SIMPLE LIFESTYLE CHANGES CAN INCREASE THE EFFECTS OF CBD – A GUIDE FOR GETTING STARTED.
Most of you are reading this because you’re either interested in using CBD, or have already begun your journey of self-restoration. If you haven’t already read our other educational blog posts, we suggest you do so before reading this one (click here). Self-restoration is what CBD is all about. A gentle harmonizing agent that can increase the efficacy of your body’s balancing system in a subtle, natural way. But CBD isn’t a miracle. It’s a lipid phytocannabinoid that your body has evolved to interact with.
Up until the ban on American hemp cultivation almost a century ago, humans interacted plenty with hemp. And I’m not talking about smoking it for the funny feeling. While THC has its own set of health benefits and psychoactive side effects, it is only one of over four-hundred compounds in the hemp plant. Furthermore, it is the only one that produces intoxication or psychoactivity. CBD and the other phytocannabinoids in hemp is where the real healing can be found. There is no magic here. This is science.
But science has done a lot of other great things for us. Sports medicine has shown us the cardiovascular, mental, digestive, and immunological benefits of regular exercise. Nutrition medicine has shown us the links between imbalanced diets and pathological disease. Neuroscience has shown us ways to change the myelination (myelin is the fibrous material your neural networks use to strengthen their connections) in our brains, retraining our destructive patterns so our habits work for us instead of against us.
There is value in learning about what experts have to say in their respective fields. But since no one has time to do all that, we’ve taken it upon ourselves.
Let’s start with exercise. I know, I know—you’re rolling your eyes and telling the screen you haven’t got the time or motivation for that. Gyms frighten you, you don’t know how to use the weights or the machines, you’re tired enough as it is, and you’d rather start at home or get a trainer (which you can’t afford). So you shrug, and scroll down to the next part of the blog. But I want you to challenge yourself and read this all the way through.
You can do mild exercise. It helps by finding something you love. Gardening, walking the dog, playing with your kids at the park, finally reorganizing that garage of yours. Bring your headphones and listen to music or a podcast. Learn while you exercise. Start slow, three times a week. Remember that the point of the exercise is to elevate your heart rate for 20-30 minutes consistently, then let it cool down.
If you can only do 15 minutes, start there and take a break. But I want you to challenge yourself. Walk to the mailbox fifteen times before actually getting the mail. Start parking at the end of the parking lot and walking to your destination. Stop using the drive thru. Take the stairs whenever possible. These are easy changes to integrate into your life without having to go to the store and buy fifteen workout outfits. You can start today. Right now.
When you’re ready, you can start working out at home. There are millions of workout and yoga videos on YouTube. If you have a tablet or a laptop, crank one up and try to follow along. Thousands of men and women have made a career out of putting at-home workout videos online for the express purpose of helping and inspiring people just like you. You can use your body weight, without equipment, and do it in the privacy of your own home, free from judgement.
The reality is whenever I’m at the gym and I see someone who is obviously new or very out of shape, I always smile at them and give them a positive boost. No one is judging you the way you think they might be. Most people are genuinely happy to watch others attempt to improve their lives. Hope is infectious. Human beings thrive on it.
So start there, very small, very simple. Three times a week. You can do this.
This brings me to the neuroscience aspect of self-restoration. A lot of us suffer from low self-esteem. We don’t mean to—it just kind of happens. We want to do a good job, we make mistakes, then we hold those mistakes against ourselves. Sometimes we’re selfish and shortsighted. The mind is a powerful tool. Just like nuclear energy, tools can be used to power the lights of cities or decimate populations. The mind is no different. So it becomes a question of how to use the mind. How to retrain it like a dog.
I want you to try an experiment. It can be the exercise I mentioned earlier, or the diet I’ll mention after, or the meditation practice I’ll mention after that. What I want you to do is set a goal. Not only will you set this goal, but you will set a reward up for yourself after completing it. Now it’s important you follow through with this reward. Psychologists have proven that most people are more likely to give their animals medication than themselves medication, even though they might need it. They remember, fill the pet prescriptions, and even set alarms.
Not so much with themselves, though. Because when you get right down to it, a lot of us have built some pretty nasty habits of self-reflection. We put ourselves down and blame ourselves for things beyond our control. Likely, you’re one of them, whether it’s health related or mental health related. You’ve made mistakes. That’s okay. Learning from our mistakes is what self-restoration is all about. And you can do that. Slowly, easily, with tiny incremental shifts. And it all starts with this goal.
So set a goal. It could be anything. Clean your room. Make your bed in the morning before work. It helps if it’s a very simple goal. Don’t launch out to lose forty pounds. Think of all the things that need to be done in your life to get you one inch closer to the change you desire, and make the easiest shift. Now when you complete your goal, it is very important that you reward yourself.
This is the first step you’re taking to build a better relationship with who you are, and good relationships are reciprocal. Your reward can be anything you want. A snack. An evening catching up on your favorite show. A video game. It’s completely up to you. But listen to me.
You MUST reward yourself if you complete the goal.
When you complete it, do it again. Up the ante. Do it slowly. And make sure you tell yourself good job. Be proud of yourself for following through with what you said you’d do, and pay yourself handsomely for showing up. If you try this, and continue to raise your eyes to the next goal obstructing your human progress, you will one day find yourself occupying a completely different perspective. You will have retrained your brain to make a decision, follow it through, love on yourself for showing up, and reward your actions.
This is how self-esteem is formed. It’s the exact same way low self-esteem is formed: through repetition. Repetition causes neural pathways to myelinate (thicken). We as human beings are little more than a conglomeration of habits. And you have some power over that. Remember: start small. Little goals, and little victories.
I know you can do it.
Self-restoration is impossible without diet. I won’t dwell here for too long, but diet is really everything. No one wants to starve without the delights that make being human fun. It’s all about moderation. Apply the same method above to your diet. Make small transitional changes. Only eat sugar on the weekends, or start even smaller, and stop drinking sugar with your coffee. Replace soda with sparkling water and a drink additive. You can start to use Stevia extract, a natural and calorie free sweetener. I can’t live without mine. It’s $6.00 at Trader Joes, and comes in a 30ml dropper bottle. I’ve cut out sugar from my drinks, while still enjoying the sweetness. Same with bread. Eat only one bun with dinner. Cut it out a few days a week.
Bread and sugar cause inflammation. This is one of the reasons I think CBD edibles are so foolish. You’re wrapping one of nature’s most powerful anti-inflammatories in the western diet’s most inflammatory substance. So stay away from those.
When it comes to diet, most people are afraid they’ll be hungry. Hunger is one of the leading reasons people collapse on their goal-setting. I don’t want you to starve yourself. You want potatoes? Replace them with yams or sweet potatoes (which do not inflame the body). Spend the extra .50 cents on the organic vegetable and organic fruit, or go to a farmers market where the produce hasn’t spent weeks on a truck. If you eat meat, and want steak and chicken and bacon, just make sure you buy grass-fed products. It’s more expensive, but believe me, it’s worth it.
Whatever your animal is eating is what you are eventually eating. The stressful conditions of feed-fed overcrowded meat farms dump all sorts of awful stress chemicals into your food. They are unhappy, poorly fed creatures, which eventually means the nutritional value of your meat suffers. People say they can’t taste a difference, but believe me, the science supports there is absolutely a difference. It isn’t a gimmick. It’s much better for you.
The last thing to remember is that starving yourself of fat is what causes hunger. Healthy fats are fundamentally important to energy production and cognitive function. Your brain is the most fatty organ in your body and is responsible for 1/3 of the calories your body uses every day to simply survive. The fat-free fad of the 1950s wasn’t founded on anything scientific. It was marketing. Mental fog, inflammation, exhaustion, and yes, HUNGER, are all symptoms of low-fat diets. EAT FAT in moderation while you implement these small changes, and watch those hunger cramps disappear.
A few tricks include snacking on raw almonds, cooking your foods in grass-fed unsalted butter (like Kerry Gold), hard boiled eggs, and wild caught (not farm-raised) salmon. If you can’t try to implement those particular shifts, just remember that slowly but surely, if it can rot, it’s better for you than that stuff sitting in your cupboard for the last month. Eat out less. Try cooking or at least passing on the fries. And before you mentally retort that fat is bad for your cholesterol, I have something to tell you. There is an even bigger culprit contributing to your high cholesterol levels.
There is a direct correlation to stress levels and the production of LDL, the bad cholesterol. Google it right now. “Stress and cholesterol.” Which brings me to my final suggestion. And by suggestion I mean you should definitely, without reserve, investigate and experiment, paying close attention to how these things increase the positive changes in your life. Play with the variables and see how you respond as an individual.
No cure-all will help everyone. We each have unique bodies with unique genetic transcription factors that, in congruence with our environments, tell our DNA how to behave. So be gentle, and take it slow. And when you do something you said you were going to do, celebrate the heck out of yourself.
MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS
Meditation has been used for thousands of years to focus the mind. It’s only in the last forty years that science has invented the tools capable of measuring the lasting effects, which include but are not limited to decreased stress, increased blood flow to the frontal cortex, improved memory and sleep, more effective digestion, and increased sensations of well-being.
The first thing to be said about meditation, before you roll your eyes again, is that you’re kind of doing it right now. You’re focusing on these words. You do it when you watch TV. You do it when you sit on a bench and watch the birds dart through the trees. The initiative required here is for you to focus that on your breath instead of your thoughts. I won’t tell you how to do it, only encourage you to explore it. This is what happen for me.
When I started meditating, my mind pretty much ate me alive. I thought that meditation meant to be silent between the ears. That’s not what it means at all. I didn’t have the discipline to sit quietly with any regularity, so I got myself an app at the suggestion of a friend. It’s called Insight Timer, is available on Android or Apple, and is free. I found that setting a timer helped me reach my goal, which is kind of funny, because the head space offered through constant meditation is a place that doesn’t measure itself in goals. It’s all about mindfulness. Paying attention to the breath. Sitting gently with yourself, or your maker. Living in the now, which is all there really is.
I was absorbed with fixations on the past (my mistakes) and the future (the mistakes I was surely going to repeat). My thoughts raced endlessly. When I closed my eyes, or sat still, these thoughts became even worse. So I started very small. One minute of breathing. The app even had the option of an accompanying sound, like chanting or rainfall or a trickling stream. That helped me focus on something other than my thoughts.
When I got pulled into my thoughts again, I didn’t beat myself up. I took another deep, clearing breath and gently guided myself back to the sound the way a parent would guide a curious child back to a mountain path. The more I did this, the more it became apparent that my thoughts would never stop. The brain’s job is to think. It will do so until it stops working. What meditation gave me was a gentle space around those thoughts.
After trying this regularly, I started to have the strange sensation that my thoughts weren’t who I was. My thoughts didn’t grow my hair, or strengthen my bones, or inflate my lungs. My body was governed by its own precise laws and designs. Even stranger was the slow realization that my past and future didn’t really exist outside of a concept. I wasn’t suffering from my past, but memory experienced in the moment. I wasn’t suffering from my future, but imagination experienced in the moment.
With time and patience and rewarding myself for a job well done, I started to be able to increase my one minute to three, then ten, then even sometimes thirty. But it started slow. All of the sudden, there was a real peace in my life. Sure, it became disturbed, but it always settled down. I started to see my ego, my thoughts, and my fears as clouds in the sky of my mind. Brain weather. Sometimes it shines and other times it pours rain.
Most important was the sense that I could return to the gentle silence at any time. I didn’t need to spend money, or travel anywhere, or even get dressed. When I noticed I was getting stressed, I took a deep, clearing breath.
CBD can help balance your body naturally. But used in congruence with these other techniques, small goals, and positive self-reinforcement, the power of CBD can increase by leaps and bounds. CBD can help balance the systems within your body, but wouldn’t it be better to follow that up by slowly changing the causes that led to the conditions requiring it?
LESS IS MORE
Try a little bit at a time. And remember: don’t do too much too quickly. Set a little goal each day, and slowly experiment with your life, your diet, and your mind. If you attempt it with some sincerity, however small, the only thing that could come of it is positive change. You’re worth the time and the effort. Build a healthy temple, and when the rains come sweeping in, you will remain warm and sheltered from the hazards of passing weather.