Reader Question: Small Habits

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Victoria asks:

Hi jenny! … am very excited to follow your tips and articles on living life freely.
(Could you talk about)….small lifestyle changes or habits that can make a big difference. Perhaps your top 8 or something… little routines, rituals or habits you have that make a big difference.

Oh, Victoria, I love you so much I’ll give you ten.  And, since this really is about living freely you can do all ten, just one, or NONE.  🙂

This took quite a bit of thought actually because once something is routine, it falls under the radar as an actual practice and just becomes “life”.  Some of these are probably as basic as it gets, some may seem a little strange, and I hope some are at least fun.

1.  I eat a substantial (in comparison to the S.A.D.-that’s Standard American Diet) amount of saturated fat.  Most of it is from animals as saturated fat tends to be found there, but I also love coconut oil and coconut milk.  (It’s one of two canned foods that I consume on the regular because coconut milk in a carton is such a no-go.  Read the label.  It’s mostly stuff other than coconut milk.  They have to put stuff in it to keep if from going solid in your fridge.)

Why?  Saturated fat is the most stable of all the fats.  It is the one that has been consumed forever by our species.  We make our cell membranes and create our nervous systems from it.  It is a really great source of energy.  It makes our fat-soluble vitamins actually usable by the body.  Our modern low fat diets have led to us having about 1/10 of the levels of our grandparents of these vitamins.  Remember, you can eat as many carrots as you want but without the fat, you can’t use any of the vitamin A they provide.  And still crisp boiled carrots quickly sauteed in butter with garlic and parsley?  Delicious!

2. I am in bed before 10:30 as a general rule.  Often, before 9:30 so I can be asleep by 10.

Why?  The body heals itself between the hours of 10 p.m. – 2 a.m.  The brain processes the day’s information, traumas, and events to make sense of them between the hours of 2 a.m. – 6 a.m.  If you lose out on that sleep, that healing can not take place.  Being a shift worker that works nights is one of the worst things that you can do for your health.  Shift work is recognized as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization.  Robb Wolf likes to say that you should get as much sleep as you can without getting divorced or fired.

3. I eat clay.  On purpose.  I used to drink it mixed in water but now I make an herbal toothpaste with clay as the base that I use daily.

Why?  Clay is cationic and helps bond with radioactivity in the body and helping it exit.  With the amount of computer exposure, radioactive exposure that we are all (mostly unknowingly) subjected to, this is a really great health practice.  In Haiti, there was the myth that Haitians ate dirt to ward off starvation during the embargo years.  Actually, the clay tablets, not dirt, have always been and are still sold in the markets and just make a pretty regular part of the traditional diet.

4.  I have a dog.

Why? This may not be a small habit, but it doesn’t have to be a dog that you choose to adopt.  It can be a plant, a parakeet, a cat, or a monitor lizard.  Knowing that a living thing depends on me grounds me to the natural world.  Being witness to the way that life REALLY works, like the time my dog decimated my chicken flock in 5 minutes, keeps me from falling prey to a lot of wishful thinking and sentimentality about the way I wish things work.  Also, having living species other than humans around reminds me that I have needs based on my being a human being that are wholly natural.  To acknowledge and meet those needs is wisdom and the gateway to freedom.

5.  I don’t wear underwire bras.  And frequently none at all.  

Why?  There are certainly studies on both sides of this issue.  Since I happen to think my boobs are pretty cool, I’ve decided to minimize the risks.  Some studies do say that the lymphatic tissue, dependent on movement, is healthier when the natural flow if uninterrupted by such hardcore “support”.  Also, I feel vhary ze francais when I go au naturel.

6.  I installed f.lux on to my computer.

Why?  Blue light can interfere with our melatonin production.  F.lux is an application that can be programmed to your time zone and starts to remove blue light from your monitor as blue light is being naturally removed from the outdoors as sunset approaches.  Melatonin is the hormone that is largely responsible for sleep.  As melatonin rises, cortisol (known as the “stress hormone”) lowers and you can sleep.  So, part of the issue with being on the computer past sunset (just part…there are others) is the issue of blue light interfering with the rise in melatonin necessary for a good night’s sleep.

7. I do the booty dance.

Why?  In this Western culture we tend to move forward.  Really think about how often your body moves within all the dimensions available to it.  Even our fitness model works within the back and forth and very rarely to the side to side and hardly ever in the all around.  Just the act of releasing the hips and letting them rotate all the way around helps with blood flow, helps keep certain muscles toned, and is a really good reminder that we move in tunnel vision.  It can really help with creativity as well.

**The booty dance is a dance so named by my son when he was five.  It looks something like this:  With legs hip distance apart, bend knees so that they are soft.  Rotate hips, pelvis, and well, booty, in a full circle.  Go in both directions and go as fast or as slow as feels good to you.  It’s a great thing to try every hour on the hour throughout the day.  

8.  I hug my son and anyone else who’ll let me.

Why?  When the fetus is developing, the same layer of tissue that forms the brain forms the skin.  Yeah, I’ll wait while you let that sink in.

I know, right?  Touch, loving and appropriate, is one of the things that I find most lacking in this adopted culture of mine.  We need touch as much as we need food.  We are primates.  When you spend any time watching primates, either on Animal Planet or in real life, just observe how much of their time they spend touching each other.  It’s a lot.  And, in their world, just like in ours, the animals that are touched less are not as healthy as those who are touched more.

9.  I drink herbal infusions.  I learned this from the one and only Susun Weed and she calls if one of her three best ideas.  It is.

Why?  Well, first, what?  An infusion differs from a tea because the herb is “steeped” for four hours minimum.  I don’t recommend that just any herb be used for this, but instead use the class of herbs that are called “nourishing” herbs.  My favorite ones are stinging nettle, oatstraw, comfrey leaf, linden, red rasberry and red clover.  There are a few more, but that’s my short list.

Now, why?  One of the things that we most lack in our diet is not vitamins necessarily but minerals.  There are wonderful minerals in plants.  We often can’t access them because of the cell wall that plants have and we don’t.  Taking dried plant material and pouring boiling water over it and letting it sit breaks apart that cell wall and releases the minerals to us in a way that we can really use them.  The ritual of boiling my water at night and setting the herbs to sit in it in my mason jar, then, straining the water through a sieve, squeezing the herbs to get the very last drops of nutrition and drinking throughout the day….it grounds my day.  It is a concrete reminder of my nourishment as priority AND as something simple and ancient.

10.  I don’t use soap.  

Why?  Why?  Why?  Okay, not never and not nowhere.  I use soap on my pits and my bum and my feet.  For the rest of me, I dry brush before I jump in the shower and then use oil, right now it’s sesame, while I’m still wet.  Our skin’s acid mantle is our first line of defense and soap strips it.  Dry brushing stimulates the lymphatic system, really exfoliates the dead skin off, and also increases blood flow to the skin.  Special note to my ladies:  Using soap on your lady part is a HUMONGOUS no-no.  That flower cleans itself.  Soap really disrupts the pH balance.  It is supposed to be acidic to keep itself safe.  It will bloom when rinsed well.  If you feel that that’s not enough (it is, I promise!) you can add a little vinegar or lime juice to the rinse water.  And, I don’t know if this is still something anyone does, but do NOT douche!  Pas une bonne idee!

Victoria, thanks for this great question!  As I was writing, about 5 other habits came to mind.  Maybe there will be a part two to this if you all find this useful!  I will know that you find it useful by you commenting below.  🙂

Also, Nourishing Freedom is on le livre du visage, where you are free to habitually like us.

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4 responses »

  1. I want to thank Victoria for this wonderful-useful-concrete question ! And also for the practical answer ! Maybe if I ask the same question there might be a part three ?? LOL

    • Absolutely! Once I started thinking about all of my little quirky habits, I realize that there is a lot to say! I wanted to thank Victoria, too. She sent in a couple more questions that I can hardly wait to sink my teeth into.

  2. THANK YOU Jenny! I’m very grateful for this! Very interesting about sleep – I have always focused on how much sleep I get, not when I get it. And I’ll have to check out f.lux, sounds like quite the useful app. Also YES yes yes to coconut oil, I love consuming it and covering myself in it – so great. This is all very powerful yet relatively easy to practice – thanks again! Larissa and I are looking forward to part II 🙂

    • Mission accomplished, then! So much “health” stuff can seem a little overwhelming, but the simpler and more fun it is, the more powerful it also is. I’m so glad that you found this useful! Enjoy.

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