Ten Steps for Beginners to Make Changes to a Healthier Lifestyle
Dr. Vaughn Lawrence
Mar 1, 2011
Many people are ready to make some changes to a healthier lifestyle, but they are bombarded with so much information that it is hard to even find a starting point. If you want to feel amazing, lose weight or just be incredibly healthy, you have to start somewhere. However, following ridiculous weight loss programs, fad diets and searching a magic pill or supplement is not the answer. The key to successful transition to a healthier lifestyle is to focus on long term goals and not short term fixes. If you are not making basic, simple life changes, then taking a supplement is just like covering up the problem with a band-aid.
Making changes to a healthier lifestyle does not have to be all or nothing. You certainly do not need to go 100% raw vegan overnight for great health! This is extreme, and most likely you are setting yourself up for failure. That’s why I have 10 initial steps you can take to start living healthy for beginners. You can start with the first step and work your way down the list over a period of months, or dive right in and try them all! This will give you the power and tools to start today, but at your own pace.
Step 1 – Eliminate Diet Soda, Regular Soda, Carbonated Beverages and Energy Drinks
Soda and carbonated beverages are absolute poison to the body. They destroy digestion, spike blood sugar, destroy the adrenal glands, eat the lining of the stomach, deposit poison in the nervous system, rot your teeth, pull calcium from your bones causing osteoporosis, cause ADD and thousands of more illnesses. If you want to begin your journey to vibrant health, the first step is to eliminate soda completely from your life. If it is not easy to break the addiction to soda, the first step is to stop buying it and only drink it occasionally. You may cave in at a party or a ball game, but don’t feel guilty because this is still better than drinking several cans a day. Finally, one day you will be able to eliminate the soda completely from your life.
Step 2 – Eliminate White (White Flour, White Sugar, White Rice, etc)
Manufacturers remove all nutrients from the product to increase shelf life. If you see the word “fortified”, that is bad news because this means the nutrients have been removed and replaced with synthetic vitamins. Switch to whole grains. Ideally, buy the whole, original form of the plant. Wild rice, brown rice and long grain rice in the whole form are very healthy. White sugar can be replaced with palm sugar, raw honey or stevia. If you sometimes slip and eat food with white flour or white sugar, do not feel guilty. The phrase “make it the exception, not the rule” should be your mantra because trying to be perfect is setting yourself up for failure. You can start by not purchasing them for your daily grocery. If you can eliminate them from your life (except for the occasional party or event once a month), you are doing great.
Step 3 – Eliminate Dairy
Milk itself is not bad, but the processing of dairy makes it a poison. Processed dairy pulls calcium from your bones because it is acidic. It creates mucus, lines the intestinal tract, blocks absorption of nutrients and creates illnesses like Diverticulitis. If you want to do a reality check on the dangers of milk, go to www.notmilk.com. Instead of processed dairy, try raw milk straight from the farm because it is healthy. Butter, yogurt and kefir (raw and/or organic is still better) are also good for your health, even if they are dairy products. Step one is to eliminate all dairy except butter, yogurt and kefir (except maybe an occasional ice cream or cheese on salad). Step two is to choose mostly raw dairy products from local farms. Step three is to eliminate dairy completely from your life.
Step 4 – Cut back or Eliminate Excess Caffeine and Drink Water and Herbal Teas Instead
Fresh coffee (½ cup a day) in its organic form is not bad for you. The problem is that most of us drink a lot of coffee or other caffeinated drinks with sugar and cream. If you are addicted to coffee, then that means your hormones are not working well. Instead, drink two big glasses of water when you wake up in the morning. Add lemon to you water for a cleansing alkalizing boost. Herbal teas are also great alternatives to coffee. Herbs like Chaga or Reishi mushrooms, Dandelion, Chicory or Shilajit have tremendous health benefits for your body.
Step 5 – Add Fresh Vegetables, and Lots of Them!
We all know that vegetables are good for us, but we do not eat enough vegetables. If your excuse is that you do not like vegetables or you have a hard time with raw vegetables, that means your body is acidic or you may have weak digestion or weak adrenal glands. First, start eating steamed and cooked vegetables and slowly switch to raw vegetables. Start introducing vegetables one at a time. As your body changes, you will grow to love and crave vegetables. The best way to eat vegetables is to eat 20% something else (meat, eggs, grains, rice, beans, etc) with 80% vegetables. You can choose only one of something else in order to combine the food properly. Step one is to make a conscious effort to add and enjoy more vegetables each day. Step two is to truly enjoy vegetables and make them a staple of your daily life. Third step is to eat almost every meal with 80% vegetables and 20% something else.
Step 6 – Cut Back on Meat
When we changed from a plant-based diet (every culture on earth for thousands of years) to a meat based diet (modern America), we started getting more diseases. You do not need to eliminate meat completely. As long as you make intelligent choices and learn to cut back, you can still enjoy meat and live healthy. Our bodies are designed to eat plants, fruits, nuts and seeds. Start with eating 100% grass fed beef, cage free and free range chicken, wild caught fish and organic options. Then you can gradually reduce the amount of meat every day.
Step 7 – Eliminate Processed Sugar
Eliminating processed sugar is probably one of the most difficult steps in this program. We have gone from consuming 5 lbs per year to over 150 lbs per year, per person in the US. This has led to a spike of Type II diabetes illnesses in modern societies. Processed sugar is a poison to the body and causes obesity. Step one is to eliminate donuts, soda, cookies, candy, pastries, ice-cream, etc from your daily life and only eat them at special functions, parties or events. Step two is to use healthier sugars such as palm sugar, raw honey, stevia, raw clear agave, or pure maple syrup when you are trying to sweeten your tea or desserts. Gradually, you can limit sweets and treats by having them only once per week and finally once per month.
Step 8 – Exercise Every Day and Sweat
Exercise moves the lymph, improves circulation and strengthens every cell of your body. Exercise also helps you sweat and flush out toxins through the body. An easy way to exercise at home is to use a quality rebounder such as Cellerciser for a minimum of 10 minutes per day. Also, you can find something you enjoy for exercise. Tennis, softball, walking, bike riding, hiking, yoga, weights, racquetball and jogging are all great ideas. If you are consistent and exercise every day, you will feel great and healthy.
Step 9 – Sleep
Sleep is the only way to heal, repair and rejuvenate the body. During sleep, you repair hormones, create new cells and build critical neurotransmitters. 7-9 hours of sleep every night is a must for good health. In order to sleep well, avoid stimulating your brain before bedtime, turn off the light and make the room dark, get grounded by using an earthing bed pad or sheet, and take magnesium before you go to bed. If you sleep 7-9 hours every night with little or no interruption, then you are successful in your journey to great health.
Step 10 – Nourish Yourself
Our body is designed to function optimally if we treat it properly. Just like a car functions well only if you take of care of it well, the body functions optimally only if you eat healthy and exercise regularly. Our body creates 150 billion new cells every day to replace old, damaged or diseased cells. To correctly create new cells, you will need correct materials from quality food and supplements. In this modern society, almost everyone has some degree of toxicity in their cells, which inhibits or stops the ability of cells to properly replicate. That’s why it is so important to nourish your cells properly. In addition, make sure you are nourishing your spirituality, your love for other people and your families. When your nourish your body, your mind starts to change and your attitude changes as well. The phrase, “You are what you eat” goes so much deeper than just physical health. You can start by following the steps listed above, and then focus on being aware of whether your food is nourishing or potentially damaging to your body. It is also a good idea to visit a natural health professional 3-4 times per year to learn the best foods and supplements to put in your body.
With these first ten steps, you will be well ahead on your road to vibrant health. You will feel the benefit of increased energy, clearer thinking and better overall sense of well-being. You may not be perfect all the time, and that’s why it is important to remember the phrase, “Make it the exception, not the rule!”.
(This article is based on information provided at a weekly healthy living class by Dr. Vaughn Lawrence. Dr. Lawrence is a Naturopath, Herbalist and Nutritional Consultant at Spirit of Health, Kansas City. He founded Spirit of Health, LLC upon his return to Kansas City after seven years in Las Vegas training with three master Herbalists and spending time as a health food store manager, educator, practitioner and consultant. For a video about this class as well as additional information, please visit www.spiritofhealthkc.com).