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March 19, 2016

Listen to Your Gut – Literally

Listen to Your Gut – Literally

SIMPLE SATURDAY – I’m going to ask you to hit the trifecta. Bet on it and hit it. Do it for at least one month. With St. Patrick’s Day and the holidays behind us, this is the perfect time to ask you to step up. Award yourself a prize of your choice.

So what’s the trifecta?

Give up all three of these drinks listed. I’ll list them first, then tell you why I chose to do this and the impact it’s had on my health. I’ll also be hanging out with Elisa Haggarty at the Final Four, where I’ll be getting under the hood on diet and nutrition for young athletes, amateurs, and moms and dads. Parenting is a demanding combination of sprints and marathons. You must fuel and power up properly.

[I just want to preface this by saying if you’re smoking, chewing or doing hard drugs, then by any and all means, handle that first. Enlist a team of true friends to get you back on the rails. Violate #2 and #3 if it helps you stop doing something that will kill you or greatly increase your chances of dying a premature death.]

Here I go up on my soapbox only because of how much minor changes have significantly improved my health.

#1 SUGARY DRINKS – no more juice, soda, sports drinks. Nothing at Starbucks with sugar in it. Your alternative: A big ol’ boring glass of water. If you need some taste, do a splash of juice, sports drink or add some fruit. I add amino acid powder, but let me check with Elisa before I try to sell that one.   I’m not going to lie about my weakness – dark chocolate almond milk. I’ll ask Elisa if I’m drinking too much (I already know the answer to that question). Our focus should be on how to water down (and out) the toxic poison otherwise known as sugar. (Artificially sweetened diet sodas are also chemical cocktails that trigger insulin, and increase your risk of diabetes. They, too, should be avoided.)

#2 COFFEE – This is coming from someone who swore by it for about 13 years. I’m also absolutely sure that it ruined my mother’s gut (as did the donuts), and made her a chronic burper for her entire life. I know I’ll hear from so many coffee lovers who point me to this study and that study about how it helps your brain, which I get and would support, if you could poke a straw into your head and go direct. Since this is not an option, here’s what I’ve got for you: it’s acidic, it rots your stomach lining, it’s basically terrible for most people due to the amount of damage it does to your digestive tract (which in the long-term affects your brain). My proof? Any time you put something in your body and your body is trying to expel it as quickly as possible, you must know something isn’t right. I am hypothyroid and I’ve tried several times to give it up – even that one cup that helped me get through as a teacher in my 30s. That habit was tough to break. I loved the kick, but again, if my body was working that hard to expel it, and if Seth Godin tells me in a podcast – “It hurts my stomach,” then I had to listen. I now replace with copious amounts of herbal tea.

#3 ALCOHOL – My extended family members will strongly object. If my dad read my blogs, he’d read this and say, “Don’t know where we got you from.” My siblings, however, feel the way I do about booze. Our mother didn’t drink much, and when she did, she was bad at it. She’d act crazy or throw up or do both. I struggle with my blood sugar level enough. Even after years of being sold on that must-have one glass of wine (and not being able to tolerate more than one), I decided this month that I’d rather be myself socially, even if that meant my being a little awkward or nervous, or slightly more awkward or more nervous relative to those buzzing around me. I suppose if you need that one glass and want to point to several studies that say this, that and the other thing, try one 3-ounce glass and no more. I just know it makes me feel awful the next morning, another sign that my body felt betrayed.

Thirty days. Sugary drinks – that is easy. For me replacing the coffee and the whole act of stepping out of my office for a mental break was the toughest of the three. Now I drink copious amounts of tea (no sugar, herbal). I include as much ginger and turmeric as I can tolerate (those who believe in red wine being divine for the brain, read up on turmeric). The owner of my local tea shop knows that when I walk in, I have Coffee Drinkers Anonymous written all over me.

And what about the booze? I’m 100 percent sure it’s overrated. It’s one of the few things in my life I wish I never did. When Lewis Howes, one of my favorite podcasters, said he’s never had a drop in his life, I said that should have been me (and I barely drank for most of my life). Lewis also said he wasn’t that guy who had to go to the parties at night. Neither was I. My friends would sometimes tell me I look miserable on the scene. Lewis said that when he changed his diet (big milk drinker – so we should add dairy), and stopped eating gluten, he completely changed his life. (I gave up most dairy, and when I did, all of my chronic sinus problems and polyps stopped after decades of suffering.) Same with Lewis. I realized my instincts were right a long time ago about certain things that I should have listened to, but I didn’t know any better, and/or I listened to doctors who told me what I knew was wrong.

I was ruining my gut by not listening to it.

Now it’s time to clean it up, keep it that way, and stay the course.