It is time to shift the way we think about our health. The mentality we have embraced for the past decades is limited and we must look to a new and broader perspective to impact our health in a meaningful and lasting manner. We must move from a closed, reductionist view of health towards an open, holistic idea about our lives. Here are four areas where I think this shift can most easily begin.
Expand what we eat. There is no magic food or quick fix when it comes to nutrition. Individuals are often looking and hoping for that one food that if they eat it regularly, there is no need to worry about health. New foods and rediscovered foods are often touted to be the missing link. This is never the case. True nutrition is about variety, vibrancy, freshness, and balance. We must expand the foods we eat at home, moving away from the processed and packaged food products that are void of any real nutritional value. The more foods we try, the more likely we are to find something new we love. This works at home for our children too. As parents, modeling an expanded menu will go a long way towards encouraging our children to also eat a real food, whole food, diet.
Expand how we exercise. It is time to stop the same old exercise routine. It is time to stop limiting our physical outlets to a repetitive practice over and over again. Our body is designed to move dynamically and too much of our time today is spent sitting or doing repetitive motions. Getting locked into the same workout routine can be as problematic as not moving at all. We must mix it up. Spend time at the gym working on strength, cardio, balance, and flexibility. Also get outside and play, run and jump with your kids or other adults in a recreational sports league. Go for walks and breathe in the fresh air. Take up bike riding or disc golf. It really doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you are moving your body.
Expand our conception of health. We are not a victim to our genes. The idea that our genes dictate our health future is antiquated. We know now that genes can be turned on and off through our lifestyle choices. In fact it is the lifestyle choices we embrace that impact our health more than any other factor. When we are sick or not feeling our most optimal, we aren’t dependent on someone else to bring us back to a state of balance. That responsibility is ours alone. Our health is our greatest asset and we are responsible for the path our health takes. Our health team should be expansive: doctors, naturopaths, massage therapists, trainers, therapists, local farmers, etc. Anyone that can provide information, resources, and support for our health is worth considering for our health team. What we do with that support is up to us.
Expand and connect with others. It is important to share what we are doing for our health and our life. It is equally important to not judge what others are doing for their own. Everyone must walk their own unique path. We also can be a great resource and inspiration to others. We can encourage each other and learn what is working and not working. We can try new things, embrace those that are helping, and let go of practices that aren’t. The world of the internet has made this type of connection much easier today. We must look there for expansion, yet not forget to also reach out in our physical world.
As we expand our view of health, we expand our lives in many other areas. The ability to recognize our current patterns and make changes that broaden our exposure to health promoting practices is the difference between a life restricted and a life expanded. Go, grow, and live today. ~Dr. Swanz