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  • Writer's pictureDC Brandon

Food for Thought: How a Whole Foods Diet, Yoga and Earthing Transformed My Life and Creativity

This blog post is a bit of a departure from my other content. Please forgive the detour into the world of health but I feel strongly that others can learn from my experience. I am not a doctor, nutritionist or physical therapist - this is all layman's advice based on personal experience. With those disclaimers out of the way, please read on.

In the bustling world of creative arts, energy is currency. Whether it's brainstorming the next big idea, shooting on location, or editing into the wee hours, our performance is intricately linked to our physical well-being. As a creative professional in the film and video production industry, I've experienced firsthand how the right diet can supercharge creativity, enhance energy levels, and even restore a sense of joy and purpose. I've also experienced how the modern North American diet can destroy your health, make you gain weight, and harm your creative output.

This is my journey of shedding 30 pounds, going down 2 pants sizes, revitalizing my health, and rediscovering my creative spark through a diet focused on fruits, vegetables, and selective proteins like fish, embracing the practice of yoga, and reconnecting with the Earth through a practice known as grounding.

The Awakening

It all began with a wake-up call during a routine check-up. The scale and the blood pressure monitor told a story I could no longer ignore. I was put on heart medication and told that I needed to make some changes to the way I eat and the amount of exercise I was getting. The subtext was I needed to change or I wasn't going to last long. Weighed down both physically and mentally, I realized the toll my dietary choices were taking on my body and work. It wasn't so much the long hours on set as I tend to work in commercials and short films which are usually only 4 to 6 hours or so. And unlike other creatives, I have never been one to do late-night editing sessions - I work best in the mornings. No, for me it was all about my food choices and my snacking habits. And as embarrassing as a it is for a former athlete to admit it, my lack of exercise, mostly caused due to a decade old knee injury (and a solid amount of self pity).

Motivated by a desire to feel better and be more present in my life and career, I decided to overhaul my eating habits and my exercise routine. I researched many different diets. Carnivore, Paleo, intermittent fasting, vegan, vegetarian, the list goes on and on. Then one day it hit me, what if we were designed to eat food the way it was designed - that is to say whole foods in their natural state.

The core of my new diet? Whole foods. I embraced fruits, vegetables, and fish, cutting out processed junk and fast food entirely. The results were nothing short of transformative.

The Power of Whole Foods

Healing from the Inside Out: Food is not just fuel; it's the foundation of our health. By feeding my body with whole, unprocessed foods, I noticed significant improvements in my health. My blood pressure normalized (now at the low end of normal), my energy levels soared, and those extra pounds melted away. I went back to the same size jeans I wore when I was 25! I also used to have troubles sleeping and battled heartburn constantly. Now, I sleep like a baby and wake up feeling refreshed. I cannot remember that last time I had heartburn.

This wasn't just about looking good—it was about feeling good and having my body perform at its best.

Energy That Lasts: On set, every ounce of energy counts. Swapping out sugary snacks and quick carbs for nutrient-dense fruits and veggies led to stable blood sugar levels and more sustained energy throughout the day. No more post-lunch crashes or mid-morning slumps—just consistent, reliable energy.

Rediscovering Joy: It's hard to stay motivated and inspired when you're not at your best. The dietary changes I made brought back a zest for life and creativity that had been missing. With my body no longer bogged down by unhealthy foods, I found joy in the small moments—whether it was a successful shoot or a quiet evening with the family.

Clarity and Creativity: A clear mind breeds creativity. Whole foods are rich in antioxidants and nutrients that help combat inflammation and support brain health. This change in diet sharpened my focus and allowed my creativity to flourish. Ideas came quicker, solutions to on-set challenges were more innovative, and my scripting improved.

Whole Foods, Whole Self

Eating whole foods is about more than just avoiding processed foods; it's about embracing food in its most natural state. This means lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and lean proteins like fish. It's about making choices that respect and enhance the natural processes of your body. For me, I discovered that I needed to also cut out red meat and gluten entirely. for some reason, by body doesn't like them.

As creatives, we strive to express our true selves through our work. To do that, we must be in our best physical condition. A diet that emphasizes whole foods supports not just physical health but mental and emotional well-being, paving the way for uninhibited creativity.

Recipes for Creativity

To get you started on this journey, here are five vegetarian recipes that are not only delicious but packed with nutrients to fuel your creative endeavors:

  1. Avocado and Quinoa Salad

  • Ingredients: Ripe avocados, cooked quinoa, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

  • Directions: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

  1. Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

  • Ingredients: Sweet potatoes (cubed and roasted), black beans, corn tortillas, cabbage slaw, lime, cilantro.

  • Directions: Fill tortillas with roasted sweet potato cubes and black beans. Top with cabbage slaw and a squeeze of lime juice. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

  1. Mushroom and Spinach Stir-Fry

  • Ingredients: Sliced mushrooms, spinach, garlic, soy sauce, olive oil, sesame seeds.

  • Directions: Sauté garlic and mushrooms in olive oil until mushrooms are browned. Add spinach and soy sauce, cooking until spinach is wilted. Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.

  1. Chickpea and Tomato Curry

  • Ingredients: Chickpeas, diced tomatoes, coconut milk, onion, garlic, curry powder, olive oil, fresh cilantro.

  • Directions: Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil. Add curry powder, chickpeas, diced tomatoes, and coconut milk. Simmer until thickened. Garnish with cilantro.

  1. Berry and Nut Yogurt Bowl

  • Ingredients: Greek yogurt, mixed berries (fresh or frozen), mixed nuts, honey.

  • Directions: In a bowl, layer Greek yogurt with berries and nuts. Drizzle with honey for a touch of sweetness.

Embracing a whole foods diet isn't just about making better food choices—it's about crafting a lifestyle that enhances your entire being, from your physical health to your creative spirit. Start incorporating these recipes into your routine and feel the difference in your body, mind, and creative output.

The Transformative Power of Yoga: Uniting Body and Mind

If anyone reading this has known me for any amount of time, then this will seem a bit out of left field. I used to kind of scoff at the idea of yoga and thought it was something I would never do in a million years.

But given the improvement I saw in my health through eating whole foods, I decided to approach fitness with an open mind. Due to a decade old knee injury, jogging has been out of the question for some time, and after playing hockey for many years and living in the weight room, I am just kind of over those types of workouts. I needed something new. Something that felt like it might change my body in a way I had never tried before. My wife suggested yoga. I mean, why not give it a shot?

Physical Benefits: Strength, Flexibility, and Vitality

For those of you who don't know much about yoga, it is a comprehensive fitness regimen that combines strength-building poses with deep stretches and breath control to enhance physical health. Each posture is designed to work specific muscles, tendons, and joints, which promotes better overall flexibility and reduces the risk of injuries—crucial for someone like me, who spends long hours on set, often in physically demanding positions.

Moreover, yoga poses, or asanas, improve muscular strength. Poses like Plank, Warrior, and Chair pose are not only about balance and endurance but also about building muscle tone. This increased strength has made handling heavy camera equipment much easier, and the physical demands of directing and filming feel less taxing. Additionally, yoga enhances stamina, which is vital for busy creatives.

Mental Benefits: Clarity, Creativity, and Calm

Perhaps the biggest surprise for me was that yoga offers profound mental benefits. The practice is deeply rooted in principles of mindfulness and presence, which help in managing stress and anxiety—common companions in high-stress creative environments. Through daily practice, I’ve noticed a significant improvement in my ability to stay calm and composed, even when faced with tight deadlines or production challenges. I don't know why exactly it works, but it does.

The breathing techniques (pranayama) integral to yoga practice enhance lung capacity and bring more oxygen to the brain, leading to greater mental clarity. This boost in brain function is invaluable when I need to solve complex problems on set or when scripting detailed scenes. My decisions are quicker and more intuitive, my mind sharper, and my scripts more coherent.

Emotional Benefits: Joy and Equilibrium

Yoga’s benefits also extend to emotional health. The meditative aspects of yoga encourage a deep connection with the inner self, fostering a sense of peace and contentment. This emotional stability is crucial when leading a team, as it influences the overall mood and productivity of the group. A calm and happy director inspires confidence and fosters a positive working environment, which is essential for creative collaboration.

Moreover, the practice of yoga encourages a mindset of non-attachment and acceptance, helping to manage the inevitable frustrations and disappointments in creative work. This perspective makes it easier to view setbacks as opportunities for growth rather than failures, a mindset that enhances resilience and adaptability.

Integrating Yoga into a Creative Lifestyle

Incorporating yoga into my daily routine has been a game-changer. Even a short session in the morning can invigorate my body and clear my mind, setting a positive tone for the day. It has become a sacred time for self-reflection, allowing me to align my personal and professional goals each day.

The beauty of yoga lies in its versatility and accessibility. Whether it’s a vigorous vinyasa flow to energize and challenge the body or a gentle yin practice for deep relaxation, yoga offers something for every need and mood. This adaptability makes it an ideal practice for creative professionals, whose daily demands can vary dramatically. I love that I can choose a routine that targets specific part of my body. Once day I can do exercies related to hips and the next I can do shoulders and neck - a great way to alleviate the stress caused by sitting in front of a computer for hours.

The surprisingly holistic practice of yoga nurtures the body, sharpens the mind, and soothes the soul. For creatives looking to elevate their physical health and artistic vision, yoga offers the perfect blend of discipline and liberation, grounding and inspiration. Embracing yoga is not just about enhancing personal well-being; it's about unlocking the full potential of one's creative expression.

Earthing/Grounding: A Controversial Yet Transformative Practice

The final stage in my transformative journey involves something known as Grounding, also known as Earthing - a practice that has sparked considerable debate in the health and wellness community.

Despite its contentious status, my personal journey with grounding has led to significant health benefits, particularly in reducing chronic inflammation and alleviating a long-standing knee pain that plagued me for over a decade. In this section, I'll delve into how grounding is supposed to work, why it remains controversial, and the myriad ways it has reportedly helped individuals enhance their overall well-being.

Understanding Grounding: The Science Behind the Concept

Grounding involves direct skin contact with the earth's surface, typically by walking barefoot on grass, sand, or soil, or alternatively, using conductive devices that simulate this effect indoors. The theory posits that the earth maintains a negative electrical potential on its surface. When you touch the ground, the earth's electrons are transferred to your body, where they can neutralize positively charged free radicals, believed to be responsible for inflammation in the body.

The controversy surrounding grounding stems from a lack of extensive, conclusive scientific studies. Critics argue that the evidence supporting grounding is largely anecdotal or comes from small-scale studies. However, proponents highlight the historical roots of the practice and the promising results from existing research, pointing to grounding's potential benefits, which include inflammation reduction, improved sleep, and enhanced recovery from physical exertion.

Personal Benefits: From Skepticism to Belief

As someone who has experienced persistent knee pain and inflammation due to long hours standing and carrying equipment, I approached grounding with skepticism. However, after integrating it into my daily routine—simply by placing a grounding mat under my desk while I edit—I noticed a profound change. My knee pain, a constant companion for the past ten years, has significantly diminished, and the general inflammation I felt daily has notably decreased. As crazy as it sounds, simply connecting with the Earth seems to have healed me. Perhaps our bodies were designed to be in touch with the Earth? I mean if you really sit there and consider it, doesn't it seem natural?

Reported Advantages: Beyond Pain Relief

Grounding's appeal extends beyond pain relief. Many individuals who practice grounding regularly report a range of health benefits, including:

  • Weight Loss: Some grounding enthusiasts claim that regular earthing has helped them manage their weight more effectively. The theory suggests that the reduction of inflammation can improve the body's metabolic processes and aid in weight control.

  • Enhanced Healing: The anti-inflammatory effects are also believed to speed up the body's natural healing processes, helping to recover from injuries and physical exertion more quickly.

  • Hormonal Balance: There are reports that grounding can help stabilize the body's endocrine system, which controls hormone distribution. Balanced hormones contribute to better overall health, mood stability, and improved sexual function.

  • Increased Sex Drive: With hormone levels balanced and a reduction in bodily stress, an increase in libido is another benefit often cited by grounding practitioners.

Why Give Grounding a Chance?

Despite the skepticism, grounding offers a low-risk and potentially high-reward health strategy. It is a simple, natural, and cost-effective practice that aligns well with holistic approaches to health and wellness. For creatives and others involved in physically and mentally demanding professions, grounding can serve as a valuable tool to enhance physical health and emotional well-being.

As with any alternative health practice, it's essential to approach grounding with an open mind but also a critical eye. Personal experiences and reported benefits, although subjective, highlight the potential of grounding to serve as a complement to conventional medical treatments, especially for those struggling with chronic inflammatory conditions, hormonal imbalances, and stress-related issues.

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