Tuesday I had an unhealthy day. With some groggy pain stabbing around my abdomen I felt blue and resided mainly on the sofa. I didn’t meditate, didn’t read. Two things I have been enjoying daily recently. I didn’t make my morning turmeric fuelled juice. I watched the whole series of The Night Manager* back to back throughout the day and I ate crisps. A lot of crisps.
I haven’t beaten myself up about Tuesday but just before bed that night I promised myself I’d have a 100% Healthy Day the following day. Committing this to myself felt good. Wednesday was going to be a day of respecting my healing body again, giving it a good shot at being well in both body and mind.
By and large I am ‘healthy’. Practicing a mostly vegan diet, getting the exact nutrients my body needs (to some peoples shock and disbelief!) just not from the flesh of a dead animal. I can’t see the goodness in that, truly I can’t. Dead, murdered flesh. The flesh of an animal stunned and petrified. Mmmm, yummy.
Anyhoo, the 100% Healthy Day came to me as I chomped through the last of the Kettle Chips Tuesday night and it appealed straight away. I’d say on average I’m 75% healthy most days with the 25% being reserved for a post work rummage through the kitchen cupboard resulting in an Oreo and a handful of crisps being scoffed, or a sugary chai latte at work (the only half decent coffee alternative I can find as I unintentionally gave up coffee 6 months ago this week!) or overeating chips generally. God I love a chip. And very rarely do I go to a petrol station just for petrol. Hula hoop anyone?
So vegan diets don’t necessarily equal healthy but to reiterate, I can get exactly what I need nutrition wise from a plant based diet. You hear that? Tis true. So if I can educate myself to the plight of factory farmed animals, to then limit the pain and suffering to them by not eating them and therefore contribute to lower demand for their bodies, which in turn helps to reduce the number of cow farts puffing up into the atmosphere of which there is more evidence emerging that these guffs damage the planet moreso than the CO2 emissions we’re more commonly berated about, this feels like a good start to a my 100% Healthy Day….Long sentence that. Breathe.
The 100% Healthy Day
The point of the 100% Healthy Day was to be more than just about the food and drink I consumed. I needed a day to ignite my mind. So of course for anyone who knows me, I wrote a list of what I wanted it to include.
The food bits came naturally as I jotted down the list of stuff I fancied, but scattering in the other more mindful elements was where the day plan took real shape. Meditation, reading, a walk, checking out a mindfulness YouTube channel I’d been meaning to for ages, a magnesium flakes foot soak, starting a visualisation board, an early night. No chores, no pressure. Even though there was a list drawn up, the day wasn’t to be regimented. The list was just at hand to remind me of what I hoped to achieve. And if I didn’t fit it all in? Just fine.
Having just one day to commit to being 100% healthy felt like a really doable goal. It isn’t long enough to call a diet and we all know what happens when you start a diet. You eventually finish a diet and invariably dive into the stuff you’ve been depriving yourself of. Quite often we have days where we consider ourselves as a ‘healthy eater’ that day, but that could still mean you’ve had a processed organic sugary cereal bar as a snack or a can of Diet Coke or just a handful of crisps. So maybe that would come out as a 75-80% healthy day (I’ve no way or necessary intention of working out the exact percentages by the way). The point is, we could always improve.
Even before I’d done the 100% healthy day I started thinking that this could be something I consciously do a couple of times a week. Easy there Vicky…
I’m nearing the end of a few weeks where I have not been jolted awake by a morning alarm around 6.20am to signify all systems go! That said, I recently changed my phone alarm to one a little more gentle called Slow Rise (iPhone) which is a slightly calmer tune to interrupt a peaceful slumber. However, even though I have no set time to wake up during the week just now, I can’t spend hours in bed in the morning and am usually naturally waking up around 7.15am. Just that extra hour of natural sleep is blissful, waking up in line with when my body dictates without a daily dose of unwanted shock.
Magical things happen when we sleep. Our body heals faster, muscles repair, hormones are released to regulate growth and appetite and our brain detoxifies. And this is the only time during the day that it does. While our lymphatic system is working all hours, it does not include the brain.
One study titled “Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Adult Brain,” lead by Dr. Maiken Nedergaard notes that “the restorative nature of sleep appears to be the result of the active clearance of the by-products of neural activity that accumulate during wakefulness.”
Our brains essentially take a nice hot shower as we sleep.
I started the day with some mineral water with some organic lemon freshly squeezed into it to gently whirr my digestive system into action. There is a lot of literature about the importance of rehydrating before you eat each morning. 8 hours or so of no water leaves you physically dehydrated even though you might not be noticeably gasping upon rising. It also helps flush out toxins that have been found in your system as you’ve slept. Much better a glass of water first thing than a coffee which will only dehydrate us further. So, water first. Always.
I then completed 10 minutes of Headspace meditation to a rainfall playlist on Spotify. This particular guided session asked me to notice the temptation to fall asleep. I’m really enjoying meditation (more on that here), it is undoubtedly helping me be more in the present and to appreciate things happening right now; Being alive for one! The existence of all the singing birds in our garden, the breeze, my dog incessantly licking his paws, the weight of my body and any tension I’m holding (far too much by the way. It’s only through meditation that I’ve realised how much I ‘hold’ my body in position. Noticing those areas to let go of is the best.)
Breakfast was a papaya and a banana plus my usual morning juice of apples, carrots, ginger and turmeric root.
I’ll wang on to anyone who will listen about turmeric. If someone is ill in the office I’ll quite often stop at the local natural food shop and bag them up some fresh turmeric root. I make the daily juice with mine, but have also had bedtime ‘turmeric milk’ with cinnamon and almond milk too. I think the pharmaceutical companies wish they could patent turmeric as numerous studies have shown it’s properties and effectiveness on illness is comparable to conventional medications. But they can’t make money out of something they cant own now can they. Curcumin (the main active ingredient in turmeric) has been proven to have anti-cancer effects as acknowledged by Cancer Research UK. Lab studies have shown that it is “able to kill cancer cells and prevent more from growing. It has the best effects on breast cancer, bowel cancer, stomach cancer and skin cancer cells”.
There’s a ton of reading you can do on the other benefits of turmeric, Google is awash with articles. The downside? That bad boy stains. Not to mention leaves you with a yellow tinged tongue once you’ve finished your juice. I’ll take that. Sorry John.
At 10.00am I picked up where I left off reading Rob Bell’s How to be Here. I started on page 42 and kept on reading until I got to page 163, unashamedly losing myself in the joy of reading and learning.
For lunch I squelched up some avocado on organic bread with a smearing of vegemite, a few cherry tomatoes and a scattering of pine nuts. My drink? I put a pineapple through the juicer.
Throughout the day I also work away at a 1.5 litre bottle of mineral water.
The weather is up and down during the day. The epitome of ‘sunshine and showers’. I really love the rain. When it billows down and whips the ground. I found myself at times just staring at it through the window, watching the robins dart around the garden, seeing ducks quack their way across the sky. Sometimes it’s nice to just sit and see.
Supping away at the water I am adamant to get through, I take some time to pull up The Elephant Journal’s YouTube channel to see what Waylon Lewis has to offer. I’ve been meaning to check this out for some time now as I love the Ele’s daily newsletter and articles on a mindful life. I get through vids on the reasons to be Buddhist, how to grow your own veggies in your garden and thoughts on introversion and extroversion.
During a break in the rain, I also decide that exercise was probably in order to really crown my 100% Healthy Day but, given the recent keyhole surgery i’d had and the subsequent pain from the pits of hell, a power Pilates session was out of the question. So, I decided on my first mini walk in over 3 weeks. The sausage dog and I took to the streets for a brief 20 min wander. Granted, I didn’t even break a sweat but before the hospital visit I was enjoying regular walking as my go-to form of exercise, sometimes walking and walking for over 8 miles. So this little mini meander around the neighborhood simply signified getting back on my feet again. Onwards and upwards in that respect.
I made dinner for about 6.30pm, not wanting to eat late. Most weeknights I don’t get home from work until 7pm absolute earliest, meaning dinner is likely to be 8pm absolute earliest, so it’s nice to have an earlier sitting.
I made organic wholewheat spaghetti with ‘Santorini’ style sauce; lemon, shallots, capers, cherry tomatoes and fresh parsley.
I’m really happy in the evening, pleased that I’d accomplished what I’d intended to do. I haven’t picked at the Rich Teas or even as much as sniffed the new and unopened flavour of Kettle Chip lurking at the back of the cupboard. And in all honestly I hadn’t wanted to. I set and accepted my mission of the 100% Healthy Day and was focused on only that.
The only thing left to do was to turn to Netflix to watch the anticipated doc ‘My Beautiful Broken Brain’ about a 34 year old girl who back in 2011 suffered a life altering stroke. How she documented her experience and journey was humbling, with her more often than not remaining positive and open hearted about her new limitless mind.
I watched the doc while soaking my tootsies in a bowl of hot water with a handful of Better You magnesium flakes in. It’s a recent ritual that has only really come about because I cant currently have a bath (because of the dressings on my tummy) and I noticed a few weeks ago on the pack of these Magnesium flakes, it suggested that they are also good used a foot soak so I gave it a whirl. Turns out, in doing some further reading, that the largest of our pores are on the soles of our feet so in order to absorb the crucial magnesium so needed and yet largely depleted in our bodies, having a 20 minute relaxing foot soak is now a firm favourite of mine.
And so, to bed
Since listening to pretty much all of the Zestology podcasts over the last few months, I have heard ‘circadian rhythm’ mentioned enough times to at least be curious as to how artificial light can effect our sleep.
It’s an all too regular image isn’t it. Propped up in bed on your phone, with the screen beaming into our sleepy eyes. This light is telling us that it’s not time to sleep, that it’s daytime, therefore messing with our body clock. Even getting up in the night for a wee and switching on the bathroom light shocks our body out of sleepiness, sometimes making it hard to drift back off. Additionally though, these seemingly harmless activities, from obsessively checking our iPhones in bed to getting up for a wee in the night all halt our bodies function of creating melatonin.
Some people even go as far as buying blue blocking glasses that they put on as soon as the sun goes down of an evening to avoid any artificial light and to ensure they are in rhythm with the natural world and their bodies circadian rhythm. Not sure I’m quite ready for these yet, easy does it.
So this night, I nip upstairs before I actually want to go to bed, put my bedside light on low and put on some sleep meditation music. When I’m back downstairs, it’s around 10.15pm when I check my phone for the final time then wander upstairs to light my Absolute Aromas relaxation oil (a nightly regime) for a bit. I plug my phone in, put it face down and settle in for a good nights sleep.
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, dietician or nutritionist. There will be elements of the above, especially the foody bits, where people with opposing views or insights will argue that my 100% healthy day was in fact, not. The title of the day really is just there to prompt an action to commit to being the healthiest you that day. To question if any part of your ‘normal’ daily diet or in fact you on a good day could actually still be improved. Anyone thinking of taking part in something similar should take their own personal circumstances and health into account first and seek professional advice if felt necessary.
*Watch this bloody series if you haven’t. Like now, watch it now now.