It Takes a Team

April 9th, 2015

I have always appreciated the saying “work smarter, not harder” as a truism for our focus and energy expenditure during the working day. It represented the difference between being simply busy and being truly productive in areas that matter. Recently my friend Matt Allman further expounded on this topic by suggesting it isn’t just smarts or what we know that matters; it is wisdom or the application of our knowledge that will create the most significant impact for our lives. Matt’s message struck a chord and inspired this column.

Our knowledge base regarding health and wellness is increasing considerably. We are becoming smarter every day through our exposure to health information in magazines like this, on television, on blogs, from our naturopathic and integrative doctors, through YouTube videos, Facebook and Twitter posts, and on and on and on. My patients often say “Doc, I know what I should be doing. I’m just not doing it.” And the trouble here is that often many of these individuals will continue to search for more information, possibly jumping from one medical office, one gym membership, and one health website to the next always looking for that missing piece of the puzzle that will transform their health. Instead of trying to consistently become smarter regarding health, we must start applying in a wise manner the information we already have. I think the first and most valuable step on this wise journey is the recognition that we are most successful when we walk alongside others. We know we are more effective at work when tasks and responsibilities are delegated between individuals and specific to their strong suits. In a similar manner it takes a team to be healthy.

If you want to transform your health, you need to be wise and begin to build a team that will support you on your journey. To start you must engage your community in your plan. This is as simple as telling the people you spend the most time with – friends, family, and coworkers – that you are tired of waiting to transform your health, you are starting today, and you would like to invite them along beside you. Some individuals may not be eager to come along and that is fine. Express your understanding and thank them for supporting you on your path. Very often those individuals that are reluctant at first will see the progress and benefits you are attaining and ask to participate down the road.

An important component of enrolling others is mutual accountability. The goal is greater health and now with an engaged team you can count on each other to encourage and reinforce the things you already know. This is wise, not just smart. For example it is often a weekly occurrence that individuals will bring donuts or cake to share into the office. When you have mutual health goals and a team supporting you at work, it is easy to make the shift to bring in a veggie tray and some bean dip instead. When you share with your community that you are going to exercise for at least 20 minutes 3 times per week, you can expect to be asked about how it is going. And even better, you may find a new workout buddy to share in your fitness routines.

The pursuit of health is a continuous process. It isn’t something you achieve and then the work is over. Every day we make choices and every choice can either move you closer or further from your health goals. By taking the information we learn, applying it wisely to our own life, and enrolling others in our pursuit of a more healthy life we can assure ourselves success on this journey.

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Posted in Nutritional and Lifestyle Support/Modification |

Letting Go and Rediscovering Your Health

December 9th, 2014

In 2015 I challenge everyone to let go of practices, beliefs, and ideals that limit your ability to achieve health. In particular I want you to consider those things that create an illusion of supporting your health. Here are a couple of the common examples I see in practice:

Lack of balance in our physical foundation – Our physical health requires balance. It is too easy to get stuck training only a particular area of our physical health. Running, swimming, lifting weights, and yoga are all great practices for supporting our physical health. None of the listed is enough alone. Our physical health requires harmony in strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility. Only focusing on one area, on one practice will leave you drained and vulnerable. I have seen patients that limit their capacity for healing because they will not modify their exercise routine.

Lack of balance in our nutritional foundation – Diet and nutrition make me more concerned than any other area related to health. I recently started asking new patients if they are more concerned about their health or their diet to gauge their willingness to make changes. I see individuals that come to my office seeking improvements in their health, yet are reluctant to alter the way they eat. They will tell me that they are a vegetarian or vegan or paleo and that they aren’t willing to change. It is completely lost on them that if their attachment to this particular diet was working for them, they would not be sitting in my office in the first place. There is no such thing as a healthy or unhealthy diet. Food can work to promote health and limit health based on the frequency, quantity, and relationship we have with any particular food we consume. If the way you are eating now isn’t giving you the results you want, you must be willing to change.

The real issue is the attachment we have to things that are or are not working for our health. It is the attachment that limits our ability to make changes. We have a tendency to ascribe value to these things. We have a tendency to identify with the labels we create for ourselves: I’m a runner, I’m a vegetarian, etc. When we shift our priority to health it liberates us to make changes that can influence our health in a lasting and permanent way. My challenge then is to let go of whatever attachment you have at the end of 2014 that has been limiting your health and happiness. Removing that obstacle for healing is a first step towards achieving the goal you want for your health in 2015.

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Posted in Nutritional and Lifestyle Support/Modification |

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