Sadly, I've reached that stage in life where losing friends and family members is no longer uncommon. While it's always devastating losing someone close to you, it somehow seems more tolerable (although certainly no less painful) when they've lived a long, fruitful life. When they die relatively young, however, it is an utter tragedy and absolutely heartbreaking.
My world was completely shaken last year when my beautiful and brilliant brother suffered a massive stroke and was reduced from a highly intellectual, able-bodied person to a total invalid in an instant. His suffering was cruel, and devastating to witness.
The fact that my brother and father have shared the same fate has shocked me to the point that I've now made significant changes to my lifestyle in an attempt to minimise my chances of an early departure from this world.
I'd like to share these changes with you as I continue to focus on my motivation for making them and work on finding the discipline required to turn them into healthy habits.
On the food side, my son Dennan has put me in touch with a wonderful dietitian, Dr Naras Lapsys, who has helped me implement new eating habits. Dr Lapsys has a PhD in Medicine and a Master's degree in Nutrition, and will be presenting a seminar at Elixr in the near future for our members and friends.
In a nutshell, we'd all do well to eat plenty of plant-based food, some protein, lots of fish with low mercury levels, fewer carbohydrates and (I'm speaking to myself here), way less deep fried food. The biggest dietary problem in Western society is simple carbohydrates – these are essentially sugar – while the right high-fat foods are in fact healthy and nutritious. While I never thought I would be able to eat an Asian meal without rice, after a few weeks of making the right choices, I'm pleased to say I've created a new habit and rediscovered my self-discipline.
Recently, an article was published on the groundbreaking research done by Dr Dale Bredesen into dementia – according to Dementia Australia, this destructive brain disease is the second leading cause of death of Australians. The idea framing his research is that lifestyle, diet and sleep are the main causes of dementia and that the disease can be prevented and its symptoms reduced (perhaps even reversed) if simple lifestyle changes are implemented early.
I've outlined my thoughts on food above. As for exercise, I've mentioned before that I don’t look forward to training. Instead, I do it for the health benefits and to hopefully extend my life. Taking my feelings into account, I've chosen to play basketball again because I love the game – the cardiovascular benefits are simply a wonderful bonus!
At Elixr, we focus on making our classes enjoyable so that our members are motivated to turn exercise into a habit. Our teachers and instructors are all skilled in and knowledgeable about their chosen discipline and are there to guide and inspire their students and keep them engaged.
Remember: Exercise doesn’t need to be extensive to be beneficial. Try a combination of cardio and resistance training and aim for a minimum of 150 minutes each week, as suggested by Dr Bredesen.
Finally, good quality sleep is critical for the mind and body to recover, and vital to good health. If you find sleep a challenge, consider following Dr Bredesen's recommendation and taking melatonin, which occurs naturally in the brain.
I'd like to leave you with this thought: You only get one chance in life. Why wouldn't you make it the absolute best you can?