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Friday, June 8, 2012

Prenatals!

I am not a huge fan of supplements. I prefer to eat my vitamins in the form my body was designed to get them--from food. In addition, women have had healthy babies for thousands of years without prenatal vitamins.

When I read Twinkie Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How Ingredients Found in Processed Foods Are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated into What America Eats all of my suspicions were confirmed. Almost all vitamins are made in chemistry labs, they are usually by-products of something else--like corn or film-making. Vitamins were just as creepy as I had always thought they were.

Then I read The Hundred Year Lie and learned that I had been exactly right--we have no business trying to get our vitamins anywhere but from food: "Although we have been led to believe that ascorbic acid, a synthesized form of vitamin C, is really vitamin C, it is not. Alpha tocopherol is not vitamin E. Retinoic acid is not vitamin A. And so on through the other vitamins.... The truth is that vitamins are not individual compounds. Vitamins are biological complexes. In addition to ascorbic acid, real vitamin C must include bioflavonoids [the natural pigments in fruits and vegetables] like hesperiden, rutin, quercetin, tannins, along with other naturally occuribng compounds. Mineral cofactors must be available in proper amounts. If any of these parts are missing, there is no vitamin activity."

Fortunately, since I wanted to take a prenatal every other day (in case our soils are depleted and I can't get all my nutrients from food like my ancestors did) I found a type of vitamins I can agree with--whole food vitamins. "Supplement maker New Chapter, for example, takes isolated nutrients and cultures them in a medium (soy, for example) with probiotic organisms. The end result, says naturopathic physician Taryn Forrelli, the company's director of medical education, is the transformation of individual nutrients into 'the kind of complex compounds you'd find in food.' The idea, she says, is that those compounds are more easily recognized and absorbed by the body" (US News).

There are not very many whole food prenatal vitamins to choose from. I went with New Chapter's Perfect Prenatal as I found rave reviews of it many different chat rooms. They worked well for me--no aftertaste, not nausea, I could take them on an empty stomach. I was even more pleased with them when I was given samples of the synthetic pre-natals offered by Expecting Fitness and found that they made me sick.

Update: Six month after my son was born I read Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A Price. This book, and especially the many pictures, makes an extremely convincing case that crooked teeth are not genetic but rather a nutrition deficiency that the mother suffered from while pregnant. Weston A Price noted that many native women (and sometimes me) were placed on special diets prior to marriage (and conception of a child). This diet included the most nutritionally dense foods around--eggs, fish eggs, organ meets and if available, high vitamin butter (the butter from cows grazing on the green grass of June).

My husband and I now take the Butter Oil Cod Liver Oil blend sold at RadiantLifeCatalog.com. Anyone thinking of having a baby should start taking this supplement one year before conception.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

How to be Physically Heroic - Part 5 - The Diet For Smart People

Eat the way your body evolved to eat, foods made by nature, not man: this is only the beginning of true health.

The next step is: how did our ancestors eat those things? This is crucial because. for example: various peoples have eaten whole grains for thousands of years, even hunters and gatherers ate grains, but no one ever ate whole grains that had not been sprouted or fermented. None of our ancestors before 100 years ago ate grains the way we do now. None of our ancestors before 100 years ago ate dairy the way we do now, they usually drank their milk sour, fermented or as curds and whey. They also didn't have pesticides on their fruits and vegetables or industrially raised meats. They also ate the whole animal. We think we are so evolved because we don't eat livers, feet and eyeballs anymore but the truth is: these are some of the most nutritious and important foods in existence. They are better for you than vegetables. Yay.

Though our ancestors had shorter lives due to infectious diseases and the hardships of life, they did not suffer from the things that kill us now--degenerative diseases, heart disease, diabetes, allergies, our bodies just starting to suck, etc.

The most astounding book on this subject is Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price. It's 700 pages long but reading it is hardly necessary because of all the photographs. Just borrow it from the library and look at the pictures and the captions. Go here to see a few of them: http://www.westonaprice.org/nutrition-greats/weston-price

Weston A. Price was a dentist who thought that crooked teeth (and cleft palates) were not caused by genes. He thought they were nutrition deficiencies. He didn't think that the road to perfect health began with studying sick people and finding cures for their ailments. He thought the road to health began by finding the healthiest people in the world and noting what they did to be so healthy. He set out to answer the question: what health is possible for the human being?

He spent a decade (in the 1930's) traveling the world looking for the healthiest people. He judged this by their teeth, he was a dentist after all. He found tribes of native peoples living everywhere from the Andes to the Swiss Alps to tropical islands who had perfectly straight, white teeth and no cavities (or 1 cavity out of every 500-1000 teeth).  None of these people ever brushed their teeth.

He noted noted that when any natives started eating a Western diet (natives of a similar race to the one he had just studied but who lived closer to Western civilization and whose diet had changed accordingly), they would retain their straight teeth but get cavities. The children born to parents on this diet would have both crooked teeth and cavities. Crooked teeth were caused by a malformed dental arch due to the diet of the parents, not by genes as he shows in photograph after photograph.

Children with crooked teeth showed marked behavioral differences as well as other health problems like narrowed hips (making child rearing more difficult) and decreased fertility.

If you are like me and you love to read things yourself (as opposed to reading a blog about what someone else read and thought), read his book! It's fantastic. But it is not as important as the 700 page book written by Sally Fallon, the woman who runs the Weston A. Price foundation, Nourishing Traditions. This book has all the same information along with all the most current and up-to-date info and recipes!

The Weston A. Price diet is very impressive as they do a ton of research and are always expanding their knowledge. They also involve people in their research. I have received emails asking what I feed my baby and how his health is and if I would like to participate in a study that would require me to eat pork and get my blood tested four times a day. Unlike most studies that are funded by the people selling the product (studies on wine are usually funded by people who sell wine, studies on chocolate are funded by people who sell chocolate, and everything else is funded by Monsanto and Coca Cola), this group is purely people passionate about health who just want to know what they should be eating and how they should be eating it.

The WAPF the magazine publishes many letters from readers. Most are personal stories attesting to how the WAPF diet changed their lives. Here is mine:

I grew up on a farm eating all whole grains, organic fresh produce and home grown meats. My parents, siblings and myself rarely got sick though I did suffer from acne and insomnia.

In college, I took a course in nutrition. I learned that most health problems are caused by vitamin and mineral deficiencies which left me wondering: could nutrition cure my acne and my insomnia?

I started keeping track of my vitamin and mineral intake. I recorded everything I ate for six months, making sure that I got 100% of everything every day. It was pretty high maintenance but it was also a homework assignment. I started inventing "nutritionally perfect meals", meals that provided 100% of the vitamins and minerals the government said I should be getting every day.

Unfortunately, the nutrition I learned at Wesleyan was from a USDA/FDA approved textbook, meaning it was a Monsanto/Coca Cola/McDonalds approved textbook. I learned things like: Aspartame only gives cancer to rats and MSG rarely hurts anyone, so though my meals were providing me with good nutrition according to my nutrition database, I was eating more processed food than I ever had in my life. I was eating very typical "healthy" American diet high in vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins like deli meat, nonfat dairy and since I was told that fruit was barely better for me than a candy bar, candy bars for treats. I also drank diet sodas.

This time period was the sickest I have been in my life. In fact, the only cold I have ever had was during this time. I remember it acutely as I finally understood those cold medicine commercials that I had never understood previously--runny nose, pounding head, etc.

I quickly returned to the diet on which I had been raised--a diet very similar to the WAPF diet--and though I continued to have B+/A- skin and terrible insomnia, I never got sick.

When I learned of Price's work my diet changed in the following ways: I eat something fermented with every meal, I consume most of my dairy raw and cultured, I drink a large quantity of homemade tonic-beers, similar to kombucha which I also drink but made with fermented ginger, and I eat liver and fish eggs. 

My skin is now glowing movie-star quality skin and my insomnia has disappeared. Other interesting changes include disappearance of sugar cravings which I use to have all the time. After about a month into the WAPF diet I was upset one day and thought, "Ah man, I really need a kombucha." I laughed. "Chocolate, I meant chocolate," I thought. Only the truth was... what I wanted to comfort me in that moment was kombucha. I used to enjoy a glass of wine at the end of the day but now I would rather have a home made ginger tonic. I have always had good energy but I have so much more now it's shocking. I am also happier.

My husband's story:

My husband grew up eating the standard unhealthy American diet. He got sick all the time before he met me and was often sick when we first began dating. We made a lot of jokes at that time about me being a "carrier". I worked with children and would carry those germs straight from the kids to him.

My husband changed his eating habits when we began living together (he started eating like I did) and has only gotten a cold--if you can call it that since it only lasted a day--once. But he continued to suffer from dandruff, eczema and hair loss. We cured his dandruff a year ago by experimenting with eliminating different foods (we found that he cannot tolerate any dairy, even raw, unless it has been cultured).

Since we began eating the WAPF diet he has ceased losing hair but he still has eczema. I will update this post if this changes because I bet that the eczema is on its way out and will just take a little longer. Or perhaps the fermented foods cured his hair loss but he will have to join me in eating liver and fish eggs to cure his eczema. It is also possible that he is just highly sensitive to the chlorine in our water.

On the taste of foods: if you study the science of taste, you will find that any food you can't stand, if you force yourself to eat it once a month for a year, you will come to like and even crave it. Taste is just habit. I don't like liver yet, but I plan to.

I feel it is important for me to note that in order to not drive myself insane, I follow the WAPF diet 80% of the time. The rest of the time I am a delightful dinner guest.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

How to be Physically Heroic - Part 4

Four reasons why rational, Libertarian couples will have incredible health (and if not, why they will spend at least a year getting healthy) before they conceive:

1. Because they know the healthier they are, the better genes they will pass on

"We can inherit harm," says Randall Fitzgerald, author of The Hundred Year Lie. "Toxic synthetic chemicals can negatively alter our DNA to program us and our descendants to experience illness and disease."

Not long ago I had a conversation with a friend of mine who works in genetics at SFSU on this subject. What I learned is that we used to think DNA was something that didn't change but we are now finding that we might be able to alter what we pass on. I don't want to extrapolate too much but: what if you are more likely to have a child predisposed to health and happiness if you are healthy and happy before you conceive? What if your children will be more or less likely to get acne depending on whether or not you have cured yours before you conceive? What if you children will be more or less likely to get cancer depending on how healthy you are when you have them? 

2. Because they know the healthier mom is, the healthier the baby will be

-Exposure to toxic chemicals cause about 28 percent of all developmental defects. (National Research Council Commission on Life Sciences study, 2000).

-Women who are overweight but not obese have a 15% increased risk of delivering a baby with certain heart defects. The incidence of some defects is twice as high among children of obese mothers.

-A 50% increase in the level of persistent genetic abnormalities in newborns was detected in those whose mothers had high air pollution exposure. (Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention Reports, 2005.)

-The fastest-growing rate of cancer for any age group over the past two decades has been among children. (The Hundred Year Lie)

-Exact percentages change depending on the study you are reading but as an average--if one parent is overweight or obese there is a 66% chance the children will be. If both parents are overweight or obese there is a 90% chance the children will be.

3. Because they know the healthier habits they have, the healthier habits their offspring will have

I was raised on a farm. I didn't have sugar for the first time until I was seven. I didn't have fast food until grade school and couldn't eat it without throwing up until high school. Making healthy eating choices is effortless for me because those foods are normal. I never ate Doritos as a kid so when I see them at parties, it doesn't register in my brain that that is food. (And the truth is, they're not.) My parents never fed me fake food so when I taste it, it tastes like fake food to me. I find the chemically flavor of Kraft mac'n'cheese repulsive. My body doesn't know what it is and doesn't like it.... I am insanely grateful to my parents for this gift.

My husband is the opposite. There is a whole array of pretend food that he was raised on and loves--fast food, pizza and pudding snacks. He is a very rational man though, so when he started learning about nutrition, his desires instantly changed. He has no desire to poison his body with chemicals. But there is a huge difference between us--he still likes those foods. When he tastes them, they taste good to him. Whereas I naturally like and crave real food, he has to eat real food with his brain. He has to constantly override his habits.

4. Because they know the healthier mom is, the easier her pregnancy will be on her (and therefore on their marriage)

Pregnancy is different for everyone, but let me tell you a little about mine: I had a healthy pregnancy that resulted in a 9 pound 6 ounce baby boy born ten days early after a three hour labor with no tearing.

I took very good care of myself in the following ways:
-I cut down on my hours at work a month before my husband and I started trying.
-I further cut down my work hours to part time so that I could focus on taking the best care of myself that I could.
-I stopped working entirely when I was 36 weeks. Women who stop working at this point are more likely to have their babies come early than women who work up until 40 weeks (they are likely to have their babies come late).
-I ate healthily, regulated my blood sugar with many small high-protein meals, didn't indulge in fake food.
-I walked, hiked and biked until I was too big and then I did prenatal yoga and swam.

I have a sneaking suspicion that I didn't just get lucky and the following is related to what good care I took of myself:
-We got pregnant on our first try.
-My blood sugar, urine protein, blood pressure, baby movements, baby position--everything at every appointment was exactly as it should be.
-My baby came 10 days early and was over 9 pounds even though I only gained 35.
-I never had a single craving.
-I only threw up twice (and both were my fault--I let myself get too hungry).
-My baby had baby acne for about five hours total and never had cradle cap or any of the other classic issues.
-My baby spit-up maybe twice in his first six months (though I think that had to with my healthy post-pregnancy eating habits).

All that being said, I am still shocked at how uncomfortable pregnancy was and how traumatizing those first few weeks of recovery are.

Things to help you on your quest to becoming physically heroic:

Real Food: What to Eat and Why or Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two and Baby's First Foods

The Hundred Year Lie: How Food and Medicine Are Destroying Your Health: Here is a great quote from the book: "Most large grocery chains these days post a sign in at least one section of their stores describing it as a 'health food' section, which has prompted some of us to wonder whether the rest of the supermarket should have signs identifying aisles as filled with 'illness food,' or :'unhealthy food,' or even 'death food.'"

Nourishing Traditions: The cookbook for the informed.

Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives: Not well-written or even a great book but some good information if you are thinking of getting pregnant

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How to be Physically Heroic - Part 3

How you feel every day, your body's ability to fight its ailments and your emotional state are all directly connected to what is and is not going into your body.

On what is not going into your body:

Your body requires a certain amount of nutrients each day to perform every function it needs to do. Some examples include: repairing damage to your skin, growing hair and nails, breathing, pumping blood and fighting off the viruses that are attacking you every minute of every hour of every day. If you don't eat enough nutrients you will develop a deficiency.

A deficiency of vitamin A can cause dry skin and hair, slowed healing of wounds, impaired immune function, night blindness and growth retardation. A deficiency of the B vitamins has been linked to hair loss, headaches, fatigue, depression, indigestion, insomnia, PMS, cataracts, carpal tunnel, atherosclerosis, heart disease and cancer. 

Those are just the first two vitamins. 

Almost all Americans, 90% according to the USDA, suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies. A malady caused by the deficiencies is usually so slow to take hold that it goes unnoticed until the malady is severe. At that point the malady is treated but the underlying cause is not. For example: see a dermatologist about pimples and you will go home with creams and a prescription for antibiotics. The malady is being treated but the underlying cause—the nutritional deficiencies you aren’t even aware you are suffering from—is not.

Most deficiencies won’t kill you immediately. They will simply cause problems that, over the course of months and years, get worse. You will become accustomed to them and you will blame the way you feel on your genes, bad luck, your age, an old injury... but you will be wrong. If you give your body the tools it needs, it will fix its ailments.

Not to be too dramatic but… your body is life or death. Are you giving your body the tools it needs to accomplish its goals as quickly and efficiently as possible? Are you eating large quantities of organic, tree or vine-ripened, mostly raw fruits and vegetables with every meal? Are you eating foods as similar to what your body evolved to eat as possible--as in, as unrefined as possible?

On vitamin supplementation, from The Hundred Year Lie: "Synthetic vitamin C is really just ascorbic acid, comparable to the outer skin of an orange; 90 percent of the ascorbic acid in the United States is manufactured at a facility in Nutley, New Jersey, owned by Hoffman-LaRoche. In this plant the ascorbic acid is derived from cornstarch, corn sugar, and volatile acids mixed in a fermentation process. Most US vitamin companies purchase this ascorbic acid, bottle it, and attach their own labels before selling it as vitamin C. Even less well known, most synthetic vitamin E comes from an Eastman Kodak plant, where it is a by-product of an emulsification process used to manufacture film. After purification it is sold to the supplements industry. At the level of moelecules seen under a microscope, syntheitc and natural vitamins may look similar to some chemists, but they don't assimilate the same way in the humanbody. Studies of both vitamin C and vitamin E show that the naturally occurring forms [in food] are more absorbable by the body and more biologically active than synthetics... The truth is that vitamins are not individual compounds. Vitamins are biological complexes. In addition to ascorbic acid, real vitamin C must include bioflavinoids [the natural pigments in fruits and vegetables] like hesperidin, rutin, quercetin, tannins, along with other naturally occurring compounds. Mineral cofactors must be available in proper amounts. If any of these parts are missing, there is no vitamin activity." 

On what you is going into your body:

If you are an average American, you don't eat very much food i.e. Doritos, Oreos, McDonalds. You eat an array of chemicals that impersonate food. 99% of these chemicals have never been studied so we have no idea how the human body will tolerate them. The other 1% have been studied and have been shown to be toxic to the human body but only in "large doses" so we continue to eat them. If you are an average American, you wholeheartedly trust the government to define "large doses."

If you are an average American, those foods that you eat that are actually food (wheat flour or sugar cane) have been processed to the point that... they are no longer food i.e. white flour and white sugar.

If you are an average American, those whole, unprocessed foods you eat (like spinach and potatoes) are contaminated with a half-dozen deadly pesticides that vigorous scrubbing cannot remove. You cook the vegetables in pots coated with Teflon (more deadly chemicals) and then then you boil those vegetables in tap water containing chlorine, fluoride, perchlorate, trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids (which have been linked to cancer, reproductive problems and birth defects). All those chemicals combine together in the pot to form who-knows-what.

If you are an average American, you are a guini pig.

Here are some numbers for you to consider (From The Hundred Year Lie):

1. Cancer. In the year 1900 Cancer was responsible for 3% of all deaths in the US. Today it is responsible for 20%. From 1950 to 2001 the incidence for all types of cancer in the United States increased by 85%, and that was the age-adjusted rate, which means the increase has nothing to do with people living longer. The fastest-growing rate of cancer for any age group over the past two decades has been among children.

2. Diabetes. In the year 1900 Diabetes affected less than .1% of the US population. Today it affects 20%. A diagnosis of diabetes subtracts twelve years from your life.

3. In the year 1900 the following health problems were virtually nonexistent: asthma, breast cancer, heart attacks as a result of coronary artery disease and autism.

4. In the year 1900, the average American consumed 10 pounds of sugar, most in the form of molasses. This year the average American will consume 147 pounds of sugar, almost all of which is highly refined. 

5. In 1940 the US produced one billion pounds of new synthetic chemicals. In 1950 the US produced fifty billion pounds. By the 1980's the US produced 500 billion pounds.

6. Average male sperm counts have dropped 50% since 1940.

7. Learning disabilities have increased 200% in the last 40 years.

8. 106,000 people die each year in American hospitals from side effects of their prescription medications. Adverse drug reactions are the 4th leading cause of death in the US.

9. Half of all Americans take at least one prescription drug every day. Many of them consume three or more every day. "Traditional systems of medicine from India and China have both developed over four thousand years of knowledge based on trial-and-error testing of untold millions of people in the longest and most widespread clinical trial tests of plant-based healing in human history. Both systems place more emphasis on illness and disease prevention--especially using food and diet--than does Western-based medicine.... Neither of these traditional systems believe it's appropriate or effective to isolate specific compounds or to synthesize moelecules from a traditional plant." Much like vitamins.

10. Obesity. Within a year of arriving in the United States, 16% of new immigrants become obese for the first time in their lives.

11. Common diseases rarely found in native populations (such as Peruvian Indians, Australian Aborigines and Swiss mountaineers): heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, hypertensions, stroke, appendicitis, diverticulitis, malformed dental arches, tooth decay, varicose veins, ulcers, hemorrhoids.

12. In 1900 gold was money and the federal reserve didn't exist.

Other big things that affect your health include whether or not you are getting enough sleep, the quality of your sleep (light pollution has been linked to cancer), where you work, body parts you overuse or misuse, and medications.

When you give your body the tools it needs to repair its ailments, you will be able to sit back and watch in awe as it does. When you stop doing things that prevent your body from functioning well, it will go back to normal. Health is normal.


To find why it is even more essential for you to make your health a priority if you plan to have kids, continue to part 4!

Monday, June 4, 2012

How to be Physically Heroic - Part 2

One of the main barriers people have to getting healthy is that they are not Libertarians. Non-Libertarians believe the government is looking out for them. They believe that if it weren't safe, there would be a law against it. They believe they don't have to do their own research. They believe their health is some else's responsibility.

Libertarians, on the other hand, know better than to trust the government with their health. They know that the USDA is about as efficient as congress and about as moral as the CIA. Libertarians think for themselves and take responsibility for their lives. They know their body is their tool for survival and without it they will literally die. They read my last post and they know that Libertarians should be the healthiest demographic.

And yet... they're not. There are too many unhealthy Libertarians drinking the government kool-aid and not even aware of it. It's usually fed to them on government-Hollywood propaganda television that feature healthy people who are annoying, whiny, usually depressed and who suffer from various forms of being anal ("oh no, I can't eat gluten!") "Healthy" people on TV usually dress like hippies and are exceptionally hairy. Interestingly enough they often have colds and are a little overweight. Or they are overly perky and hyper. Either way, they are not characters to be envied; they are not glorious examples of life thriving; they are not presented as heroes. Healthy people are presented as people to be laughed at and not taken seriously.

The result is that many otherwise-rational Libertarians fail to value health. They fail to realize that no one is looking out for them and everything is stacked against them--the government wants them to be sick and fat.

Sick citizens are much more concerned with getting better or getting through the day than fighting for freedom. Sick citizens will spend everything they earn on medical care and they are too tired to do anything but watch television at the end of the day.

Fat citizens consume extra food. Then they spend money in the diet and exercise industries as they struggle to lose the weight they gained from eating that extra food. If they succeed they spend money on new clothes. If they fail that's great because the US food industry produces 8000 calories per person per day. Someone has to eat all those extra calories.

Fat citizens are also great citizens because they are likely to feel poorly about themselves. People with low self-esteem are less likely to fight paternalistic legislation. People who have no self-control over food are more easily convinced that human beings have no self-control in general and therefore they need a government to keep them in control.

Being fat is also very hard on the human body. So fat citizens will likely turn into sick citizens. Chu-ching $$$. 

It's not easy to make an entire population sick and fat and then keep them that way. You have to actively make bad choices on a regular basis to be unhealthy. Your body wants to be healthy and tries to be. Being healthy is normal. So what is the key? What is the number one magic trick that keeps Americans sick and fat?

They have forgotten that "genetically we have the same bodies and nutritional needs as our hunter-gatherer ancestors" says fellow Libertarian, Randall Fitzgerald in The Hundred Year Lie. "Whole foods and industrial foods are the only two food groups I'd consider including in any useful food 'pyramid'," Gyorgy Scrinis is quoted as saying in In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan.

When Wonderbread first came out it couldn't be called bread. It was called "imitation bread". Just like American Cheese was called "imitation cheese". The laws changed and now 99% of what is sold in grocery stores is toxic chemicals posing as food. Don't eat it.

If you stopped eating pretend food you would never struggle with your weight again. You cannot overeat food. You get too full. It's easy to eat 2000 calories of chips, soda and cookies in one sitting, but try doing that with food. Try eating 2000 calories of steak, potatoes, asparagus and sprouted whole grain rolls. It's impossible. You get too full. 

Eat things made by nature. Eat things your body evolved to eat, things that have been tested out on the human body for thousands of years with success. 

If you make that one change, to only eat food, you will notice a dramatic difference in your health.


To delve a little deeper into Libertarian nutrition, proceed to part 3.



Sunday, June 3, 2012

How to be Physically Heroic - Part 1

"Healthy" is such an overused and misused word that in order for this post to be clear, I must first address its definition.

When I say something is healthy I mean it promotes life. When I refer to your healthy choices, I am referring to the choices you make that enable and support your body to go on living. When I say something is unhealthy I mean it promotes death. When I refer to your unhealthy choices, I am referring to the choices you make that sentence your body to struggle, have problems and eventually succumb to them. 

Just as a whole hoard of Americans believe they are free (when the opposite is true), a whole hoard of Americans believe they are healthy--when the opposite is true. "Free" and "healthy" have been expertly redefined. For this post to be clear, I must also address what it looks like to be a healthy person.

Healthy people don't get sick. You might believe that "don't get sick" means "don't get sick often." You might believe that healthy people still get a cold every now and then, maybe once or twice a year. This is not what I mean. I mean: healthy people don't get colds ever. They don't get the flu ever. They don't own Tylenol or Ibuprofen because they can't think of a time when they needed them--not because they're super tough and just deal with the headaches, not because they are insensitive and don't notice the headaches, but because they don't get headaches.

You might believe someone can be healthy but have skin problems. You might believe that acne isn't a sign of poor health, it's an uncontrollable hormone imbalance and it's normal to have it during certain periods of your life. This is not the case. People who are healthy don't have acne or other skin problems. They don't have hormone imbalances.

You might believe someone can be healthy but have cavities. This is not the case. The condition of your teeth are directly linked to your overall health.

You might think that being at a healthy weight after a successful diet is a sign of good health. This is not the case either! Healthy people never need to diet. They live at a healthy weight without even thinking about it.

Most importantly, healthy people feel great. They are not sluggish or foggy or cranky and they only suffer from mood swings on April 15th.

How awesome does it sound to be healthy!? Wouldn't you love to feel great all the time and never worry about catching colds? Never worry about your weight? Never buy expensive skincare treatments or spend money on doctor's appointments and medications?

Everything in life--love, work, adventures--is more enjoyable and satisfying when you feel great. And because you feel great: you do better at work, you're easier to get along with, you're happier, you attract higher quality people. So not only is everything about your life more enjoyable, success is easier to come by... which makes your life even more enjoyable.

Taking care of your body is an ode to your love of life. Valuing your health highest above all values is an affirmation that you deserve to be alive and you deserve all the wonderful things life has to offer.

The opposite is also true. Nothing in life can be enjoyed without good health. Work isn't fun when you're blowing your nose every three minutes. You can't enjoy a good conversation when your head is pounding. You can't enjoy a foreign country when you're too tired to leave your hotel room. Most marriages don't survive major illnesses.

So why do people settle for subpar health? Well, most people are irrational drones. They will waste their lives feeling like crap and their money fixing things that shouldn't be broken in the first place. That makes sense. But unhealthy Libertarians, Objectivists or Anarchists? That is sacrilege.

You can't fight for freedom if you're not feeling well. You can't think clearly and rationally if your brain is foggy. You won't have the energy to outsmart the government if you're busy trying to manage your diabetes.

I don't understand those who claim that they are happy and love being alive and yet don't value the very thing that gives them life--their body. I don't understand how people who think they are rational can claim to have self-esteem and to love themselves and then proceed to poison their bodies, to seek death. Whether they are actively seeking death but unconscious of their wishes or just seeking death by not paying attention this post is for them, my dear Libertarian friends, who have a passion for freedom and life but haven't realized yet the extent to which they must fight for it... or those who have settled for mediocrity and could use a kick in the pants.

Dear Mediocre Libertarians, You are supposed to be rational. Rational people know that to say, "The way I eat is bad for my health, but--" means they are not living consciously. They are denying the reality of the choices they are making. If they allowed themselves to be conscious of those choices, they would have to make better ones. Can people who deny reality really call themselves Libertarians? I don't think so. Love, Roslyn

If you seek life, proceed to part 2.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

How to be Financially Heroic

While I was growing up, my parents were always worried about money. Therefore, so was I. We were weighed down by debt and bad luck and despite Hollywood's efforts to convince me otherwise, I didn't think there was anything beautiful or heroic about not being able to pay our bills. Being poor just sucked.

My parents knew nothing about money. They still don't know anything and they don't want to. The desire to not understand money is a refusal to know reality. It's the fear that once you know reality, you will have to make rational choices. You will have to practice self-control. You wont be able to blame your economic circumstances on luck or the government anymore.

When I first set about getting myself a financial education, I took a year of Fed-supoorting Econ classes at Wesleyan University and read a lot of Suze Orman books. Not a great beginning.

But then I stumbled upon The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason. It asks one simple thing: Do you have the soul of a slave or a rich man? According to Clason there is no in between. Only irrational people can know what they should do and not do it. That is called having the soul of a slave. Rational people, who know what they should do and do it, won't be able to help but become rich.

That was a new idea for me. At first I thought, but what about rational people who don't know what they should do? What if I am busy with other things and I don't have the time to learn about money? My imaginary friend, Ayn Rand, replied, "LOL! Rational people who think it's rational to not know about money? Money is the material shape of the principle of men who wish to deal with one another by trade and give value for value. Money is a tool of exchange that represents what you have produced. Money represents your time and efforts. Money is your means of survival. There is no such thing as a rational man who is not interested in learning about his own survival."

So what does this have to do with having children? Despite the obvious--pregnancy, birth and children are costly--there is an important philosophical element to learning about money before you have kids.

Stefan Molyneux, who does a podcast called Philosophical Parenting, killed me in parts three and four when he enthusiastically argued for at least one parent to stay home with his/her kids when they're young (I enthusiastically agree!) but then bragged about driving a 12-year-old car and admitted to "knowing very little about money" and "not being very good with money". He sees himself as a philosophical parent because he gives his daughter what she really needs which was his time. I would like to offer a different philosophical ideal:

Be well off. Be well off enough for one parent to stay home and for your family to still have a fantastic standard of living. This doesn't mean you have to make a million dollars a year, it means you just need to know what you should do and do it when it comes to money and then you won't be able to help but become rich.

Far more than being home with them all day every day, children need genuinely happy parents who are successful, confident and balanced. They need heroes who can inspire them and teach them by example how to lead a great life.

Be the hero you want to see in your children before you have them. That, to me, is philosophical parenting.

Things to help you on your quest to becoming financially heroic:

Atlas Shrugged: this is the antidote to the mainstream media's messages all rich people are bad.

The Richest Man in Babylon: this is the recipe for becoming a non-slave.

The documentary Thrive: so you know the evil you are fighting against.

The YouTube video titled A manifesto for those who respect property rights: so you know the best way to fight against that evil is by being a hero (or, "something far more rare--a real man" as Ayn Rand would say).

Parts Three and Four of the Podcast Philosophical Parenting by Stephan Molyneux: a seriously flawed podcast but the rant on two working parent households is hilarious and relevant

Friday, June 1, 2012

How to be Emotionally Heroic

Both my husband and I have divorced parents. After a fight several years ago, we each called our mothers. My mother said, "Yeah, well, maybe your relationship has run its course." His mother said, "Relationships end. It's sad, but they do." Divorced people, apparently, are not the right people to go to when you need marriage advice--unless your desire is to end up divorced.

My husband and I wanted to create a conscious, happy, lasting marriage and so we did what we do best--we read, discussed, read some more, studied various ideas, talked to people and found what we believe is the way to do marriage better. It's called Imago.

We started Imago relationship counseling about three years ago, right after we got engaged (we both strongly believe in prevention as the best medicine). Imago counseling is nothing like regular couples counseling. Imago is a skill, a tool, a form of good communication and the sessions you attend would be best described as workouts and just like any muscle, if you workout often enough, good communication will become a reflex.

Learning Imago began as a method of doing marriage better but it has helped my husband and I to reap benefits in every area of our lives. Imago has tremendously benefited both of us at work, with friends and with family.

Our good communication skills have made us much better parents than we would have been. Good communication is a tool that goes hand-in-hand with our parenting philosophy: be the hero you wish to see in your children.

I would also like to note that the style of communication taught at our Imago workouts is the same style that parents are encouraged to learn in most parenting and psychology books. A few that really highlight this style of communication are: How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk, How to Talk so Teens will Listen and Listen so Teens Will Talk, The Happiest Toddler on the Block and 1,2,3... The Toddler Years: A practical Guide for Parents & Caregivers. Reading any of these books in the future--when you have talking kids--would be helpful. Going to Imago therapy work out sessions and practicing this communication skill with your partner before you have children would be far more helpful.

Books to read now to help you on your quest to becoming emotionally heroic:

Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix: this book is about Imago! I actually didn't like this book when I first read it. I even thought Imago was a little silly and unnecessary for two people as rational as my husband and myself. But then we started our classes and we were blown away.

The Psychology of Romantic Love by Nathaniel Branden: this is the natural book for Objectivists to turn to. It's a good book but not as good as--

The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden: one my favorite books of all time. This book clarifies how you can be the hero you want to be. It also recommends all parents learn Imago-style communication.