By: Dawn Workman Bounds, CLR
About 10 years ago, I hit a crossroad. It was one month after 9/11, my best friend was just finishing up a battle with breast cancer, and I got to thinking about what life and living really meant to me and how I could do it “better.”
My best friend in the world had survived breast cancer and her doctor had told her she needed to detoxify her body regularly since she chose not to do chemo and opted for a more holistic approach (which included surgery and radiation, but no drugs). She discovered and turned me on to Bikram Yoga and ever since, I am addicted to it.
That was just the first change I made to the way I live.
Yoga changes your body inside and out. It builds muscle and tones you and even improves the function of your organs. Bikram yoga specifically cleanses your body through detoxification via sweating. After practicing Bikram Yoga for several months, I started to “sweat clean,” meaning there was no odor. Bikram yoga also helped me change my eating habits completely, mainly because you cannot practice 26 postures for 90 minutes in a room that is heated to 105 degrees if your system is full of sugar, caffeine, fat, processed food, and the aftereffects of alcohol.
I had a toddler at the time that I began practicing yoga, and that made me a fanatic about anything she ingested. I learned how to prepare fresh foods from scratch, which is something I still do at least five nights a week because it is quite challenging to eat healthy when dining out.
I also found that Bikram yoga helps me to perform my job as a court reporter, which, as all reporters know, can be very challenging physically, as well as mentally. This type of yoga forces me to focus and concentrate for 90 minutes only on myself and the words of the yoga instructor. There is a posture called Locust, or Salabhasana, that keeps the muscles in my forearms stretched out and loose, and therefore I have no symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Besides cleansing regularly through Bikram yoga, here are some other healthy rules I live my life by:
- Everything in moderation.
- Don’t skip breakfast. I cannot perform my job very well if I don’t have some protein. I sometimes will even boil a couple eggs in the morning while I’m getting ready if I know I’m not going to have to time to eat. I’ll eat them in my car on the way to the job if I have to. I pretty much only drink water at a job. I might have a little caffeine or an apple or banana for some sugar in the afternoon if it’s a particularly grueling job. I carry nuts…raw almonds are best.
- A good tip for lunch is if you order a salad, order it custom. Ask that things like cheese, dressing, croutons, and bacon are either left off or on the side. That way you can still get a little of something that’s not that good for you, but you control your intake. If you get a sandwich, try tuna. Protein is really helpful for concentration, for me anyway. Lately, I’ve started getting some tuna or chicken salad without the bread, just on lettuce with veggies. You just have to figure out what foods make you feel the best.
- Read labels. I won’t buy a box of cereal that has more than 9 g of sugar per serving. I won’t buy a jar of sauce or a can of anything that has more than 500 g of sodium. I prefer to buy meat at a butcher shop and try to buy organic and free range products.
- Buy organic whenever possible—especially if you will be eating the skin (versus peeling it off).
- Avoid soda and drink LOTS of water. Eight glasses a day isn’t nearly enough, especially with exercise. Keeping yourself hydrated is good for everything from your digestion and elimination to how your skin looks and feels.
- Stay away from refined sugar. I use Stevia and Truvia to sweeten and I don’t buy anything, i.e., applesauce, peanut butter, etc., with sugar added. You can rinse anything canned to remove some of the sugar/salt from it.
- Buy “real” and “natural” things, rather than things with a lot of chemicals added or artificial flavors
- Rinse ground meats under hot water to eliminate excess grease after cooking.
- Cook with olive oil.
If you incorporate some of these tips into your daily life, you won’t believe what a difference it will make in your energy level and how you feel. I can’t remember the last time I had a cold/flu. I attribute that to the fact that I get rid of my toxins through exercise and diet, which in turn boosts my immune system.
Sleep is the other activity that court reporters don’t get enough of, and I know from experience that that sometimes can’t be helped in this line of work. A healthy lifestyle will help with that, too. I get my best sleep, even if it’s only 5 or 6 hours, on the nights after I do yoga. I think I just sleep deeper and I’m more relaxed.
As you can probably tell, I’m really passionate about healthy eating and exercise. I hope some of the information I’ve provided has been helpful to you, even though I’m certainly no expert; it’s just what I do.