I’ve been going hiking, whenever I can find an hour or two, for the past few years. Initially, I looked at hiking as an extra calorie burn to my already intensive, daily kung-fu training. After a couple times of going to the various spots around me, I started to realize that hiking was more than just another physical exercise. The first thing I noticed is how inviting and peaceful everyone is that I come across when I’m walking by. The sad thing is that I only see people smiling at one another, being somewhat civil , when I’m out doing some hiking.
Throughout my entire twenty-eight years of living, I think I’ve seen more hellos, smiles, and friendly gestures in the past couple years hiking than I have ever seen at any restaurant, store, shopping center, movie theater etc. That is why I love hiking so much because, for me and most of my friends that hike as well, it’s an escape for us in one way or another. An escape from the everyday struggles, hardships and things like monetary stress, relationship issues or anything else that your mind is seemingly consumed by. I can remember once walking through some trails, with two of my good friends, and telling them to stand still for a minute. I told them to just listen and hear what is happening around us. After about twenty seconds or so, my one friend said he couldn’t hear anything at all. I responded by saying you’re exactly right, that is the point. All you could hear is the leaves blowing around and birds chirping in the distance. The rest of what you could hear was absolute stillness, nature at its finest. That is why I say there is nothing quite like a hike….
Over the past few years, there has been an abundance of documentaries focusing on what humans are putting inside their bodies. Thanks to the help of the internet, I have come across a slew of these kinds of films. There was none more informative than, “Food Matters”, that was released back in 2008. What I think puts this film apart from the others, especially for me, is that it focuses on the need to stop relying on pills, shots and creams for every problem. It was good to hear that because the Western culture has become a tad bit pill happy as of late. There seems to be pills for just about everything imaginable, even for things like having fun and laughing too much. There is a definitely a time and place for those kinds of approaches but not for chronic, lifelong issues. Throughout the roughly hour and a half movie, you start to see that all the interviewees come to the same conclusions…proper nutrition and exercise is the key to a healthy life. It seems like a rather simplistic notion but how many people truly understand what that really means?
The other parts of the film went on to talk about how our food is being cultivated. How many people are aware that a good portion of the fruits and vegetables, in all the major supermarkets, are being sprayed with synthetic chemicals, pesticides and herbicides. I didn’t realize that until I saw this movie and I’m glad that I found out now and not later.
According to the Organic Valley website, a good number of pesticides are known to pose significant, acknowledged health risks to people—including birth defects, damage to the nervous system; disruption of hormones and endocrine systems; respiratory disorders; skin and eye irritations; and various types of cancers.
- Exposure to persistent organic pollutants through diet has been linked to breast and other types of cancer, immune system suppression, nervous system disorders, reproductive damage, and disruption of hormonal systems.1
- Male Reproductive Development: Hormone-disrupting chemicals in commercial pesticides have been linked to testicular cancer and low sperm counts in men, and to birth defects in baby boys.2
- Public health costs associated with pesticide-related acute poisonings and cancer alone, add up to an estimated $1.1 billion dollars per year.3
- Parkinson’s disease has been linked to pesticide exposure. 4
Organic Valley goes on to state that organic growers use biological and cultural practices to handle pests, including crop rotation, the selection of resistant varieties, nutrient and water management, the provision of habitat for the natural enemies of pests, and release of beneficial organisms to protect crops from damage. A few years back, when I first saw this amazing documentary, I started to shop at specific grocery stores and only looked for the organic labels. They might cost a little more but my thinking is that I would rather put something in my body that does more good than harm.
All in all, I highly recommend this film for anyone and everyone. Even making minor changes in your diet might be all you need to feel better in the long run. I leave you with this timeless quote,
“Isn’t it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do “practice”?”
― George Carlin
- “Nowhere to Hide: Persistent Toxic Chemicals in the U.S. Food Supply,” by Kristin Schafer, Pesticide Action Network North America, 2000 (www.panna.org).
- Sharpe, Richard. “Men under threat: The decline in male reproductive health and the potential role of exposure to chemicals during in-utero development.” Briefing by ChemTrust: http://www.chemtrust.org.uk/Press_and_Media.php
- “Promoting Sustainable Food Systems through Organic Agriculture: Past, Present and Future,” Christine McCullum-Gomez, C., and Riddle, J. HEN Post: Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association, Spring 2009. www.hendpg.org
- Costello, et al., “Parkinson’s Disease and Residential Exposure to Maneb and Paraquat From Agricultural Applications in the Central Valley of California,” AMerican Journal of Epidemiology, published January
We all get worked up, or anxious, from time to time. There is no definitive way of escaping this but how we go about making it better is the question that needs answering. When I was in school, I never really knew how to deal with my temper tantrums, rapid hearts, shakes etc. Whenever there was a situation, considered awkward in my mind, I would do everything to avoid them at all costs. It only took me one time and if I felt totally uncomfortable, I would tell myself to never get involved in those situations going forward. Awkward situations for me included things like being around highly attractive girls, a lot of people at one time, or even when I had to answer a question in front of my fellow classmates.
Whatever the reason was for my nervousness or anger, during those times listed above, I didn’t know how to calm myself inside and out. A little over five years ago, when I started practicing Tai Chi, Qigong, and stillness mediation, I finally learned how to channel my nerves. It was all through a simple technique that keeps all humans functioning…breathing. It’s kind of funny because my parents and friends would always tell me to “take a deep breath” , when they saw me getting somewhat agitated. When I was younger, I had a tendency of being hard-headed and stubborn. I never truly understood the importance of taking a breath and how it could truly calm me down. Who knew that doing some simple breathing could give me that momentary relaxation I needed to handle most “nerve-wracking” situations. It has also helped in the past couple years, especially when I worked in a sales job. Anytime the customer would get angry, I would remind myself to “just breath” and that two or three deep breaths helped me stay absolutely calm. There is nothing truly like a quality breath:))))
I wrote extensively, throughout my autobiography, about one particular place where my life started to change. My life did change and let me tell you firsthand, it was definitely for the better. The name of this place is Shaolin Kung-fu, located in Holtsville, NY. It has helped me in all avenues of my life that I have been going there for almost six years now. The other added bonus is that not only are you learning traditional kung-fu but you’re also getting the internal aspects as well. The internal martial arts that we train in are Tai Chi, Qigong and meditation. You’re getting a balance that is isn’t so common with other martial art schools. This school is very close knit as well so there is no internal problems or conflicts going on. Before I started training there, I dabbled with some other schools around Long Island. Going to only about three or four different schools, I noticed that they had certain things in common with one another. Nothing against how the instructors were teaching or anything, it was more how the students were conducting themselves. They were all sectioned off in little groups and it almost seemed cliquey, kind of how high school operates. Everyone is welcoming, friendly and humble with one another so you don’t have to worry about not fitting in at this school.
Now, I would like to go over a little about the head instructor, Shi Gung Gregg Zilb. He has been doing these particular forms of martial arts for over thirty years. That alone should tell you that he has a genuine love and understanding of what he does. The one thing I picked up about him, right off the bat, was that he wasn’t just trying to take your money and water down the classes. He makes you earn everything by pushing us to our limits. When he is teaching his classes, you can tell the passion he truly has because he is always motivating himself and everyone else to go above and beyond. If you just come down to a class you can see the things he is capable of doing that you might have once thought was humanely impossible but he makes it possible. He also breaks everything down to show how certain techniques can be utilized in real life or death situations. On the other side of the spectrum, he is very easy to talk to and always welcomes questions. I couldn’t ask for a better person and instructor to teach me the way to a better life.
I would strongly suggest to come down and at least view a class, or take one, and be open to the possibilities of changing yourself in a positive manner. You can find out more information about him on his website that I listed below;
http://www.shaolinlohan.com/ or stop by,
I kept sifting through the internet , and some of the natural healing books I have, for foods that have high levels of magnesium in them. The reason being is that magnesium has several beneficial aspects to it; first being that it can keep your immune system up to optimal levels, allow for proper nerve function throughout the body, keeps heart rate rhythm steady and it keeps bones strong. Now that I acquired a better understanding of what magnesium can do for me, I started looking for different foods and supplements that could help in that department.
The saving grace is that I came across a lot of dietary supplements that had just magnesium in it but I was looking for more natural approaches. I don’t know about you but I have a tendency to look for food and drink products before I settle for any kind of pill because you never know what else is in it. It’s a good thing I did more extensive research into the matter because I came across a slew of foods that I could consume. I would just have to read the labels and make sure there was nothing that I was potentially allergic to.
Oatmeal kept coming up on all my searches as having one of the highest levels of magnesium in it. So, without a second’s hesitation, I went and got myself some oatmeal at the local supermarket. I couldn’t wait to open the box but before I started cooking it, I realized it was shared in a factory with all kinds peanuts, tree nuts etc. That is when my mother had told me that when I was younger she had me try oatmeal for a short period of time. She said it seemed to cause somewhat of an allergic reaction so that is why I stayed away from it for all these years. That being said, I didn’t take any chances and went back to the supermarket and looked for oatmeal that wasn’t manufactured in a nut factory. I have to say, for almost a month now of using it, that it has helped my anxiety levels drop tremendously. The other added bonus is that my skin has had no allergic reactions to it either:)) Like the old adage goes, “If you get a second chance, grab it with both hands. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.“