The Balanced Singer – Inside and Out
by Tracy Kaufman
Stress, emotional upset, respiratory infections, lethargy, colds, allergies, the “little black dress”…halitosis! It’s a wonder we can stay focused and sing with so many other worries taking up valuable mental space. Let’s face it. We singers have concerns and pressure on us to be physically well, mentally alert, and emotionally stable. Our bodies are our instruments and our livelihoods. Of course, we should do all we can to maintain balance and wellness; certainly more than people in most other lines of work. We, like many, are susceptible to advertising and fall prey to quick fixes. Yet, they just might be the cause of our health challenges in the first place.
From Dis-ease to Triumph
I suffered through an eating disorder and massive depression, not to mention nearly lifelong seasonal allergies and serious, chronic respiratory infections, plus a myriad of other symptoms. This, more often than I’d care to admit, would land me in a puddle of misery unable to pick myself up off the floor. I won’t bore you with an itemized list, but it goes without saying that health challenges and singing do not a happy couple make. It is difficult enough to deal with serious health challenges without also experiencing the guilt one feels when it simply isn’t possible to show up for a lesson, practice, or study. Willing myself to “Be responsible”, “Be productive”, and “Be happy” only sent me further into the abyss.
At this time, I am happy to report that I am safely, joyfully, and thankfully on the other side of this dark night of the soul. Though, I continue to hear of and come across singers who are still battling similar demons. I can almost bet that we all know at least one person who has or has had issues with food or chemical depression. Sadly, these afflictions are all too common today, especially among such passionate and sensitive souls as we singers.
I share my personal experience with the hopes of sparing or shortening the suffering of even one other person. By all means, do not hesitate to seek assistance from professionals, but it is essential to realize that what we put in, on, and around our bodies on a daily basis has a direct and lasting impact on our well-being. Chronic sickness and pain do not have to be a part of our daily lives. I know now, after lots of frustration and hard work, that medication (or other substitutive type remedies) and sheer will-power are not the answers. I am thankful everyday that the debilitating illnesses and symptoms from which I suffered are now a thing of the past. There are so many drugs on the market that are insufficiently tested or, worse yet, known to be seriously damaging with long-term side effects. Of course, there is a time and a place for crisis management. However, from my
experience, proper nutrition has proven to be the longest lasting solution.
I love this quote by Kobi Yamada, and I keep it on my refrigerator: “If you don’t take care of your body, where will you live?”
Or better yet – how will you sing??
The most valuable thing in life is our health. If we don’t feel good, it doesn’t matter what we have otherwise, we can’t enjoy it to its fullest potential. And we certainly won’t be able to share the beautiful music that is inside us.
Today, most of us often spend more time learning how to care for and maintain our cars, computers or electronic equipment than we do our own bodies. After all, they are expensive investments. We pour small fortunes into our voices, and yet we give little thought to the care and maintenance of the body that supports that voice.
Proper fuel (whole food nourishment), sufficient rest, good thoughts and movement are all parts of a balanced equation for wellness. Bernard Jensen, a pioneer in the field of wellness has said, “Good nutrition without everything else is something. But everything else without good nutrition is nothing.” I firmly believe this. No matter what level of wellness you are striving for proper nutrition must be the foundation. And Sunrider® products are the most superior foundation from which to start.
A Little History
About 5,000 years ago, the Chinese began researching and studying food plants and how they affect humans. They developed a Philosophy of Regeneration which states that:
1. When the body is properly nourished, it will come to balance.
2. That nourishment must come from whole food with all the live enzymes in tact.
3. We must take responsibility for our own health.
Sunrider® has taken this ancient knowledge and combined it with western technology. The high concentration, masterful combination, convenient packaging, and the ingenious ability to make sometimes nasty and foul smelling food herbs taste great are what nearly describe these products in a nutshell.
After trying nearly every remedy, method or modality under the sun, my journey back to health finally began with a most fortuitous introduction to Sunrider® products. The nutrition in our food supply today is not what it was even fifty years ago. Supplementing with these densely nutritious foods and learning to avoid negative substances, in food and my environment, helped my body to regenerate and regain a healthy balance.
How can you do it? By incorporating some simple guidelines, we can balance ourselves in relation to everything from air pollution to an argument with our significant other to the stress of an impending major debut. So, what are some rules to remember in order to take greater responsibility for our instrument everyday?
Alkalize, Alkalize, Alkalize!
When it comes to balancing our bodies to function at their best, a mostly alkaline diet is ideal. First, recognize that most fast food and packaged foods are full of ingredients that we would do well to avoid. Plus, cooked and highly processed food is also highly acidic. They cause an immune response in the body – and who wants to busy the immune system with digestion when we need it to do its real job? A diet of mostly fresh foods, or those eaten close to raw, helps to alkalize our bodies. The ratio of 80/20 is probably ideal, but anything more than 50% on the alkaline side is an admirable goal. Meat, dairy, sugar, most nuts, cooked and processed foods, and food additives all come under the acidic category. Seek out more fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, beans, almonds and Brazil nuts, and lightly cooked foods. When we fuel our bodies with nutritiously dense food, that is what we crave.
Sugar and Food Additives: Substances to Stay Away From
When the body is starving for nutrients and the brain and taste buds can only translate the signal into a need for sugary nutrition-less junk, a vicious cycle is born. Degenerative, nutritiously devoid, and even toxic products lead our bodies into a downward spiral of perpetual starvation for dense nutrition and cravings for quick fixes. “Modern science has shown that the obesity epidemic isn’t simply about lack of self-control, but rather a phenomenon driven by biochemical changes that have altered the way your body regulates energy. What has caused these biochemical changes to occur on such a mass scale?” (Joseph Mercola) Lots and lots of hidden sugars in processed or prepackaged foods. In 1700, the average American consumed roughly 4 pounds of sugar per year. By 2009, that amount had risen to half of all Americans consuming nearly 180 pounds per year; that is one half pound per day! (See reference article on sugar http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/04/20/sugar-dangers.aspx) To make matters worse, today we have high fructose corn syrup, an ingredient from which we should run screaming. In order to calm that needy sweet tooth, reach for xylitol or Sunnydew® which create little or no insulin response.
Avoid GMO’s, MSG/excitotoxins (under so many names), trans fat preservatives, and all artificial sweeteners. The words hydrogenated, hydrolyzed, protein isolate, calcium caseinate, autolyzed yeast, TVP, Acesulfame-K, and BHT are just a few red flags on an ingredient list which should always be avoided. Opt for food that is organically raised and grown, especially animals and their milk, eggs, soy, and corn. Replace table salt with Bragg Liquid Aminos or Himalayan salt. Personally preparing meals and snacks to eat at home or on the go will allow you to remain in control of exactly what you are eating. If you must buy packaged foods, choose those with an ingredient list that is short with all words that are easily pronounceable.
There is no need to stress ourselves out over the goodies at an occasional holiday gathering or opening night gala. The worry will cause more lasting damage than the sporadic splurge. What is vitally important, however, are the positive behavioral shifts that occur on a daily basis. It is our daily habits that over time will bring about lasting health and regeneration.
Harmony on the Outside
As I mentioned before, substances we put on and around our bodies also have a lasting impact. So, it would behoove us to make wise choices when it comes to personal care items, products for the home, and even stage make-up. Our insides should be alkaline, but our outsides need to remain slightly acidic. Most products on the market are much too alkaline. Our skin is the largest organ of our body and our first line of defense. Stripping that acid mantle leaves us susceptible to all sorts of unwanted germs. Be aware that ‘antibacterial’ is actually a negative thing: as is chlorine, ammonia, sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, and petroleum by-products like mineral oil. A closer look at the cosmetic industry could truly turn your stomach. I choose to use a line that is completely organic with no rendered animal or other questionable ingredients. Here, again, I trust Kandesn® makeup, Oi Lin® and Sunsmile® personal care, and Sunbright® home products all made by Sunrider.
Share the Wellness
How can we as singers send our music and light into the world if our instruments are not functioning at an optimal level? My passion for health is bigger than Sunrider® products alone, but I know, with every fiber of my being, that I wouldn’t be here today without them. For those of us concerned with chemically free, ecologically sound, sustainable products for our daily needs, they are the right choice. And for those seeking long-term regeneration and balance, they are the best way to go.
Greater harmony and balance in the way we exist on the planet and treat ourselves is attainable and easier than you might think. May you find harmony inside and out, and joyfully share your song with the world in good health!
Tracy Kaufman is an opera singer, actor, and voice teacher residing in Colorado. She has appeared across the US and Canada in opera, concert, and musical theatre performances. For the past 10 years, she has been assisting others to make positive lifestyle improvements, live responsibly, and bring harmony and balance into their lives by making smart choices and incorporating concentrated whole food products. For questions, write to firstname.lastname@example.org