Thursday, September 29, 2011

Therapy Thursday: Is detoxification necessary?

Although many people in the medical industry would disagree, I believe that detoxification is necessary and relevant in our toxic world.  If you live in the city like me, you are surrounded by toxins in the air, in the water and in the food chain.  Over time, if these toxins build up faster than the body can remove them, disease grips the organs of the body.  While a healthy diet and exercise routine can assist in the removal of these toxins, certain therapeutic treatments can stimulate a more rapid expelling of harmful toxins.  

Many people around the world attest to the effectiveness of these therapies.  When done properly and with common sense, most people notice improvements in the skin, in their digestion, to their liver and kidneys, in their eyesight, and so much more.  Personally, I have done several juice fasts, intestinal cleanses, coffee enemas and gall bladder flushes.  Each time I do them, I feel a major difference in the way I feel, and I have often cleared up chronic conditions that I've had for years.  

I'm not suggesting that anyone become their own doctor.  If you are not in at least moderate health, it would be wise to seek a professional that has a lot of experience with these therapies.  Also, some people become obsessed with cleansing and detoxing to the point that they become more sick.  Cleansing therapies need to be used wisely as a tool to aid the body.  Obsession over toxins and cleansing is just another disease.

For this blog, I would like to discuss the therapies I have used in the past and how they have helped me.  I would also like to continue to use them as I traverse down the road to greater health and seek out new forms.  The information presented here could include heavy metal detox, liver and gallbladder cleansing, colon cleansing, flushes, parasite and candida cleanses, juice fasting, the Master's Cleanse, etc.  My goal is to take on a fast or cleanse at least once a season.

Please join me every Thursday as I gently move my way to a cleaner, more-obstacle-free me.  Be healthy!

Mystic Merman

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Workout Wednesday: Move That Body

I recently read an article that over 63% of Americans are overweight or obese.  While much of this is due to diet, a large part of this can be blamed on inactivity.  The average American spends 56 hours a week sitting.  The British are even worse with an average of 14 hours a day on their butts.  As our world becomes more and more technological, it presents greater challenges for each of us to get up on our feet and move.  A large percentage of us spend our workday sitting in front of a computer.  Then, exhausted from a stressful day at work, we plop down in front of the television or our home computer.  Cars provide many conveniences for us, but they also keep us from walking to the store.  Even kids find entertainment in a screen today rather than playing outside.  Our fast-paced society actually has us more immobile than ever.

I'm certainly a "victim" of this modern way of life.  When I lived in Santiago, Chile for a year, I didn't have a car. I had to walk to work, walk to the store, or stand on the Metro to get somewhere far.  Back in the states, my car can take me anywhere I want to go in minutes.  After four years of being back, I packed on about 50 extra pounds.  Of course, having inflammation deep in the tissue of my right foot didn't help.  Pain can keep us from wanting to do anything but sit around the house.  However, it can also be a great motivator.  When Plantar Fasciitis found its way back into my foot, I decided to do something about it.

While I haven't been great about getting back into a regular exercise routine, I am certainly more active than I've been in years.  Lately, I spend many an afternoon swimming in the ocean or walking on a crowded street (I love to people watch).  As the inflammation in my foot disappears (thanks in large part to my raw diet), I am finding less excuses to not get out and exercise.

I have to admit that exercise has always been a challenge for me.  I'm more of an intellectual person than a physical person, so I have to dig deep to find the motivation.  One thing that I am learning is that I need variety.  If I do the same thing every day, I get bored and will stop doing it.  The key for me lies in finding four or five things I love (or even like) to do and take on a different exercise every day.

So, my goals for moving my body consist of exercising/working out five times a week, doing something active on the two off days, learning more about advances in fitness science, stretching every day and learning how to recognize and overcome my habitual procrastination.  Every week, I'll discuss my accomplishments and challenges and highlight a specific workout I am doing.  Some of the things that interest me are swimming (especially in the ocean), hiking, power walking, yoga and Pilates, kayaking, hill climbing, biking, kayaking, weight training and aerobic exercise.  I love the outdoors, so I hope to incorporate outside activities at least four or five days a week.

So, please join me every Wednesday as I discuss my commitment to staying in shape.  Be healthy!

Mystic Merman

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: The perfect diet?

Ah, food, food, food!  Can anything be more of a double-edged sword?  While we certainly cannot live without food, our forks can be the source of a lot of misery.  However, if we learn enough about what foods are good for us and work for us, we can create excellent health with it.

As you may have read (, my personal journey of health has see-sawed up and down for many years.  When I first became a vegan in my early 20s, I thought I had found the perfect diet and I would never be sick again.  But plant-based food can be just as disease-producing as animal foods, especially when it is heavily processed and denatured.

Although I continue to search for a diet that works very well for me, I do know that the more raw food I eat, the better my health is and the better I feel.  The closer to the source your food is, the more life-giving qualities it has.  Processing, over-cooking, pasteurizing, frying, salting, sugaring, canning, adding preservatives, "fortifying," genetically modifying, and adding chemicals to food are becoming the standard for most of our food.  The Standard American Diet (SAD) leaves most people deficient in many nutrients and struggling to expel numerous toxins from the body.  Over time, this diet wreaks havoc on the body and diseases of all kind appear.  Even the medical establishments are starting to recognize the toll that modern diets have on the human body.

After being vegan for many years, I began to introduce dairy and eggs into my diet.  This was likely due to the fact that I had deficiencies in minerals, protein, certain fats and more.  While I started to feel a little better, other problems developed, especially in my skin.  When I got into raw food, these cleared up, but I didn't know enough about nutrition to stay healthy and my diet began to yo-yo from year to year.  I noticed that animal food (especially dairy) made me feel heavy and sluggish.  When I really started to introduce superfoods into my diet on a daily basis, my cravings for animal food disappeared.

After doing a 30 day juice fast (more on that in a later blog), I am doing great on a raw, vegan diet.  I would like to continue on this diet for my health and for the planet.  My personal goals in this area include eating 99% raw, consuming only plant-based food, introducing new superfoods one at a time, buying 75% or more of my food from local farmers, learning more about what foods foster alkalinity vs. acidity in the body, reaching my optimum weight and maintaining that for the rest of my life, and recognizing highly processed "food" as toxic foodstuff.

I am not here to preach or judge anyone about their diets.  This is my own exploration for myself.  If I can inspire you to consider where your food comes from every time you sit down to a meal, that's great.  Please join me as I journey toward a healthier, happier me!

Mystic Merman

Monday, September 26, 2011

Manic Monday: An introduction to mental and emotional health

Before I choose a topic for this category, I'd like to discuss what this means to me and where I want to be.  In my experience, one of the keys to mental and emotional health is reducing stress and stress factors.  Stress takes a toll on the health of the body, but also causes emotional and mental distress.  For me, this has been a great challenge in my life.  Often, I overreact to situations, become emotionally involved in other people's problems and spend a lot of time thinking about the past and worrying about the future. Managing stress is one of the keys to good health.

In addition, community and personal relationships are essential to a healthy mind.  By communicating our feelings, spending time with people that are positive in our lives, and connecting to the people around us, we create more meaning in our lives.

For most of us, connecting with Nature develops a sense of inner peace and clarity.  Many of us have extremely hectic lives and spend a lot of time in front of a computer or television screen.  Getting outside, breathing fresh air, getting away from the noise of the city, or using relaxation methods (i.e. meditation, yoga, breathing techniques, etc.) keep us grounded and relieve stress.

My personal goals in this area include spending more time in nature (I especially love the ocean, hence my superhero name Mystic Merman), learning better breathing techniques, exploring different types of meditation and relaxation techniques, volunteering and connecting with my community more, recognizing and managing my stress levels and stress factors, communicating better with my friends and family, and laughing as much as possible.

Join me every Monday as I discuss my progress, research and blog about what I find, discuss pitfalls and obstacles, and laugh my way to health.

NOTE: I am not including anything spiritual in this blog because I believe this is personal.  There are many different viewpoints on spirituality and religion (even within any given group), and I prefer to leave that to the individual and discuss health from a physical, mental and emotional viewpoint.

Mystic Merman

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Superfood Sunday - An Introduction to Superfood

Before I begin to talk about specific superfoods, I would like to start off this week with an introduction to superfood.  What is a superfood?  What does it do for the human body?  And where can I get different types of superfood?

According to many experts on nutrition and health, a superfood is any food that is particularly high in one or more phytonutrients, minerals or vitamins.  The best superfoods are nutritionally packed and help to build the body or protect its immune system.  For example, berries are well-known to have antioxidants like polyphenols, anthocyanins and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C).  These antioxidants can protect the body from free radicals, enhance the immune system, and keep the eyes healthy.

As humans began to domesticate plants, crops would begin to weaken over time due to the protection provided from natural elements by humans.  Most of the food we eat today (and feed the animals we eat) falls under this group.  Hence, the nutritional value of many of these foods have diminished, even if grown organically.  Superfoods include food groups that are closer to the wild state and/or grown in mineral-rich soils without the use of pesticides and other poisons.  Examples of these are algae, sea vegetables, wild berries, wild grasses and greens, and some heirloom fruits and vegetables.

Finding out what superfoods work for each of us and consuming them on a regular basis can contribute a lot to a person's health.  Of course, some superfoods (like herbs and concentrated oils) need to be taken in moderation and with consideration.  It is always wise to research any new food you are adding into your diet or consult a qualified health practitioner.  Often, a strong or very bitter taste is a good indication that respect is demanded of this food or medicine.  When choosing to eat food from the wild, make sure that you are 100% sure what you are eating before you indulge.

Buying superfoods can be tricky because a lot of companies promote their products as superfoods, but may add toxic sweeteners, stabilizers, or preservatives to the food.  In addition, a lot of producers of popular superfoods grow their food in poor soils and over process the food with high heat, chemicals or other denaturing methods.  Always check into the integrity of the company and ask them a lot of questions.

As we explore one of more superfoods every Sunday, there will be a lot more to discuss.  I encourage you to try different superfoods and see if they make a difference for you.  They have certainly made a difference in my life.  Be healthy!

Mystic Merman

Friday, September 23, 2011

Health Blog Orientation

Hi.  This entry is meant to orientate the reader and myself to this blog.  I've decided to do a theme every day of the week.  Here are the themes with descriptions:

Superfood Sunday: Every Sunday, I will introduce and talk about a new superfood.  These nutrient-packed foods are essential to a healthy lifestyle.  Most of them, I have tried, but I will also introduce ones that I am trying for the first time.  Feel free to comment on your experience with them or recommend new ones.  This category could include algae, wild food, herbs, minerals, seeds, or anything that could be considered a superfood.

Manic Monday: On Mondays, I will talk about all things related to mental and emotional health.  Topics such as meditation, breathing, connecting with nature, emotional releases, and community health will certainly be covered, but I can introduce others as I explore my own health.

Tasty Tuesday: On Tuesdays, my blogs will be about my diet.  This will include (but is not limited to) what I'm eating or not eating, recipes, how the food I'm eating is affecting my health, and my personal goals for my diet.  There may also be discussions about plant-based diets vs. an omnivorous diet.

Workout Wednesday: Exercise and activity are essential to physical, mental and emotional well-being.  On Wednesday, I will discuss my own weekly activities and exercise routines.  This may include topics about what I plan to do, what I am doing and the challenges I face daily.

Therapy Thursday: Every Thursday is detox day.  Here, I will talk about different methods of detoxification that could include colon cleansing, juice fasting, heavy metal detoxification, and other therapies.  From my experience, detoxification works and really helps the body achieve a higher state of health.

Free Friday: Friday is a free blog day.  Blogs on the last day of the work week can be about any topic related to health.  As I gain more bloggers, I may open this day up to questions and discussions about health-related topics.  Feel free to ask questions or suggest topics.

Sexy Saturday: Everyone enjoys looking good.  On Saturday, the topics will revolve around taking care of the skin, hair and nails, as well as keeping trim.  Topics may include weight loss, products for keeping the skin  healthy, and beauty from the inside out.

Thank you for joining me.  Be healthy!

Mystic Merman

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Personal Health Journey

Like most Westerners, I was raised on the Standard American Diet (SAD).  While my parents had nothing but the best of intentions, they did not have the knowledge or the support to do anything different.  In my house, pasta, bread, animal foods from factory farms, processed foods with sugar, salt and unnatural fats, etc. were considered a normal part of one's diet.  Fruits and vegetables were always available, but were a small part of the meal.

As a young adult, I continued to eat this diet, which caused laziness and non-motivation toward a better life.  I also took up smoking, drinking and recreational drugs.  Eventually, I had to go into a drug rehabilitation program, which marked the beginning of my awakening.

At the age of 22, the relationship between what I put in my body and the state of my health began to become very evident.  I was overweight, addicted to cigarettes, and had low energy.  It was during this time, that I began to browse the health sections at bookstores and the library.  I came across a book called Fit For Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond.  The book presented a lifestyle that embraced a plant-based diet and even suggested that humans (like all other animals) should be eating their food raw (this planted a seed that would eventually sprout).

Immediately, I went vegan.  As I explored this new lifestyle, I was horrified to see how animals were raised for food in most Western countries.  All the meat and dairy I had consumed were the product of horrific torture and disregard for life.  Not only were these products loaded with antibiotics and numerous toxins, but the damage they caused to the planet was undeniable.  My reasons for being vegan were mostly ethical and I became enthusiastically involved with the animal rights movement.

After several years on the vegan diet, I began to notice that my health was still not where it could be.  As a vegan, I was still eating highly-processed food and was hardly motivated to exercise.  My energy was better, but there was certainly room for improvement.  One sunny afternoon in Balboa Park, I was walking around at the Earth Day Fair.  I came across a group of people who were eating melons and had a small table with some books.  The book was entitled Nature's First Law: The Raw Food Diet.  I conversed with a healthy-looking, energetic young man at the table for a few minutes and purchased the book.  Again, the idea of a plant-based, totally raw diet as the optimal diet for humans was presented to me.  It made perfect sense.  Humans were the only animal that cooked their food.  The diseases and ailments so prevalent in our species indicated that something was wrong.  Even young people and children were sick, fat and seemed to be in a constant daze.

Well, this was the inspiration I was looking for.  I began to explore a raw diet when I was about 30.  At first, it was one of the hardest things I'd ever done.  I craved sugar, processed grains, french fries, chips, you name it.  And, it seemed like there was absolutely no support for this kind of diet.  My friends and family thought I was crazy, even though they were used to my diet antics over the years.  When I went out to eat, I would have to order a salad and make sure no foreign, cooked objects were in the meal.  Eating only fruit, nuts and salad all the time bored the hell out of me, and, even though many of my health challenges cleared up, I always felt like I was missing something.

At the age of 32, I decided to go back to college.  I got a part-time job at Nature's First Law, a company that was growing quickly.  Eventually, they took me on full time, while I went to school in the evenings.  At Nature's First Law, I started learning more and more about nutrition and health from a raw, vegan perspective.  I was introduced to the idea of superfoods (more on these in later blogs), which were packed with minerals, antioxidants, vitamins and other phytonutrients and filled in a lot of gaps nutritionally.  My body began to respond to this diet even better.  I lost any access weight, my skin cleared up and I felt my body getting stronger.  It really felt like I had found the path to perfect health.  My love of nature began to deepen, as I went on hikes and camping trips with other raw foodists.  I felt a deep connection to the Earth and fell more deeply in love with the ocean.

After a couple of years at Nature's First Law (now called Sunfood), I began to cheat a little bit on the raw diet.  This proved to be a slippery slope.  Eventually, I slipped back into my old ways, consuming processed foods and even drinking again.  My weight blew up and I started experiencing pain in my joints, gastrointestinal issues, skin problems and several other health problems.  Over the years, I have tried to get back on the raw diet and have pretty much gone back and forth.  However, I have always included a number of superfoods in my diet, which has kept my immune system strong and managed to keep me in fairly good health.

One health challenge was bad enough to bring me back to the road of serious health, though.  My right foot developed a condition called Plantar Fasciitis.  This stubborn inflammatory disease affects the heal of one or both feet and can move into the arch of the foot and even the toes.  I had it bad.  I could barely walk without severe pain.  This condition opened up the door for depression, lack of exercise and binge eating.  My weight stacked up to 285 pounds, the most I have ever weighed.  With the help of my talented massage therapist and some great superfoods, I was able to get most of the inflammation out.  My diet started to improve as I incorporated more raw food again and lost a little weight.  But, I wasn't fully committed and eventually, the inflammation started to come back.

Well, I wasn't about to go through that again.  About three months ago, I made a commitment to myself and my health.  That is what this blog is about.  After completing a 30-day fast, losing 30 pounds and getting rid of all the inflammation in my foot, I am just getting started.  Journey with me as I explore my diet, my exercise routine, my relationship with Planet Earth, my community and my sanity.  Stay healthy!

Mystic Merman

Purpose Statement

Hello and welcome to my blog.  The purpose of this blog is two-fold.  First, I am doing this for myself.  As I continue my journey into greater levels of health, I want to document my progress and continue to be inspired to move forward.  Second, I hope to inspire others to look at how their diet, attitude and activity can affect their health and well-being.  As you read these blogs, please keep in mind that they are for educational purposes only.  Any changes that you make in your diet or lifestyle are your responsibility and choice.  Thank you for reading and be healthy!

Mystic Merman