Lifestyle Medicine

guy on rock

Prevention is truly the best medicine. Taking our health seriously and making steps toward wellness before there is a real reason to worry is the smartest way to go. To indulge and ignore is risky, to be proactive and educated can save your health and maybe your life. Your lifestyle can be your best medicine.

Lifestyle medicine means making choices that lessen your risk of illness and disease. The basics of using lifestyle intervention may include nutrition, stress reduction, toxin awareness, and physical activity. The process of incorporating positive choices in all of these areas give you the best chance at preventing many of the chronic diseases that are common in our culture today.

Evaluating and adjusting risky behavior is your first line of defense. To make good decisions you must have the right information, but you also need to be sure about where your facts are coming from. Don’t just reach for what you have been told are healthy foods, research the sources of that food being labeled healthy. Amp up your general wellness competence by making decisions based in scientific research, not big business sponsored mass marketing messages.  We need to address the gap between what we know and what we think we know.

A perfect example of this is the need for education and lifestyle management related to Osteoporosis. Did you know…

Osteoporosis_Facts (1)

So the question “What do I do now?” tends to be posed after a person is diagnosed with Osteoporosis, when we could be living a lifestyle which manages our risk and lessens our chances of developing this dangerous condition way before we are at risk of becoming one of it’s casualties.

When assessing your options to create and support a healthy lifestyle, here are three lifestyle choices to consider that may significantly impact your chances of developing Osteoporosis later in life:

1.   Calcium Intake

Are you getting enough calcium in your daily diet? Some healthy sources of calcium are dark green leafy vegetables, tofu, orange juice. It’s not just about drinking milk and consuming dairy although healthy servings of milk can also reduce your risk.  (mayoclinic.org)

2.   Exercise

Beginning to exercise when you are young and continuing your active lifestyle as you age can be the best way to build strong bones. Combining strength training and weight bearing physical activity is the best way to avoid Osteoporosis. (mayoclinic.org)

3.   Avoid alcohol and cigarettes

Excessive drinking has been linked to increased risk of bone loss and smoking doubles your chance of bone loss. (webmd.com)

For a long time I thought drinking carbonated beverages caused bone loss, but in doing research for this post I have found evidence that does not support that assumption. Since I’m not completely convinced I removed it from my list and will have to look into it further. So, in addition to making positive change, begin to second guess what you have always assumed about diseases such as this. And please, check my sources and find credible ones of your own because not every medical myth you hear has complete truth to it. Begin to evaluate your life choices, but don’t be hasty until you think them through. For example, many people think that coffee causes osteoporosis. But does it? “Because coffee and caffeine consumption slightly decreases the absorption of calcium by about 4 – 6 mg per cup, coffee has been blamed for causing osteoporosis. In a hypothetical world, this reduction in calcium would lead to bone loss and osteoporosis. Fortunately, in the real world, adding one tablespoon of milk to each cup of coffee consumed would offset any calcium loss caused by the caffeine, preventing an effect on bone quality. By ensuring adequate calcium intake and drinking coffee in moderation, studies show that there will be no increased risk of fractures or osteoporosis.” (www.isagenixhealth.net)

Be smart enough to know which life choices are truly smart and which ones are cultural lore.

So, what else do you think you know for sure? Are you trusting credible sources when gathering your knowledge on wellness? Are you sure?

thanks to where_ever_I_am on morgue file.com for the lovely photo above 

thanks to The American Recall Center for the Osteoporosis graphic above 

Come On Get Healthy

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I have found that, for me, getting happy started with a healthier body. It’s almost impossible to have a positive state of mind if your body is distracting you from your happiness goals. An unhealthy body that feels achey, sluggish, and doesn’t sleep well is probably not leading you on a journey to a happier place. When you feel healthy, rested and well nourished you are then more free to focus on your state of mind. An important thing to consider is that healthy looks different for every body, so keeping in mind that you only need to be the expert on making yourself happy is essential.

A great place to begin your journey to happiness is in the kitchen. Chances are, if you’re feeling less than happy, there are easy, manageable steps you can take right now in your own home. To make positive change, you have to make changes. The goal should be reinventing your relationship with food. Begin by taking inventory. Every few months I like to pull everything out of my pantry and reassess. Creating healthy habits and maintaining them does not happen with one trip to the grocery store. It can be an ongoing process of learning and adapting.

After you pull out all of your food, it’s time to take a good look at what you have on hand and consider your patterns. Anything that is expired has got to go, that’s easy. Anything that is processed and/or eaten in moments of emotional distress has also got to go. Food is fuel. Using food for comfort is not a step toward getting healthier. This process is about positive change. Replacing your comfort food with exercise, stretching, breathing, meditation, yoga, or a hot bath will serve you better. Consider what will work for you and give it a try.

Now clean out your fridge and freezer using the same process. When you are done with your purge, gather some healthy recipe and snack ideas and make a list of what you need. Grab your cloth grocery bags and head out with your list. Try and stick to what you need and not fall victim to impulse buying. Planning out your menu will serve you well, it saves time and let’s you be prepared in those moments when you want to slip back into old habits.

You have three considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Addressing three meals per day, everyday.
  2. Plan for your need to snack
  3. Consider your nutrient and mineral deficiencies

If your intention is to get healthy and happy, you need to begin to live from a place of intention and not a place of habit. Addressing your eating habits and being open to making positive, lasting change can very well be your first step on a path toward enjoying more happiness. It certainly was for me.

Gratitude to MaxStraeten for the lovely photo above from morgue file.com

The Empowering Journey From Never Enough To Perfectly Imperfect

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At so many times during my first 40 years I’ve wasted energy feeling like no matter what I was doing, it was just never enough. We are all human, we crave connection and validation so we often fall into traps of guilt or obligation to satisfy what others need from us. At your core, no matter how much confidence, ability and talent you possess, you have the desire to be loved and feel safe and accepted and will often go against instinct to achieve it. Maybe that’s human nature. But, action should come from a place of love, not a place of obligation. We are all born with potential that we may not recognize initially. It’s time for me to turn off this tap that spews energy in the wrong direction. It’s time to stop pouring myself into the expectations of others and begin to cultivate that energy and direct it inward to myself.

Why do we struggle? We look around to see how others are perceiving us and what they are demanding from us, when at the end of it all, it was only us who created our own story. The minute you stop paddling so vigorously against the current and let go, it will all flow. “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are” – Chinese Proverb

The only constant, the only thing we all have every moment of our lives is breath. Breathing in and out is a universal constant if you want to sustain life. Another universal constant is change. One day, the breathing will stop and your story will be over.  Before you get there, change will happen over and over and you will be there to see it all. You are not now the same person you were when you woke up this morning nor will you be this person when you wake up tomorrow. That is life. That is living. Why would you waste a single breath, in or out, taking in or giving away energy that doesn’t align with your true life intention? Do what creates what you believe to be the greatest version of yourself, not what others think will bring you to such ends. Breathe every breath.

Are you becoming who you are meant to be? Or are you letting yourself become what other people need you to be? Can you let go of the negative path to perfection, and start to accept and relish the perfectly imperfect life that is yours to enjoy? “If this is what you are doing with the negative, imagine what you could do with the positive” – Maya Angelou

When you embrace the idea that you will never be perfect, and accept that you will be the perfect version of you, life will begin to flow. Pour your energy into yourself and who you want to become. “Strive for progress, not perfection” – Unknown  And, when you have learned all that you can and grown as much as possible from someone or somewhere, it’s time to move on to your life’s next master class. There is so much left to learn, so many mistakes to learn from.

“I want to be all used up when I die” – George Bernard Shaw

Be who you are.

I am again grateful for my friend Shannon and her pretty toes showing us how to truly let it flow

YES

I have another new word to embrace this year. YES! I would like to say YES to more coveted benevolence this year and hold a more positive vibe longer and stronger than I have in the past. Maintaining an upswing of positive intention should be just as easy as resting on a low hum in the more challenging times. In the past, I have resonated in a more negative space, but this promising path I am on is leading me toward more positive things and that takes enduring, steady effort to maintain. I aim to make the effort feel lighter and let the goodness flow around me and through me. Perseverance is well worth the reward and I plan to keep it going.

The word yes has yielded other goodness in the past. The story of John Lennon and Yoko Ono all began with the word yes. Their story is about a young artist named Yoko who had one John Lennon visit her art exhibit in New York City. The exhibit asked observers to climb a ladder and read a word mounted on the ceiling. Only when you ascended the ladder could you make out the word. I imagine John climbing that ladder, seeing the word YES and becoming inspired by this being the peace-loving creature that he was. He met the artist of the installation and the rest is history.

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A simple climb representing so much. The trip down the ladder must have been very different than the trip up because you climbed back down with a stunning affirmation in your head. Such a meaningful and inspired work, I can understand why it intrigued John all those years ago.

And the word yes set off a love affair for the ages. Misunderstood by many but cherished by many as well, they were a creative force that significantly impacted our culture. I wonder if they would have had the same result if the word had been negative. Most likely not.

John was an artist himself. He had a beautiful childish whimsy feel to his work. I love his art and hope to one day own a piece of it, but for now I will adore pieces like this from afar….

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Love is an astounding phenomenon that intrigues and inspires us all in so many ways. It’s beautiful to think of a love affair beginning on such a positive stride. I want to emulate that beauty and positivity in my own life and find that kind of love within myself.

“We need to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” – John Lennon

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I always have been and always will be inspired by these two creative, fascinating lovers. I hope to create that kind of tenderness within my own being. I believe they had such a fondness for each other because they had a deep devotion to themselves individually. Enchanting rapture may only exist in fairy tales, but I believe I can create a marveling wonderment within myself if I stay positive and continue to appreciate a loving and steady resolve that I know I am capable of manifesting.

above photos via bing.com

Leaning In

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When you bill yourself as a spiritual kind of person you open yourself up to a world of interesting feedback.  This is nothing new for me, I have been this way since I was a kid, always defending even the nerdiest of nerds to the coolest of cool kids even at the risk of social suicide.  I held strong in my convictions even as a pony tailed little pip squeak with hands on hips shaking my finger at the playground wrongdoers blissfully unaware that I was developing my hippie tendencies into a full blown John Lennon, Give Peace A Chance, Birkenstock wearing adulthood.  I was a peaceful warrior from the get go.

You either have the ability to consider other people and their needs in your field of vision or you don’t.  I truly believe it’s something you are either born with or not.  I like to believe I am tuned in to what others are feeling and that I am capable of becoming even better at anticipating what I can do to reach out to them as I would hope they would reach back to me.  Being in tune often makes me wonder how others can live so off key.

I love that I have found a community of other like-minded, spiritual people that I can feel comfortable around who also live a positive, happy existence.  At the same time, I’m confused by people who have adverse reactions to my positive choices and attraction to paying it forward directly into my karmic bank account, and into the goodness and kindness of mankind in general.

I lean into pay it forward opportunities.  I know it’s the right thing to do and I want my daughters to learn the same way.  Whether it’s as small as holding a door open for someone or as important as returning a found wallet completely intact, there are opportunities everyday to do the right thing and even more opportunities to just be kind.

I have found that being happy begins with being balanced and being balanced requires a spiritual understanding of yourself.  Although I have always found it important to be kind to others, I’m finally truly seeing the importance of being kind to myself.

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible” – Dalai Lama

myhappypromise

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