101 Revolutionary Ways to Be Healthy
In December 2010, Experience Life launched RevolutionaryAct.com, a microsite inspired by a feature article and accompanying manifesto in the January 2011 issue of Experience Life magazine. It’s based on the conviction that “being healthy is a revolutionary act” — one that requires renegade perspectives, unconventional choices and strong social support. We invite you to become part of this positive movement intent on creating a healthier world by signing up at RevolutionaryAct.com. In the meantime, we’re excited to share “101 Revolutionary Ways to Be Healthy” with you.
· Defy convention
Do the healthy thing, even when it’s challenging, inconvenient or considered weird. Take pride in that.
· Buck trends
Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it’s smart or good for you. Enlist fellow trend buckers and create a trend of your own.
· Rage against the machine
Use your healthy frustration about the unhealthy status quo to spark creativity and determination.
· Celebrate what’s good
Look for signs of progress (beyond pounds lost) and rejoice when you find them. Give yourself a pat on the back every time you make your health a priority.
· Repossess your health
Reclaim responsibility for your well-being; own your daily choices; minimize your reliance on the broken sick-care system.
· Redefine your role
You are not a “healthcare consumer.” You are a human being. You may be experiencing an illness or other health challenge right now, but remember that good health is your body’s natural state.
· Practice medicine without a license
Research your own conditions and treatment alternatives, ask questions, and seek second opinions with impunity. Leverage the expertise of trained pros, but don’t allow it to eclipse your own informed instincts about what’s best for you.
· Minimize symptom suppression
Make whole-person vitality, well-being and resilience your goal. Partner with healthcare pros who understand and support your desire to be fully healthy with a minimum of medical intervention.
· Safeguard your juju
Don’t let yourself get run down, depressed, negative or reactive. That’s when immunity drops, inflammation rages, and unhealthy tendencies strike.
· See the bigger picture
Yes, this is about you, but your well-being also affects everyone and everything around you. When you get healthier, everybody benefits.
· Be part of the solution
It’s going to take a lot of strong, clear-headed, high-vitality people to solve the world’s problems. Be one of them.
· Go at your own pace
A healthy life is more a marathon than a sprint. So start where you are. Choose sensible, sustainable shifts over instant cures and quick fixes.
· Be proactive
If you feel a cold, flu or nasty headache coming on, take evasive maneuvers. Rest. Refuel. Reconnect. Rebuild your immunity and vitality. There’s no heroism in ignoring your body’s needs.
· Leverage your big “whys”
Know the specific reasons your health matters to you. Write them down where you’ll see them daily.
· Raise your sights
Don’t get sucked in by obsessions with six-pack abs and buns of steel. Don’t play “compare the bodies.” Fulfill your best-self vision.
· Learn the skills
Healthy, fit people have learned how to be healthy. Learn those skills, practice them, and you’ll be healthy, too.
· Reap the rewards
Look and feel better, sure. But also think better, smell better, give better, love better, live better, be better.
· Focus on the fundamentals
Drink water, eat good food, move, rest, relax, connect. Don’t sweat the more complex stuff until you’ve got a grip on the basics.
· Fake it till you make it
Don’t yet see yourself as a super-healthy person? Experiment with doing a little of what you’d do if you were already supremely healthy and fit. As often as you can, act as if your commitment were unwavering.
· Aim for 85%
You don’t have to make 100% healthy choices all the time. It’s what you do most of the time — day in, day out — that counts. The healthier you get, the easier and more automatic healthy choices will become.
· Brush and Floss
Your teeth and gums are a huge determining factor in your whole-body well-being. They’re also an easy place to start demonstrating your commitment to whole-person health on a daily basis.
· Eat fresh
Trade dead, packaged goods for foods that are fresh, alive and full of high-vibe goodness. Figure out where to find them, learn to juice/slice/dice them, and eat them with great pleasure.
· Eat more plants
There’s a long list of phytonutrients and other good stuff in vegetables, fruits and legumes that you can’t get any other way. Put plants at the center of your plate for as many meals and snacks as you can.
· Don’t fall for fakery
Processed, fake, diet and imitation ingredients burden and inflame your body, contributing to chronic disease. And there’s no clinical proof that artificial sweeteners and fat-free products support weight loss or do any part of you any good.
· Learn to cook
Get a dozen healthy, whole-food recipes under your belt, and your life will be forever changed. Start by mastering one.
· Have breakfast
Let there be protein, produce, healthy fats and fiber in it. A good breakfast wards off energy dips, brain fog and afternoon cravings.
· Watch your reactions
40% of U.S. adults have an intolerance to gluten; 70% to dairy. Know if you’re one of them. Digestive, skin, joint, energy and mood problems may be your first clue.
· Beware the USDA Food Pyramid
It is a whole lot healthier for Big Ag and Big Business than for humans. Fill two-thirds of your plate with an array of vegetables, add in some other whole foods you enjoy, and don’t let the rest of the Pyramid’s propaganda confuse you.
· Approach ADA guidelines with a healthy dose of doubt
The American Dietetic Association is sponsored by processed-food corporations and staffed by former food-company execs. Their pro-processed-food advice is often colored by that, and their calorie-counting obsessions are profoundly counterproductive.
· Go easy on the sugar and flour
These two ingredients (combined with unhealthy industrial vegetable oils) have a starring role in most packaged foods we eat. More than any other culprit, they fuel inflammation, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and cancer.
· Savor what you eat
The foods you rush into your body tend to create more problems than they solve. Take your time and consciously enjoy every single bite. Notice as your hunger diminishes.
· Care where food comes from
Know your food’s history, and you’ll want to consume more selectively. Most factory-farmed and industrially produced foods aren’t all that appetizing once you know their origins.
· Go for quality, not quantity
An ounce of wonderful is far better than a whole mess of mediocrity. Most beige, starchy and supersized foods are not worth eating.
· Move it out
A healthy person poops every day. Twice a day, maybe more. How’s your fiber and water intake? (Also, see #28.) A clogged up colon wreaks havoc on your whole body.
· Read labels
Don’t worry so much about the calories, grams and RDAs. Read the ingredients. Most ingredient lists begin with some combination of enriched wheat flour, sugar and oil. Avoid foods like that. Also avoid foods with long lists of ingredients you don’t recognize.
· Ignore labels
Most of the marketing claims are meaningless, and a lot of the data is confusing. Most of the very best foods (in the produce department) have precisely one ingredient and, often, no labels at all.
· Say no to soda
Both regular and diet soft drinks stimulate a pro-inflammatory insulin response, trigger cravings, acidify the body, decay your teeth and leach minerals out of your bones.
· Ask for what you want
If you want extra this, none of that, something on the side, X in place of Y, broiled instead of fried, and everything prepared just so — say so. Being picky about what you put in your body is nothing to be ashamed of. Picky eaters unite!
· Drink a lot of water
The health of every cell and synapse depends on it. And when you’re dehydrated on a regular basis —even a little — your metabolism, energy and immunity all suffer mightily.
· Filter your water
You’ll drink more when it tastes pure and you know it’s clean. If plain water doesn’t turn your crank, enjoy water with a slice of lemon, orange, cucumber, or a splash of juice. Or try herbal tea instead.
· Love what you’ve got
Treat your body with respect and appreciation. Focus on what it can do, not what it can’t. Find something to celebrate, not something to criticize.
· Redefine your goals
If you’ve been trying to lose weight and struggling, make it your goal to get superbly healthy and fit instead. And then don’t be surprised when the excess weight starts melting off.
· Beware artificial hungers
Notice what triggers your sudden desires and uncontrollable appetites. Stress and anxiety both masquerade as hunger. Find better ways of dealing with them or warding them off.
· Identify real hungers
You can’t eat or spend your way out of loneliness, fear, boredom or lack of meaning. Find healthy ways to honor and shift them, instead.
· Be human
Cut yourself a little slack now and then, and forgive yourself your unhealthy trespasses. Learn what you can from them, and then move on.
· Make being healthy easier
Self-restraint is a limited resource. Do everything in your power to make healthy choices automatic choices and to keep unhealthy temptations out of range.
· Don’t believe the hype
Give up on gimmicks, fads and instant fixes. Most miraculous weight-loss schemes do more harm than good, and yo-yo dieting is a recipe for weight gain.
· Look beyond unrealistic role models
Find your inspiration in people whose lives and goals have some relevance to your own. Also remember that most of the pictures you see of celebrities and fitness models have been extensively retouched.
· Question authority
Big organizations like the FDA, USDA, AHA, AMA and ADA all struggle under real limitations and conflicts of interest. Know and understand them.
· Face the facts
Your body is a mirror: It reflects your choices, your priorities, your habits, your attitudes and your quality of life. If you don’t like your body, be willing to change the way you are living.
· Maintain a morning practice
Take a few minutes each sunup to set your intentions, take a few breaths, read an inspiring passage and start the day on your own terms. You may be shocked at the difference it makes.
· Move your body
Every day, every which-way you can, in as many ways as you enjoy. Movement nourishes your body, clears toxins, and reduces the inflammation that breeds illness and irritation.
· Reframe exercise as a privilege
You don’t have to exercise. You get to exercise. Visit a person whose mobility is severely limited, and you’ll appreciate the distinction. Do what you can, and count yourself lucky.
· Break a sweat
The more often, the better. Sweat is a signal that your metabolism is switching into a higher gear. Sweat is weakness, complacency and toxicity leaving the body.
· Stay strong
More muscle and sinew means more capacity to do anything. Don’t let age, aches and pains, or lack of time be your excuses for abandoning your strength.
· Maximize your mitochondria
Every time you exercise, you upgrade your body’s energy-and-vitality factories and build your metabolism.
· Find your fitness edge
Flirt with it in ways that feel good and exhilarating. Bursts of high-intensity exercise trigger positive, dramatic changes and help catalyze the body’s healing response.
· Get past body envy
Release supermodel and celebrity obsessions. Translate your desire for a fitter, more beautiful body into positive, self-respecting daily action that nourishes you and makes you stronger.
· Embrace meditation
There are few life skills that will pay of as handsomely or give you as much peace and healthy perspective. Even a few minutes of meditation a day can trigger positive transformations in your biochemistry, neurology — even your DNA.
· Study your systems
Learn how your body works, and respect its genius. The unfortunate fact that most of us aren’t formally educated in how to properly care for our bodies doesn’t mean you can’t learn.
· Get to the bottom of your symptoms
Body trouble? Find the source. Root out the cause. Don’t settle for a drug that forces your symptoms to go underground only to pop up somewhere else with a vengeance.
· Self-medicate with caution
Get honest about how you’re using alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, pain killers and other drugs to simulate well-being or cover discomfort.
· Abandon victim thinking
“Poor me” doesn’t get you anywhere you want to go. Instead, dust yourself off, see the choices that got you here, then reclaim your prerogative to choose your own better way forward.
· Sleep well
Rest = recovery, repair and resilience. Exhaustion = illness and messed-up metabolism. Prioritize ample sleep time as the health essential it is.
· Breathe deep
In for four, out for five. Oxygen’s good; breathing keeps you alive.
· Get off your butt.
Sitting for more than an hour or so at a stretch is deadly. Get up, stretch, walk around. Do some deep knee bends or go climb a couple flights of stairs.
· Slow down
Perennial rushing is toxic to the body and mind. Find moments of silence and contemplation where you can just be. Create margins of sanity. Practice the defensive art of scheduling breaks and vacations.
· Connect with community
Find ways of being active and involved in some kind of group activity. Joining a group, if you haven’t already, can reduce your risk of dying this year by half.
· Heal your relationships
Mend fences, build bridges, forgive trespasses, grieve losses and let toxic grudges go. Then move on. Get help with this if you need to.
· Get outside
You need sunshine, fresh air and time in nature. Daily. Grab five minutes in the morning, five on the way home from work.
· Respect your environment
Keep in mind that human health depends upon the health of a lot of interconnected ecosystems and the planet as a whole. Make choices that respect that reality.
· Embrace play
Fun, novelty, humor and joy are key sources of energy, strength and inspiration. If you’re suffering from a case of fun-deficit disorder, remedy that situation ASAP.
· Consume media wisely
Seek out entertainment and information that makes your life better. Choose not to watch, read or listen to stuff that demoralizes or immobilizes you, incites craziness, or insults your intelligence.
· Be your own biggest fan
Refuse to bad-talk your body, nitpick your appearance or kvetch about your weight. Find something to dig/love/ appreciate about yourself — just the way you are.
· Turn off the TV
Opiate of the masses. Fritterer of time. Fryer of focus. The average American watches several hours of TV a day. How much of your life are you willing to hand over to a box?
· Eliminate tolerations
If something’s driving you crazy, deal with it. Noticing and resolving daily annoyances, messes and downers helps free up energy and increases your pleasure in living.
· Follow the money
Look at your checkbook register and credit-card statements for clues about where your spending is inconsistent with your healthy goals and values.
· Redirect your resources
Take some of the money you’re spending on unhealthy distraction, consolations and indulgences, and re-route it toward your healthy-living priorities instead.
· Ditch debt
The stress of being stretched too thin financially is at the root of a great many health ills. Develop the skills you need to master your money and live within your means.
· Invest in your health
Money spent proactively on your health delivers far better returns than money spent reactively on treating illness and disease. When healthy choices seem “too expensive,” consider the long-term costs of health-sapping alternatives.
· Wise up
Keep seeking new wisdom and mastering new skills that help you take better care of your body and live a more satisfying life. Continual learning and discovery support both health and happiness.
· Build on your successes
Look at what has worked well for you in the past, and do more of that. Identify and leverage your strengths. Be willing to learn from your “failures,” too — but refuse to wallow in them.
· Surprise yourself
Don’t be boring. Every once in a while, do something unexpected or out of character and see what happens.
· Find your tribe
Surround yourself with other healthy, positive, active people who share your passions. It’s a lot easier to thrive around people who are thriving.
· Laugh it up
Seek out mirth, glee and merriment at every opportunity. Laughter triggers a cascade of healing, energizing chemicals.
· Get a buddy
Do your healthy thing with a pal or partner. Camaraderie and accountability go a long way toward creating success.
· Give your best gifts
Developing and sharing them endows you with enthusiasm and energy. Neglecting or squandering them slowly kills you.
· Pace yourself
When working hard, take brief rest breaks every 90 to 120 minutes so your cells can recharge. Be kind to yourself, and be honest about how much you can take on at any given time.
· Vote your values
Take your healthy convictions to the polls. Share them with your elected representatives. Vote with your dollars, too, to support healthy products, companies and communities.
· Visualize the possibilities
What if we lived in a world where the majority of people were healthy and happy most of the time? Imagine that future — then start creating it in your own life, one step at a time.
· Follow your bliss
The more positivity and enthusiasm you can build into your life, the healthier, happier and more satisfied you’ll be. Happiness breeds healthiness.
· Be responsible for yourself
Own your decisions and actions, no matter what the circumstances. Refuse to abuse or be abused on any level. See challenges and setbacks as learning opportunities.
· Take the high road
If you feel yourself getting dragged down or losing traction in your healthy commitments, ask: What’s my highest choice right now? What can I do to make this situation better?
· Make time
The hour you give yourself for self-care pays you back three. Think you’re too busy? The busier you are, the more effective and energetic you need to be, and the less time you have to get sick.
· Make space
Declutter your house, your office, your car, your desk, your mind. Create room for your chosen future; create space that reflects the way you want to feel.
· Focus on action, not outcomes
Live the life of a healthy person, and the results will take care of themselves. Every healthy step is a victory. Every day is an opportunity to feel, live and be better than the day before.
· Make it a party
Discover new healthy passions. Revel in new healthy pleasures. Have so much fun getting and being healthy that everyone around you wants to do it, too!
· Let go of excuses
Yes, you’re busy. You probably have a lot of priorities competing for your time, energy and resources. But wouldn’t all those priorities be better served by a healthier, more dynamic you?
· Show up
No one is going to do this for you. You can’t fake it, and you can’t phone it in. Your body is where you’re going to spend the rest of your life. So make it a great place to live.
· Pass it on
Pssst! Being healthy is a revolutionary act. The more of us who stand up for our health and happiness, the more power we have to change the world — one person, one life, one revolutionary act at a time.
Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit www.experiencelifemag.com to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.