The First Step Up to Getting Healthy is a book about taking an essential, gentle step in the direction of better health that most people (and health books and programs) ignore.
Everyone's body and brain are equipped with chemicals and systems that help us manage stress and the highs and lows of life. Some of these like serotonin and dopamine you have probably heard of. Others like GABA may be unfamiliar to you. Critically, levels of these chemicals can be depleted by chronic stress, trauma, or when we become overwhelmed with the challenges of daily life. Once this chemistry is depleted we lose our capacity to focus, exercise self discipline, and face challenges with resilience. We are easily overwhelmed, take longer to recover from stress or emotional shocks, and often lack the resilience to manage the stress of changing our diet and nutrition habits.
This book provides a practical guide to rehabbing these body and brain systems that, when burned out, make it almost impossible to change the way you live. It is based on a 10 week plan designed to help build up the chemistry and brain and body systems that allow you to focus, manage stress, and take consistent action. The diet, exercise, supplement, and lifestyle advice in this book will be holistic in nature and aimed at building a healthy body, brain and mind as a whole one gradual step at a time. This will be a deeply scientific book which will be written for a lay audience and will make the science behind the program easily understood and engaging to learn.
A burned out body and brain make it all but impossible to get healthy. The chemically overwhelmed body and brain simply can't participate fully in any situation that requires discipline, focus, or consistency. In addition, an overwhelmed brain makes it harder to sleep well, steals motivation to do healthy things like exercise and engage with other people, and easily falls prey to all sorts of chemical addictions like binge eating or drinking too much alcohol. If these kinds of patterns become entrenched they further undermine physical and emotional health and create a cycle that is difficult to break. A lot of "functional" people are actually stuck in this cycle, but at a level where they can still hold their life together while slowly growing less and less healthy and happy. I was this way from 2000 to 2005. Other people crash into a more destructive level of this cycle and don't know how to get out of it.
This book project took shape out of my personal and professional experience. In 2005 I was on top of the world - at least by outward appearances. I had graduated from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar with a degree in Human Science two years earlier and was starting medical school at Cornell med in New York. I was making money as a health coach to an elite clientele while studying and had a health and fitness book under development with an agent and a publisher interested. By mid 2006 a major music manager had begun working with me to brand and market me as a health guru along the lines of Deepak Chopra or Andrew Weil. Throughout this time I was deeply unhappy and probably clinically depressed though I never would have admitted it. I was in the cycle I described above.
In 2007 my emotional health rapidly collapsed. My physical health followed. I lost my book deal, my managers, and my celebrity clients, and withdrew from medical school never to return. I stopped eating healthfully, stopped exercising, and began to fall apart. I would try to eat healthy and exercise for periods of time but couldn't manage it. I was too emotionally burned out to handle the level of discipline that had once come easily to me.
Life began to slowly turn around for me in 2008 when I accepted how far my health had deteriorated and began taking the steps I needed to turn my life around. After a few years, a lot of workshops, and various kinds of therapy I started to get my life back on track a bit. I began eating, exercising, and living healthfully again. I didn't know it then, but I succeeded because I started taking the gradual, gentle steps that I needed to take to slowly rebuild my body and brain. Eventually I pulled out of the physical and emotional dive I had been in. Soon after I extended my health coaching practice to begin counseling clients and teaching workshops on restoring health gradually by rebuilding the burned out body and brain to share what I had learned along my own journey. I have been doing this work for the past 6 years.
During this time it has become increasingly clear to me that most people who are trying to get healthier mentally and/or physically are fighting uphill battles due in part to the burnout of critical brain and body chemistry. I've developed this book project to help anyone in this position.
The core of this book is a 10 week plan that will help most people regain physical and mental resilience. It won't work for everyone and it won't perform miracles. It will make an unequivocal difference for most of the people who follow it, making the road to better health simple to understand, and, more importantly, easy to walk through a series of small steps. The book will guide readers to gradually introduce healthier behaviors that are incredibly easy to adopt. Ease is critical as major changes are almost impossible when you're body and brain are already overwhelmed. The focus of these behaviors will be slowly rehabbing the body and brain's chemistry to build the mental and physical foundation that allows for larger changes to take place when you feel ready. The book will emphasize easy changes like learning to treat yourself with healthier snacks and desserts as you gradually wean off the most brain and body-damaging foods. The tools at the heart of this book come from my classes and coaching programs and have been built above all with ease in mind.
It surprised me the first time I taught a class based on these kinds of changes how well this approach worked. Almost all of my students followed the curriculum because it didn't ask them to do anything too challenging. Almost every one of them found that within weeks they were feeling better emotionally and physically. Many lost weight and saw other physical benefits. It took me a long time to accept that in my own life and in my professional work I needed to give up pushing hard and work within the limits of what was actually comfortable. Pushing beyond your comfort zones is great advice when you're body and brain are functioning well, but when you're burned out it is a recipe for stagnation, frustration, and failure.
My greatest strength as a teacher and coach is making scientific discussions of human health engaging, easy to understand, highly relevant to everyday life, and easy to apply. The First Step Up to Getting Healthy will be a scientifically rich but still easily understood guide to slow, easy to make changes that rehab the brain and body's stress coping and emotion buffering systems, paving the way to a different way of living that leads to better health.
Risks and challenges
I am currently working on a master's degree in psychology that finishes Aug 25th 2017. I won't be able to dive into this book full time until then. I anticipate distributing the EBook in February 2018 and the physical books in March 2018, which is an ambitious but workable timeline. I have been teaching this material for years and have developed a lot of the tools that will be in this book for various classes, so I think 3 months to write the first draft, 2 months for 3 edit cycles, and a month to publish the e book will be sufficient. I'll be publishing through LuLu, which is a great self-publishing outlet.
The teleclass will most likely be through zoom unless enough people sign up, in which case I will probably use Kajabi. There will be inevitable technical hurdles, but I have taught a number of these kinds of classes before and always worked out the tech side.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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