Have you ever wondered what would happen if you could actually implement all the findings from science on health and well-being into your daily life? I have. Good science tells us (and this is a blog post so you don’t get academic references but I’m a research nerd so rest assured I have them) that health and well-being can be enhanced by:
- Not sitting for long periods of time
- An exercise program that includes strength training and cardio training
- Daily meditation
- Daily yoga
- A vegan whole food diet
- Limiting or eliminating alcohol
- Ensuring we have a good balance of gut flora
- Not taking chemical intoxicants
- Getting a minimum of 7 hours sleep a night
I do some of the above. Sometimes I do them regularly and have done so for years. I’m a runner and a meditator and those two things rarely if ever waiver. I’m also a long time vegan and understand the benefits well enough for both my own health, the environment and the suffering of other sentient beings, so I’m in no danger of caving on that front. The others though, they come and go in my life, and at 45 years old I’m still wondering what it would be like to science my life up.
So, alongside my partner in challenges – my husband, we are doing it for you. Well, we’re actually doing it for us, but you can benefit from our findings if you like. My husband and I have stepped up to lots of challenges before…it’s kind of our thing together. We’ve travelled to a developing country with a tween, trained for and completed a marathon, had a baby, made it through a whole bunch of autism diagnoses and supported each other through a PhD and a karate black belt. So this is just the next challenge in a long line for us.
Specifically, here’s what we’re doing. For 12 weeks, we are exercising daily (including a combo of running, kettlebells and body weight stuff), doing daily yoga and meditation, eating vegan whole foods only (far out, no chocolate), not drinking alcohol, not taking any chemicals (unless one of us gets injured and then the ibuprofen is ON), ensuring we are not stationary for long periods of time and getting enough sleep (child permitting).
Because we like to play hard core, we are also limiting the amount of information that comes in to our lives by having a day off the Internet and not mainlining on social media all week. The science is really not solid on the effects of that one, but we’ve been doing it for a while on a Sunday and it seems to help us slow our brains a little.
We also have the whole ethical living project underway and will continue to make sure we are not messing around with other people’s health and well-being through the things we buy. In a way, this experiment has come out of that one and seems the logical next step for us.
Coffee is in. Twice a day. Science supports that one, although yes, I know it’s a stimulant. I have done without it before but not this time. Gluten is out for me. Damn it, I really love gluten. Trust me though, it’s out.
We’ve built in some psychological first aid should we need it. We have plans for getting through cravings, cavings and ‘why are we even doing this’ moments. We know well how to support each other and most of all WE NEVER GIVE IN once we have set our course.
I have no idea what the results of this experiment will be. I’m interested in both the emotional process and the physical feelings that come up. What will my moods do, free of sugar hits? What mental thoughts will arise to justify giving up? How will I respond to these? I’m also interested in the findings at the end. Is the sacrifice of not having the odd sugar hit worth it in the long run? Does daily exercise really impact significantly on our mental health? Will I become enlightened? (that’s a joke. Really).
I’m prepared for all findings – that it makes a significant enough impact that we will continue to live like this…..that it makes some impact but the odd bottle of wine and vegan lamington (google it US friends) is perfectly fine…..that it makes no difference at all and I should just snort all the cocaine and play Xbox all day.
So here we go. We will be reporting back and in the meantime, channeling Master Yoda:
‘Do or do not…..there is not try’.