A small effort taken to improve my health today is infinitely better than taking no action at all.
One of the small ways I seek to improve my health is by taking a walk at least 5x per week. Walking is something that helps the body in a lot of positive ways and it’s a great inexpensive, zero side, effect way to improve mood as well.
Today I only took a ten minute walk. That’s a lot shorter than I like to go but it’s better than not walking at all. I didn’t go as far as usual because of the time of day I went and because of how I was feeling.
Before I went on the walk I thought for a moment that I shouldn’t go because it’s too hot and that I was too tired. And that I won’t be able to go as far as I normally do and if I do go I’ll feel terrible and I’ll only be able to go for a short walk. I asked myself “What would be the use of that?”.
I’m glad I answered that a short walk is better than no walk at all. I overcame that resistance and went.
Too often it can be overwhelming dealing with chronic health issues to justify doing the small things that seem trivial in light of the amount of pain or the fatigue that one feels.
But it’s these small choices each day that I make over time have a big positive impact on improving the quality of my life. Today I only walked ten minutes but that is still a small win in the pursuit of healthier me.
Don’t discount the small wins. They can add up over time to produce amazing results.
Summer time is the time for grilling. There is nothing better than a meal of perfectly grilled chicken with a side of grilled veg, like peppers and zyccchini. Yesterday I decided to expand my outdoor cooking horizons and threw cucumbers on the fire along with my tried and true favorites and I’m glad I did.
In the middle are the two cucumber halves.
If you are a fan of grilled zucchini I think you’ll also like grilled cucumbers. The charring and time over the coals brings out a mild sweetness that you just don’t get from eating them raw.
It’s very simple to prepare. This is all you need.
Cucumbers, oil, and salt and pepper.
1. Cut your cumbersome in half.
2. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds
3. Coat with olive oil
4. Liberally salt and pepper both sides with
5. Place cut side down on the gril – flip when there is a bit of char, then finish it with skin side down till tender.
I serve mine doused with my 5 minute vineigrette along side grilled chicken. Absolutely delicious. They are even better the next day.
If you are feeling adventurous try grilling cucumbers for a novel and nutritious addition to your next summer time meal.
3 ingredient vinaigrette
Making your own salad dressing is so easy and it’s a 1000 times better for you than the store bought version. Store bought dressings are filled with highly processed and chemically deodorized vegetable or seed oil and sugar. Both of these ingredients are believed to increase inflammation in your body. And that’s not a good thing.
This is the simple 3 ingredient vineigrette shopping list.
Oil – Avocado oil or light olive oil
Vinegar – Bragg’s Apple Cider, Red or White
Most vinaigrette recipes call for the classic 3-1 oil to vinegar ration. I like mine sour and I use an almost 1 to 1 ratio. Start with the classic ratio then adjust the amount of vinegar to taste. As far as the mustard goes I add about 1 tablespoon when making it in a 6oz mason jar. I just eyeball it.
All the equipment you need is a small mason jar or other tightly sealing container. If you use a mason jar you don’t have to use a measuring cup. Just use the measurements on the jar itself for the oil and vinegar. It couldn’t be simpler.
1. Add oil, vinegar, mustard.
2. Put the lid on and shake vigorously.
3. Pour on salad and enjoy.
It will take you less time to make this dressing than it will take for you to read this post.
* If I want to fancy it up I add lemon juice and fresh chopped herbs from my garden (thyme, parsley, and marjoram). Another crowd pleasing option is to add red chili peppers and chopped roasted garlic.
* Experiment with combinations of different types oils, vinegars, mustards.
* This is also delicious on grilled chicken and grilled zucchini
I like to make mine it in small batches which will store in the fridge and keep tasty for a few days.
Eating fats with your salads is vitally important. If you don’t eat some fat with your veggies you are missing out on a lot of their benefits. The olive oil and avocado oil in the dressing enables your body to absorb the powerful vitamins and other compounds in the vegetables that are fat soluble.
Stay away from store bought dressings because most of them contain industrially processed oils and sugar. Next time you are in the grocery store read the labels. The number one ingredient will be one of the following oils, soybean, canola, corn, cottonseed, safflower, or sunflower. All of these oils are highly processed and prone to turning rancid. And sugar has been labeled a poison by some researchers because of its devastating effect on the body.
You are eating a salad for the health benefits. If you are using a dressing from the store you are dousing your nutrition packed health promoting salad with a factory created inflammatory causing concoction.
Inflammation is no bueno.
Keep your kitchen stocked with these vinaigrette ingredients and you’ll never have to buy a bottle of salad dressing ever again. Your body and brain will thank you.
I have to thank my big brother for teaching me how to make this and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
Six Minute Read
Mind Your Mental Diet
We are what we eat is a famous saying we’ve all heard over and over again. What if we should also add the observation that “Our minds our made of what we listen to and see”? Food is both the fuel and the building blocks of our bodies and our brains. We deplete our resiliency and longevity by eating the foods that aren’t nourishing while missing out on the opportunity to strengthen ourselves by eating foods that contain what our bodies and brains thrive on. The exact process happens when we consume media.
When we consume healthy foods our physical processes work more efficiently. Our bodies have the resources it needs to better fend off injury and illness. When I consume good food I feel better. When I make a point to consume positive images, thoughts and ideas I do as well. By making a point to mentally consume life affirming growth oriented and interesting ideas delivered in entertaining ways by people of good will, I’m better able to turn even obstacles I encounter into opportunities.
I’m a huge proponent of ancestral eating. But I sometimes stray from the paleo path and when I do I feel lousy both physically and mentally. The times I do get off the straight and narrow, I can look back and find that I’ve not been reading books about or listening to podcasts explaining the benefits of primal eating. By not inoculating myself with these positive sources of information I become more susceptable to the subtle and not so subtle influences around me. Part of the reason for this is, that I like every other average American, am exposed to about 4000 advertisements per day. That number includes everything from internet ads, to billboards, store fronts and government propaganda
There is a reason that your email is free and there is a reason Facebook doesn’t charge you. It is because Ads work. Companies and the government pay them to put messages in front of you in hope of changing how you think. We all want to believe that our behavior isn’t affected by these ads but they are. Our minds take in a lot of information from ads each day that after repeated exposures begins to deeply seep into our decision making processes. It’s like mindlessly eating snacks while watching tv. Before you know it the bag of potato chips are gone and you were not even aware you were eating. Or it’s like when we don’t control what we are being served to eat when we go to someone’s home for dinner. We consume ads in a similar way. We accept what we are given or we mindlessly consume information without considering or even being aware of the consequences.
But there is hope of course. Like any diet we first need to know what is wrong with our current way of eating and make adjustments. One of the biggest steps for me is that on a regular basis I clear out my “mental food fridge”. I get rid of all the junk that is not helping me to enjoy life more fully. I eliminate or greatly limit all the sources of media that I go to in order to get that quick dopamine fix, or that I indulge in when I’m procrastinating or just because I’ve made a habit of watching. These sources of negative mental foods include twitter posts and youtube video rants about gloom and doom. I’ve spent hours going down the rabbit holes of conspiracy and the always imminent collapse of civilization. This doesn’t mean I don’t indulge now and again on both. I’m fascinated and curious about large social patterns and past cataclysms and do believe that a major event could be possible again.
In order to have a ready supply of positive nourishing mental food at hand to offset the occasional indulgences, I seek out positive sources of information which don’t ignore reality but illuminate the human condition in order to help individuals improve their lives. For me the Joe Rogan Podcast is my biggest mental food staple and has been for years. He explores the ideas that help humans live better and he does so in a funny, intellectual and empathetic way. On The JOE ROGAN EXPERIENCE he’s had everyone from Neil Degrasse Tyson to Steve-o. Nutrition, fitness, mental toughness, comedy, overcoming adversity, scientific discoveries, becoming a better human being are all themes he explores. The conversations are always deeper than what you’ll find with most other places because he spends between two to three hours with them. When I consume most JRE podcasts I feel better. My mood is lifted, I’m motivated to take actions to improve my life and I have something positive to share with others.
This is another amazing part of a Nourishing Mental Diet. You get to can share these ideas and information with others without losing their benefits. This is different than food that you eat. You actually increase your positive mental state when you share these nourishing bits of positiveness. On the other hand if you share negative information you are now feeding that person negative mental food. I heard someone say once “Don’t dump your mental garbage into my mind.” When we share positive information, emotions and energy we are becoming a source of nourishing mental food for others and reducing the amount of mental garbage in the world.
We all have a choice each day on what we choose to consume, whether it’s physical food or mental food. These choices create a trail of complicated consequences that can last a lifetime. Even if the effects aren’t felt immediately they can add up and make a huge difference in what we think, how we perceive the world, how we emotionally feel and how we interact with others. Our body and our mind to a large extent are both the product of what we consume. We can be filled with junk food and negative media that creates an inflamed mind and body or we can ingest the positive nourishing food and ideas that makes us feel better and which enable us to create the body and world that we want to live in.
My mom just had her second round of chemo yesterday. She’s beginning to have trouble getting water down because of the taste. That was before she ate something called a Miracle Fruit Berry. After eating one small berry and then taking a sip of H2O she exclaimed “It tastes like water”. Before she would say that it tastes like have a mouth full of coins and could hardly get water down.
The Miracle Berry is a small red berry grown indoors in Florida by Miracle Fruit Farms. My grandma, her mom, actually found an article in her local newspaper about this fruit that originated in Africa. I did a little research and watched the testimonials and ordered some fresh berries and the powdered tablets.
Watching my mom suffer with her chemo treatments and being powerless to help her has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Being able to buy something that could possibly help was a no brainer. You can buy fresh berries, powdered berry tablets and even whole beery plants. The fresh berries are the most expensive option because they go bad so quickly. The tablets are less expensive and I would assume their top seller. We chose to buy both just to see if there was a difference.
The berries have a special chemical that acts on the the tastebuds that help mask the metallic taste caused by chemo. And for my mom it works. It’s advised to eat the berry or tablet before you eat or drink and swish it around your mouth in order to coat your tongue. The effect is supposed to last from 15 minutes to 2 hours.
I ate a Berry as well tonight and almost cracked a tooth. Turns out there is a huge pit in each berry so I advise caution when eating. The taste is very pleasant and you can feel the pulp coating your tongue as you chew it. After mom drank her water and found that it tasted like water again, I took a sip of my Yerba Mate tea in which I added some lemon to.
At first I didn’t know what was going as I was expecting the sour punch of half a lemon in my tea and it wasn’t there. My brain wasn’t able to compute what my taste buds were reporting, my tea didn’t have the acidic lemon flavor I’ve come to love at all. In fact it tasted like sweet tea. I had to take a few more sips before I remembered reading that the same chemical that can mask the metallic taste induced by chemo can also make sour foods taste sweet. Very crazy. I’m 30 minutes in and the effect is still going strong.
If you miss sweet tea and you are on a Primal or Paleo or a no-sugar diet this may satisfy that craving.
After I placed the order the fresh Miracle Berries and Berry tablets arrived in about two days. We’ve not tried the tablets yet but will try them tomorrow. And also we’ve frozen the fresh berries and we’ll see if that alters the effect on the taste buds. Hopefully they’ll stop work.
Chemo is horrible. In fact one of her 5 chemo drugs is actually a mustard gas derivative. To make it through this poisoning she has to eat and drink even though her mouth and throat are full of sores and on top of that food and water taste terrible. She has Miracle Mouth Wash and a homemade baking soda and salt mouth rinse for the sores but the the medical community doesn’t seem to have any answer to undoing her tastebuds short circuiting.
Miracle Fruit is the one thing so far that we’ve found to help water not taste horrible to her. We’ll see about it affects the taste of food tomorrow. Anything I can do to make her trip through this chemical induced hell, we call chemo, easier, I will happily do.
Update – 3 days after chemo mom used the berry tablet and was able to drink a fruit and veggie smoothie. She tried it before the tablet and said it tasted terrible. But after letting a Miracle Fruit berry tablet dissolve and coat her tongue, she tried it again and with a smile said “it tastes good”.
If you know anyone suffering through chemo and they are complaining of food and water not tasting right you might want to visit Miracle Fruit Farm and do your own research to see i you think it will help someone you love. I know I’m glad I did.
Emerson “A man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition as if every thing were titular and ephemeral but he. I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions.”
Dehydration occurs when you have lost too much water before you replace it and demotivation can occur when we don’t consume quality sources of motivation on a regular basis. Both of these states can have a detrimental effect on the mind and body. I dehydrate extremely quickly because of the ileostomy I’ve had for 25 years. And I also demotivate extremely quickly as well because of my chronic pain, autoimmune diseases and the complications from multiple surgeries of the past. Drinking plenty of water and daily consuming high quality sources of motivation to provide my brain this vital neural nutrient are both required for me to live better today.
For me motivation consists of two things: Hope and an example. Currently I’m filling my daily recommended intake of motivation with three sources: Emerson’s Essays, The Documentary “Tim’s Vermeer” and the podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience”. Even though these three sources of motivation seem disparate and are delivered in different forms (the written word for Emerson, Moving Pictures for “Tim’s Vermeer”, and the spoken word with “The Joe Rogan Experience”), they all provide me with the motivation that I need throughout the day.
The Essay’s of Emerson are full of hope. Currently I’m reading his essays in a collection called “The Spiritual Emerson”. The professor who wrote the introduction, relates how his students responded to Emerson when reading his works for the first time. They were excited to be reading Emerson, and the reason they gave was, because it gave them hope. That is an essential element for human beings. We need to consume external sources of motivation that contain the essential element of hope everyday. In his essay “Self-Reliance” he urges us all to follow our own path and not to submit to what others want for us. In “Compensation” he explains how when humans work, there is a law of compensation that even if it’s not readily perceived, virtuous action is itself a reward. And along with hope, Emerson is an amazing example as well. He charted his own path during a time when the vast majority of people in this country were diametrically opposed to how he thought.
Another source of hope and example I’ve been feeding upon lately is the wonderful documentary, “Tim’s Vermeer”. It’s a film by Penn and Teller who follow from conception to completion, their friend Tim’s obsession with figuring out how the Renaissance painter Vermeer could paint so realistically, and in particular how he painted his famous painting “The Music Lesson”. Tim had a hunch that Vermeer used an optical device that used mirrors and he set out to see if he could recreate his process. Tim actually rebuilt Vermeer’s workshop in a warehouse in Texas and created in excruciating detail The Music Lesson’s scene and he did most of the work himself. But in the end (spoiler alert), Tim was able to recreate “The Music Lesson” using the optical device he created using materials that were available during Vermeer’s time. Absolutely incredible. It took him over a year.
Tim’s example of dedication to discover and then recreate the Vermeer is absolutely amazing. And this example gives me hope. What is great about a quality source of motivation like this, is that it isn’t consumed inside the brain. As long as I recall the film, I am able to restock my tank of motivation from inside my own mind any time I’m running low. That’s why I prefer to consume only high quality sources of motivation. They persist.
The Joe Rogan Experience Podcast combines the two elements of motivation, hope and example, better than any source I’ve discovered yet. In every episode I’m able to find motivation from him and his guests that help to refill my motivation tank. The reason why I am a huge fan is that he is a sincere guy who seeks excellence in his own life, whether its his stand up comedy, jujitsu, his health and fitness or commentating for the UFC. He has a commitment to excellence but still enjoys life, is silly with his friends and can still carry on an enlightening conversation with neuroscientists, rock stars and medical doctors. His example of empathy, intelligence and persistence is built upon his actions. And he is also a purveyor of hope. For example, he has helped many of his friends and guests start their own podcasts. He tells them “If I can do it you can too, I’ll help you.” In a few days his friend or guest will have a podcast up and running. The reason why I’m starting up my podcast “Chronically Human” is because of the hope and example he’s provided for me, without even knowing who I am.
When I’m dehydrated I don’t clearly and my body is sluggish. The same thing happens when I don’t consume my daily requirement of motivation. We breath, drink, eat and consume motivation so we can act. By consistently refilling my motivation tank, I’m able to close the gap between thought and action. And when I’m able to do this consistently I can become a motivation to others, and that’s my way of ensuring that this essential neural nutrient containing hope and example, are plentiful and growing in the world.
Along with my daily dose of external motivation, I also create internally my own motivation by remembering my past actions in which I persisted, in which I overcame, and in which I helped someone else do the same. My internal source of motivation is still limited and I’m working on relying on this more and more. Just like I only have so much water in my body at the moment, I only have so much motivation as well. When I’m dehydrated or demotivated I don’t enjoy life, my mind is cloudy and the lag between thought and action becomes so large that I end up accomplishing very little. I have to tell myself drink more water and consume more sources of motivation and both help me to overcome the resistance to act.
“The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.” Emerson