Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Optimum Health Institute

Time out. I had a break from my job but I wanted to find a way to have a much longer break, an early retirement. We were thinking about making this life changing move but first we had to clean out the clutter that was holding us back. Like many homeowners our clutter seemed to be concentrated in the garage. Great, our plan was to remodel the garage so we could either rent it out or move into it ourselves and rent out the house. Of course what was taking up all the space in the garage was just the physical clutter, there was also the mental clutter that was not visible but real nonetheless. It seemed like an insurmountable task but we had an ace in the hole, a trump card, an upper hand--we had just taken our health to a new high, an optimum high, we had just returned from a week at the Optimum Health Institute (O.H.I.).

We visited the institute a few years ago and had friends that have gone there. My wife, Rosie, went there for a week with a friend while I was on an extended job and she had a wonderful experience. Many of the visitors go there when an illness, or excuse me, a health opportunity, has eluded traditional medicine. Still others go as a cleansing ritual. My reasoning was that if we could learn a few new things about ourselves and push the limits of what we would do to optimize our health, it would be worth the $1,000 apiece for the week. Of course coming back with the energy to clear out the garage would be ideal.

Optimum Health Institute is healing ministry of the Free Sacred Trinity Church. I'm not much into faith based organizations but people that have gone through the program there assured me that it wasn't a "religious experience" at all. In fact on several occasions the instructors/missionaries emphasized that you go with whatever you're comfortable with be it a belief in God, karma, Chakras but just come to class with an open mind.

About half of the classes and activities are mental, somewhat new age, meditation, self-reflecting and even group psychotherapy. The other half is very much physical. There are exercise classes every morning and afternoon. In addition, there's a popular daily yoga/stretching class. 

However, what seems to be the main focus of O.H.I. is wheat grass.

So what do you do with wheat grass? To start with, you juice it and I mean you juice it, nobody does it for you. Once it is juiced it is only good for a few minutes, maybe an hour at the most.
O.H.I. is one of the largest consumers of wheat grass in the nation. They have to grow it from seeds and harvest it just before juicing. In addition, since the highest quality juice comes from young grass cut only once. Their crop never matures enough to seed.
So how did it taste? Well, like grass. If you swallow it quickly it burns your throat, much like a shot of tequila. I found the best way to drink it was to swish it around my mouth with saliva to take the "edge" off and after a while it actually tasted slightly sweet. Some people never got the hang of it. Rosie could take it at first but as the "detox" started taking affect she couldn't stand the smell of wheat grass and I had to do the juicing for her.
Besides drinking the juice the staff suggested putting the wet pulp on the skin in areas that need healing. I saw people taping wheat grass pulp on dried, cracked skin and heard stories of how a "pulps bra" cured some womens' breast cancer.
Drinking and wearing wheat grass was only a part of the wheat grass regimen it goes deeper, much deeper. Don't forget your E's and I's is a mantra at O.H.I. which stands for enemas and implants. Enemas clean out the toxins in the colon and what they mean by an implant is once your colon is flushed out with water, pour in about four ounces of wheat grass juice into the enema bucket and, yep, suck it in. If you thought holding down a few ounces of wheat grass by mouth is a challenge, wait until you try it in the other end. They suggest holding it for about 15 minutes, good luck. Of course an amateur E and I isn't nearly as effective as a professional one and there are several well equipped colon hydro therapists on the O.H.I. grounds. Of course each session will set you back a few bucks. When we were there the going rate was about $80.
Another focus of the program is "live foods" meaning raw, uncooked, unprocessed and preferably, organic. It can be as simple as either a slice of watermelon or some oranges for breakfast but notice the either/or and not both at the same time. According to the O.H.I. diet, melons should be eaten alone, acid fruits and vegetables shouldn't be combined with alkali veggies and--well, there's a whole class with handouts and charts that cover the proper way to combine food for optimum digestion.
That's not to say that the food is boring, in fact it is very tasty. However, since many people are there with a rather weighty "health opportunity" the servings are somewhat on the small side. Well, there's the three days of juice fasting in the first week of instruction and once that's over, the food not only taste great but the portions are filling.
What about that cracker in my lunch? It is actually sprouted unlevated whole grain bread prepared in a dehydrater that never goes above the magical 150 degrees farenheit which kills the active enzymes and thus turning "live" food into a "dead" meal.
How do you know you're getting the highest quality food? Grow it yourself. On the O.H.I. grounds there's an organic garden where they harvest fresh veggies, salad greens and herbs. They don't have enough space to be self-sufficient, but it does serve as a laboratory for teaching small scale organic farming.
There's Rosie, short red hair, in compost class.
There's also some surprises at O.H.I. like George's Nature Walk. George is one of the missionaries there who likes to forage for food. The walk is done entirely on the grounds and he points out what at first looks like weeds growing in the flower beds and around the organic garden. In fact, many wild native plants are not only edible, they are tasty and nutritious.
What if you don't have the time or space for a garden? Then sprouting class is for you. All you need is a tray of dirt, some seeds and water and in just a couple of weeks:
Home grown sprouts.
Alright, I know that I've mostly dealt with the diet portion of the O.H.I. experience and that's only half of the program. There's the affirmations, sharing, harmonizing with various chakras colors and tones and well, there's plenty of left and right brained activities to get wrapped up in. I had my share of doubts at the start but by the end of the week we both felt great, both physically and mentally. 
The middle of the week was another story. For three days all we consumed was water, wheat grass juice, watermelon juice and green juices. Oh yeah, and a concoction called rejuvelac made from soaking rye or wheat berries in water until it ferments. With all the cleansing going on rejuvelac acts as a probiotic, building up some beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Some people couldn't make it through the juice fast. Some crashed. Then again there were the ones who drove into town for some tacos--like Rosie and a friend she made on this visit.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Something to blog about

I'm back working full-time at DreamWorks Animation and my free time has been reduced to next to nothing. However, a timely item came up and I wanted to blog it.

There was a "health fair" at work last week. One of the most popular tables at the fair was the cholesterol checking station and I waited in line nearly half an hour before getting my finger pricked and blood checked. Of course it was a just a quickie test that didn't measure HDL and LDL but what was very satisfying was that the result came back as "Lo" which the nurse interpreted as under 150 total cholesterol.

Wow, and I did it without drugs. Just for comparison:
                   January   June   August   October
Total Cholesterol 289 215 183 >150