A Common Ancestor

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How do you view and comprehend the unexpected events that life throws at you?  God’s plan, coincidence, fate or just random destined moments passing through space and time?  In 2012, the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religious and Public Life  survey revealed that, of the 46 million unaffiliated (no religious affiliation) American  adults surveyed, more than half reported a deep connection with nature and earth, and 37 percent claimed they were “spiritual but not religious.”  In the same survey, 34 percent said they were spiritual and 38 percent said they believe in “God or a universal spirit.”  In short, a substantial portion of atheists and nonreligious report spiritual feelings (Cragun, 2014).

Spirituality can be believing you have a spiritual connection with other people, believing there is some form of higher power or believing that there is some form of afterlife; all of these beliefs can be held without any institutional affiliation with a religion.  A growing wave of research suggests that religion and spirituality may help some people better cope with illness, depression and stress.  Several medical studies show a connection between religious beliefs or practices and a decreased risk of self-destructive behaviors such as smoking, substance abuse and suicide.  Perhaps the reasoning behind these findings is that feeling connected with nature and the world around you helps you find inner peace and appreciate quality of life in a world of unpredicted chaos.  Spirituality and religion then, can be seen as strong predictors of and provide valuable insight into a person’s or society’s state of mental health.

If reality is defined through the individual’s eyes, cultures, personal values, beliefs and life experiences, we are creating billions of intertwining collective realities that all somehow affect each other.  Our own reality greatly shapes choices and options we see available for taking or avoiding.  If every person on this planet could put aside their differences and pre-existing notions to think about the meaning of life from this perspective, world peace might be more possible than ever before.  Humans could learn to be codependent on each other and the natural world instead of constantly competing for resources and individual success.  When are we all going to realize that every living thing on this planet came from one common ancestor?  Theory or not, evolution makes more sense than all the world’s religions combined.

Detox Diet Vs. Clean Eating

“The idea that your body needs help getting rid of toxins has no basis in human biology,” says Frank Sacks, MD, of the Harvard School of Public Health. “Your organs and immune system handle those duties, no matter what you eat”. A detox diet may be a quick and temporary solution for losing weight but you’re likely to gain the weight back after you go off of it, as with any extreme diet.   I’ve heard of detox diets like drinking nothing but water with lemon juice and cayenne pepper for a week straight but to not consume any calories or nutrients all week sounds absurd to me.  This is the week everyone should be eating their healthiest, avoiding alcohol and drinking plenty of liquids to avoid bloating, cellulite, extra pounds and thin skin.

So rather than invest in a diet where you practically starve yourself, try a clean eating or organic diet for the week.  Shape Magazine’s Cynthia Sass recommends this seven day clean eating challenge to bring you ‘skyrocketing energy’, weight loss, better control over your appetite and yes, better looking skin.  Follow these 5 simple rules to slim down and feel your best before spring break:

  1. Eat only whole foods: If a food contains any ingredient you can’t pronounce or don’t know what it is, don’t buy it for the week you eat clean.  Ex: Blueberries and oats instead of a blueberry muffin
  2. Keep meals simple.  Your body only needs sources like whole grain, lean protein and healthy fat during each meal.  Ex: Veggies and shrimp over rice
  3. Eat slower.  Put your fork or spoon down during every bite and actually enjoy the different tastes and textures instead of inhaling your food like you’re in a hotdog race.
  4. Eat on a regular schedule.  Sass suggests not letting more than 4 hours go by between each meal to better regulate your digestive system, blood sugar, insulin levels and appetite.
  5. Listen to your body.  Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied, not stuffed.

You’ll thank yourself for eating healthy all week when you have a slim stomach on the beach and more energy to cram spring break activities.