WHAT CAN WE DO
Back to Basics

 

     Any advice taken, accepted as truth and put into potential practice will not produce a bit of results if the basics are not in order  Without the basics your biological potential or reach for longevity is just not possible.  All basics must be strictly adhered to and, become second nature or automatic.  Let's explore the ground work and get these priorities lined up.

     When I was a student in postgraduate school, I would attend seminars to try and learn from others who were doing well in their lives.  I would sit right up front in the middle and take plenty of notes.  I was always looking for the "hidden secret" to their success.  I thought that if I could simply apply that one attribute that they possessed to my character or that principle to my life, that I would have an instant formula for success.

     When I play soccer in college, I continued to be a student.  I would observe the best players, read the best books, watch the latest video.  Once again, I would be looking for one secret ingredient that would propel my athletic skills to a higher level.  Yet, in both my professional endeavors and sports, I found the key was not in one big secret.  It was instead a lot of little daily disciplines that when applied with consistency, yielded great success in my personal, professional, and athletic lives.

     Any great athlete knows that to attain consistent success, you must master the basics to where they become so natural, so subconscious, that a champion knows how to adjust to and overcome any unforeseen obstacle.  So it may initially appear elementary, but we must start with the basics of health before we can put the big picture all together.

     To get elementary, we must begin with a brief discussion of how the body ages if we are to understand ways to keep young in mind, body, and spirit.  It is overall agreed upon that if a person is to be healthy they must be healthy on a cellular level.  We are comprised of 80% fluid, so it is important to our bodies to receive generous amounts of fluids to flush the cells of their waste products.  We were made by our creator to have a need for oxygen, so it is important that the cells of our body receive fresh oxygen.  Proper nutrition is important because there is a lot of truth to "you are what you eat."  Shelter, clothing, and mental health are all parts of the pie of holistic health.  Let's look at each area in some detail, and as we acknowledge that the list could be even greater in length, we will focus on the main hub of the wheel.

     Dare not the reader get into too much of an "academic mood."  Life is awesome.  Each day is precious.  If you can't live each moment with passion, maybe it is better not to live at all.  So the writers want you to be excited as you enter the realm of these basic building blocks.  One brick at a time can make the most beautiful cathedral in the world.  One step at a time, once mastered, can change your life.

     On TV the other night I watched how genetic engineers are trying to lengthen the ends of our genes and promote our youth.  It was fascinating to think of the possibilities if, indeed, we could simply slow down the degeneration of our longevity genes and could still be playing tennis until we are 120 years old.  To me that is like looking at the stock market and reveling in your potential profits, yet your individual stock has yet to go up.  Possibilities are nice, but for now, let's keep our feet on the ground and our eyes to the stars as we maximize our health by paying daily attention to these basics.

 

Air

     I was so happy to get my new goldfish.  Beaming with joy as I handled and carried "Goldy" in his transparent transport bag, mom hustled me out of the pet store.  With a thimble sized shaker of food, a small plastic bowl and Goldy; Mom and Dad got off easy.

     Since I couldn't wait to get home and foster my new responsibilities, I immediately headed upstairs to shoulder my duties.  Not knowing Goldy was trying to survive by sucking the air from the surface I continued to think he was hungry, gave him generous shakes of the food container and helped him expedite his trip to goldfish heaven. . . .via the toilet bowl.

     Now I know why Goldy wouldn't eat.  He was more concerned with breathing.  This was the one event aside from the colored peeps that left me emotionally scarred.

     Without that first breath -- life would not begin.  So important is this first basic that it is often overlooked and taken for granted because of its autonomic connotation.  The fresh air we breathe gives us life and is the major role player in almost all our body processes.  If our air supply is downsized in any way; through external means or from internal exchanges, our health is alarmingly compromised whether we notice or not.

     Most people only utilize 50% of their lung capacity (100% potential is there)!  Some cause for this shallow breathing is because of habit or no demands are being made to increase respiration rate and depth.  There is such a lack of development through non use.  Listen up -- a clean air filter helps a car burn fuel more effectively, so keep your lungs open and free from clogs.

     You surely will be surprised if you take two minutes first thing in the morning and walk outside taking exaggerated breaths as you raise your arms to help expand your lungs and raise your rib cage with each breath.  Ten of these inspirations will make you brand new.

     Fresh air, when you can find it, is very dear; free and plentiful depending on your location.  A habit everyone should not do without is cracking a window (leaving it open a bit) somewhere in the house, preferably in the bedroom.  A constant fresh air exchange is paramount for optimum health. Take advantage of full breaths and expand those semi-feeble lungs of yours fully for a full life.  AND __ DON'T be afraid to stick up for your nonsmoking rights!

     We all know that smog is not good for us and country air is better.  Did you know that most air inside our homes is ten times more polluted than any outside air?  It is, so air out your house regularly.  We all know that smoking is not good for us.  It is my brief conclusion that no matter what it takes, if the reader is a smoker, he or she must find help to break from their drug-addictive habit of smoking if ever their body is to receive fresh oxygen.  There are gum, patches, pills, and hypnosis.  Spend the $2 a day you use on smokes and put it toward a rehabilitative program.  I know it's not easy to quit; my heart goes out to you.  I have witnessed patients in my practice who stop smoking, only to gain weight, or get so emotionally enraged that they must go back to it.  They feel like failures.  Down deep they are mad at themselves, but they shrug it off and think "some people live to be 90 and smoke three packs a day, so maybe I'll be one of them."  Or they think, "we all have to die someday, when your number is up, it's up."

     I propose that yes, although death is inevitable for all of us, if we stop smoking, our next 40 years will be better.  There would be less chance of strokes, diabetes, heart attacks, cancer, and the list goes on, and that perhaps we can actually postpone when our number will eventually come up.  Let me explain.

     Think about this deeply.  It's a key to your future zest for longevity.  In the hundreds of millions of people on this planet, everyone is unique.  If we are to master life, we must get to know our own bodies.  Some people have deadly allergic reactions to plastics, while other people are not affected by this artificial world around us.  Some people are affected by dyes, caffeine, or smoking, while others seem to have a better tolerance to them.. So, although some people have a genetic tolerance to smoke and still live to be 90 and vibrant, I propose that, be not fooled by such a picture.  Overall, and that is what life comes down to, your odds are better to live a healthier and longer life if you never begin to smoke.  So know your strengths and work on those.  Know what genetic weaknesses run in your parents and family, and try to help your body in those specific areas.

     If your family history is one of heart attacks and obesity, then at an early age dedicate yourself to a daily exercise program and vow never to go above a certain weight.  If your parents have bad leg varicosities, try to take vitamin E and cod liver oil all your life, go for daily walks and you can minimize this weakness in your body.  If your parents smoke, ask them to smoke outside of the house, and try to associate with friends who will not pollute your lungs.

     Our society already has enough pollutants for us not to be directly inhaling it into our system.  But enough said, I know you know you shouldn't smoke, yet the reason we were compelled to write this book is to share our hearts not only to open your eyes to some insights, but to propel you into action to change your life.  One last story.

     I remember, in South Carolina, when I had my dissection class final exam, the air conditioning broke.  As we opened the plastic bags to go over all the internal body parts of a corpse, the smell of formaldehyde permeated my nostrils and went into my whole body.  As i proceeded to pin back the thick heavy folds of adipose tissue, I looked at question #79 on my test: "Was the patient a smoker or a nonsmoker?"  As I cut through the ribs and opened the pleural cavity, I was in shock to see the lungs.  At first I was in awe of how well it all fit together, even the aortic depression into the lung cavity.  What a magnificent puzzle the creator had made!  But as I pulled out the lungs, they were supposed to be pink and soft, but they were gray and filled with deposits of charcoal.  I first thought, this answer is an easy one.  Then I forgot I was in the middle of a final exam, and as I looked at the young face of this Asian man I said aloud "I wish everyone who smoked could see what they are doing to themselves."

     Does that graphic story propel you to vow to stop smoking?  I hope so.  Now I'll move on.

     For our cells to get proper oxygen, we must first live in an area or go to an area at times where the air is fresh.  If you live in the big city, find a park with lots of trees and walk there daily.  But here is a key to oxygen.  We don't breathe deeply enough.  Most people get on with their busy lives and breathing is so subconscious that they don't realize how shallow a breath they are taking.  Therefore, the residual air that stays in their lungs is "stale" and less oxygen is getting into their blood and their cells.  The cellular waste products gradually build up until we have disease processes in our body.

     I have read books on deep breathing techniques, and they are helpful.  In your car to and from work, at your lunch break, try this.  Breathe in slowly and deeply as far as you can through your nostrils for five seconds, hold it for ten seconds as your chest and lungs are inflated, then exhale slowly and deeply for another five seconds to get out the old air.  You would be amazed if you did this on a regular routine.  What a sense of relaxation overtakes you when you do it.

     I coach different sport teams.  I remember one day a young girl was so emotionally involved in the soccer game that at halftime she couldn't breathe' she was having an anxiety attack.  She came so close to scoring, but didn't and her emotions overcame her.  I pulled her away from the team, had her lay in the grass, close her eyes, and gradually told her 'in for five, hold for ten, out for five.  In with the good air, out with the bad air."  It worked like a charm, and years later as she become a college athlete, she told me she did that same technique during a final exam or during a big game to relax her body.

     You see. . . .that's the beauty of it.  If we stay focused and breathe deeper at different episodes throughout the day, we will slowly train our bodies to top into our relaxation response.  Then we can use that weapon when we are attacked by society.  If we are late from work and we are in a traffic jam, breathe deeply and slowly, make the best of it.  If the kids are really on our nerves and we know we need to calm down before we speak to them, breathe deeply and slowly and within an instant, we are poised.

     So not only fresh air, but also keep breaths will physiologically replenish our tired cells with fresh oxygen and remove toxins from our bloodstream.  It will emotionally help us as well.  We will discuss how the best way to get more deep breathing into your daily routine is to do some form of daily aerobic exercise in the next chapter, but before I go to my next topic, I leave you with a practical tip that empowers me each day.

     I want to be a life-giver to others.  Yet, some mornings when my alarm goes off at 5:00 A.M., I want to crawl back into bed.  So, every day, to ensure that I am sharp and focused, I do this mental exercise and it has changed my life.  I invite you to try it.

     After I shower, I will face the window and watch the summer sunrise for a few minutes and breathe deeply.  As I breathe in deeply through my nostrils, I will think of all the many blessings that my life has.  As I hold my breath, I think about what good I could accomplish in the hours before me.  Then I exhale deeply.  I get out all the anger, anxiety of frustration that I kept hidden in my memory banks.  I haven't missed a day of work in nearly 19 years and I always arrive with a smile.  This my reason why -- try it!

 

Water

     Water, water everywhere and no one is drinking a drop.  At times in my life I feel like a drone -- a worker bee -- going about my rituals for waking up, getting ready for work, doing the commute.  I'm on auto, like I'm hypnotized going without thought.  Am I looking forward to work?  "No."  Just something I have to do.  But, where is my zest?. . .My youth?

     If at times you feel out of sorts, try drinking a few glasses of water.  So many people are admitted to the hospital because of slight to severe dehydration.  Then other problems branch out from there.  Your choice:  Drink water now or take it in the vein later.  Please do not take the powers of plentiful water intake lightly.  Without a very generous consumption, a fair to decent state of health is just not possible.

     The way you start the day is too important.  It sets the mood.  It sets the standard for the rest of your day.  Upon rising it is paramount, if bathroom tendencies are not urgent, that you ingest a near quart of water (this is provided you live a semi-active life and have no medical condition that would forbid this).  If you can get into that habit you are ahead of the game of drinking enough water for the day.  That is 1/3 to 1/2 your ration.  This is a must habit if you want to add years.  Why?  Dilution of blood for better circulation.  Facilitation of bowel movements for easier and faster elimination.  Stimulation and cleansing of the whole urinary track system (no kidney stones).  Enhanced perfusion, (exchange of O2 and nutrients at cell level) etc., etc.

     Water is truly the nectar of the Gods.  Water is life.  Ok, take a break and go get a drink of water right now.

     Most of our Mother Earth is covered in water, and 80% of our bodies consist of water.  It is a valuable commodity.  Yet, most people, if you ask them, would agree that they don't drink enough pure, clean water.  If you want more moist, younger looking skin, drink more water.  If you want less bladder infections, less constipation, less prostate problems, and less episodes of hemorrhoids, drink more water.  If you want your body to flush itself of the continual toxins that are byproducts of each day, drink more water.  It sounds so simple, buy why don't we do it?

     For years I was so busy in my practice that I would not stop for a drink, miss lunch, and rarely stop to go to the bathroom.  I know it sounds silly, but when you are in a rhythm and you don't want to let patients wait too long, you just want to keep on going.

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. . . . . . Without a very generous consumption,
a fair to decent state of health is just not possible.

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     Then I put a water filter in at work and at home and now I stop every hour to take a nice, big, cool glass of water.  I know it is another daily routine that will help me not to get old too soon.  I even take a deep "cleansing breath" after I drink the water to get me off the treadmill of life for a second, and I work for twelve straight hours without tiring

     So, notice what I said.  Buy a good water filter first.  I'm convinced that the water purification systems in our towns and cities add so much chlorine and don't take out enough contaminants that we need to invest in a better water supply.  Watch how a shriveled plant becomes more turgid an hour after you water it.  Keep your cells firm with fresh water, it's more important than you think.

     This concept is especially important for the elderly.  Many a geriatric patient dies because they are dehydrated.  First they get a urinary tract infection because their body cannot flush itself properly of waste products.  Then, because their immune system is weaker as they are older and less active, sepsis usually occurs where they eventually die from an infection that is rampant throughout their system.  All because someone didn't encourage the nursing home to make sure that their loved one drank plenty of water--every day.

     While taking case histories in my office, new patients will tell me they drink lots of fluids.  When I inquire of what they drink, they hesitate.  Then they tell me they drink two liters of Pepsi or Coke each day.  Yes, the main solvent in soda is water, but that is not what I'm talking about.  When I play volleyball with a bunch of guys on a hot July day on our farm, they try to convince me that beer or wine-coolers are more pure than water.  Let's discuss this for a moment.

     Studies have shown that people have less heart attacks and even may live longer if they drink a little alcohol each day.  Yet, I warn you, so much research is funded by agencies whose outcome promotes their own product.  Sometimes the researchers' conclusion is focused on one aspect, but ignores the bigger picture.  For example, I find it appalling that people are being told to take one aspirin a day to thin their blood to prevent heart attacks.  Now they will have kidney failure instead.  Maybe if we promote daily exercise and drink more grape juice our blood would not thicken and cause heart attacks.  But there is more profit to be made in selling aspirin than in pushing a more natural lifestyle.  I don't mean to sound sarcastic, but pharmaceuticals are big business in this country.  Let me get back to my train of thought.  My point is that although some research says there are some benefits to drinking alcohol, on a cellular level we are poisoning our bodies.  Alcohol shrivels up a cell and dehydrates it.  Damaging its walls, and collectively destroying the oxygen content in the body.  Yes, I know that you need a drink to take off the edge once in a while.  Alcohol is our way to desensitize our over-stressed minds and bodies.  But I implore you, there are better ways to relax the body.  Listen to music, breathe deeply, exercise, laugh more, hug more, buy a pet, have plants around the house, get enough sunshine, help someone in need, send a card to a lonely friend, or visit your forgotten grandmother.  Do this and you will have no need for a glass of wine, or an aspirin.

     In conclusion, drink as much pure water, fruit juices, and some milk as you can.  Some people have bad reactions to milk.  Allergies, congestion, stomach problems are to name a few.  If that is you, stay away from milk and get your calcium from other sources.  If you are fine with milk, drink that also.  Do not drink any soda, do not drink any alcohol.  Soda is pure sugar and unnecessary calories, and diet soda  have more chemicals and leave us with a desire for more sweets later on. Oh, don't be too legalistic.  If you are at your nephew's birthday party, a little soda won't hurt.  If you are at a wedding, a gulp of champagne after the toast is fun.  If you want a nice romantic with your wife to celebrate a year of hard work, a little red wine is a nice touch.  But, on a daily routine basis, out with the soda and alcohol.  In with a water filter.

     Oh, I almost forgot, what about you coffee drinkers who need a pick-up every day?  Shame on you I say.  If we are truly alive and excited with each day, knowing full well that our time can be gone at any moment -- need we have a cup of caffeine to get us going?  I say nay!  Next to tar and nicotine that shackles us like slaves to our cigarettes, in my opinion, caffeine is almost just as strong as an addictive chemical (in some people it dilates arteries and causes migraines, congestion, and can have temperament changes in behavior).  It may not affect all people in the same way, but in this over-stimulating society of ours, we don't need something else to stimulate our brains.  If we exercised daily and forgave our co-workers freely, we would sleep more soundly, and wake up refreshed, not needing a shot of caffeine to get going.

     Here again, my compassionate heart speaks to me and reminds you to live a life of balance.  If I take my family ice skating and they want a cup of hot chocolate afterwards, do I give it to them -- yes!  If I just took my dog for a long hike in the chilly, damp autumn woods, does a nice warm cup of tea taste great -- yes!  So ingest moderate and rare amounts of soda, alcohol, and caffeine and generous amounts of pure water and fruit juices.  Is that clear enough for you -- I pray so.  You can even have a cup of coffee in the morning, but not a full pot.

     Remember, not just a book of ideas, but practical examples for you to be moved into action to apply some of our ideas to change your life.  That is our prayer.  We write this book not to boost our egos or supplement our incomes, but two sincere hearts want to touch many other hearts.  That is our prayer.

 

Sleep
(Burning the Candle)

     Wouldn't it be nice if we all could get eight hours of sleep a night, seven days a week?  Living today's current obligations won't afford us this necessity.  Maybe it's more realistic to acquire slumber in the six to eight hour range with at least two of those day of the week getting eight hours -- and probably more practical.

     "Weekenders" sleep in but a lot of them are up until 3:00 A.M. or better and usually pass out, not fall asleep.  Oh yes there is definitely a big difference.  When you sleep, your body is recuperating from the day's physical and mental activities.  Repairs and restorations are being made to make you stronger, more alert, smarter, and feeling refreshed.  All your powers are being restored.  But when you pass out, your body is doing everything (using its limited supply of energies) to detox the alcohol from your aging brain and other vital organs.  It's doing everything just to survive.  Definitely no refreshed feeling on the morning after upon rising.

Let me have your attention please!  Compromising a regular normal routine sleep pattern will most surely cut years -- maybe even decades from your life.

 

Food (Diet)

     Everyone by now should know about eating healthy, eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  When I mention fruits, I don't mean fruit cocktail from the can or cherry pie.  And when I mention vegetables, I don't mean mashed potatoes, french fries, and canned vegetable soup.  And when I mention whole grains, I don't mean rice puffs or enriched white bread.  I mean fresh, raw, whole, unadulterated fruits, grains and vegetables.  Many people (I know) don't have the aerobic capacity to eat a raw vegetable.  They would also be taking a chance of breaking a tooth.  Pathetic or what?

     Hey!  I'm not against having a treat now and then.  Say . . . . Maybe once a week.  But, when your now and then, turns into twice an hour, you are headed toward an early grave.

     I know you know somebody who always has candy on them and keeps a supply of soda close at hand.  Or do you know, maybe I do, of some people that will have two slim-fasts between each meal.  Oh yeah!  That's a good diet plan . . . not!

     Listen!  Until you are ready to, until you can, until you do experience the hunger--you haven't a prayer of being what you wish.  Experience the hunger--bottom line.  And it must be experienced regularly, three times a day, every day.

     If your life revolves around food and you're one who knows every best place to eat, then you must heed this advice if you wish to live in or to your centurion years.  Eat only after you've been hungry for a while (maybe an hour or two) then eat.  Then stop eating when you are not hungry -- not when you're full or stuffed like a big fat hog.  When you begin to feel hungry, a glass of water or two can usually stave off the hunger or buy you some time until your designated feed time.

     Please be careful if you try this and be patient when you sit to eat with this new hunger (it may feel like a killer to some).  Some people have been known to choke or even nip off part of their finger in impatient anticipation.  For your safety, do not get too close to these people.  After being hungry for a good while, some cannot control their gluttonous appetite.

     Why is America the most obese country in the world?  Look around you.  My heart cries for all the health complications that too many pounds cause.  Not just heart disease, hypertension, or arthritis and leg pain, but depression, fatigue, and suicide.  Why have we gotten to this state?  I know it is a tender topic, but if you feel you are overweight, let's look at this a little deeper.

     Researchers will show that two main culprits are the cause.  In America, and in every country in which these two factors arise, obesity follows.  What do you think they are?  #1 is television, and #2 are fast-food chains.  In every country, once people are introduced to television, they have a more sedentary life.  Once fast-food chains move into an area, people are busy, and a quick burger is easier than cooking an old-fashioned meal sometimes.  But, the same hormones that artificially fatten the cow quicker, are in the hamburger meat, and we gradually eat more salt, more preservatives, more additives as a child, and gradually these habits do us in.  Then, as an adult, we watch too much television and eat unnatural foods and we are too tired to change anything.  What a sorrowful picture.  But all too often it is an accurate scenario.  Take charge of your life.  Only you can make the small necessary changes to empower your life.  Let's go over the basics.

     If it is not in the refrigerator, you won't eat it.  Buy less red meat.  Less snacks.  Less "fat-free" foods.  They are 90% fat-free, but they have 200% more chemicals added.  Buy more fresh fruits and vegetables.  Eat more salads, more fish and some chicken, if you must.  Longevity studies throughout the world have proven that a lean-mean machine lives longer.  Your digestive system works less when we eat more naturally.

     If you're tired, and you want a snack, have a bowl of fruit laying around.  To me, a nice juicy apple is better than a bowl of ice cream.  It really is for me.  It is a matter of training yourself.  Do you realize that most overweight people have one deadly habit in common - they snack before bedtime.  While most slender people never eat a morsel after supper.  So, let's eat more naturally, even if you must eat out.  Let's cut out our nightly snacks, but if you must, snack on fruit.  Now let's talk about quantity.

     A 440-pound patient of mine once was explaining to me how he has a "glandular problem" which causes his weight problem.  When I asked him what he had for lunch, he calmly responded, "five Big Mac's, two fries and a milkshake."  Then he calmly added "but I won't eat for the rest of the day."  That is where we go wrong.

     We eat too big of a portion, even if it is only once a day that we have a meal.  We expand our stomach and then we get those hunger pangs that we have to snack to keep sane.  I wish I could kidnap you for a month and I would give you three small meals a day.  You would at first be irritable, but as you drank more water and had no snacks, your body would get into a rhythm.  All of a sudden you would have more energy by eating less and then you could budget some time for an exercise routine and really change your life.

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. . . . . . Take charge of your life.  Only you can make the small
necessary changes to empower your life.  Let's go over the basics.

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     Can you hear what my heart is crying for you to do?  I want you to be FREE!  Free of cigarette dependence, drug and alcohol dependence, free from caffeine and overeating, free to be who you really want to be!

     Try a fast for a day once in a while.  It rejuvenates the body.  Check with your doctor first if you have a heart condition.  But, to only drink water for 24 hours is a great body purifier.

     As we discuss diet and nutrition, I must bring up the topic of herbs and vitamins.  America was once a healthier country when we ate vegetables out of our backyard and used more herbs.  Slowly, we got so industrialized and the family unit got so busy that we ate more fast-foods and then some of us think we are safe if we throw some vitamins or herbs into our digestive system at times.

     Remember, vitamins are called "supplements", not "substitutes."  Let's first focus on the thought that you need to eat as naturally as you can and slow down your lifestyle to enjoy better homemade foods.  Then you add vitamins to help you with your distinct weaknesses.  I feel that the water we drink is not as pure as it once was.  The soil we use may not be as potent as it was, nor the herbicides and preservatives as helpful.  So, generally, everyone should supplement their natural diets with a good natural multivitamin.  Then you have to do some homework.

     Find a good local naturalpath or herbologist and find out if a female should take extra calcium to prevent osteoporosis later in life.  Maybe vitamin C, E and selenium really can help fight the effects of stress in this society.  If taken daily, I have more confidence in the preventive role that herbs and vitamins can make in your life than medications after the fact that your natural bodily systems are already depleted.  So, herbs and vitamins, thumbs up as far as we are concerned.

     People are always telling me in my office, "Doc, don't get old."  They are tired of the aches and pains that age brings with it.  But, I tell you, most people really are old too soon and smart too late.  I see 80 year-old people who ski, golf, travel, laugh and love life.  They have gradually implemented a lot of little routines that have given them vitality even into their "golden years."  It is possible.  People dislike changes, but if you make small gradual changes, you acquire new, better habits and then have a different lifestyle.  One step at a time, one change at a time and a great new life awaits us.  Go for it!

 

Shelter

     You may think this is a  "weird" basic ingredient to health, but let me explain.  Psychologists state that one of the main factors that compel us is the desire to be liked by other people.  In our need to be liked, to be accepted, to even be respected by others, one of America's external signs is to have a big home up on a hill.  If we can impress our neighbors, then we feel good about ourselves.

     If this line of thought is true, some of us pay a big price to impress neighbors.  We build big homes that we cannot afford, max out our credit cards to fill it with furniture, and then rob all our free time by attempting to attain a weedless lawn and shrubs.  Oh, on the outside it all looks nice, but inside it forces us to have two or three jobs.  We're tired, frustrated, and we don't have the peace of mind to really enjoy it anyway.

     The big key for this topic -- live in a home that is below your means.  We will discuss this later in our financial management skills chapter, but here let us mention that if you are about to build a home, don't go too big.  Think that once the kids are gone, it is going to be too much of a house for you.  So many people tire themselves with two jobs to pay the mortgage.  Then, when the house is finally paid off, the kids are gone, either married or living abroad, they don't want to sell it because they finally own it.  But, to clean it, heat it, cut the lawn, pay the taxes....they know deep down that a smaller place would be in order.

     Suffice it to say that so much of life is relative.  If you have a larger income, you can build a bigger home.  Yet still plan ahead and see if you can easily maintain the monthly expenses once your income decreases as you age.  Blessed is the family that is content on simple things.  Their home is clean, their budget is manageable and their hearts are  joyful.

     As a child, I would read Thoreau's "Walden Pond" or Emerson's love for simplicity, the outdoors, and civil justice.  They put in my mind, at an early age, that our possessions gradually own us.  Even my heart, to this day, struggles with this dichotomy.  One part of me wants to give my wife and children nice toys (bikes, car, vacations, Nintendo . . .), and yet another part of me yearns to keep life simple and not burdened by too many material possessions.  Each has its way of needing responsibility and gradually robbing you again of your freedom.

     Financially, the experts say you are not ahead if you own or rent.  If you own, your monthly mortgage is eventually gone.  But with monthly taxes and repairs, financially, you could rent and spend the same in the long run.  But, psychologically when you can hang a picture without asking for permission or own a pet, or not worry if the landlord will sell and you will have to move soon, is a good feeling.  It is, in my opinion, better to own your home.

     So work hard, provide a good shelter for your family, but control your desires so you are still free and unburdened to enjoy this world.  To travel, to hike in the woods, to scuba-dive, to play sports, to have a basketball game or a mountain bike ride, to ski, to read a book, to visit a brother, to help a friend, to take time to pray, or just look at the stars; it is hard to do any of these things if, besides work, your home occupies all of your time.

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. . . . . . Blessed is the family that is content on simple things.  Their
home is clean, their budget is manageable and their hearts are joyful.

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Clothing

     Another strange topic, I bet your thinking.  Yet, if you consider that skin cancer is on the rise, and the ozone layer is thinner, and there is possibly a global warming trend, then we need to protect our bodies from damaging external factors.  Let's take a step back.

     One goal of this book is for each of us to realize that you are your own best doctor.  That if you get "in tune" with your body, you can look at any genetical weakness you have, see what stresses you have, look at your diet, exercise, work habits, sleeping patterns, nutrition,...and come to a nice plan to stay healthy.  Better than any doctor who would take months of valuable time to really get to know you.  So one of your conclusions should be that "I need to have less of a dependence on external artificial help and place more emphasis on internal natural immunity.  In his book, "Spontaneous Healing" by Andrew Weil, M.D., he states: "Antibiotics are powerful tools for containing susceptible infections but must be reserved for instances where they are really needed.  The frequent use of antibiotics is not wise.  In case of recurrent or chronic infections, it is important to increase natural resistance.  Disease causing germs are always present, but by enhancing immunity and natural healing capacity it is possible to reduce the chance that they can harm us.  Doctors must bear much of the responsibility for getting us into growing predicaments with aggressive bacteria; by over prescribing and mis-prescribing antibiotics, they have brought on the coming catastrophe."

     So we agree with him that the focus should be to "increase natural resistance."  We have already discussed many ways to strengthen your body, but one of the basics is to protect your outside body from damaging external environmental agents.

     People bake in the sun for hours, yet they feel safe because they have a #40 sun screen on.  Now we are finding out that sun screens don't protect us as well as we thought.  If you are fair-skinned, get as little sun on your skin as possible.  Wear a hat, cool long sleeves, sunglasses, and only swim when the sun is not at its hottest point of the day.  If you are darker complected and you tan easily, yes your body has more melanin and you have a better protection against skin cancer.  Yet, if you feel that gives you a reason to get as dark as you can every summer, one day you will regret what you did.

     People come to my office with part of their ears, face and back missing due to skin cancer surgeries.  They will tell me when they were young how they loved the sunshine.  Now they can't enjoy the outdoors.  I want you to have fun until you're 90, so protect yourself and don't become smart too late.

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. . . . . . We need to have less of a dependence on external artificial
help and place more emphasis on internal natural immunity.

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     Oh vanity, vanity.  I go skiing and I see all these younger people with no hat, no scarf, no goggles and it is -10 degrees Fahrenheit with the wind chill.  I know a hat flattens your hair and you can't look as handsome or pretty with goggles covering your face, but your focus should be on increasing your natural resistance by wearing proper protective clothing instead of looking for a date.  You can do that inside the ski lodge.  I'm practical.

     One of the body's first signals to you before you get sick is that you will have an uncontrollable cold feeling in your body.  Remember, one of the most important protective mechanisms your body has is to keep its core organs warm.  So, when you are "cold to the bone," literally do whatever it takes to get warm.  Wear three sweaters, get under an electric blanket, and go to bed early.  If this advice is not heeded, you will be battling with a cold, flu, or virus for weeks.  If heeded, by listening to your body's signals, you will feel stronger in a few days and you won't get behind in your work and other duties.

     Remember what Doctor Weil said, "Disease causing germs are always present, but by enhancing immunity and natural healing capacity it is possible to reduce the chance that they can harm us."  We don't have to worry about the pneumonia bacteria that are always in us, if we keep our bodies warm and dry.  We go to work on a windy, cold, rainy day.  We're tired, over-stressed, don't exercise, don't eat right, so we have lowered our resistance and then the bronchitis agents flare up because we gave them rich soil to grow in.

     Conversely, if it's hot outside, wear cool, cotton clothing which allows your body to breathe, not clothing that fits us so tightly that when someone is sitting on a park bench, they can tell if we have briefs or boxers on!  Use some common sense and wear what you feel is right for the situation, not just what is fashionable.  Boy, the more I write this book, the more fun I am having.  I can't wait until I'm finished so I can go and buy it!  I hope you're learning and having fun at the same time.

 

Wear-Ware-Beware

     If you can't read the signs of nature, it would behoove you to follow the weather forecast.  Not being prepared for impending foul or potentially dangerous weather can be life threatening if not life ending.  Being forewarned is being forearmed.  Shelter and clothing can save your life.  Being aware of impending danger and taking appropriate action to prevent accidents is a big part of survival.

 

General Suggestions

     What you can do is to constantly be aware of all the basics.  Am I deep breathing more often than not?  For instance, are you breathing deeply while you're reading this?  Why not?  Am I drinking water before every meal and between meals?  Is my diet predominately fresh fruit, raw vegetables, and whole grains?  Are my sleep patterns getting consistent?  Am I constantly aware of my environment and surroundings for safety reasons?

     Ok-- pay attention.  You must be your own best preacher; then practice what you preach.  Just look around; at friends, relatives, other people -- a lot of bad habits and even less good ones to take notice of.  Learn from other peoples' mistakes.  They appear as if they don't care, but you are the one who is interested in another life, so get concerned with yourself.

     Some people can't gradually change.  It's too nonchalant a regimen.  Some need an immediate, abrupt turnaround type of change.  Whatever works for you -- it's the end result we are all after, the far end.

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. . . . . . You must be your own best preacher;
then practice what you preach.

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