Monday, October 31, 2016

The C-Word: Staying the Course

Many people I talk to about getting healthier say the same thing to me, "It's too much, Ameena. Maybe you could do it, but I can't change my diet. I can't change my lifestyle."

Yes. Yes you can.

If you want to. 

I'm not trying to beat you up. But I know you can.

Think about this way - it's about long-term goals. Delayed gratification is very hard for people's brains to process. Myself, especially. I tend to be impulsive. When I want something, I want it NOW. I know the feeling.

You may realize you are able to do it in one way but not in another. Some people can save money. They say to themselves, "I'll skip going out to dinner or an extra drink for a bigger dent in my debt or my retirement savings." (I am not one of those people. Despite being middle-aged, retirement seems very far away. And my debt is amorphorous.)

For me, it's "I'll skip buying those boots or that coat, so I can pay the mortgage or rent." I can do short-term.

If you can think, "I'll skip that ice cream cone and my tummy/thighs/double chin will look flatter on Saturday night - or at the beach," which is just a few days' ahead, you can eat to stop or slow cancer or heart disease. If you can do a few crunches every evening, you can be stronger in less than a week.

The strict anticancer diet, which is very close to the Whole30 meal plan, is doable for impulsive people if you can think short term. You tell yourself, "If I skip the milk and sugar in my tea or coffee today, I will have so much more energy or no headache tomorrow." I can promise that you skip the grains and sweeteners (ALL of them, including artificial ones), you will definitely have a flatter stomach by tomorrow. Yes, you will probably feel a little worse while you detox (maybe for three days) and you will be dreaming about candy, but once you get rid of the addiction, you WILL feel and look amazing. Isn't that worth it? Three days to clear eyes and skin? 10 days to a glow?

Instead of thinking about giving stuff up forever, think about giving it up for a week. Or 30 days.

On evenings when you are tired and grumpy and the donuts are calling your name, you think, "Just til tomorrow. I won't eat them now and I will be so happy tonight. Then if I still feel like it, I can always get one tomorrow." When tomorrow comes, you do the same thing. Or maybe you think, "Just for an hour. I'll see if I still want one when I pass the next donut shop." Then when you pass the next donut shop, you say to yourself, "I'm almost home. I could make some sweet potatoes..." and so on.

why it's worth to stick to your anticancer diet. a cherokee proverb.

On the other hand, if you are a long-term thinking person, you say, "I'll skip sugar, dairy and grains so that I can make it to my daughter's wedding - or my granddaughter's wedding."

Or the way I think, "If I stay away from air pollution and toxins, exercise, meditate and eat organic and green today, I will remain self-sufficient and active until I die." Obviously, this is not totally controllable - I could get hit by a car or some other horrid thing, but similarly, I could lose all my retirement savings in a bad investment or if the economy tanks again.

Personally, I am less worried about leaving this world than I am about losing my autonomy and agency.

I don't want to spend the last years of my life being pushed around in a wheelchair and/or an institution. I really don't want other people making decisions for me or choosing what time I go to bed or what meds I take. I don't want to be in constant pain or feeble or lose control of my limbs.

I want to leave this world on my yoga mat, in a sufi meditation or on a surf board.

If you're a short-term person - can you change your lifestyle long enough to make it to your next doctor's appointment and see how your vitals have changed? Can you change it long enough to put your cancer in remission?

This is how I save for retirement. Eating lightly, no sugar and more greens, exercising more, sleeping well, taking supplements that reduce inflammation and strengthen my immune system, meditating - all that is better than health insurance at keeping you from diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

It's not hard to eat organic, humane and anti-inflammatory, look after your heart and stay away from toxins if you want to protect yourself from dementia and alzheimer's.

I know you can do it too.

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