What happened to you?
One of the first questions I ask a new patient is: when was the last time you felt really well? When do you recall feeling vibrant, energetic, pain free and that everything was in good working order? Often the response is slow. They have to think, and think, and....think. Finally I'll get a "well......let's see now, it's been awhile...." This is not an unusual scenario. In fact, it may be more common than you could imagine. Many people are living their lives in a bit of a rut, feeling stuck and generally unwell. They are fatigued, bloated, restless, in pain, lack vitality, sleep poorly and have symptom after symptom. Some people think that this is the normal aging process. Others believe feeling poorly is genetic. While others are convinced that their symptoms are just a natural part of life. In fact, if you look around, you'll see people who are vibrant, healthy and have what you want.
Yet to hope is human and many people still seek improvement and look for help. Maybe you try a diet that promises to improve your health (and it can), perhaps an exercise program to restore your energy will make a difference (that's great) or, maybe you join a support group of folks that share the same problem (community is definitely important). Yet each of these things, individually, will only go so far to help improve how you feel. There is not one magical answer!
So what is my point?
My point is this: Most illness is a result of ongoing habits of diet, lifestyle and emotional stressors that eventually take a toll on a person. It makes sense that one’s behavioral and dietary patterns will in turn, create patterns of the body and mind: for better or worse! One major challenge is that most people are not trained to notice or connect their patterns of habits and health. Often times we miss, or overlook, the very things that are obstructing our path to wellness. While we seek improvement, we lay down blockage after blockage through practicing the habits that got us there in the first place. The irony is that we then try to jump over these hurdles with an unrelated solution (medications, procedures or even supplements) and they don't seem to work!
Eventually something hurts enough, or doesn’t work right or, perhaps worse, that drives us to seek medical attention. By the time you see your doctor or a specialist however, the mechanism of the problem has become well rooted and the blockages to health are firmly established. Tests are run, assessments are made and all this is based on the symptoms but the root of the problem is not addressed. Results may show this or that, or sometimes they show nothing at all. Generally this is followed up with a prescription, a suggested procedure or perhaps a shoulder shrug that indicates there is really nothing much that can be done. It can be very frustrating but what is really going on?
But why doesn't my doctor tell me this?
Most doctors are brilliant in what they do and extremely dedicated to their patients. The problem isn’t them; it’s the system. Our current health system basically dictates how doctors can treat, the length of time they can spend with a patient and for what they can be reimbursed. Malpractice is very strict and requires doctors follow a predetermined algorithm of care. No doubt modern medicine is wonderful for many things: emergency medicine, acute life-threatening infection and diseases, miraculous surgical techniques, diagnostic technology and more. However, this healthcare system has been deficient in areas of nutrition, mind-body connection, the importance of lifestyle and the relationships between one symptom and another for some time. This is the current state of affairs and underscores why we must take ownership of our health!
What can I do?
There is something you can do and here's an example. Let’s say that it was primarily a dietary pattern that got you into trouble. You like bread: who doesn’t? You eat sugary treats to calm your nerves: not uncommon. You love cheese: it’s delicious! But these foods are actually causing your symptoms to worsen to point of significant inflammation which causes widespread problems. For example, inflammation has been implicated as the driving mechanism of many conditions such as arthritis, autoimmune syndromes, headaches, digestive disorders and so much more. As a result, you don't exercise very much, you don't sleep well and you're stressed.
So in this example, in order to improve, of course you must include dietary habits as part of the solution. Because the impact to the body is so deep and widespread, it requires a whole life plan that includes diet, movement, mind exercises, good sleep and more. Diet alone is not enough.
So what’s the good news?
Here’s the good news: your body is infinitely intelligent and wants to heal. Regardless of your current state of health, your symptoms or diagnosis, there is an opportunity to move toward a healthier state. This may look like a "cure" or, it may look like improvement. Both are great and either is welcome especially for those who have been unwell for a long period of time. By implementing a whole life plan that is right for you, your body will begin to shift and change direction. Keep in mind that when a ship, changes its course by even a few degrees, a new path is charted and over time, a new destination is reached. Let your quest be a journey to learn to explore all the aspects of your body and mind and ultimately a healthier future you.