Attaining and maintaining abundant health can be a challenge in the 21st Century. Our lives are way too busy, what is sold as food in most stores would be unrecognizable just three generations ago and our health care system is more focused on illness management than prevention and healing. We seem to be aging faster and the statistics for how many of us will be diagnosed with a serious disease just keep climbing. Every year or two there is another fad diet or nutritional supplement that promises to help us lose weight and solve all of our ailments, but they only seem to work for a few of us. I do not mean to focus on the negative, but becoming and staying healthy should not be a challenge.
Committing to and embracing a healthy lifestyle can be challenging and confusing. There are a lot of get healthy and fit quick programs out there and if they worked we would all be healthy and fit. I have created 10 common sense and easy to follow steps that include as many opportunities as possible to ensure you have the best chance of recovering from a chronic illness and help you get into the best shape of your life while learning how amazing and complex your health and physiology really are. Ideally, each of these steps will build on each other while allowing your body and metabolism the time it will take to, not only heal, but create a life of abundant health. This process will take at least ten weeks and may take a few months.
The first step is to change some basic perspectives on health and apply a very common sense suggestion. We are all aware that improving our health requires getting rid of most, or all, of our bad habits. That is definitely a good direction to go, but most people give up on their diet or health program if they can’t have any fun. So, my first suggestion is to focus on the Do’s and then work on the Don’ts. Said another way; start making as many good choices as possible with food, exercise, relaxation and supplements and then remove or limit habits and foods that are still interfering with your healing process – gradually but consistently. If you have a serious health concern then you will obviously have to take this step all of the way.
The second step is to go out of your way to learn some common sense on illness and healing. Today, when we are ill, our focus is on finding what the illness is called. This diagnosis centered approach to our health creates the conditions for medicine to be practiced badly. This pill goes with that problem or let’s cut out that gall bladder instead of changing your diet and repairing your liver. Most diagnosable illnesses can only exist if our bodies are in some state of dysfunction. Depending on the nature of the dysfunction the symptoms will be different. That is the common sense of healing traditions that go back thousands of years and it is becoming the common sense of the most leading edge clinicians of our time. When you focus on restoring normal function and health to each and every aspect of your physiology the symptoms of illness naturally fade away. Another aspect of Step Two is to build your personal health team by learning about different healing modalities and choosing what feels right for you. We all need support and asking for help from a respected professional can go miles in giving you confidence that what you are doing makes sense. More importantly, receiving the benefit of many forms of treatment will almost always tangibly improve your sense of welling.
The third step is to get more sleep, rest and play. I have a saying; “sleep is repair and rest is not watching TV”. While you are asleep, assuming you are sleeping deeply enough, your body is very busy repairing itself. So busy, in fact, that there is not enough energy for you to be conscious. Many people cannot lose weight or improve their health unless they start sleeping more and more deeply. If your health is poor you will also need at least 30 minutes a day of rest. Real rest is lying down and actually relaxing your whole body while daydreaming, napping or even meditating. Pleasure and play are also essential to abundant health. It is my experience that improvement in health can be determined by how predictable pleasurable experiences are in a person’s life. If you have something fun planned every day then you are probably going to heal faster that a person who is waiting for that holiday in six months.
The fourth step is to increase your fitness and decrease your fat storage. Stronger muscles and more flexible joints can ensure two things that change everything about your health and what you can eat. The first is the human growth hormone. If you exercise regularly and ask your muscles to work a little harder you will start secreting more and more of the human growth hormone (HGH). HGH is an essential substance that improves healing, tissue repair and looking younger. This is essential if you are over 40. The second thing that changes everything about your health is when your muscles get enough exercise, especially through resistance training, your metabolism will speed up for 30 to 40 hours after each session of exercise. This means you can eat some of those challenging carbs and still fit into your favorite clothes. Decreasing excess fat storage can be crucial in improving your health. For some people this is not a concern, but for others it is a life long struggle. If you want some support, check out my fitness focused website.
The fifth step towards better health and more efficient use of your body’s resources is to stabilize your metabolism. Chronic time and money pressure, emotional distress, fatigue and worry are going to keep your physiology in a state of fight or flight. Our bodies are not designed to fight or run away for very long, so the longer we tap into these reserves the faster we will age and the more we will increase our chances of facing debilitating and degenerative illness. Besides the usual life stressors, the impact of over-using stimulants like caffeine and sugar and intoxicants like alcohol and other harmful drugs are a huge stress on your metabolism and physiological resources.
The sixth step is to realize that good digestion is essential to good health. Many of us have the understanding that after we eat a meal, any meal, we will digest and absorb all of the calories and nutrients – no problem. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every organ in your digestive system can become overworked and every food you eat digests in its own way. Eating large meals of starches and proteins at every sitting is the worst way to treat your poor overworked tummy but that is what most people in modern world do, all day, every day. Your body can only heal as fast as it has the resources (nutrients and calories) to repair itself and the availability of these resources is mostly limited by your digestion.
The seventh step is to improve how your immune system is working. I like to say that the immune system has boundary issues. There are layers and layers of immune system interaction with the outside world, with your food, with the waste products from digesting your food, with the waste products of detoxification and with the constant and necessary processes of tissue repair as well as the amount of toxins in the modern world. Sometimes one of these layers becomes overactive and you may experience an allergic reaction. Sometimes a layer, or boundary becomes weak and you may experience an infection that becomes chronic, or may go deeper into your body. The human immune system is very intricate and complex but I will do my best to help you make the right choices and know why they are the best for everyone.
The eighth step is to make your livers job a little, or a lot easier. A common way to think of the liver is like a sponge or a filter that removes wastes and neutralizes toxins from your blood stream. With this understanding we would never want to eat the liver of an animal because it must be full of wastes and toxins. A more accurate way to see the liver is like a chemical bank account that is full of all of the nutrients, anti-oxidants and detoxification enzymes that are necessary to deal with the wastes and toxins of day-to-day life. Pâté anyone?
The ninth step is to focus on the complete elimination of wastes. Your kidneys, liver, lymphatic system, even your lungs and skin are all working 24/7 to keep your body clear of waste products. By assisting these processes you will lose weight, improve your health and live a much longer life.
The tenth step is to recharge your cellular health. There are about 90 trillion cells in a human body. Every one of your trillions of cells has to flush it’s toilet every day. Pardon the imagery, but if you have been overfeeding your cells, or feeding them poorly, that is 90 trillion messy little toilet flushes everyday that have go through your liver and your other elimination organs. Any cleansing process or complete healing program has to focus on your long term cellular health.
These are the ten steps that I use with most of my patients and are an outline of the Spring Health Challenge.