By Shain Saberon
March 30, 2017
In reaction to a health crisis, I altered my lifestyle. Over the past five years, I have adopted a plant-based diet, engaged in routine exercise, and consistently performed meditation. These practice have profoundly improved the quality of my life, but recently I have found my thoughts and energy focused on higher pursuits: nutrition that heals and energizes the body, a comprehensive approach to wellness, and ultra-endurance athletics. The idea that I need a momentous challenge tailored to my specific needs has consumed my thoughts. Yes, I have achieved a lot, but I can’t seem to reach what I imagine to be my full potential.
In spite of solid progress (I’ve lost more than one hundred pounds) some visceral fat still clings to my chest and abdomen. Likewise, my temperament and enthusiasm for life are better but not as good as I would like them to be. Last but not least, I still have a few bad habits I would like to kick. I feel that a consequential amount of residue from the standard American lifestyle—one of less than optimal health, one of quiet desperation and negativity, of detachment from meaningful relationships to people and things, and a life lacking engagement in the variety of adventure that fully connects one to the natural world—still exists in my life. I cannot shake all of my old ways, some of which almost killed me. These behaviors are sold to us by the minute on the radio, social media, and television. And I struggle with this. Making change also feels complicated because it seems my coworkers, friends, neighbors, and even some family members view bucking the American way of life with suspicion.
One night these thoughts and feelings suddenly erupted. On March 1, 2017 while preparing food for the coming days, I played two Rich Roll podcasts (MICHAEL GREGER, M.D. ON HOW NOT TO DIE and RRP 254, JULIE PIATT, HOW TO BUILD AN AUTHENTIC BRAND). At 2 A.M. the following morning, I woke up contemplating a personal 12-step wellness challenge and got out of bed to put my thoughts to paper. The idea here, if not already clear , is to follow steps similar to those addicts take to become sober and recover. My drugs have been unhealthy foods, a very negative attachment to the sensationalized coverage of politics in mainstream media, materialism, and anger or dissatisfaction with people and events in my life. I will give myself the gift of this twelve-step wellness challenge on my fiftieth birthday. Hopefully, these changes will stick, and I will evolve to a higher state of being. The details and findings of this experiment will be recorded on this blog. I propose to do the following for a full year:
- Eat the recommended number of servings of each selection from Dr. Greger's “Daily Dozen” every day. (In the case of illness, I will only eat the items from his list appropriate to my situation.)
- Develop, refine, and perfect the use of one dozen go-to menus following Dr. Greger's dietary guidelins that my non-vegan family will eat too.
- Produce my own vegetables or purchase as needed 12 whole-food plant items that can be obtained locally and/or organically.
- Identify, eliminate, and replace processed food items from my diet.
- Practice mindfulness two times per day through meditation/prayer with an emphasis on gratitude, love, and kindness.
- Let go of at least one negative item for 12 months. (For me it’s politics and news, but I will see if I can identify and eliminate more.)
- Plan and carry out 12 significant events to fortify relationships with family, strengthen bonds with friends, and build community over the course of one year through acts of kindness, service, and wholesome recreation.
- Simplify life through minimalism.
- Commit to getting the proper amount of quality rest every day by meditating before bed and keeping a regular schedule.
- Regularly heal the body through mindful movement. (I will commit to practice Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga for a minimum of one-half an hour but will usually complete 1 to 1.5 hours six days per week.)
- Train for 12 months and complete multiple endurance athletic events. (I will finish a minimum of a half dozen cycling events, some organized, others contrived by me, with most events from one to two hundred miles in length.)
- Schedule and fulfill a minimum of six health related checkups. (I’m thinking of a combination of both alternative and conventional: full physicals, traditional blood work, ayurevdic medical consultations, dental checkups, vision screenings, microbiological checkups, etc.)