A Natural Life

My armpits smell like Pledge furniture polish.

Not that long ago, I wore a plain, white T-shirt under every other shirt I wore, meaning I was double-layered at all times, even in the summer. I did this because my sweat was causing the armpits of all my shirts to become stiff and, in some cases, brown. I eventually developed the theory that I was sweating the aluminum in the deodorant I was using back out of my body, thus ruining all my shirts. Sure enough, once I switched deodorants I didn’t have the problem anymore and was able to just wear one shirt at a time.

Because I’m something of an extremist, I bypassed all the name brand deodorants and made the switch to the natural stuff. This was sort of like smoking marijuana before moving on to snorting cocaine. Once I started trying to hunt down natural deodorant, I was introduced to all sorts of natural products, from shampoo to soap to shaving cream. I’ve progressed now the level of using tea tree, lemon-scented deodorant, which is why I smell a little like a nice, shiny coffee table right now.

My experience with natural products goes beyond just personal hygiene, however. Since January of last year, I’ve been attempting to steviaflavorsavoid processed sugars as much as possible. That doesn’t mean I never have any, but I sweeten my coffee now with stevia instead of sugar. Stevia, by the way, is a South American herb that has been used as a natural sweetener for centuries. It doesn’t contain any calories, and the body doesn’t digest it in the same way it does sugar. I like it because I don’t notice the massive crashes like the ones I used to have after consuming sugar.

The pathway to stevia for me was a progression, much like the new deodorant was. First, there were the artificial sweeteners, like Equal and Splenda. Once I found out those might give me cancer, I tried to steer clear of them. Then I heard about agave, which labels itself as a natural sweetener. The body apparently doesn’t process it much differently than it does sugar, though, so I kind of soured on that one a bit, leading me into the ranks of stevia users.

As with any line of products, I can’t say every natural product I’ve tried has worked like it was supposed to. I can say, though, that the armpits of my shirts don’t get crusty anymore; I don’t get razor burn every time I shave like I used to; my scalp isn’t as dry anymore; and I have more consistent energy. Because natural products are a little more difficult to produce, I’m noticing a difference in the pocketbook, too, but so far using them hasn’t broken the bank.

Why, then, do I sometimes still feel like I’m getting scammed when I bypass Walmart for the local health food store? Perhaps because the path to healthy living seems to mirror the dilemma of so many other paths in life: No matter how much you feel you’ve progressed or how successful you may feel, there always seems to be some next level to ascend to. Even though I’m a happy stevia user at the moment, I have this nagging feeling that in a couple of months I’ll discover it causes warts or it eats away your liver or that it’s really not a natural sweetener at all but rather some type of mind-wiping chemical employed by the government.

A few years ago, I gave up caffeine cold turkey after I realized it was giving me headaches, causing my heart to flutter, and keeping me up at night. I still liked drinking coffee, though, so I started drinking decaf. I was feeling really good about this decision until a couple of months ago, when someone told me the process used to decaffeinate coffee beans was potentially harmful. My wife read up on decaf coffee and found out about something called the Swiss Water process  method that is supposed to be a better way of doing it, so now that’s mainly what we drink at home.

I remember a time in my life when it seemed coffee would alternately cause and cure cancer, depending on what day of the week it was. One day it was good for you; one day it would put you in an early grave. In my case, one day decaf was good, the next it was bad. The only difference is I haven’t really noticed much of a difference by switching to the Swiss Water process method. In fact, I lost nearly 30 pounds before I ever started doing a lot of this stuff, which leaves me to wonder: Does it actually work?

Well, as I stated earlier, I’ve seen definite positive results in some areas, which is enough to lead me to believe there’s something to all this natural stuff. But, as I also asked, where does it end? I’ve been privy to some dizzying discussions between folks a lot more into this stuff than I am. Conversations about levels and hormones and balances and all sorts of things I didn’t even understand. Thing is, those people get sick just as much as I do. They struggle to keep their weight in check. In short, it appears they’re putting a lot more effort into this than I am and not getting much better results.

Of course, they may laughing when they’re 150 years old and I’ve been dead for a hundred years. At this point, though, I kind of doubt that’s going to happen. So with much trepidation that my entire diet is going to be debunked tomorrow, I’m going to continue to giving this a shot. That’s just life, I guess. You think you’ve made it, and then something comes along to let you know you haven’t. In some cases, though, you progress to a level a little higher than where you were before. And you might even do it … naturally.

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