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How to stay healthy during trial battle?

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Regular Underdog readers know of my strong interest in improving physical, mental, and spiritual health to be a more powerful trial lawyer. That is why I practice t’ai chi daily, to improve physical health, reduce stress, and increase calm. Trial work involves battle and war, and no warrior should go to battle from the couch potato position.

Vigorous exercise also is good for health, and can release amazing endorphins. However, a fifteen-mile run is not advisable for a person who has been mostly sedentary for the last year; one must ease into such activity, which can rip up one’s knees if all the running is on pavement for years on end. Bicycling and swimming are less punishing on the body than running, but lengthy long distance runs have been among my most ultimate thrills, including running eight miles after a snowstorm that included snowplow mounds on which to run, running in the soaking rain, running in high altitudes where the air is thinner, and getting second winds to speed up during the last half-mile of a long run. Hikes that require adding armwork to legwork are also beneficial, including such places as the Billy Goat Trail on the Maryland side of the Potomac’s Great Falls.

How does a strict vegetarian lifestyle affect health? I have been 100% vegetarian for over two decades, and 99% vegan for over seven years. A recent check showed good pulse and blood pressure, and low LDL cholesterol, which is the type of cholesterol that is good to be low. Against the widespread belief of the importance of having a high HDL (the so-called good cholesterol)-to-LDL cholesterol ratio, my HDL cholesterol also is very low. As a result, I googled the HDL issue, and found this June 2008 article in which the chief physician of the Division of Preventive Medicine and Nutrition, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons writes: "[W]e offer reassurance that low HDL cholesterol in the setting of very low LDL cholesterol does not matter or, at the very least, is less important. Otherwise, why not encourage them to eat fatty foods to raise their HDL cholesterol levels?"

In any event, rather than taking this opportunity to get on a soapbox to try to convince more people to reduce or eliminate their consumption of mammal, bird, and fish corpse (and in the process to stop being a graveyard for countless slaughtered innocent animals and fish), I take this opportunity to encourage those interested in pursuing or remaining on the vegetarian path. The meat, milk, and egg industry want people to believe they cannot be healthy without eating such items. Maybe risks will be uncovered for not feeding babies and young children eggs and some milk products (e.g., organic yogurt and cheese rather than drinking milk), but millions of people have lived healthy vegetarian lives over the centuries, and even healthy vegan lives, including the case of India, which for centuries has had millions of strict vegetarians who eat that way for religious reasons. Moreover, I am convinced that the crisis of expensive health care and health insurance would be dramatically reduced if everyone stopped eating meat, birds and fish.

Constant trial law work can get very intense, often with very long hours and tight deadlines, and the work can test people’s immunity levels, stress levels, and overall health levels when also considering the many hours spent inside with stagnant air, often windowless courtrooms, and a huge percentage of prisons and jails that focus more on herding in people than in providing a healthy environment.

To trial lawyers and everyone else who works in stressful situations, I ask what you do to stay healthy and strong through trial battles, and what you experience when you do little exercise, get little sleep, and eat unhealthy diets. Jon Katz