June 7, 2013

The Health of Aristocrat: General Principles

Steel engraving of the 1851 Great Exhibition, Crystal Palace Credit: Wellcome Library, London
Steel engraving of the 1851 Great Exhibition, Crystal Palace Credit: Wellcome Library, London

I'll admit, these past few days I have been stumped on how to proceed with blogging about my new goal of living a healthier life. There is so much information out there in the Western canon alone about proper exercise, nutrition, habits, sleep and stress. Much of it contradicts. Much of it applies to only a certain subset of people. Add the eastern medical training I'm receiving and the entire mess simply becomes more complicated.

Rather than attempt to act like the expert I most certainly am not and bring you pearls of healthy wisdom, I'll just mention some of the things I am thinking and doing in my life coupled with a little of what I am learning at school. These will skimp (read forget) much data or scientific references. How does that phrase go? These blog posts are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any affliction or disease. Please see your health care provider for any questions or concerns.

Whew. Getting into the habit of navigating this bureaucracy riddled world of healthcare already.

Here are just a few of the general principles I've come to associate with general health issues. At some point, I may take a post and expand on them, but here they are never the less.

~ For medicine, less is more: Doctors and other health care providers are just people- despite what they may want to think. If you pay however much for a health care visit, there is pressure to prove that it was money well spent and doctors might over diagnose. Also, the general problems of mistakes in the hospital, misdiagnosed pills and medications, and unintended side effects. In general, go for the least invasive care. Nutritionist over pharmacy. Massage over surgery.

~ Variety is the spice of life: Eating too much of the same food can lead to food sensitivity. Exercising in the same way everyday can lead to decreased benefits and damage elsewhere in the body. Since we were made to consume, process, and think in such a varied menagerie of ways, we should do so.

~ Eat food as close to harvesting it yourself as possible:  Minimally processed food is better than more processed food. Fresh food is better than frozen or canned food. Local, organic food is better than the food in your grocery stores. And if you can have a little garden and pick the salad greens you will have for dinner that night yourself? That is even better.

~ Live an active life rather than go to the gym: It really doesn't make sense to me when I see people take an elevator to go to their stair steppers. I realize the appeal of having your metrics flashed before you and being able to chart your progress. But it seems like such a fragile system compared to just making sure you get up and move more each day. Take stairs, rather than the elevator. Do curls with your groceries. Get up and move around the house rather than stay locked to your computer (this one I really, really need to work on)

~ Have a morning routine: Have a morning routine. I don't think it matters if it is push ups, yoga, tai chi, or just stretching. But some sort of daily practice is essential really good to get your body moving again after a night's sleep.

~ Sleep: For something so simple and obvious. It is really sad how little we get.

~ Get outside: Whether it is to be in the sun (very important), to realign your magnetic field with the earth's, to go forest bathing, calm your mind and relax your body. Being outside is essential. We are not made to be locked away in houses and airconditioned rooms.

~ Reduce Stress: The most obvious and most difficult of the principles I think.

Those are some of the health principles I try to live by. The simpler the principle and the more complex and varried its applications, the more truthful it is I think. Do you have any health principles you live with or by?


  1. I could certainly use more sleep and less computer time. I think I'm at my healthiest when I get some sunshine and my stress levels are down (this last bit is rare but important).
    What is your morning routine?

    1. Those were good points! And I updated my list accordingly. I really like the feature that allows you to go back and edit old blog posts as you learn or think new things.

      My morning routine is nascent and evolving. It ranges from everything from dancing around, yoga, Tai Chi, calisthenics, general stretching. It's really whatever I am in the mood for and whatever I have the time for.