Week One: Eight Weeks To Optimum Health

Well, I am finally doing SOMETHING about my health issues.  Something other than making the rounds of doctors and grumbling about how confused I am and how I don’t know what to do or where to start.  Which is what I’ve been doing for the past year  or so.

For those of you who have no idea what "health issues" I’m talking about, I wish I could point you to one post that would sum it all up, but there isn’t such a thing.  There are several posts that detail my journey, but that’s a lot of reading.  So the short version is, I have IBS, GERD, and gastritis (Google is your friend), and a variety of different symptoms related to each of the aforementioned (I love that word!) that come and go with no obvious provocation (oooh, the big words are just overflowing today!)

So anyway, whether or not Dr. Weil’s program cures me of my tummy troubles, at the very least, I will be healthier because of it.  And so will my whole family.  In fact, that is my biggest motivation to try the program.  Not only because it might lessen my stomach symptoms, but because it should make me healthier overall and more equipped to naturally fight off infection and other health problems that seem to be plaguing our society.  According to Dr. Weil, most bodies come with an 80-year warranty if treated right.  But because most of us don’t treat our bodies right, the warranty seems to be wearing off about 40 years sooner than it should.  Or rather, as he puts it, around age 40, the bill comes due.

I will post weekly updates about my progress, not only because it provides me with some accountability, but also because perhaps someone out there needs encouragement to make lifestyle changes that they have been putting off for far too long.

If you are that person, let me just tell you that I am NOT good at making changes, I did NOT get my fair share of self-discipline (ha! don’t you like how I shift the blame away from myself?), and I might even be a little self-indulgent at times (that’s sarcasm right there, yall).   Anyway, giving up coffee is probably about the biggest challenge my self-discipline has ever been handed.  I feel like I’m giving up a good friend.  I know, that’s 10 kinds of pathetic, but it’s the truth.

So my point is this.  If I can do this, SO CAN YOU.  I hate it when people say this, but
it’s TRUE.  And I suppose I’m getting a tad bit cocky here, because I’m
not even sure I can do it.  But I’m at least giving Weil’s program 8 weeks.  If, by
the end, I do not feel better and have the motivation to continue, then I can try something else. But I do believe that I will at least pick up some
better habits even if I don’t end up embracing the whole program.  And I’ve got to start somewhere.

Week One’s assignment was the following:

1) Start by going through your pantry and refrigerator to identify and discard common unhealthful foods.  Then he gives a list including oils other than olive, as well as any products containing margarine, solid vegetable shortenings, cottonseed oil, or partially hydrogenated oils of any kind.  I did this, except I did save my Crisco.  You know, so I can make those blueberry pies the husband loves.  But those are rare occasions.  RARE is the keyword here.

Also, any artificial sweeteners containing saccharin or aspartame and any products made with them.  Dr. Weil says that sucralose (Splenda) looks to be the most promising of the artificial sweeteners at the moment, but he still advises against it.  (This was not hard for me.  I detest artificial sweeteners.  They’re right up there with tea in my book.  Nosankyou!) 

Also products containing artificial coloring.  Again, I have an aversion to that crap already.  So, all in all, Assignment #1 was cake.  Made with natural cane juice, of course.  Ahem.

So, in summary, I can check off Assignment #1.

2) If you do not have any extra-virgin olive oil on hand, buy a bottle and start using it. I have it, and I use it.  Assignment #2, check!

3) Make a commitment to read labels of all food products you buy.  Then he instructs us to keep total fat intake to about 30% of calories, and saturated fat as low as possible.  And he adds, Do not buy products whose labels list more chemicals than recognizable ingredients.  I tried to follow these rules when I went shopping at Trader Joes last Saturday.  It’s definitely easier to follow the rules at a health food store, but I also learned that you can’t take for granted that just because the product is carried at the health food store that it is automatically healthful.  I still have to read labels carefully.

4) Start eating some fresh broccoli this week.  Check.  I love broccoli. 

5) Eat salmon at least once this week.  Check.  I love salmon.  I tried the wild salmon that he suggested (I got it at Trader Joe’s).  I think I prefer the taste of the farm-raised that I’m used to, but I can get used to this.

6) Start the combination of antioxidants that I recommend.  I did this.  I went to drweil.com and filled out their Vitamin Advisor questionnaire and ordered several of the vitamins and supplements they recommended for me.  They arrived on Wednesday, and that’s the day I started taking them.

As an aside.  These seem to be causing some, um, interesting discoloration in the loo.  Anyone know why?  I’m talking neon, people.  Sorry, I realize that’s way TMI.  Hi, Dad!  (My dad abhors potty talk.)

7) Try to walk ten minutes a day five days this week. I walked 40 minutes three days this week.  It would have been four or five days, but that head cold really had me down at the beginning of the week.

8) Begin to practice Breath Observation for five minutes every day.  This is the sort of thing that I tend to forget about.  I tried it a couple of times.  Meditation and breathing exercises bore me to tears.  Weil is a huge proponent of such techniques, but that’s where I don’t totally buy into his entire philosophy.  I’m sure it’s worth giving it a try, but you can probably sense my lack of interest and commitment.  I’ll have to see if he is any more convincing about the benefits in the upcoming chapters. 

I love that he tells you what to do and then gives a commentary afterwards, explaining the whys of everything.  And I love how he doesn’t just say, "eat salmon", but he also tells you how to prepare it.  So many times, these self-help books will tell you to add crazy stuff to your diet, like flaxseeds and alfalfa sprouts, but then they don’t tell you what to do with it.  Weil gives three different ways to cook salmon and detailed instructions about how to fix broccoli so that it doesn’t taste like the yellow, wilty stuff your grandmother used to serve you.

9) Buy some flowers to keep in your home, where you can enjoy them.  I didn’t do this.  I love fresh flowers and am not opposed to buying them, but with the money I spent last week on vitamins and groceries (healthy food is NOT cheap!), I just didn’t want to spend any extra for flowers.  But I do agree that having flowers around the house is a huge mood enhancer.  So maybe I’ll do that this week.  Or perhaps I’ll cut some roses out of my garden!

So, that’s where things stand right now.  Today I will read the chapter for Week Two, and I’ll update you next Saturday.  I’m anxious to see what other changes he suggests for this week.  Week One was quite painless.  Except for my self-imposed coffee strike.  But you already know that story.

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17 thoughts on “Week One: Eight Weeks To Optimum Health

  1. looking forward to your journey, since after perusing web md with your “fancy-schmancy” words, you and I are in the same boat medically (I simply have started new health insurance with a 12 month pre-existing clause) so I won’t be officially dealing with any of it for a while) … good good luck, I know how difficult good changes can be!

  2. As far as meat is concerned, he is encouraging more fish and soy based products as alternatives to meat.

    But the thing I like the most is he never says, “Eliminate blank from your diet.” He just has you focus on adding good stuff and substituting stuff for what you’re used to eating and hopes that over time, you will develop new and better eating and lifestyle habits.

    That is MUCH easier for me to swallow than a bunch of “don’ts”. No pun intended. Ha!

  3. I love the flowers idea.. maybe a different week. I like to buy $4-5 worth of white daisies.. my favorite and they usually last about 3 weeks so it’s not too bad.

    This is a very beautiful blog. 🙂

  4. I had recently had a health crisis of my own. I was dealing with a huge variety of serious problems and all the doctors either said it was due to being a mom of two boys, I was depressed, or they simply didn’t know.

    They basically brushed me off as though it were all in my head. After research on my own I stumbled upon something I had never heard of, but thought it could be the culprit.

    It’s called an overgrowth of Candida. This can be brought on my poor diet (too much sugar or foods that convert into sugar), stress, antibiotics, pregnancy…etc.

    The good news? That was the problem. The bad news? Well, the way to get rid of it is to go on the most strict diet I’ve ever heard of!

    It was rough, really really hard…but I now live without IBS, arthritus, exhaustion, brain fog, and so many of the other problems that plagued me.

    Incase you want to read more about my experience with it you can go here: http://casualfridayeveryday.com/be-a-stubborn-bull-dog-when-something-is-wrong/

    And, here is a great site with tons of info on this problem. http://wholeapproach.com/ They plug their own product…you don’t need it in my opinion. I’ve taken care of my overgrowth with diet and natural antifungals, probiotics, and suppliments.

    Either way, I do hope you can get to the bottom of your health issues and have a total healing!

  5. Gosh most of that sounded really PLEASANT. Flowers? Buy Flowers? Yippity doo dah, I can do that! I’m going to be so excited to read the next weeks of posts on this. Thanks for sharing your journey – I bet it makes you feel a little vulnerable, huh? But then again, in doing this, you are building yourself a nice little support group/fan club to cheer you on, too. I might have to see if I can find that book in my library. Wonder what he thinks about meat?

  6. Wow! Good for you. I get an email from Dr. Weil every other day or so with a new recipe to try. Honestly, I haven’t tried one yet, even though they look great. You have inspired me to try them.

  7. There is some vitamin, maybe it’s B? I can’t remember. But there is some vitamin that gives you quite the Hi-Pro Glow when you pee. Fret not. It is normal and not nearly as alarming as it seems.

    Hi, your dad!

  8. Thanks for your post. I thought I’d try to join you as much as I can in this. So, clean out the cabinets of everything with artificial sweetner, artificial colors and more chemicals than not…

    Cool…I started by eating the last of the “fruit” snacks. My cabinets are now free of those!


    I’m sure I can learn to embrace the new you. It just may take me awhile! 😉

  10. Sarah – Company! Fun! The other thing I’ve done, that Weil hasn’t mentioned, but was a big thing in Oz’s book, was to get rid of all the high fructose corn syrup. This is HARD, but I’d already heard about this from friends, and now in the news, how they are linking it to childhood obesity. It’s in EVERYTHING for kids. So that’s out of my house as well.

    June – My dad says hi. 😉

    Nell – Emailing you. Interesting.

  11. Wow…good for you! With my Mum’s cancer thing the doctors are wanting her to do some serious food changes and it sounds like she could use this program.

  12. Great! I have Dr. Weil’s book, too. I really like him…he’s a little new agey for me, but still, he’s very knowledgeable! Can’t wait to read your progress!

  13. Great! I think I’m doing at least 8 things on the list! I’m well on my way! I will say that eat a lot of Lean Cusine’s as part of my weight loss plan, but I only by the ones with no preservatives. Not sure if this is on your list, but I also stay away from nitrates and nitrites. You find them mostly in hot dogs and deli meat. Hebrew’s National sells a nitrite free dog and there are a lot of Boar’s Head lunch meats are free from chemicals. I thought about you this morning when I was drinking my coffee (with 2 Splenda’s BTW), I felt sad for you! But, you’re making good changes. Stick with it! Keep the tips coming!

  14. Yup. Vitamins cause neon in the loo. 🙂 I notice my healthfood store ones cause it more than the doctor’s samples, so they must be a higher quality…haha!

  15. Hi, I just hopped over here from a contest comment that you left on my blog. So glad that I did! I have the exact same physical symptoms as you were describing, IBS, GERD, etc. I have some of Dr. Weil’s books. I love his advice but I have a hard time following it. In fact, I haven’t followed it for about a year now and guess what…all symptoms came back. I will definitely check back to your site for inspiration to change my lifestyle to being a little healthier. I am also working on making my home “greener”, so my husband will really think I have jumped into the granola box when I go back to Dr. Weil’s plan 🙂

  16. Thanks for posting about this, dcrmom. I’m definitely interested. I’m gonna follow your progress (isn’t a blog great? it will keep you motivated to keep on keeping on!), and maybe do this myself eventually one day! (Although, having tried tofu, I’m not a fan– that may be a part I’ll have to skip- maybe I can just drink some vanilla soy milk instead?) 😉

    Jess @ Making Home

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