What if everything you believe about health is upside down or just plain wrong?
What if there’s an unbreakable set of rules that govern your health?
Could that explain why you’re sick even though you eat well and exercise? Or why you can’t lose that extra weight, or reverse diabetes, or get your blood pressure and cholesterol under control?
Read the key points and article below for the 7 Step Sequence for Better Health!
- I created this Health Pyramid in order to share the methods I used to heal myself from 28 symptoms.
- Having “faced off” and won against both cancer and an autoimmune disease, I propose a New Health Pyramid. It’s based on not only my own experience but also thousands of hours of interviewing some of the best doctors, healers, and functional medicine practitioners in the world.
- My Health Pyramid has 7 steps, of which 3 form the foundation without which the top 4 topple
- Food is the last step on my pyramid; getting to Calm is the first step.
- Why do some people escape disease but others catch everything? It is because the base of their pyramid is strong.
- Our body has two goals: to keep us alive and to procreate. Sickness only comes when the body starts losing the battle to stay alive.
- What battle? Our body is battling stress, chemicals, lack of nutrients. sleep deprivation and more every minute of every day.
- On a daily basis we are either in “sick zone” or “heal zone”. When “sick zone” exceeds “heal zone”, we get sick and then diseased.
After all, despite the billions spent on disease management and specialty diets, we are still a nation of sick, fat, unhappy citizens.
I am here to tell you: it is not your fault. It’s not. You are an intelligent, committed person actively seeking health and fitness. And yet, everything you do seems to fail. You try again and again, in a new way – a “better” way – hoping that, his time, it works. You start that hot new diet “guaranteed” to work. And it does work, temporarily. Then it fails. You get more and more frustrated until, at some point, you binge on everything. You feel sick and guilty. And then the cycle starts again.
Sounds familiar? That was me, too.
It is true that, to thrive, your body needs the fuel of healthy food. However, if you are already sick or symptomatic, fixing your diet is not the first step on your path to healing. It is the last step. No matter how much broccoli or bone broth you eat, you cannot heal if the other critical elements of health are not in place.
My “wow” moment hit when I realized that good health is a pyramid, with a strong foundation to support the peak. A wobbly foundation causes the pyramid to crumble, leaving us with symptoms and sickness.
This is why our diets fail. The food we eat is but the capstone of a large, complex structure that, if left unattended, will crumble beneath a diet and cause it to fail. The key, then, is to establish and strengthen the foundation before building upon it, layer by layer. Diet is, in fact, the last element in the process of health.
What I have learned through healing myself and from interviewing top doctors is that there is a formula for healing. You can’t randomly address one factor – like diet or exercise – and wonder why you fail to heal your disease or to lose weight. There is a reason why a vegetarian can contract heart disease while a smoker with terrible habits can live to 90 years old. We once thought it was their genetic luck, but we now know that genetics influences only about 10% of our health. The rest is in our control.
I had thought I would reverse my 28 symptoms one by one. First the hives, then the angry outbursts, then the hair loss, then the bladder urgency… but that’s just not how the body works. My journey to health has taught me that the body heals in waves, not symptom by symptom. What is fascinating is that our body can heal lightening fast once it is in what I call the “Heal Zone.” And thus our mission is simple: get in the Heal Zone – and stay there!
The Heal Zone requires three core elements which compose the foundation of our pyramid: Calm, Sleep, and Nutrients. These are the components of the pyramid which support the structure of your good health. So – if you can keep calm during the day, sleep well at night, and give your body the nutrients it needs, diet and exercise will naturally fall into place. You won’t have to battle cravings or stuff yourself with leftover pizza at midnight. You will have the energy to walk your 10,000 steps every day. You will feel satisfied by a healthy diet, without binging or craving. You will feel energized, motivated, and happy.
Your body is a miraculous, self-healing machine. If you follow the right formula, it can be rebuilt, and you can be reborn healthier, younger and more resilient.
You can choose to be reborn healthier.
You can choose to be reborn younger.
You can choose to take back your life.
All you have to do is follow the right formula. That formula is my new Health Pyramid.
There has never been a more urgent time for humanity to put our health first. Despite the $2.3 trillion in annual health spending, over 50% of US adults have a chronic illness. Over 50 million people suffer from an autoimmune disease, and it is forecasted that 1 in 2 newborns will be autistic by 2025. This means that, potentially, half of your grandkids could be autistic. You are either, dear reader, sick, about to be sick, or the caretaker for a sick loved one.
My Health Pyramid has answers.
Some Myths & Mistruths
- The understanding that our good health is primarily a function of our good diet is just plain wrong.
- The belief that an extreme solution to our symptoms is the only option (such as steroids for knee pain) is a myth.
- The trust in our doctors as the infallible experts who can unfailingly heal us when we fall sick is misplaced.
- The body is the most sophisticated, complex, interconnected, dynamic living system on Earth, with only one purpose – to keep us alive.
- The symptoms and sickness we experience are merely the “red light” on your dashboard – blaring loudly to tell us that something is wrong, and we need to pull over.
Pull over now. Read this article and do a quick check of your “engine”.
My 28 Symptoms
If you read health books or listen to health podcasts, I know how you feel.
Overwhelmed. Confused. Should you eat vegan or meat only? Is eating eggs ok now? I thought coconut oil was saturated and terrible – but now, I should put it in my coffee?
When I had my second health crisis in September 2016, I acquired 28 symptoms that conventional doctors just couldn’t figure out. I had been tested for EVERYTHING. My doctors said I was the “healthiest sick person” they knew. Yes, I was severely underweight at 95 pounds. Yes, I had unexplained hives, rashes, and black lines tormenting my skin. Yes, my eyesight had rapidly deteriorated. But, they said, those symptoms could be psychosomatic. My tests were clear. One doctor prescribed anti-depressants. Another suggested steroids. The day a doctor told me I might only have 5 to 10 years, living with these 28 symptoms, I broke. His exact words were, “Look, this is your new reality. You’re getting older. Get used to it.”
So, of course, I decided to ignore all of them and fix myself. I embarked on a journey to get my health (and my life) back. The first step in my mind was figuring out why my body was so angry at me.
That’s how I saw it. My body was literally freaking out, screaming and throwing tantrums at will, like a small child in crisis.
I could yell back, duct tape it, ignore it – or, I could try to listen and understand the issue. There had to be a trigger.
Because of the way that I got sick, I had always assumed that there was only one trigger. One day I was dancing on the edge of a swimming pool in Cabo; the next I was in an ER with my eyes swollen and face puffed up. That was the first symptom. Within a month, there were 27 more.
So I decided to get an unofficial degree in healing. But then, as I dove into research, forums, books, and interviews, I ended up with severe migraines every night. There were way too many very sick people who weren’t getting better – and every new article from a renowned expert contradicted the last one I had read. One night, looking at all my notes on the computer, it hit me that this process was becoming counterproductive. I needed an answer to my health crisis, not a mess of conflicting sensationalized information to constantly sort through.
In times of crisis, we all fall back on what we know best.
In my case, that was chocolate and startup principles. So I dove headfirst into gooey deliciousness while trying to apply the golden rules that had granted me success in my career:
- Don’t believe, hypothesize.
- Know your starting point.
- Experiment a lot; test and track; then analyze.
- Small changes often make a big impact – so try everything in small doses.
- There’s a tipping point to everything; find the tipping point to my health, and then move on.
That was it. Those were the five things I was going to do until I reversed all my symptoms and got back my health. I was going to do this forever if that’s how long it took. I refused to consider the options of steroids or antidepressants or living with my symptoms for the rest of my life.
Fifteen months later, I got back my health.
My rebirth came with profound personal insights, and the shocking revelation that everything we believe about our health and the reasons why we get sick is just plain FALSE.
Having been urged by so many to share my experience, I decided to write this article to summarize what I now know and believe.
Why We Get Sick
There is no single trigger to a full body meltdown. Our body is a beautiful, strong, complex machine designed to keep us alive and to procreate. It’s not about to fall apart from some pollen, or milk, or gluten. Despite all the crap we throw at it, for years, it fights back valiantly until, one day, it fights back a little less vigorously. Then, another day, our body can’t rebuild the gut lining as well. It starts to slowly lose the fight. That’s when symptoms start – aches, nasal drips, migraines, gas and bloating, fatigue, or mood swings. And then finally, one day, with a heavy heart, it’s forced to accept defeat. You are granted a diagnosis of diabetes, or cancer, or heart disease, lupus, thyroiditis… And those are the lucky ones. Some simply die of a sudden heart attack.
Just as we humans have different capacity to fight, so do our bodies. A skinny Indian like me will lose pretty badly fighting a trained boxer. Similarly, we are all born with a different innate capacity to fight off sickness and stay healthy. Some never get cancer no matter how much they smoke. Others, like me, get cancer despite being a healthy vegetarian for most of my life. Cancer can take six to ten years to develop. Heart disease and diabetes take decades too. No one falls ill overnight. We all pay the price for neglecting our bodies early in our adult lives.
So, if you or a loved one you know is sick, here’s why: their body is overwhelmed with triggers, and no longer has the strength to fight back.
How To Heal
The greatest insight from my own healing experience is this: everyone can heal.
You can reverse all of your miserable symptoms and rediscover a youthful life full of vigor, zest, and excitement. It doesn’t even take that long. The sooner you react, the faster you get back to the baseline of health – which is where your body thrives.
The Health Pyramid is my way of sharing what I believe are the true priorities for reclaiming your health. Our culture’s focus on diet as the tool to achieve good health may have been true decades ago when everyone went to bed around 10 pm and the word “stress” was reserved for military personnel in times of war. Today, the food we eat is the last step in achieving true health. Let’s dive into the pyramid so I can share what I believe should be on your priority list.
Step #1: CALM
If there is one thing – and only one thing – you are going to do to get back your health, do this: get CALM.
You know how we all know that 90-year-old who smokes like a chimney and is strong as a horse? And we all point to that person as the reason for living a healthy life makes no difference? Well, chances are, they’ve never been super stressed or had to rush around in their life – and that’s the secret.
After hundreds of hours of research, it became frighteningly obvious to me that if my body is constantly in “flight or fight” mode, it won’t be able to do anything else. It won’t properly digest, or sleep, or rebuild or procreate or anything else. It will simply try to focus on staying alive from the imaginary tiger that is chasing it. That was helpful for our ancestors when they were literally being chased by a tiger. In the modern world, it’s killing us.
Each and every one of us is fighting these imaginary tigers all day long as we sit in traffic, argue with our spouse, pay the bills, watch the news, or read social media posts. Don’t believe me? Hook up a heart rate monitor and track it all day. You might be blown away – and then become conscious and aware of your state of being.
I call it your “state of being” – not your “state of mind.” And you can’t acquire it through 15 minutes of meditation or the Headspace app.
It’s how you feel about the world, no matter what is going on around you. It’s how each cell in your body is feeling at any given moment in the day. It’s how the trillions of bacteria in your gut are functioning as you live your life. That sick-to-your-stomach feeling you get when you’re stressed? That’s real. It’s tangible. It’s changing your body chemistry. It decides whether you are in a “health creating” mode or a “sickness creating” mode.
So the priority, the only thing you must do, immediately, starting right now (have I convinced you yet?) is to be mindful of how you are feeling and cognitively bring yourself into a place of CALM whenever you drift away from it.
To get there, you have to believe that you are loved and safe. That the world around you is kind and caring. If you believe in a God, then you have to believe that God is your personal protector. “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” needs to be playing in the back of your mind, day and night, no matter what is happening to your at the moment. And since most of us live in the exact opposite headspace, we have to change our core belief system in order to begin healing.
This was the first thing I did. And it was the toughest thing I did.
When you have hives and rashes and rapid weight loss and everyone stares at you like you’re dying, it’s very, very, very hard to stay CALM. But the facts were there – my body would not lift a finger to fix me if I didn’t get into the right state being. The only way forward was meditation.
Armed with this realization, I tried a plethora of meditations – from renowned gurus, from apps, from books and websites and magazines. Nothing seemed to calm my monkey mind. It was not until I got to the root of the issue – until I changed my beliefs and disassociated from my body – that I could get to a place of CALM. After all, I was a miserable mess of 28 symptoms, how could I be calm in such carnage?
The meditation that finally worked was Sadhguru’s “I am not the mind – I am not even the body.” I repeated this simple chant, over and over, for 30 minutes twice a day. Within a week, I was believing it. Another week and I had achieved a state of acceptance and relative CALM for most of the day. That was the foundation for my healing.
There was one more thing. It’s funny how we can go about our lives with one belief system, and then someone says something innocuous that tilts our world in a whole new direction effortlessly. For me, that was a moment in an episode of “Blacklist”. In the midst of a tragic climax, one character says something to the effect of, “God loves us, and only gives us that which we can handle.” I’m sure I had heard it before without effect. But this time, something clicked. My mind decided to believe it without question. A sense of stillness, like a deep inner sigh, spread throughout my body.
“I can handle this. It’s just a passing experience.”
Today, I continue to carry that calm stillness. Gone are the emotionally frantic reactions to life’s daily dramas. Here’s how I do it.
Tool #1: Journaling Daily
Initially, I started tracking what I was eating, thinking, feeling, adding, removing, and testing on my body, as it was too overwhelming to manage that organization given the constant fog in my brain. But it soon turned into something more powerful than a simple analytical exercise. My journal became my go-to best friend that I shared everything with. In fact, it became so instrumental to my calm that I created a better journal for myself to counter the ugly or boring products I could find. I call it The Health Journal and it’s my primary tool for getting to CALM. I recommend you start and end your day by writing a word of gratitude in your journal. There’s so much scientific evidence supporting the idea that focusing on gratitude rewires our brains away from stress. Gratitude is like a warm blanket on your shivering body.
Tool #2: Breath Work
Your breath is your life’s essence. It is what informs your body about the world around you. Just as you can fool your body into thinking it’s being chased by a tiger in the midst of your rush-hour rage, you can fool your body into thinking it’s lying in a hammock on a balmy beach sipping mojitos. Deep, long belly breaths are scientifically proven to bring down cortisol, blood pressure, and even insulin levels. My breath work is simple: close your eyes and breathe in deeply to the count of 10. Hold your breath for the count of 5. Then very slowly exhale to a count of 15 or 20. Hold your breath for a count of 8 to 10. Repeat. If these counts are too long, start shorter – but always exhale longer than your inhale, and your pauses should be half as long as the inhalation and exhalation on either end. In our Health Bootcamps, we send daily curated meditations and breath work so you have new and exciting ways to get to CALM every day!
Tool #3: Sunshine
There’s something magical about soaking in the sun with your feet on the ground or grass. There are hundreds of chemical reactions that take place when we are in the sun, and each and every one of them reassures your body that you are safe. There is more correlation between lack of sun exposure and cancer, depression, and autoimmune disease than anything else. Sunshine is available for free at nature’s pharmacy. It is waiting for you to come in and pick up your medicine. Do it daily. Combine it with your lunch or morning smoothie while you journal about gratitude.
Tool #4: Self-Massage
Massage is an ancient healing tool whose power has been unacknowledged by modern medicine. We massage newborns to help them thrive. In Asian cultures, massage is commonplace and frequently utilized. In India, massage is called Abhyanga. It is a complex art with detailed guidelines, including which oil a practitioner should use to calm a patient’s imbalanced Dosha. Anxiety, agitation, and insomnia should be treated with sesame oil; irritation, anger, and rashes should favor coconut oil. The best part about this is that it takes less than 10 minutes with a dry brush to create a calming effect that lasts for hours! Daily self-massage will yield powerful results.
Tool #5: Nature Walks
There are thousands of studies demonstrating that a simple walk in a natural setting can bring down cortisol levels. Even a slow 30-minute walk in the sun can put you in the magical heal zone more effectively than most supplements. No cell phones allowed!
Don’t knock it till you try it! Give the above tools a try for a week – and let me know if they worked for you! I was able to use these tools whenever I went to the hospital for some test and was feeling jittery about the results (my teeth would literally start to chatter from nervousness). I would head outside to the sun and massage my arms as I did my deep belly breathing. Within ten minutes, I would be back to feeling warm, safe and – most importantly – CALM.
To attain calm, I also utilize the following strategies:
- Meditation (if you join one of our courses here on HealthBootcamps.com, you can receive a daily curated meditation to help you get to CALM!)
- Warm herbal tea, of any variety, with a touch of honey
- Per Ayurvedic teachings, eliminating “heating and agitating” foods from your diet such as garlic, onion, or alcohol
- At all times, keep at least three pictures on my phone that make you smile. Break them out in an emergency!
And yet – getting to CALM is just Phase 1 of the foundation of the Health Pyramid. Phase 2 of CALM is control – or activating your mind to heal you.
The mind is the most powerful healer. It can cure anything. I have the proof, from my own experience and from studies on the placebo effect. You just have to believe in the ability of the mind to heal. Envision the healing, and feel it for real – even if that’s not your reality today. Even if you have late-stage cancer or give yourself insulin shots or are told you need stents.
I will be sharing all the science and research behind this phase of CALM in my upcoming book, HEALTHIER. If you would like to get free chapters, or to be part of my Friends Club and get a free digital copy when its released, please message me!
Phase 2 of CALM is really all about controlling your thoughts. Your thoughts have an instantaneous impact on each cell in your body. Don’t believe me? Think of chewing on a raw yellow lemon. Imagine its sour juices all over your tongue… the tang on your teeth… do you feel saliva pooling in your mouth? That’s the power of a simple thought to create an instant reaction in your body.
There is science behind the idea that our brain has a pharmacy just waiting to create the right medicine” The documentary, “What The Bleep Do We Know!?” covers this in great detail, along with all critical insights into healing through thoughts – quantum physics style.
As you strive for control over your mind, your mission is to train your brain to edit your thoughts. Decide which thoughts to think, and which to abandon. Then, focus your thoughts on health and healing. Believe that health is your birthright. This practice was a game changer in the early days of my healing as learned to stop reacting to my symptoms. Instead, I chose to believe that all of them – all 28 – were simply gone.
Yes, some days I did feel delusional and maybe a little crazy as I sat around repeating, “I am the healthiest person on this planet.” But I truly believe in the idea that “nerves that fire together, wire together”. The only way to build that reality is to fake it ‘til you make it.
Without the foundation of CALM in place, the rest of the healing pyramid crumbles. Commit yourself to CALM. Believe you are getting healthy. Most importantly, love yourself and make yourself a priority. Nothing else you do will work if you are convinced that you are not going to get better if you don’t love yourself, if you don’t make YOU a priority.
Some of us believe that we are supposed to be sick. Something in our lives has poisoned us with the belief that we need to be sick or should be sick, and then we subconsciously want to be sick. Not convinced? Remember that scary final project that literally made you throw up in middle school? Or that horrible headache that accompanied studying for an exam? Children often experience physical symptoms of mental fears – and so do adults. Do you have a job you hate, or a boss you want gone? Your symptoms could be your body’s way of dealing with repressed anger, anxiety, helplessness, or fear. As part of the CALM foundation, it is vital to address your “state of being”. You must commit to your health.
Step #2: SLEEP
Every minute of every day, our body is constantly breaking down and rebuilding itself. On this one fact, there is complete agreement across all types of medical scientists and practitioners. It is believed that there is complete cellular turnover every seven years, which means that every seven years you are literally a whole new person! A significant portion of cellular rebuilding occurs while we sleep. It is vital, then, that we grant the body the necessary rest it needs.
At some point in my life, I decided – unconsciously – that sleep was a waste of my time. Perhaps it was during my college days while I was pushing to achieve my summa cum laude. Or during my Oracle years when I stayed up all night fixing demo code so that I could win the consultant award. Or when I was dating in grad school and “he” was more fun than sleep. Regardless of why, the outcome was the same: I acquired a sleep deficit to rival our national debt by the time I was forty. What does that do to a body living on all sugar and no sun? It creates an autoimmune disease.
The fundamental truth about our health is this: whatever crap we throw at our body, mind, and soul during the day must be processed out at night. If we don’t completely clean out and rebuild our bodies while we sleep, we pay the price the next day. It is as if the body is a backed-up toilet. While it’s not a pretty image, it’s a pretty accurate analogy. Imagine the toilet backs up a little each day. A year later, the obvious happens – everything smelly will overflow all over your beautiful tiled bathroom.
That is what we call symptoms.
To fix your backed-up toilet, you can close the bathroom door, ignore it and keep using the toilet anyway, spray air fresheners, or call a plumber. When our body backs up and we start to overflow we take painkillers, steroids, breath mints, or call a doctor.
I am convinced from reading scientific studies as well as from my own experience that sleep is one of the foundational elements of good health. If sleep is erratic, minimal, or interrupted, then the body starts to break down. We see the results as cravings, brain fog, lack of will to exercise, depression, anxiety, and, finally, the emergence of disease.
So why is sleep not strongly emphasized by medical doctors if it’s that important?
Because in order to become a doctor, the first thing medical students sacrifice is sleep. Every doctor has a horror story from their residency about using stimulants or staying awake for three days straight. Ask your doctor about it the next time you go in. You’ll hear some fascinating tales of survival and endurance.
So, I ask you this: if were are being reborn every minute of every day, shouldn’t we try to maximize each moment of rebirth? How does our body die and then regenerate? How can we regenerate something better? That became my obsession in February 2016. With my 28 symptoms, I felt that my body was dying. I couldn’t understand why the conventional doctors had given up.
What I learned changed the fundamental structure of my day.
Sleep is the state of being in which our body fights invaders and rebuilds itself. Compromise sleep, and you are neither fighting off nor rebuilding. You’re just dying. It was such a basic, common-sense idea – and yet no one had said to me, in my entire six months of doctor’s appointments, “You should sleep more. You should sleep better.”
I decided to apply Ayurvedic techniques to create a new routine of sleep hygiene. Every day, I would be in bed by 9:30pm and fast asleep by 10pm. That meant I ate lunch at 1pm, and dinner by 6pm, in order to give my digestive system the recommended four-hour break between meals. That meant that, for six months, I took a hot Epsom or dead sea salt bath each night after a 10-minute self-massage. That meant no screens after 8pm, and lights out at 9:30pm (even for my husband!). Having lived most of my life going to sleep at 2am, my body was thoroughly confused when the lights went out at 9:30pm. I had to cajole and caress it to sleep during what it considered to be the the middle of the day. But it worked.
Here’s the point: when you prioritize sleep, you actually end up restructuring your entire day around your health. But better sleep doesn’t just happen. You have to design it, commit to it, and live it. The results are transformational. What else can you call a life without sickness and disease?
There are thousands of studies linking lack of sleep to chronic illness. However the studies aren’t your answer – you need a plan to follow so that you can reverse your symptoms, lose the weight, and get back to living a full life of health and joy. So here are my top tips for getting into what I call the Sleep Zone:
Tip #1: Don’t touch sugar or caffeine (that includes chocolate and green tea) after 2pm.
Tip #2: Get at least 30 to 45 minutes of sun on the majority of your body during the day.
Tip #3: Turn off all screens – your cell phone, TV, social media, laptops and everything else digital – by 8:30pm.
Tip #4: Do a short self massage and take a hot bath or shower before bed.
Tip #5: Take magnesium supplement in some form (a cream, a capsule, a tincture… whatever works for you) at 9pm to bring your body into a calm, restful state of being.
Tip #5: Write a word of gratitude in your The Health Journal and do some breath work or listen to a guided meditation for sleep starting at 9pm.
Follow this list in full for the first 90 days, and after that, tailor the plan to your body. Focus on the one or two activities that help guide your body into the Sleep Zone. If you have trouble sleeping, don’t get discouraged and pull out your cell phone. Hang in there. Fantasize about a a calm and happy moment, like a peaceful nap in a hammock on a beach. Stop thinking of tomorrow and all the tasks and drama ahead. Visualize only loving and joyful. Over time, you’ll wake up looking and feeling younger – without even the blaring of an alarm.
Step #3: NUTRIENTS
Step #4: JOY
Step #5: MOVE
TOMORROW: tune back to this article to read up on Step #6: DETOX.
No one should suffer from preventable and treatable diseases. No one should live a half life due to their diabetes or heart disease. There are answers. Each day I will share one of the rungs of my Health Pyramid. Please share it with your loved ones and on social media. Let’s get healthier together!
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