Yesterday I attended the 140 Conference “State of YOU” in NYC as part of their Twitter team. Hosted by Jeff Pulver, this wellness-centered event with numerous 10-15 minute presentations from health-experts who all happen to recognize the benefits of social media in their own arena. From doctors now tweeting with patients to one of the youngest fitness-entrepeneurs out there, the conference solidified the message that now is the time to get healthy. What an amazing day full of learning, inspiration, healthy talk, meditating with Mallika Chopra, and even a quick live-tweeted yoga session with Tara Stiles in the auditorium aisles! How’s that for packing a lot into a day? I’m excited to share what resonated most with me:
Power couple, Chris Brogan & Jacqueline Carly, discussed health, fitness, goal-setting, and the number on the scale. Chris started his fitness journey at 265 pounds and weighs exactly that today, 265 pounds with lots of inches and sizes lost and lots of muscle gained. Point being: the number on the scale does not necessarily reflect progress, it’s about how you feel. There is no one way to get fit, to feel good, there are endless ways. Pick something and go for it. Chris’ wise words: “everything in moderation, even moderation” and “you are your own superhero you’ve been waiting for.” Don’t wait on anyone or anything, you have the power to make healthy changes within yourself. And ya know what? It feels damn good when ya do.
Dr. Murali Doraiswamy spoke about preventing Alzheimer’s in the brain. Did you know that Alzheimer rates are much lower in vegetarians? Damn, I haven’t yet been convinced to give up fish, poultry, and meat, but that is definitely enough to make me focus on veggies. Another tip: turmeric has actually been found to prevent and reverse Alzheimer’s symptoms, so eat your curry! Other effective strategies to nourish the body and mind include yoga, socialization, and exercise.
As someone who eats pretty much anything, it was really interesting listening to the gluten-free panel and what’s really behind this lifestyle. “Gluten-free is not a trend. If you have a problem with gluten, you NEED to be gluten-free. “I’m a vegetarian, I’m an atheist, I’m gluten free…don’t be one of those people. Don’t just be gluten-free to be cool.” Take the time to learn about your body and feed it what feels good, be an individual and be responsible for your body. Nicole Hunn of ‘Gluten Free on a Shoe String’ wisely stated: “You don’t need anyone’s permission to start anything, don’t wait for others to tell you that what you’re doing is ok. Empower yourself. Learn to cook. Learn to take care of yourself.”
Dr. Terry Simpson, the totally-likeable weight-loss surgeon, shared the one unique distinction separating patients who lost weight from those who did not: cooking. Not weight-loss surgery, not dieting, not exercise. Cooking. Dr. Simpson kept pushing off his own weight-loss surgery and every year, over the past 8 years, lost 10 pounds, adding up to an 80 pound weight-loss, exactly what he had hoped to lose from surgery. (ok, he admitted losing weight every year except for one, when his wife was pregnant…“you can’t let a pregnant woman eat ice cream alone, it’s the law”. See told you you’d like him.) The doctor became the patient, and if a busy surgeon has time to cook for himself, we can all make the time. Dr. Simpson explained: “I like surgery, but I like transforming lives more. Get an apron, learn to cook, it’s the most empowering and best thing you can do for yourself. Lastly, going out to restaurants occasionally is great. Just stop going to crappy restaurants. Go out to a great restaurant.” Love that (now I need an apron!)
Next, we shifted to body image in relation to the media. I think we can all agree that the revolution against this “Toxic Body Culture” is long overdue. Sayantani DasGupta uncovered the shocking truth behind photo-shopping in the media. I’m talking about the images that make us think we’re not good enough – those images are not real and yet we become obsessed with looking like them. One model is actually suing the magazine that photo-shopped her skin to appear shades lighter (why?) and DasGupta showed us a Ralph Lauren ad in which the model is a size four in real life, photo shopped to look like a triple 0, not even humanly possible. The media really needs to start creating positivity. Health is beautiful – the media portrays health in a warped manner that creates self-hate, sickness, and hopelessness.
One of my favorite lectures was “Something Needs To Change And It’s Probably Me” by Paul Williams and Tracey Jackson, between the two, they are addicts of drugs, alcohol, shopping, and food. They discussed why we overeat, the emotions behind food, (and other drugs) and feeding pain. You can quit drugs but you HAVE to eat, so you have to figure it out at some point and these two have come a long way themselves. Tracey recapped one time she binged alone in her apartment: “my stomach was completely full, but my heart was still empty.” They suggest a ‘mood to food journal,’ not to record calories, but to point out daily eating habits in conjunction with emotions. Is it your stomach that’s empty or your heart?
The author of Drop Dead Healthy, A.J. Jacobs, sought out to reevaluate his mind, spirit, and finally his body. He described himself as ‘skinny fat’ – “I looked like a snake that had swallowed a goat.” Jacobs explained that healthy is not a big secret, that it’s actually pretty obvious, but the trick is motivating yourself to do the healthy stuff. His motivation tools:
1. Reframe the way you look at exercise. Don’t just go to the gym and check it off the list. Incorporate movement into everything in life. Run errands, literally run errands. Or get up every half hour if you work at a desk. Just move.
2. Quantify exercise. Keep track of your step and compete with yourself (and others.) Jacobs admits “when I lose my wallet in my house, I’m frustrated, but I’m also kind of psyched because I know I’ll be adding lots of steps looking for it.” Ha!
3. Honor your future self. The more you pay attention to your future self, the better you’ll treat your body. Health is not just about yourself or vanity, it’s about being there for those that need you down the road, in his case, watching his sons grow up. Living healthy now eases the process of aging later.
I was probably most excited to hear from Gabrielle Bernstein, “spirit junkie,” inspiration, and author of May Cause Miracles. She’s all about how self-discovery transforms life, how slowing down and breathing allows us to enjoy life to the fullest instead of rushing around, letting it pass us by. Gabby started by saying that the first step in changing your life is to acknowledge that something’s not working, to realize the feeling of dissatisfaction. This awareness is a miracle in itself, a beautiful opportunity to see things differently, the first step in change. Luckily, all you need to cause change is you. Your presence is your power and the simple exercise of breathing can boost that power. Gabby reports that breath alone can change your life – how inspirational is that? By taking a few minutes to focus on our breath each day, we become more in tune with our instincts and we learn to trust those instincts to bring us good things: happiness, career success, relationship bliss, etc. “Your health and life will dramatically change with one minute a day of meditation. Use the breath when you feel powerless, that’s how you find your power. This isn’t a time to play small, it’s a time to play big, feel good, live big.” I couldn’t agree more, Gabby. Loved chatting with her, she’s the cutest!
Next up was an equally inspirational young woman (23 years old!) whose energy was contagious; Sadie Kurzban, the founder of 305 fitness. Sadie explained that she cannot even remember a world without the internet, without that instant gratification, without Barbie.com allowing young girls to change their appearance with the click of a button, providing youth with a false sense of health. Sadie admits that living healthy takes a lot of hard work (lots of exercise and lots of salad!) but that it’s worth it, especially if you make it enjoyable. When Sadie discovered her love for dance, her view of fitness changed. She no longer counted calories-burned, she just dances to the music and embraces the endorphins that run through her body, this never gets old for her. In fact, Sadie founded 305 Fitness as a result of this passion. Sadie’s message is a great one, and it’s relevant in all walks of life: “if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
One Healthy Breakdown: embrace health, learn what’s best for you and do it because you deserve it. Love it. And share it. YOU determine the state of YOU, so get out your cape and embrace your inner super-hero.