FOURTH: Use the “Other” sections. Be creative and intuitive. What other aspects of your lifestyle may be affecting your health? Jot them down here. Under the Goals section, also jot down other measurements of your health and function that are important to YOU. This may be lab results, how much time you can play with your children, how far you can walk, etc. This is where you measure YOUR personal goals.
FIFTH: Look for patterns between your outer and inner environments. Your outer environment is your diet and lifestyle. Your inner environment is your mind-body’s state of health and function. For example, I found a pattern between how much sugar I eat and how much stomach pain I get. I have also found a pattern between my abdominal girth and how late at night I eat. Once you find these patterns, keep improving them and watch what happens.
Quite often, these patterns also have unhealthy thoughts, as well as emotional and addictive patterns that can be difficult to break. For example, I noticed a quick and strong correlation between eating before bedtime and putting on abdominal fat. This is a very unhealthy type of fat to put on, and I don’t like the way I look and feel with a beer belly! I wanted to try hard to improve this aspect of my health so I started to see how late I could eat or snack and not put on abdominal fat. I found out that I had to stop eating after 7:30pm. When I tried to do this day after day, I discovered that it was very difficult and I kept making excuses to myself to go ahead and have a late night snack before bed. As I looked back at my journals I saw that I was eating late most nights, even though this was the main thing I wanted to change. So I used mindfulness.
First, I started by scanning how I felt looking at my journal to see if I was harboring negative thoughts and emotions about myself for not reaching my goal of fasting after 7:30 pm. Thankfully, I wasn’t beating myself up over this (thanks to several years of working on accepting and forgiving myself). Next, I became more mindful while I was making the excuse to go ahead and snack after 7:30. During this time, I was under a great deal of stress in my life, and I realized that a small, yet powerfully convincing aspect of my consciousness, was making excuses based on how I was stressed, tired, sad or upset in anyway. I observed old common thoughts racing through my mind justifying my behavior by thinking “I feel so crummy, I don’t even care right now” “I deserve to feel better”, “I’m so exhausted, I deserve to have a snack and crawl right into bed”, etc.. etc..etc. In addition to just observing my thoughts without following them and without judging myself, I began to observe how those thoughts made me feel. Right behind each of those thoughts was a rush of adrenaline, perhaps sprinkled with a little dopamine, and just a dash of seratonin (biochemically speaking). What this means to you and I was that these thoughts made me feel good! And in addition, they were giving me a little boost of energy to carry out the behavior that they were pushing me into! Whoa! This is how addiction works! This is why we crave food, drugs, smartphones, you name it, insert here ________________.
Here we can see another reason why I call this “The Ancestor Cleanse”. No we can’t blame our addictions on our ancestors, sorry. Well, we can, and many of us do, but that won’t help any of us heal! The real reason is because this neurological, chemical, hormonal, endocrine, and behavior pattern of addiction was formed deep in our ancestry. Remember, more than 95% of our DNA is still identical to that of our hunter – gatherer ancestors. More than 90% of our DNA is still identical to our Chimpanzee ancestors! (Although, I’d like to think that I evolved from the Bonobo line of apes, but that’s another topic….). This is WHY we hunted and gathered, shared our food, formed strong bonds with family, friends, loved ones and tribes. This is HOW we survived! It worked beautifully for 2 million years….until….we changed our environment. We changed our food. We bred our plants and animals to have more and more sugar in them. We bred our animals to be fatter. We stopped moving so much and settled into agricultural communities. Then we added sugar and fat to our food. We created machines to move us around, as well as ways to store more food longer and longer. But our DNA hardly changed at all. The way our minds and bodies are designed to work is almost exactly the way they worked 1 million years ago!
— Dr. Troy Anthony Smith, DC