Jamie’s journey to optimum health has taken him from eating a standard American diet through many variations of a vegan diet. He eats a diet that consists of mostly local in-season organic fruits and salads. He enjoys growing food in his small garden and would like to one day grow all of his own food. He also really enjoys running Daily Green Boost, a barley grass juice powder product that he created so he and others can get high-quality nutrients at an affordable price. He posts a lot of what he eats on Instagram, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter and offers his product at DailyGreenBoost.com.
1. Get tested. My No. 1 recommendation for people is to get tested for nutritional deficiencies. Making changes to improve your health while nutritional deficiencies are present is like running into a strong wind with a parachute strapped to your back. I recommend getting the help of a health coach or health professional who is knowledgeable about finding and correcting deficiencies. Deciding which test or tests to have done and correcting any deficiencies that are found are not always obvious.
2. 150 is the new 200. I’ve heard a number of times that a total cholesterol of 200 (mg/dL) or less is healthy. I got reassurances from doctors that my total cholesterol being at or just above 200 was normal. I now believe there is data to show that although a total cholesterol of 200 may be normal, it is not healthy. It should really be 150 or below. I’m so happy that I finally found the key to lowering my total cholesterol, and it was 147 for the first time in my life earlier this year.
3. At the root of it all. Look for and find root causes instead of masking or ignoring symptoms you might experience. Modern medicine is filled with so many examples of treating the symptoms without finding or treating the root causes. And it can be very easy to fall into that mode of thinking. Have an upset stomach? It’s very easy to take a pill or drink some ginger tea to soothe it without giving any thought to the root cause of the upset. I think many of us experience minor and sometimes major symptoms and usually dismiss them instead of looking for a root cause. These symptoms can provide us with a roadmap to better health if we study and explore them.
4. Don’t sweat the small stuff—none of it is small stuff. It’s amazing to me how long I ignored so many clues about problems with my health. At the time, they seemed so trivial and normal, to be expected. Things such as pimples, skin issues, weak fingernails, hangnails, fingernails with ridges, crust in my eyes, dried mucus in my nose, flaky scalp, etc.
The symptoms may be small today, but what is causing them? The same thing that is causing something small today likely will turn into something big tomorrow if it is left unchecked. A deficiency that is left uncorrected today could lead to a major disease years later. So why not pay attention to and correct the big stuff while it still looks like small stuff?
5. Honor full. When am I full? A simple question that has not been so simple for me to answer. For a long time, I had completely lost touch with the sensation of being full. When I grew up, the focus was for me to “clean my plate,” and that became a habit for me. Later in life, I frequently found myself eating until stuffed, a state past full in which I simply can’t eat another bite. When I really focused on the sensation of feeling full, I found that it was not such a simple answer and that often times I would continue eating because there was more food on my plate. I’ve found that eating until full (and not past it) is a big part of healthy digestion and, therefore, good health in general.
6. Chew, baby, chew. For a lot of years, I was in the habit of not chewing my food completely. For me, eating was an obligation that took time away from other things in my day. The faster I ate, the faster I could get on to doing something else. So swallowing food that was not completely chewed meant eating faster. I eventually realized the digestive upset it caused. I believe setting aside time to eat purposefully and chewing each bite completely is necessary for good digestion.
7. Brush ’em off. There’s more to being healthy than just the food we eat and how we eat it. There are two things that are very closely connected to the food we eat, and they are our teeth and gums. Unhealthy gums likely will lead to an unhealthy heart as the protective barrier our healthy gums provide is compromised when they become unhealthy. Bacteria is then able to enter our bloodstream and go to the heart, where it can cause serious issues. Even with the threat of such a serious health condition, proper dental hygiene can be so easy to neglect. I have certainly been guilty myself. Now, however, I brush immediately after each meal, focusing on the gums as well as the teeth, and I also floss each day. It’s something that is so easy to do now that I’ve made it a habit, and it makes a big difference.
8. Low energy is a signal, not a condition. Low energy during the day or after meals is an indication that something is not working well. Low energy itself, however, is not something that needs to be fixed. If we look for the cause or causes for the low energy and fix that, then the low energy will also be fixed. I now realize that having low energy after I eat a meal likely means that something I ate is causing a strain on my body. Look closely at why what you’re eating could be causing low energy and correct the root cause of the issue.
9. Exercise your option. Yes, we need exercise to reach optimal health, but I think a lack of exercise gets the blame far too often when a particular diet isn’t working. If we eat a diet that includes an abundance of calorie-dense foods, then we will usually need a significant amount of exercise to maintain a healthy weight. But is it an absence of exercise or the abundance of calorie-dense foods that is the problem?
Many times, when a person is not having success with a fruit-based diet, then a lack of exercise is said to be the reason. I haven’t found that to be true for me. Each time I experience a problem, I look for a non-exercise-related root cause. And each time, I find the answer I’m looking for.
10. Don’t act your age. I regularly hear “I’m just getting older” as a reason for someone’s diminishing health or ability. It’s true that we all get older, but how do we know if what we’re experiencing is age-related or diet- and nutrition-related? Once we say that age is the cause of an issue, then we stop looking for any other causes.
I prefer to act the age I want to be instead of the age the calendar says I am. That means I expect everything related to my health to be performing at a very high level. And if something isn’t, then I explore what could be causing it and never consider age. Age is a convenient answer, but I think it is an answer that tricks people into believing they are stuck with many symptoms and conditions that they are not really stuck with.
11. Sleeping beauty. It’s hard for me to overemphasize how important quality and abundant sleep is to good health. I used to value sleep very little. I would stay up late at night and then get up early in the morning. I would be so tired that I would drag through the day, take naps on my lunch break or any chance I could, and sometimes I would even start to fall asleep when driving. All of the signs were there that I wasn’t giving my body enough of what it needed—sleep—but I ignored them. I had so many things that I wanted to get done each day that I felt were more important than sleep.
All of that changed when I started to make my health more of a priority. I now consider quality and abundant sleep to be just as important as eating a healthy diet, getting proper nutrients and eliminating unhealthy foods. How my face looks in the morning, especially around my eyes, is a clear indicator of how well I’m doing. A dark color, puffiness or bags under my eyes let me know I need more or a higher quality of sleep.
12. Get ready for a journey. Achieving and maintaining a high level of health is a lifelong journey. I used to think that finding a diet that worked really well for me would take days or weeks. It’s now many years later, and I’m still searching, learning things and making adjustments. It’s easy to take something as complex as our health and simplify it and come up with a simple answer that should be true for everyone. It’s easy, but it may not be accurate.
I’ve changed my expectation that one book or one person will have all the answers I need. I now expect to need to do my own research and explore the ideas of many people and many books to find my answers. I realize that my body is different from other people’s bodies. Just because something works for others doesn’t mean that it will work for me in the same way. Or work for me all the time. My body is constantly changing. The more I change things, the more my body changes and the more I find things that need to be changed. After eating such unhealthy food for so many years of my life, I joyfully embrace this journey to better health. To optimal health.
Check out Jamie Pounds’ transformation story!