Have you ever asked yourself why you can't seem to be the person you imagine yourself to be? Do you find yourself making the same bad choices repeatedly without knowing why? Are you fed up with having too much weight and not enough energy? Do you think that this is all life has to offer you?
There's great news! Change is possible, and you are the one who can make it happen. In this book, you will learn the secret of "getting over your self" to get out of your own way and stop being your body's worst enemy. With just a little effort and a lot of self-love, you can end decades of self-harm and begin a new life of enjoying optimal health.
"Just as a hatchling pecks away at the shell that confines it and prevents it from further growth, so must we destroy and discard the shell that's kept us inside our old ways of thinking so we can create whole universes of possibility. Getting over your self opens up new pathways for empowerment, ultimately creating a new life that greatly surpasses the predictable."
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Read an Excerpt
Your Body is Not Your Enemy
A New Guide to Getting Over Your Self and Enjoying Optimal Health
By Jeff Woiton
Balboa PressCopyright © 2015 Jeff Woiton
All rights reserved.
"Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love."
Rainer Maria Rilke
The human body is a wonderful machine that is capable of undergoing severe punishment, grievous damage, and debilitating illness, and then working hard toward recovery in an attempt to return itself to optimal health. We may try to attain some level of equilibrium consciously, but our bodies tirelessly work to restore balance within our system as a whole. Your body is doing the best that it can to try and maintain order, based on what we give it to work with. This order is known as homeostasis, and it's the balance that we all strive for, whether we are aware that it's happening or not. No matter what we do to ourselves, from sports injuries to poor eating habits, your body will try to recover from what you've managed to do to it. Life happens, though, and through our own experiences and the choices we make, we either steer ourselves toward better health or away from it. We usually seek out healthy choices, we try our best, but often something comes up that causes us to want to eat something we know we shouldn't.
Sometimes I slip into old habits and eat something that I know isn't the best choice for me. It happens, and when it does, I simply try to stop what I'm doing, put it away (after the initial rush of guilty pleasure has subsided), and go back to my diet of nutrient-dense properly prepared whole and natural foods. Even the most conscientious of us fall into moments of food relapse, backsliding into a brief lack of firm control.
But the human body is such a truly astounding creation, capable of healing and repairing itself when occasional slip-ups come into our lives. We are all highly developed organisms of astonishing innate intelligence that can regulate all of the body's functions so that we don't have to think too much about, for example, our hypothalamus as it signals our adrenal glands to release cortisol to regulate our blood sugar. It just happens, and by making a few changes in our eating habits, we can ensure that those signals keep happening at the right time and for the right reasons.
If you cut yourself, your blood will quickly coagulate and stop itself from bleeding more than you have to. A scab begins to form, which will ultimately fall off as the skin grows itself back together. Within a short time, there will be little evidence of your wound, and your body has restored itself back to a reasonable state of repaired function.
So it is with many of your organs. Your liver can completely regenerate new cells from damaged ones in as little as three to four days (in a process called compensatory hypertrophy). Blood vessels that have collapsed or constricted can re-route the flow of blood to nearby arteries. You shed skin cells and hairs and intestinal cells at the rate of millions per day, only to be replaced by healthy new cells in a never-ending parade. Your lungs are also self-cleaning and self-healing; smokers who quit have the same chance of contracting lung cancer as non-smokers within just a few years.
If you find yourself in a state of poor health, you can rebuild yourself through a rigorous protocol of swapping junk food for real food. It's as simple as that, and as complex as the seven-plus billion individuals that make up this planet. Learning what is right for your body and your condition is where it all starts.
How Health Happens
One holistic approach is to look at how health happens in six distinct stages: molecules, cells, tissues, organs, systems, and the organism as a whole. If we are taking in all the proper molecules – meaning the proper minerals, vitamins, amino acids, fatty acids, polysaccharides, and so on – each of them will do their part to support the cell structures of various tissues, which will support the organs that comprise our various systems and ultimately lead to a happy and healthy organism. Conversely, if the cells do not get all the right kinds of molecules that they need to grow and flourish, there will be defects in the tissue structures that can contribute to the failure of the organ, a breakdown of the system, or, as the rate of tissue degeneration exceeds the body's rate of repair, ultimately bring about the death of the organism.
It sounds scary, but it happens every day. Even the healthiest of us are at some stage of this process at any given moment, fluctuating up or down on the scale of optimal health. Though the human body is amazingly strong and resilient, as I've mentioned before, our bodies are ultimately self-destructing machines, and life is a condition from which no one escapes. I look upon optimal health as a process, not an event. It's not like you can work your way to optimal health, hands in the air as you victoriously cross the finish line, breaking the tape with your chest and high-fiving everyone in sight because you're now at optimal health. It's likely that you may never achieve what is considered "optimal" health at all, but it is my fervent hope that you will be able to approach it. From time to time you will waver in your efforts, guaranteed, but if you follow a good nutritional plan, coupled with a regular exercise regimen and a more active lifestyle, you will certainly move closer to it than you may have ever thought was possible.
It doesn't take much to instigate change in your life, but it takes energy to create energy. Once you've begun the process, you may actually start noticing a difference fairly soon, and that can give you motivation to keep putting your energy in that direction. With a little hard work and a lot of perseverance, you will start seeing real results from the changes you've made to your behavior. But before we get started on healing ourselves, let's first learn a little about how things should be working properly.
How Digestion Happens
I want to start by addressing digestion as a central issue to optimal health. It's not just because I am trained as a nutritional therapist, but because I believe that proper digestion is the cornerstone to the foundations of optimal health. When a client comes in to my clinic, they may present to me a variety of symptoms and conditions, but the first thing I want to look at is their digestive health. When we can resolve digestive issues, whether by using supplements to restore gut health or by modifying their diet to include more nutrient-dense properly-prepared foods, often their symptoms and conditions begin to magically subside on their own.
Some people consider the topic of digestion as a fairly messy process that they just don't want to know about. It's certainly not anything that is discussed in polite company, it's never mentioned around the dinner table, and it's only spoken about in hushed tones whenever others are present. That rules out just about every occasion, and so people end up not talking about it at all. There is no better time for discussion than the present, and I'll be more than happy to guide you through it. It's something I work with every day, and as a person who eats and digests food, you should know more about it as well.
When I give talks on nutrition, I often like to engage my audience by asking them what they think is the first part of the body involved in the digestive process. Some might say the stomach, others guess the mouth or teeth, but almost nobody offers up the answer I am looking for, which is the brain. When you smell food, think about food, look at a picture of food, rummage through the fridge, or open a restaurant menu, your brain has already gone on high alert, sending signals to every part of your body that you just might be getting some food soon. Sorry, false alarm. You just walked by the donut shop again. Good work, though. Keep walking.
Usually when I lecture on these early stages of digestion, I find that my mouth begins to salivate. I excuse myself as I swallow, and I notice audience members swallowing as well. That's how powerful this response is. Just talking about food can bring on a Pavlovian response in all of us. Eating is an instinctive drive that comes from the oldest part of our reptilian brain. Every animal knows how to put food into its mouth and render it into a state where it can be digested appropriately. Iguanas on the Galapagos Islands, for example, will aid their digestion by eating seaweed mixed with seawater, and then lay out on sunbaked rocks to cook the seaweed as it sits in their bellies. We all learned at an early age how to eat, but few of us know what actually happens once we have swallowed our food.
I like to think of digestion as an assembly line process (and a heckler once quipped that it's more like a disassembly line). Think of how cars are made, for example. At the front of the assembly line, workers put the chassis together, and they send it down the line to others who add the engine, the tires, the body, the interior, and so on, until a fine running automobile rolls off the end of the line. If the workers at the front of the line don't do a good job, the chassis ends up all wonky and will make the other workers down the line work harder to, say, fit the engine to the chassis, or else they simply can't do their jobs at all. Chaos ensues, and a similar chaos is happening inside your body when the process is not right.
It all starts with each bite of food that goes into your mouth and how you chew it. Consider that chewing your food is the one part of the digestion process over which you have 100% control. Once your food has been swallowed, it's up to the rest of the digestive tract to decide what to do with it. Maybe you've been told by either or both of your parents to slow down when you eat and to chew your food more slowly. Maybe they were just repeating what they were told when they were young, but there are actually some sound scientific principles behind that.
There are three main digesting enzymes, and there are others as well, but we'll keep it to just these three for the purposes of this discussion:
protease, for digesting proteins into amino acids
lipase, for digesting fats into fatty acids
amylase, for digesting carbohydrates into polysaccharides
All three are necessary to break down your food, but the only place that amylase is produced in any significant quantity is in the salivary glands of the mouth. If you feel behind your jawbone just below your ear, you can feel and even massage your salivary glands to the point of stimulating salivation. Salivary amylase can break down carbohydrates within seconds, but once you've swallowed that bite of sandwich, pasta, or fruit, the carbohydrates don't stand much chance of any further breakdown. The longer your food – mostly carbohydrates – stays in your mouth, the better chance it will have of being broken down to a molecular level as it proceeds down the assembly line.
If you take the time to soften each bite of food in your mouth thoroughly before swallowing, using your teeth and tongue and palate to crush and mix your food with your saliva, just doing this one simple thing can be enough to dramatically improve your digestion. People with whom I have shared this information have come back to me later, reporting that their gassiness, bloating, and flatulence have all but ended since they started using this simple technique. There are many advantages to chewing mindfully, but the main benefit is to ensure that the food that goes into your stomach has already been broken down as much as possible before moving its way down the line.
Each bite of food that you swallow is termed a bolus, from the Greek word for 'clod'. As you swallow, these boluses accumulate in your stomach. The stomach is lined with a thin wall of crisscrossing muscles that gently but firmly knead the boluses along with gastric juices into a slushy mixture called chyme (pronounced kime). You can't feel it while it's happening, which is probably why people tend to forget about the roiling tempest that is happening inside their stomachs.
Regarding the stomach for a moment, you can think of it as primarily a big bag of hydrochloric acid in the middle of your body. On a pH scale of zero to fourteen, where zero is pure acid, fourteen is pure alkaline, and seven is neutral, stomach acid ranges from 1.5 to 3 on the pH scale. That's strong enough to eat a hole in your carpet. Your stomach uses this strong acidity not only to break down the food you just ate, but also to try to kill off any food-borne pathogens that may have hitched a ride on your food. If you understand that we are only a century or so into anything resembling hygienic food handling and sanitation procedures, you won't consider this too odd.
You might have experienced the wonders of chyme if you've ever had occasion to vomit. It burns your throat terribly, and that's because your throat and mouth are not prepared to handle anything so acidic. When people experience heartburn, indigestion or acid reflux, they've been told to reach for medications that will neutralize the acidity of their stomach in an effort to "put out the fire." This approach could not be more wrong. A typical cause for problems of this sort is called hypochlorhydria, a condition, usually temporary, where the pH of the stomach acid is too high, and therefore not acidic enough. Instead of buffering the pH of your stomach contents with over-the-counter medications, thus defeating the purpose of gastric production of hydrochloric acid, you need to take it in the other direction. There are actually pill forms of hydrochloric acid that you can take before meals to augment and stimulate the production of hydrochloric acid in your stomach. Increasing the acidity of your stomach contents enables it to work more efficiently and is much more effective than reducing its acidity.
Another easy way to stimulate hydrochloric acid production is a small glass of water with a tablespoon of either lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, taken just before a meal. This is easy enough to incorporate into your dining ritual at home, but even when you go out to a restaurant, it's not that difficult to do either. When you are first seated and the waiter hands around menus, they are likely to ask you if there's anything you'd care to drink (preferably from the bar). It's not at all fussy to ask for just a small glass of water with a lemon wedge and no ice. Any restaurant should be able to accommodate this, and you can deftly spritz the lemon into the water as you continue to peruse the menu and enjoy sparkling conversation with your friends or family.
Let's make our way down the assembly line. Once the stomach has broken down its contents, typically in about two to four hours, it begins to pass the contents bit by bit into the next stage, called the duodenum. This is a sort of small holding tank before the chyme can move into the rest of the small intestine, and there it is treated with a variety of chemicals. Beginning with a shot of good old sodium bicarbonate, the acidic stomach contents are buffered to a pH of around 7.3, just a shade more alkaline than neutral, enabling its safe passage through the rest of the alimentary canal. The pancreas also adds various digestive enzymes that begin the further chemical breakdown of your food into their nutritive components. The duodenum releases two important hormones, secretin and cholecystokinin (or CCK), that stimulate the liver and gall bladder to produce bile, which in turn helps emulsify fats. Bile also stimulates the intestines to induce peristalsis, the rhythmic movement of the intestinal muscles that propel their contents down the assembly line. Bile is a good thing.
Once the chyme has been properly treated, it moves into the small intestine, whose job is to extract nutrients from the stomach contents as they pass through. Most of your abdominal cavity, from the bottom of your ribs to the area between the points of your pelvis, is filled with your small intestine. The lining of the small intestine is thinner than the skin covering your eyelids, and it is lined on the inside with finger-like cells called villi (Latin for "fingers"). These increase the surface area of the intestinal lining and are like a vacuum cleaner sucking up molecular nutrients from what was once your dinner, and then passing them into the blood stream to be parceled out to various parts of the body.
Excerpted from Your Body is Not Your Enemy by Jeff Woiton. Copyright © 2015 Jeff Woiton. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Section I - Health, 1,
Section II - Healing, 33,
Section III - Healthy, 97,
Appendix I - Five Steps To Optimal Health, 133,
Appendix II - Five Mental States, 138,
Appendix III - Food Cravings, 141,
Appendix IV - Lists of hidden sugars and carbohydrates, 144,
Appendix V - Food Journal, 146,
About the author, 153,