Achieving total optimal health is not a singular endeavor. There are many pieces to the puzzle. Finding all the pieces and getting them working together on a consistent basis is the challenge. Throughout many years as a psychotherapist, I had the privilege to know people on a very deep level. From those experiences I came to know that mental health was interdependent on physical health and that both were interdependent on spiritual health.
The first step toward achieving total optimal health is, you want to get a very thorough physical exam before starting any new health program. You want to know your blood pressure, weight, height, basic measurements, body fat percentage, cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting glucose, thyroid levels, and Vitamin D levels to name a few measures in order to develop a baseline to compare to later and to determine if you are healthy enough to start an exercise program. I recommend you complete one of our total body assessments in order to assess any current health symptoms you are experiencing and a toxicity questionnaire to determine your toxic load. You will also need a way to record what you are eating, drinking, your elimination schedule, and the number of hours your sleep as well as the quality of your sleep. A practitioner will also want to hear your health history, any illnesses, accidents, surgeries, pregnancies, etc.
The next step, and one that is often missed, has to do with your emotional mind set toward health, food, exercise, relationships and yourself. Many health issues are deeply rooted in messages we carry from our childhood and the consequent belief systems we develop based on childhood stories. Many of these messages and beliefs are in our subconscious mind and affect our adult behaviors. This is the missing piece that is so crucial to success. Many people are so tired of losing and gaining the same weight, dealing with the same emotional issue or having the same ache recur in their bodies over and over again. They often took steps to resolve it and thought it was resolved only to have it pop up at the most inopportune time sabotaging their success. Other people don’t even know what it is; they just know they cannot seem to be as successful as they should be in weight loss, physical fitness, job performance or promotion and relationships. They feel as if something is holding them back, but they don’t know what it is. Discovering what those stories and the beliefs associated with them are is vital to total-person health. Working with a health care professional who specializes in uncovering these beliefs and replacing them with up-to-date healthful beliefs that serve you is crucial to your success. Secondly, throughout childhood, we make positive and negative associations to foods, behaviors and attitudes. As adults, we often cling to these associations without knowing it and they are the things that keep us from being as successful in achieving total health as we could be. Thirdly, want are our real motivations for wanting to be healthy? Health is not just about losing weight although that is often a very nice side benefit to a healthier lifestyle. There have to be deeper motivations that resonate with what you have experienced in your life. Perhaps you watched a loved one suffer through a long, grueling illness before they passed away and you don’t want to suffer like that or put your family through an experience like that. How can you associate the desire to not go through something like that to one of your life’s passions? Discovering your passions and keeping them in the fore front of your life is one of the keys to experiencing total vibrant health.
Next, you need to be introduced to the inner life of the body. Everyone looks at the outer body, what we can see, and we measure a person’s health by their perceived size, shape, skin and hair condition. But what is really important is what you can’t see, what is going on inside the body on a cellular level. Cellular health is tantamount to good health. If your cells are healthy and happy, then you are healthy and happy. Most of us have abused our inner body over the years to the point where they are not functioning optimally. We eat bad food or food that is chemically treated or genetically modified, we breathe in toxic substances through the air and we apply creams and makeups full of carcinogens and other toxic chemicals on our skin and we clean our homes with toxic chemicals. One of the best ways to cleanse the cells is to do a total body detoxification. This way you give them a fighting chance to clear out any trash that has accumulated and you de-load the liver. Many people are suffering from overloaded livers. When the liver has to deal with all the toxins in our bodies, it has a hard time keeping up with its day job, which is fat metabolism.
The next piece of the puzzle you need to master is all about nutrition. You need to understand how we got to the sorry state we are in where the grocery stores sell more non-food items that food items and I am talking about all the packaged, highly processed food in the aisles of the store, not the jewelry, toys, cleaners and paper products in the aisles. There are many documentaries showing the history of how this happened such as Food Matters, Food Inc., Dirt, Forks Over Knifes, etc. It’s true that there is a lot of misinformation out there about nutrition. One of the best sources of information about what is healthy to eat is the Weston A. Price Foundation and can be found at www.westonaprice.org. Price traveled the world seeking out indigenous people who were extremely healthy and studied their diets and compiled a book about his findings called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Anyone who is serious about getting healthy needs to have this book in their library. After learning what is healthy to eat, you must know your ideal weight, calorie requirements and nutrient requirements. Some websites to get this information include, the American Dietetic Association, www.eatright.org and the Food and Nutrition Information Center of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, www.fsis.usda.gov. Then you must diligently track your calorie intake. Some sites that do that include, www.calorieking.com, www.fitday.com, www.myfitnesspal.com.
Now add to the puzzle truly healthful supplementation. It is true that our food today does not have the same amount of nutrients in it as food that our grandparents grew up eating. The soil our food is grown in has lost its mineral content through over use and the application of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Even if you eat organic food, you cannot get the levels of nutrients your body requires for optimal health. When it comes to supplementation, knowing what your specific needs for supplementation are is tantamount to your success. This goes back to the assessment piece of this puzzle. Through the assessment, your healthcare provider should have a good idea of what supplements your specific body is crying out for. It is even more tightly assessed if you can find or go to a nutrition response testing clinic. The second most important thing to understand is how vitamins and minerals work in the body and to make the differentiation between synthetic, fractionated vitamins and whole food vitamins.
Synthetic, fractionated vitamins are parts of vitamins which cause the body to go on a hunt and search mission to find the rest of the component parts of the vitamin and will steal them from the tissues, blood and bones to try to make a complete vitamin. This will create a lot of unhealthy imbalances in your body. Even if the component parts are found, the synergy of the vitamin has been lost, much like a watch that you take apart and try put back together again, it never works again. On the other hand, whole food supplements are the whole vitamins with all its component parts that allow it to be absorbed and used by the body. Other things to look for in supplements are was the raw material grown organically, was it watered organically, was it harvested at the appropriate time, were the correct parts used, was it cold processed and are there quality control checks that prove it has in it what it says it has in it.
The next puzzle piece to get in order is exercise. You must exercise to be truly healthful. Even if you are limited in some way, there is exercise you can do to improve your health. We were made to move. It is best to choose a variety of exercise for the best health results, but the exercise must also be things that you enjoy doing or you won’t continue it on a long term basis. You can enjoy the exercise or some component of the exercise. I enjoy being outside so whether I am walking, running, riding a bike, rowing a boat, riding a horse or playing golf, I’m pretty happy. But in order to lift weights where I live, you pretty much have to be inside. I don’t like being inside, but I enjoy music and audio books, so I can incorporate listening to my IPod while I work out. Speaking of weights, yes, you must include weight bearing exercise in order to reach optimal health. We all lose muscle mass as we age and our bones become weak. To overcome that aging process and to achieve youthful vitality, the best thing we can do is lift some weight. Another benefit to adding lean muscle mass is that lean muscle mass burns more calories when we aren’t exercising, so we can eat more. I see so many women doing hours and hours of cardio to lose weight when the best weight loss is achieved by adding lean muscle mass through weight lifting. Women worry they will get too muscular if they lift weights. There is no need to worry. It is very hard to develop big muscles in the real world. Unless you are spending about four hours a day lifting very heavy weights and eating massive amounts of protein, you will not look like a man. I can promise you that. Cardio is also important, but there are ways to practice cardio routines that bring you more bang for your buck than just running or doing an aerobics class for an hour. Mixed intensity cardio exercise burns more calories and helps you achieve better fitness overall.
Another piece of the puzzle is, believe it or not, relaxation. Adequate sleep and rest is essential, but beyond that is how you handle stress. The stress hormone, cortisol, damages the neural pathways in our brains and can contribute to neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Depression and anxiety are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. So, creating a positive chemical change in the brain that will balance the imbalance and repair the damaged neural pathways is essential in optimal health. Research shows that positive chemical change can be created by meditation, mindfulness, yoga, tai chi, qigong, chanting, prayer, gratitude and other techniques of relaxation. By practicing these techniques on a consistent basis, we can change the chemical makeup in our brain and our bodies. Handling stress also goes back to the emotional mindset we were talking about earlier. We learned to handle stress by watching how others around us handled stress, how they talked about and processed stressful situations. Some of us learned that we are victims, that others are to blame, that we have no control over what happens to us. One of the keys to optimal health is to challenge that whole paradigm. One of the best techniques to begin to learn about this is The Work of Byron Katie. Byron Katie’s mission is to obliterate suffering in the world. You can find out more at www.thework.com. A technique that combines positive chemical change and changing the way we handle stress is known as mind-body bridging, a relatively new field in psychology that holds much promise.
A final, very important piece to the health puzzle is community. People need the support of other people. A feeling of belonging, of having a place in the world, of loving and being loved is necessary for optimal health. Community is interacting with others. Most of you have no idea how lonely people are in this society. There are many people who go all day or all week without leaving their homes or talking to anyone else for weeks, months, and years at a time. There are also people who are very interactive on a daily basis, but feel alone because they have no one at home or no one in their world understands them. This is an organic need, to “be” with others. One of the cruelest punishments that can be put upon a human being is solitary confinement. Remember in the movie Castaways, with Tom Hanks, he personified a ball with the brand “Wilson” written across it and when the ball fell overboard, you saw the desperation and resultant despair in Tom Hanks’ character. That is the result of the lack of fulfilling the love and belonging needs in a human being. Many people lose the will to live. Another type of community is the type of community you need when you are trying to do something difficult like achieving optimal health. You need the support of a community of like-minded people that you are accountable to on a regular on-going basis. A community of people who understand the vocabulary you are using to achieve your goals like, emotional mind set, toxicity, passions, judgment, forgiveness, relaxation, traditional foods, etc.
At Healthy Life Solutions, we are developing a virtual community on-line. A place where like-minded, authentic, heart-centered individuals love, support, inspire and cheer each other on to create for themselves their perfect life and live their highest, healthiest potential. It is a community where you learn to think and behave in ways that bring peace, joy and security to your life forever. It is a place where all the members are achieving total optimal health every day and supporting you to do the same. If you think you want to get healthier and learn how to put all the pieces of the puzzle together and receive support doing so, (click here) call today for a free discovery session. You will learn more about our process and most importantly, you will clarify why you have struggled with your weight, your health, and food issues all your life in a free one hour session. There is no obligation and it is risk-free.
It doesn’t matter what your age is, what your current health challenges are, what physical condition you are currently in, we believe we can help you. Click here to complete a short application and schedule a free one hour discovery session and discover what has been holding you back from achieving total optimal health!
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