My Ideal Morning Routine

Many people living extraordinary lives say they have a morning routine that sets them up for success. Here’s the one I have been striving toward.

  1. Meditate for 30 minutes.
  2. Yin poses.
  3. Journal, including a prayer. I focus better when I write my prayers. Often brainstorms are natural at this time. While I try to hold them off in my meditation, they can come on strong during the yin session.
  4. Push-ups. I have recently added this one. Strength is important for physical longevity as well as daily fortitude to stick to one’s commitments.
  5. Blog – if I do not get this creative time in first thing in the morning, there is no room for it in the bustle of the day.

What time do I need to get up to accomplish all of the above? Around 4. It’s not as hard as it sounds. It also doesn’t happen every day. If I get up at 5:30, I may only fit in meditation and a quick prayer. If I get up past 6, all bets are off. It’s time to make the donuts.

When I go on a streak of accomplishing above, I feel alive and true to my higher purpose.

Matters of the Microbiome

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

The unseen fascinates me. Somehow I am drawn to explanations of reality that no one can prove, and which usually go against the mainstream. Alternative medicine, planetary positioning, and plenty of other ideas that are generally unacceptable to talk about at cocktail parties are the very ideas that stoke my inner flame.

I get really excited when I hear about science catching up and supporting notions that were previously unverifiable (and therefore unpopular). That is why I am currently captivated by research on the microbiome.

I have heard plenty of claims about gut health from the alternative medicine community — from figures like Josh Axe, Steven Gundry, etc. — so I decided to look into what “real scientists” have to say about the matter.

So far I have found two who inspire me: Giulia Enders, a lovely German gastroenterologist, and Rob Knight, Professor of Pediatrics and Computer Science & Engineering at University of California, San Diego.

Enders has written a book called “Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ.” What I appreciate about her is she is careful to stick to research, and not draw too many conclusions that are unsubstantiated. She has plenty to say just from the facts. One of my favorites is that, of the total communication that travels between the gut and the brain, 10% goes from brain to gut, 90% goes from gut to brain. Let that sink in and then decide which organ to give a little extra love on this special day. Fermented vegetables, will you be mine?

Rob Knight gives a fascinating talk on the microbiome on YouTube. A couple of stats to consider:

  1. Our bodies consist of roughly 30 trillion human cells, and 39 trillion microbial cells, and so one could make the claim that we are only 43% human.
  2. If you look at genes rather than cells, the human genome consists of about 20,000 genes. Our bodies house anywhere from 2-20 million microbial genes. This math points to our being at best 1% human at the DNA level.

In light of these numbers, it only makes sense that these little life forms’ impact on our health and well-being may be colossal. But so much of our medicine and health advice ignores (and may even sabotage) the balance of this inner ecosystem, and we wonder why we cannot solve the health crises we face today: obesity, allergies, diabetes, and other autoimmune and chronic diseases that plague us and our loved ones.

Knight cites a graph published in 2002 by the New England Journal of Medicine, which illustrated the incidence of Infectious Diseases as well as Immune Disorders between 1950 and 2000. Over that 50 year period, infectious diseases like Rheumatic fever, Hepatitis A, Measles, Mumps and Tuberculosis plummeted, while the incidence of Multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s Disease, Asthma, and Type 1 diabetes rose higher and higher.

This correlation begs the question: Has our ability to control disease-causing microorganisms, in the form of antibiotics (and possibly vaccines and other medicines) adversely affected our microbiomes, and therefore been the cause of the rise of the chronic diseases over the same period of time? It’s highly possible, and it’s probable that the typical western diet has played a role as well. The more salient question to me is: If our microbiome has been compromised, what can we do about it?

On this Valentine’s Day, I am declaring my love for the microbiome, and all the researchers who are contributing to our understanding of it. More to come from what they are learning, and how we can use their findings to impact our lives for the better.

Gates of speech

Four questions:

  1. Is it necessary?
  2. Is it true?
  3. Is it kind?
  4. Is it appropriate for the time?

I have heard various versions of these questions, some attributed to Buddha, some to a Sufi, others to more modern thinkers.

You can search Three Gates or Four Gates of speech – the idea is to let our thoughts pass through four “gates” before they come out of our mouth, so that what we say does no harm. So it “improves upon the silence.”

There is a THINK before you speak acronym. True. Helpful. Inspiring. Necessary. Kind. They sell posters for classrooms with this sentiment. An excellent concept to introduce to children.

Another perspective: Know the rules, and know when to break them. Sometimes, it is more beneficial to tell a white lie to maintain peace and harmony. Sometimes, it is not “necessary” to sing a song or quote a poem, but it adds to the beauty of the moment. Sometimes, although you have a loving heart, the thing you are saying may not be perceived as kind, but it is perhaps necessary.

Either way, space between thoughts and words is required. Meditation has certainly helped me with that subtle instinct to examine my thoughts before I say them out loud. Far from perfect I am, but the pursuit is at least a start.

I like the four I listed above best, because I cannot think of an instance when the fourth gate, “Is it appropriate for the time?” should be broken. Can you?

Livers and Colons … and Kidneys? Oh my!

This one is for my auntie, who is already down a kidney. Many people talk about colon and liver cleanses, but this is the first I have heard of a kidney cleanse.

Since it doubles as an adrenal fatigue diet, it sounded like a great thing to cover. Both posts are from Dr. Josh Axe, who is currently in my Top 5. (Not that Top 5 — the Top 5 of resources I go to for the Wellness leg of my Ws.) He’s pretty sales-y when you share your email with him, but I love the information he publishes.

On Tea

I’m diving into tea a little.

I have always loved tea, and then I took a break from caffeinated kinds prior to getting pregnant with Kate. In recent months, while experimenting with Intermittent Fasting, I have learned that the caffeine (and catechins, antioxidants) in green and black tea help suppress the hunger hormone, ghrelin (yes, like my stomach is “ghrelin”…!), and help you burn fat, along with other health benefits. So I’m back on the caffeine. You’re welcome, Kate, for the hiatus.

To access the plethora of health benefits from tea, you must drink at least 3 cups a day of tea, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. I have heard other sources say even more tea is needed in our diets. So my new favorite is Pique Tea. They are serious about tea for health, especially gut health, which I (and many others believe) is the foundation for the health of the rest of our bodies. Their home page details the primary health benefits, and if you read on, it explains why they cold-brew their organic tea, and skip the tea bag. The little crystal packets are so convenient, and I love that I feel I am making a difference in my health by pouring them into a cup of hot water.

Pique’s blog has a tremendous amount of helpful health information. Here is a whole post on gut health; it’s as complete as a well balanced meal with fermented vegetables. I highly recommend!

That’s all for now, I have some tea crystals to liquidate.

Blood Sugar Explained

If you would like a whiteboard explanation of blood sugar, diabetes, then look no further. This video (19m) by Dr. Eric Berg begins very simply, and explains the relationship between the liver and pancreas, as well as defining glycogen and where it fits in the process.

I have heard a lot about glycogen in the Intermittent Fasting videos, so I was glad to understand this piece of the puzzle.

As a bonus, this 5-minute video brings Intermittent Fasting into the equation, and tells us what we need to eat MORE of to make the Intermittent Fasting more effective.

It’s all about the insulin

This is the video that caused my big aha moment regarding weight control.  Dr. Jason Fung explains why eating smaller meals, more often, as we have learned to do in modern culture, may be the reason why we have an obesity epidemic.

Calories do not cause weight gain, hormones do. And insulin is the big one!  If we eat small meals every 2-3 hours, then we maintain a higher level of insulin in our bodies to process the nutrients coming in, especially carbohydrates. This leads to fat storage, and eventually insulin resistance. Sometimes we just need to allow a resting state when it comes to digesting food and processing nutrients.

I think it’s worth the time to watch.

Rest … is by no means a waste of time.  ~ John Lubbock


#1 First-Hand Intermittent Fasting Result

A lot of claims are being made about Intermittent Fasting.   Many of them, I cannot verify through my own immediate experience. What I can say first-hand: It gives your digestion system a break!  For many years I have started my morning with a protein shake, a relatively healthy choice. But I still too often suffered from a couple of classic IBS symptoms – bloating and constipation – and many times the bloating started right after breakfast.

Since I have started experimenting with Intermittent Fasting, that is, narrowing the window of when I eat, I have not once felt that familiar swollen stomach sensation. A dream realized!!

More on this topic to come, but if you have IBS symptoms and would like to start learning about Intermittent Fasting today, I recommend two sources:  Josh Axe and Jason Fung.

What you eat matters, but I am beginning to believe that when you eat matters even more.

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”    ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Wellness, Wealth, Wisdom

It is my intention to post more. I take so much information, and I often feel I am missing my purpose by not sharing what I am learning. I don’t have a lot of time, so many of my posts may be a quick observation and then a link for more. My interests revolve around living well, or the three Ws: Wellness, Wealth, and Wisdom.

My hope is to help others in their journey toward all three.

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

Benjamin Franklin, or someone before him

Rest on the letter S

Pondering on four underused “S” words.

S for Sabbath.

S is for Savasana.

Sabbath is the one day a week to suspend your work in the world, to allow for rest and worship. Savasana (or shavasana) is a resting pose done at the end of a yoga practice, to allow for mental calmness and eliminate fatigue from other poses.

Neither are typically presented as an option. Sabbath is one of the 10 Commandments (but so often overlooked!). Savasana is the one pose common to all yoga practices I have experienced.

S is for silence.

S is for stillness.

I believe all of us are connected to the same God, and that it is OK for us to have different interpretations of that connection. But silence and stillness, in any faith or spiritual practice, are central to the quality of that connection.

How dedicated are we to true rest? How often are we still? How often are we silent?