Scrolling Instagram, eyes drawn to colorful tinctures and perfectly prepared plates.
Adaptagentic mushroom coffee and vibrant tumeric lattes with open day planners and perfectly placed succulents.
This is Health in 2018.
To be well, we should have the single sourced organic, longest named and most difficult to pronounce herbs, and drink at least one of our daily meals through a stainless steel straw.
I write this as a yoga teacher, who loves acupuncture and massage. My house is full of happy non-toxic facial serums, green powders, refillable Dr. Bronner’s, and dry brushes. My shampoo always has a 0-2 rating on the Think Dirty app. I can probably run father than you, hold a plank longer than you, and my best pose in Savasana. I can surrender like a mofo.
Yet for two years (probably even longer) I had a tumor the size of your head in my uterus.
No seriously, it was that big.
When I started my own scheme of treatment, I was careful not to fall prey to everyone else’s advice about how to fix myself because I’d already dealt with that during the infertility years. Most of the advice you get will conflict with each other because (and I want this to really come through) everyone’s health is different. Even if you’re suffering from the exact same illness, everyone’s health is different.
With the boon of the health and wellness industry online and in social media, we sometimes lose sight of the basics. Yet there are the most boring and unromantic bits of advice that are true for everyone. They don’t have a high price tag and won’t likely be featured on mindbodygreen, but they are the bedrock of good health.
Straight up, no powders room temperature water. Filter it if you must, but just drink it. Drink a lot of it. Drink it in your car. Drink it on a train. Drink it on a plane. Drink your water everyday. Put it in a 2 dollar mason jar or a Fifty dollar bottle with a crystal in the center, but just drink it.
I don’t care what herbal tinctures you’re taking, if you’re not getting enough sleep you’re going to experience chronic fatigue.
Actively practice being better at getting enough sleep.
Lay in your bed and be restless if you must.
Just try to sleep.
The best strategy for me is no Phone after 8 PM. This is a goal that I’m constantly failing at, but it’s worth while and I don’t have to get it right 7 days a week for it to be improving my sleeping patterns.
If you have the luxury of taking a 20 minute nap in the middle of the day. Do it.
I’m terrible at napping, but I try my damnedest to just lay down and close my eyes at least 20 minutes a day. This is outside of meditation or yoga practice. I do believe that different body and personality types require different amounts of sleep and sleep strategies.
If everything in life is practice, being a better sleeper is too. If you have a newborn or a job with odd hours you’ll have to put in extra strategy, but no one is at their best or healthiest when they’re not getting enough sleep.
3) Make your food
I have to give Michael Pollen credit for this one. Cooking is an essential part of your diet that so often gets overlooked. We focus so much on what we’re eating that we forget that putting the time in to making it ourselves is invaluable. When we make food for ourselves it often has way less salt, fat, and sugar than the alternative in a restaurant. It also limits the amount of processed food your taking in. When I say cooking I mean cooking, not dumping in a box of Rice-a-Roni.
Simple, homecooked meals are a key to health. You don’t have to pull an Ayesha Curry and leverage your Instagram to open a restaurant chain around the globe.
Make a salad, rice, beans.
Roast some vegetables.
Learn how to make soup.
Make some freaking lasagna.
Don’t tell me you don’t have time. I know you’re scrolling through Instagram at 5:30 pm on the couch. Have your go to for when your tired.
Make enough for leftovers.
Buy a good hot sauce.
Have tons of garlic on hand.
Just be grown enough to make a basic meal.
Bonus: You’ll likely save a lot of money. Especially if you’re a novice cook and only know how to boil pasta noodles and cut tomatoes.
Yes, that’s a meal! Noodles, olive oil, tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, crack red pepper. Done.
Plus, it’s so much better for the planet.
Those meal plans that the influencers on Instagram are trying to get you to buy at 20% off are covered in plastic packaging and expensive. Also, ultimately the insides of those packages are not that difficult to make.
YOU CAN DO IT!
4) Walk Outside
I’m a person who loves a rigorous workout. Kettle bells and hill sprints. Trail runs and Vinyasas. I can also burn the candle at both ends like no body’s business. So once a week, I’ve learn to swap the HIIT for a CHILL. Super chill walk, and easy stretching.
Even for the more lethargic among us there is quite honestly NO BETTER exercise than taking a stroll every single day. Even though walking is the best exercise, DO NOT THINK OF THIS WALK AS EXERCISE!
Again maybe it’s strolling 20 minutes around your block. Maybe it’s on a trail with some hills to get your heart rate up. Go outside everyday and walk. This helps on several fronts. Getting in those extra steps and getting that crucial Vitamin D. If you live in San Francisco, go outside when it’s sunny or Bart to the part of the city where it’s sunny and walk.
5) Ritual vs. routine
For a long time I viewed my exercise, eating, and personal habits as “My Routine.” Which to me feels like something I have to do, not something I love to do. When I changed my internal narrative to morning and night time ritual my enjoyment and consistency with these vital practices went way up. Your morning and nighttime rituals are yours to create but I strongly suggest doing them without technology. Maybe I’ll share mine in a different post if that’s interesting to you.
6) Seek help from experts
After you’ve established the basics: water, movement, sleep, cooking. Then consider getting extra help and consider your sources. I honestly feel like it’s much better and overtime less expensive to hire someone than it is to go it your own. Massage, Acupuncture, Aryuveda are the best tools for me when I’m feeling like I need some extra support. These three also have the auspicious honor of standing the test of time. They are not fads for a reason. There’s care, hard work and science behind them.
Similarly, Western Medicine, Physiotherapy, and psycho therapy are not devil medicine. There’s a doctor out there that can drain your brain of blood if its hemorrhaging or fix your heart with a tiny camera and a robot. Or remove the tumor the size of your head. That is an honest to god miracle. Every modality is limited in its wisdom, but that doesn’t make it wrong.
7) Be kind to yourself and Surrender as needed
Even if you are the healthiest person and rub yourself from head to toe in coconut oil and cook all your homegrown kale in Grass sourced Ghee, you will still get sick. You might even get really sick. That doesn’t invalidate your protocol. It doesn’t mean you didn’t try hard enough. It just means that our bodies are limited and sometimes they break.
My fibroid situation was not life threatening so I made a deal with my husband that I’d follow holistic protocols for a year and if it didn’t get any better, I’d go back to the doctor. I managed to slyly go for a year and a half. Initially some of them worked, but then my tumor caught on and was like, “nope.”
Funnily enough when I was on vacation in South America and didn’t have access to anything other than wine, white bread, and beef my tumor went down a little again.
And before you say, “oh it’s because you were on vacation and you weren’t stressed out.” I should say, I’m the least stressed out person I know. It’s not that.
I’m glad I tried. Maybe I waited too long? Maybe I could have tried harder?
I’m not willing to live in the questions of what could have been had I taken more Ashwaganda.
Here’s what I do know. I did not want to have surgery. Absolutely did not want to have surgery.
I especially did not want to have an abdominal hysterectomy (c-section surgery).
And you know what ended up happening? I had an abdominal hysterectomy!
Instead of wallowing in self-pity or beating myself up for not being clean or good enough, I laughed.
God is a saucy minx, y’all.
You don't get to be in control of it all.
Now I journey forward in my cut up, womb free body and explore what’s in store for me.
Some of that journey is going to suck, but I have confidence in my ability to care for myself.
It should be noted that because I have healthy rituals and was in such good shape before the surgery the recovery has been much easier than otherwise.
So really that’s my advice.
Take care of your vessel with joy.
Start with the basics first and keep it simple.
There is no powder or magic pill out there that’s going to make you whole.
That journey is inward.
All I can say for you there is ‘good luck.’
I’m here if you need support.