Avoid Playing Russian Roulette With Your Life

Avoid Playing Russian Roulette With Your Life

By Jamie Matthewman
January 5th, 2014

To the extent we’re willing to make changes to diet and lifestyle, we can change things that were once thought to be impossible. Ornish

We are 5 days into the new year and I’m sure many of you have started 2014 with great intentions of eating a healthy diet and exercising more. It is a common theme.

Back in November I decided to do the same. It wasn’t like my health was a disaster, I was carrying a few excess pounds, but by many people’s standards my diet and lifestyle are healthy.

So I was surprised how eliminating dairy, wheat, caffeine and almost all white sugar, really allowed my body to wake up, re-energise and refresh. The positive side effects of detoxing really surprised me.

The Irony of Healthy Eating

The irony is we know it’s important. I’d detoxed before so I experientially knew the better my diet, the better I look and the better I feel inside and out. My partner’s a cancer research scientist so I know all cancers, unless genetic, are wholly lifestyle created.

This means if you eat a naturally healthy balanced diet and exercise more, unless your genes are impaired, you can 100% avoid the risk of cancer.

It is common knowledge obesity is one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century. Excessive body weight is associated with various diseases, particularly cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus type 2, obstructive sleep apnea, certain types of cancer, osteoarthritis] and asthma. Obesity has been found to reduce life expectancy by 6 – 17 years. In the United States obesity is estimated to cause 111,909 to 365,000 deaths per year and over 1 million (7.7%) of deaths in Europe are attributed to excess weight. Yet I’ve continued to play russian roulette with my life.

A recent study of 35 men with low-risk prostate cancer also suggests living healthily helps you live longer. 10 of these men were instructed to make lifestyle changes including eating a plant-based, vegan diet of whole foods, exercising moderately, receiving social support, and practicing stress-management strategies such as mindfulness and yoga for five years. The other 25 were not instructed to make any lifestyle changes at all.

All of the study participants’ telomeres (sections of our DNA), which are known to be associated with ageing were measured at the start of the study. Researchers found telomere length increased by 10% among the men who were assigned to undergo the lifestyle intervention. Meanwhile, telomere length decreased by an average of 3 percent among the men not assigned to a lifestyle intervention.

So the case for a healthy diet and lifestyle is compelling if you want to live a longer life. So why didn’t I do this before now? Why don’t more men eat to feel more alive and live longer?

No Pain No Gain?

Old habits can be tough to shift, and ideas about the ‘benefits’ of certain foods such as caffeine in a morning, or I need alcohol to enjoy myself, means they can become a crux. But in the main it’s probably more about the perceived effort versus pay off. We are now more than ever deeply attached to modern comforts, adverse to put up with a few days of pain (hunger or detox symptoms), even though this could potentially improve all areas of our lives.

It takes conscious effort to change, and for many life feels hard enough as it is, without adding to the perceived pain. “Why would I want to give up smoking or drinking when they’re my only pleasure?”, I’ve heard said. I imagine this is the reason most people don’t start most things, even though in terms of our health the game’s up. There are no more excuses, all of the evidence tells us that what we we put into our bodies will either add to or negate from our experience of life. Not just in years, but immediately if you pay attention to your body’s reaction to what you put into it.

For the majority of the 4 million years of human evolution, we flourished on a mainly plant based diet. It is only in the last 70 years, since the introduction of mass food production and processing has the human body seen a rise in diseases such as cancer, obesity and diabetes. We intuitively know what’s not good for our bodies, yet instead of taking a natural approach, we look to over ride the bodies instinctive tendency to heal itself, by using medicines to try and rebalance a system which works perfectly well when nourished.

Our bodies can be like finely tuned instruments, playing a sweet melody however if we stay unconscious to how we really feel, covering this up with alcohol or junk fund that take our bodies out of harmony, life feels sluggish. It doesn’t have the vibrancy and alertness that comes from cleaning up our diets.

Is It Time to Give Your Body More Respect?

I hope I don’t sound like I’m preaching, I am no angel by anyone’s standards. In years gone by I would drink all weekend, take copious amounts of drugs and party like it was going out of fashion. I smoked for 20 years so I am lucky to have got away with the lack of respect I gave my body. I realise now however that my body, your body, is the vehicle that you need to keep well oiled and running well if you want to make it smoothly through ride of a lifetime. Like your car, the better you look after it and give it what it needs, the less the bills and inconvenience your going to endure.

Maybe you’ve taken your body for granted in your youth, never questioning whether it will carry you all the way to the end. Maybe now you’re experiencing your body beginning to fail. Those bad habits you’ve developed along the way, you’ve been promising you’ll do something about but never got around to it. Using a concoction of drugs to cover the cracks or maybe antidepressants to lift your mood. But really underneath the hood, you feel like you’re falling to pieces. It doesn’t have to be like that.

It is not always easy in a world conditioned for greed, immediate consumption, speed and convenience, but all it takes is to start listening to your body. Hear what you really need, especially when your old habits come calling on you to let them back in. If you do your body will help you to come come fully alive. It is a no brainer, yet for some, me included, I appreciate not always necessarily easy.

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Jamie Matthewman

About Jamie Matthewman

Jamie is the founder, main contributor and editor of The Inspired Man.

20 thoughts on “Avoid Playing Russian Roulette With Your Life

  • Christine says:

    Jamie, thank you for the well written article reminding me and others of the need to consider our health and food choices. I know I can get so busy working two jobs and setting up a business that I fall into bad habits. Thank you for helping get me back on a much healthier track. Christine.

    • Hi Christine, thank you 🙂 I know exactly what you mean. When there’s lots to do, at least in my experience health and exercise can fall off the bottom of the things to do list. That’s fine for a time, but then energy levels, concentration, creativity and all that other good stuff we need are hard to come by. Sounds like you’re doing really well, it can be hard to find a balance.

  • Jaime, I put my parents on a healthy eating and more exercise plan this year. Your article is perfect timing, especially the part of how it affects us genetically! Now I’m going to make sure to help them plan whole-food based meals, rather than “quick” fixes like processed foods like they’ve tried to lose weight with before. Thanks!

  • Alex Harris says:

    Great article and very timely. Those bad habits can certainly be hard to change. But as you said, no pain no gain! Looking forward to continuously improving my health this year.

    • Thanks Alex, I concur, I’ve been working on changing some of mine for a longtime but they’re still hanging around 🙂 I do however find the kinder I am to myself and the more I remember that I’m human, the greater strides I make. All the very best with your health goals for 2014!

  • This is such an important article that so many people will not want to follow! I don’t mean to sound negative, but everyone knows what to do, they just don’t do it!

    If we got instant results from eating bad, it might be a different story. But because we can’t see the effects of our lifestyle choices right away, we tend to make bad choices over and over again. It’s stimulus response working against us. We feel good now doing it, therefore we do it over and over again.

    Very good article, well written, and extremely important in this day and age of incredibly bad habits.

    • Hi Paul, thank you and you’re right most people don’t. In fact I can be the biggest culprit for not doing what I know in the long run will serve me, I get very frustrated with myself sometimes. We are a funny, complicated bunch. I have found it really does help to be around those who will help me to keep on track – maybe it’s because I’m so easily led! 🙂

  • Jamie, I think you are right about people misunderstanding the risks vs. benefits. When people don’t see an immediate benefit, sometimes it feels as though there is no benefit at all. I am guilty of this! Although I love the way I feel when I am eating mostly raw fruits and vegetables, I still fall back to convenience or comfort foods sometimes. :/ This was a great post – for men and women alike! 🙂 Thanks!

  • Great advice and reminders. I’m a big believer in taking action towards a healthy lifestyle on a consistent basis — probably my background with football. Thanks for writing this up and reminding us of what we need to do.

    But of course Paul has a point too — sometimes even with knowledge, we just need to DO it. 🙂

    • Thanks Justin 🙂 like you say most people know what’s best for them, yet that’s not always the easiest option, so the path of least resistance is taken. As you highlight it takes a lot of ‘doing it’ to create healthy habits. Thanks for pointing that out.

  • Great Post Jamie, filled with great advice. I have been focused on my health (and my family) for the last 5-6 years with research and better understanding of nutrition. Surprisingly, with the stress of starting a new business I have dropped the ball in 2013. I am looking forward to NO LONGER taking my health for granted and am making it my TOP priority for 2014. Everything works smoother when I focus on ME! Thanks!!

    • Hey Celest, I can fully relate to ‘dropping the ball’, I did the same last year. But good on you for making your health your number 1 priority. As you’ve highlighted, I believe it’s a prerequisite for everything in life running smoothly, enjoy focussing on you 🙂

  • Maureen says:

    Great information. It is so true how cutting out auger and wheat can make you feel so much better. Just like exercise everyday. Healthy body healthy mind for life.

  • Jamie , i am really feeling this site. I love articles like this; it the type I typically read. I am a new Fan. where’s your Podcast, did I miss it somewhere? Thanks for being yourself!

  • Sara says:

    Like you said we know intuitively what is good for us, but the comfort and ease of old habits are difficult to break. As the shopper and meal planner in my house, my habits and knowledge directly affects everyone in my family, so this type of information is always timely. Thank you, I will be thinking of you during my next trip to the market!

  • […] undernourishment kills, so does excessive body weight. It is associated with various diseases, particularly cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus […]

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