Blog Post No. 157
23rd October 2017 – Updated on 13th October 2022
Copyright © Dr Jim Byrne, 2017
Dr Jim’s Blog: Health and happiness are the most important goals in (a moral) life
It’s been quite a while since I posted a blog, because I’ve been extremely busy. I am still very busy, finishing off the writing of a new book, but I thought it was about time I shared some ideas with the world. The main theme of this blog is health and self-healing, using food and physical exercise.
Writing about diet and exercise for mood control
For the past few weeks, Renata and I have been writing our book which is titled, How to control your anger, anxiety and depression, using nutrition and physical activity. We have finished writing the five sections, and I am working on constructing a comprehensive index for the back of the book, to make it optimally user-friendly, as a resource.
Several days ago I constructed the index section on diet and nutrition, and type of diets. And, by finishing time last Friday, 20th, I had just completed a section on Essential fatty acids (EFAs). And today, Monday 23rd, I will begin to work on the index entries for the section on physical exercise.
Last Thursday, I turned my body, suddenly, while leaving my feet relatively stationary, and pulled a muscle in my back. Did I run to the doctor? No! Did I get some ‘painkillers’ from the chemist? No!
Why did I not go to the doctor? Because the doctor would have simply recommended “painkillers”!
Why did I not buy my own painkillers from the chemist? Because most of the painkillers used today are what are called NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). And the problem with NSAIDs is that they cause ‘leaky gut syndrome’, which not only allows whole molecules of food to enter the bloodstream, and trigger various forms of inflammation in the body (paradox of paradoxes!), but they also compromise the blood/brain barrier, which can precipitate mood disturbances!
So, what did I do with my terrible back pain? I got out my copy of ‘Body in Action’, by Sarah Key, and did five of her exercises for improving the functioning of the muscles and joints in the lower back. (I’ve done this several times in the past, and I know it always works).
I did the exercises on Thursday and Friday, and by Saturday the back pain had gone – completely!
Sharpening the saw
Rest and recuperation are very important parts of my self-management of health program. So, on Saturday afternoon, and Sunday afternoon, I had a siesta (of three hours each time). I had been feeling tired because of overworking on the index of our new book on how to control anger, anxiety and depression, using diet and exercise systems.
I also had a restful evening with Renata, and I was in bed by 9.45pm.
By 5.45am today (Monday 23rd Oct) I was fully rested, and so I got up and made my breakfast. A solid bowl of chunky salad.
Food for health and mood control
3 oz of red cabbage; 6 oz of cucumber; 1 spring onion; 1 organic carrot; half an organic apple; and put them into a soup bowl.
(See the Appendix on Diet and Nutrition, in our book: Holistic Counselling in Practice.***)
Then, I added a teaspoon of Maca powder; a dessertspoon of ground flaxseed; two dessertspoon’s of mixed seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, ???), ten almonds, three walnuts, four hazelnuts; ten blueberries; 2 ozs of cooked beetroot (diced); two small tomatoes (halved); and half a kiwi fruit (diced).
I then added some brown rice miso, and some sauerkraut.
After consuming that breakfast, I meditated for 30 minutes.
Physical exercise for health and strength and mood control
Let me now describe the exercises that I went on to do, after meditating:
Twenty minutes of Chi Kung exercises.
Followed by a couple of minutes of ‘The plank’ exercise, which is like ‘stationary press-ups’: https://youtu.be/kiA9j-dR0oM
Then I did my own press-ups and sit backs, for about 5 or 6 minutes.
I then moved on to do fifteen minutes of my old Judo Club calisthenics (or whole body warm up exercise), which combine strength training, stretching of muscles, and aerobic exercise, all in one.
Then ten minutes of Zhan Zhuang (pronounced Jam Jong, and meaning ‘Standing like a tree’). These are body poses which work on our postural muscles, affecting strength and speed and balance. They create a calm and happy mental state. And they also relax the body and establish whole-body connection.
Finally I did some strength training using the Powerspin rotator, to build arm, shoulder and upper body strength.
This is clearly a time-consuming start to the day, compared with a bowl of cornflakes, a cup of coffee, and a brisk scratching of the head!
So why do I do it?
Because, I value my health above all things. Without my physical health, I am unlikely to be happy. And I am unlikely to be emotionally stable.
The people who do the least exercise, and who eat the worst diets, have the worst physical and mental health outcomes. (I have not seen a general medical practitioner for more than thirty years! And I am not about to start now!)
Most people leave their health (physical and mental) to chance, and to the vague belief that there are people who can “fix them up” when they fall apart. Sadly this myth is totally misleading. Once you’ve ruined your health – from sedentary lifestyle, poor sleep, and inadequate diet (such as one based on junk food, or an unbalanced diet, or too much alcohol [over the government limit], caffeine, sugary foods, gluten, and other toxic substances) – and/or from long-term conflicted relationships – it is then ruined! And a ruined body-brain is a burden to haul through life!
It takes self-discipline to get on a good diet, and to begin to do regular physical exercise, and to go to bed and have eight hours sleep, without mobile phones or laptops or tablets, and so on. But the alternative to developing that self-discipline is a life ruined through serious illness, emotional distress, and early death.
Some people will argue with me, and insist that there are some things called “medicines” (and “surgeries”) which can be used to resuscitate their body-brain-mind once they have allowed it to fall into ill-health. The editors of What Doctors Don’t Tell You, strongly disagree with that fantasy! See the article titled ‘Don’t trust me (I’m Big Pharma).***
POSTSCRIPT ONE: Of course, it takes time to build up expertise in ‘extreme self-care’; and it’s a good idea to do that one step at a time. Gradually, over a period of time, this will build up into significant changes, and huge improvements in health and happiness. And you don’t ever have to adopt the kind of ‘monkish’ approach that suits me. Some simple changes in what you eat, and how you exercise your body (brisk walking for 30 minutes per day is enough!), will make a huge difference over time. You can find out more about how to begin these small, easy steps in our book: How to control your anger, anxiety and depression, using nutrition and physical activity.
If you want me to help you to figure out how to live a happier, healthier, more emotionally buoyant life, then please contact me:
Telephone: 01422 843 629 (inside the UK)
or 44 1422 843 629 (from outside the UK)
I hope you have a very happy and healthy life!
Dr Jim Byrne
Doctor of Counselling
Telephone: 01422 843 629
POSTSCRIPT TWO: If you are a coach, psychologist, counsellor or psychotherapist, and you want to begin to teach your clients about the importance of lifestyle factors in the maintenance of good mental health (or emotional wellbeing) then you might be interested in our book entitled Lifestyle Counselling and Coaching for the Whole Person, which is an expansion of the Holistic Counselling book, including the inclusion of a Lifestyle Factors Questionnaire. (This book can also be used by self-help enthusiasts!)