  for young people who post about their vacations. They can  get a remarkable  amount of information about people that way, and then  they will contact the  grandparents by email, claiming to be the  traveling grandchild in need of wired  money. If you ever get a message  from a loved one who is traveling and needs  money, always call and speak  to them directly before sending it.

Avvo.com is a  free  social media platform that provides a health and legal Q&A  forum and  directory which rates and profiles 90 percent of all doctors  and lawyers in the  U.S. Avvo recently launched “No Question Left  Unanswered,” a campaign aimed at  providing trusted answers by licensed  doctors to a million consumer health  questions in 2012.

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How To Stay Healthy Even If You Eat Junk, Smoke Ciggies, Skip Exercise & Booze It Up

How To Stay Healthy Even If You Eat Junk, Smoke Ciggies, Skip Exercise & Booze It Up

By Lissa Rankin

Ever since we docs started teaching people the importance of smoking  cessation, moderation in alcohol intake, a nutritious, mostly plant-based diet,  daily exercise, and weight control, millions of people have been beating  themselves up for unhealthy lifestyle habits.  Yet the guilt and shame so  many feel hasn’t led to significant improvements in the health of the general  public. Even though people know how to live a “healthy” lifestyle, most choose  not to. Instead, rates of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease,  and other largely preventable diseases are on the rise.

Bummer.

While lots of people rattle off about the importance of healthy lifestyle  modifications – and as a green-juicing, exercising, non-smoking, health food  junkie, I agree with them – what shocks me is how few are talking about the  other critical factors that contribute to health and longevity – the factors  that are arguably even more important than diet, cigarette use, alcohol intake,  weight, and exercise.

Some Diseases Are Preventable

Before I share with you these factors that may shock you, let me start with a  hat tip to conventional medical wisdom. Yes, some diseases are largely  preventable. If you’re a 3 pack-a-day smoker who winds up with lung cancer,  you’re probably feeling pretty crappy about your cancer because you know that if  you had never smoked, you probably wouldn’t have been saddled with that disease.  If you’ve been eating at McDonalds every day, it won’t surprise you if a heart  attack knocks you flat and you have to get bypass surgery. If you’ve been  boozing it up for three decades and you wind up with cirrhosis of the liver,  well… not to be harsh, but you knew that might happen, right? If you’re four  hundred pounds and you get diabetes, um… need I say more?

Yes, if we aim to lead optimally healthy lives, diet, exercise, weight  control, alcohol intake, and cigarette use matter.

Some Unhealthy People Live To Be 100

But let’s face it. Some smoking, boozing, overweight, junk food binging couch  potatoes stay healthy and die of old age. As a physician, these people have  always blown me away. How are their bodies so resilient to such poisons? Is it  genetic? Is it just dumb luck? These people left me scratching my head, until I  was doing the research for my book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You  Can Heal Yourself (Hay House, 2013).

Clearly, there are many factors contributing to why one person winds up sick  when another stays healthy, in spite of poor health habits. The same is true for  the health nut who is doing everything “right” but still winds up sick.

So what are these factors that your doctor probably isn’t discussing with  you?

Loving Community Equals Health

Let me start by telling you a story.

Once upon a time, a tribe of Italian immigrants crossed the Atlantic and  settled in Roseto, Pennsylvania, where they didn’t exactly live the most  “healthy” lifestyle. They ate meatballs fried in lard, smoked like chimneys,  boozed it up every night, and pigged out on pasta and pizza. Yet, shockingly,  they had half the rate of heart disease and much lower rates of many other  illnesses than the national average. It wasn’t the water they drank, the  hospital they went to, or their DNA. And clearly, it wasn’t their stellar diet.  So what was it that made the people of Roseto so resistant to heart disease?

One physician, baffled by their low rates of heart disease, studied the  townspeople to determine why they were so protected.

The Effects of Loneliness On The Body

What his researchers found is that the tight knit community living in  multi-generational homes and enjoying communal dinners and frequent festivities  provided solace from the loneliness so many people feel. The love and support of  others in the close knit community alleviated the stress and overwhelm many  lonely people feel. Researchers posit that the stress lonely people feel, which  increases cortisol levels and activates the sympathetic nervous system, raising  heart rate, elevating blood pressure, incapacitating the immune system, and  increasing the risk of heart disease, is responsible for much of the illness  lonely people experience.

Because the people of Roseto never felt alone, they rarely died of heart  disease – most died of “old age”- even though they smoked, ate poorly, and  drank.  As it turns out, alleviation of loneliness is preventative  medicine, and the scientific data suggests that loneliness is a stronger risk  factor for illness than smoking or failure to exercise.

Why One Person Gets Sick & Another Stays Healthy

It’s not just loneliness that contributes to whether you get sick or stay  healthy. As I discussed in my TEDx  talk, it’s not just your relationships that affect your health – it’s work  stress, financial stress, mental health issues like depression and anxiety,  whether you’re optimistic or pessimistic, and whether or not you’re actively  engaging in potentially stress reducing activities like creative expression,  sex, and spiritual activities like prayer, attending religious services, or  meditation.

For example, let’s take one person who eats poorly, smokes, and never  exercises, but who enjoys an incredible marriage, a great family, fabulous  friends, a rewarding and financially lucrative job, a sense of life purpose, a  healthy spiritual life, a blossoming creative life, and a kickin’ sex  life.  Aside from the cloud of smoke infusing the lungs with toxins and the  poisons this person’s body is ingesting, this kind of lifestyle has been  scientifically proven to result in better health than the lonely individual in  an emotionally abusive marriage, with a soul-sucking job, no sex life, an absent  spiritual life, and no creative outlets. The scientific data suggests that the  “unhealthy” individual with an otherwise healthy, balanced life is more likely  to live a long, healthy life than a nonsmoking, abstaining vegan with a personal  trainer who is unhealthy and miserable in all other facets of life.

Make sense?

How Healthy Is Your Life?

In my upcoming book, I go into great detail, proving how each of these  factors of a healthy life affect the physiology of the body, but until then, let  me just assure you that what I’m suggesting is true. I’m not recommending that  you pick up smoking, drinking, or overeating. But  I am suggesting that you start thinking about your health beyond the traditional  confines of how most people define health.

Are you lonely? Are you stressed at work?  Are you depressed? What would  it take to alleviate your loneliness, cut back on your job stress, and get  happier?

Expanding how I think about health,

Lissa

Lissa Rankin, MD: Creator of the health and wellness communities LissaRankin.com and OwningPink.com, author of Mind Over Medicine:  Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself (Hay House, 2013), TEDx speaker, and Health Care Evolutionary. Join  her newsletter list for free guidance on healing yourself, and check her out  on Twitter and Facebook.

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