Whether you are seeking to maintain optimal health or facing chronic illness, adhering to certain fundamentals is critical to success. Before we get into the game plan, let’s first begin with mindset. Until recently, in a healthcare setting, most people did not consider themselves to be consumers making informed purchasing decisions. Rather, the process was more passive, with healthcare professionals making all key decisions. Now, empowered with a thirst for knowledge and readily available information and tools, today’s “patients” are indeed equipped to become smart consumers of healthcare, and ready to engage as a partner with their healthcare team. Even so, the process can be overwhelming.
That’s where mindset comes in. Putting yourself in charge of your health is akin to hiring yourself as the CEO of your own health. The CEO hires and fires the team as needed. Recognize that there is not just one practitioner who will help with your health journey. Over time, members of your team will be more or less influential depending on the need at the time. For chronic disease in particular, we tend to put our belief in finding that one specialist, that one superstar who will help us find the secret to our health. That one may indeed be helpful, but like many of you, I too have been disappointed when expectations are not met. I should know. I have done this a lot. (If I find the ONE, I will let you know!) I learn from each experience, and it helps me to prepare for the next part of the journey in terms of my own health and helping my clients with their challenges.
How do you build your team? Start with what’s working. Oftentimes, it is a blend of holistic and conventional resources. Once you find a practitioner who helps you solve a problem, ask them: Who do you refer your patients to, and for what reason? Who is outstanding in their field and why? Who do you learn from? What have you learned recently that is exciting? Each time you find another practitioner to add to your team, ask them the same questions.
For example, as a neurofeedback practitioner, I work with many people who have brain-based imbalances which manifest as anxiety. We can see impressive improvement after neurofeedback sessions, but we can also identify obstacles to optimal brain health. Since the brain and the gut are connected (the gut is often referred to as “the second brain”) nutrition needs to be optimized. When I think someone can benefit from analysis of their food intake and lab testing in order to optimize gut health, I refer to a functional nutritionist who can meet that need. Untreated trauma can cause blockages to progress as well. I refer to a trauma therapist who can use techniques to treat the root cause and can teach self-care modalities. The “team” combination of neurofeedback, nutrition and trauma therapy has been demonstrated to be a powerful and effective strategy for someone struggling with anxiety.
Now that the CEO mindset is engaged, the next step is to get going with simple habits that have a great impact on health. I had the opportunity to sit down with Jim Laird during a recent trip to Florida. Jim is a health and wellness coach and former elite-level powerlifter. Many coaches and trainers may know how to help you get fit, but they don’t know how to help you get fit AND well. During our conversation, he underscored the key habits that every person can embrace to improve their overall wellness.
Mastering a few basic habits can greatly elevate a health baseline. These habits are surprisingly simple, but incredibly effective, and the majority of us are not doing them. (Avoid if advised by your doctor or if on a special diet.) I’ll cover two of the five in this installment:
Eat lean protein with every meal. Eating protein at every meal helps to regulate blood sugar levels. Insulin spikes can often be controlled with enough protein and exercise. The amino acids in protein help to build muscle, and build the neurotransmitter chemicals that regulate mood and more. When I implemented this strategy, I found that prioritizing protein helped to curb my intake of carbs and reduce cravings. Many people, especially women, don’t consume enough protein. Once I started to pay attention to my protein intake, I was shocked at how inadequate it was. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, “for building muscle mass and maintaining muscle mass through a positive muscle protein balance, an overall daily protein intake in the range of 1.4–2.0 g protein/kg body weight/day (g/kg/d) is sufficient for most exercising individuals.”
Take a 10-minute walk after every meal. The morning walk is the most important. Keep your mouth closed and the tongue on the roof of your mouth while walking. I have observed that keeping my tongue firmly on the roof of my mouth actually lifts my head and neck into better posture. It’s so subtle but remarkable. Walking at a pace where you can breathe through your nose is recommended for fat loss and body composition changes like increased muscle mass. Walking outside provides more light exposure and is better for circadian rhythm.
These two habits are basic but effective and achievable. Next month, we will discuss light, breathing, and circadian rhythm in Part 2 of this series. After mastering these basics, we will explore devices that help you maintain and achieve optimal health in the third and final installment. Until then, CEOs, practice the first two habits: protein at every meal and a 10-minute walk after every meal. Coach Laird opens every discussion, “How are you doing with your habits?” Check in with yourself once per week and ask yourself, “How am I doing with my habits?” Make any necessary course corrections and set reminders as needed. It is said, at the Jersey Shore, “September is for locals,” so eat some protein, toss the shoes, and hit the beach for a barefoot walk!
Linda Edwards, RN, MSN is the owner of ResilientMe, Inc. in Little Silver, NJ. She has extensive experience in finding solutions to health and wellness challenges from all sources, especially safe and effective products, services, and technologies. Linda’s philosophy is simple: she is only interested in things that work.
ResilientMe, Inc. offers Microcurrent Neurofeedback services that help optimize brain performance for people who have suffered concussions, endure high levels of stress, athletic and professional performance demands, and experience difficulty with memory, concentration, and focus.
Linda’s experience includes not only clinical practice but also managing Human Capital Health Management programs for Fortune 100 companies. www.Resilient-Me.com