The… patient should be made to understand that he or she must take charge of his own life. Don’t take your body to the doctor as if he were a repair shop. ~Quentin Regestein
How is our health connected to our level of freedom? This is the question I have been pondering all week as people near and dear to me have been dealing with everything from fractured ankles and pulled back muscles to being rushed to hospital and diagnosed with cancer. When we aren’t suffering from illness or injury we often take for granted our ability to get up in the morning and go about our daily activities without restriction. But the minute our health is impacted, our freedom to do all the things we want becomes limited. This can be incredibly frustrating and for those that end up with a serious illness and potentially fatal disease, this can be very overwhelming (and that is a huge understatement!).
So what if we thought about healthy living as our real ticket to ensuring freedom? Accidents happen – and in my family klutziness is something we consider an inherited gene, but there are a lot of things we can control by the food and exercise choices we make in addition to other wellness actions that keep us functioning so that we can do the things we really enjoy. We can’t stop the aging process, but I do believe we can manage our health so that we are aging more gracefully and able to be independent and mobile late into life. Most of us know what we should be doing, but choose not to do it – or think to ourselves, “I’ll eat better tomorrow”, “I’ll start exercising tomorrow”, “I’ll do something to manage my stress tomorrow”. Tomorrow turns into next week, next month, sometimes next year. At some point, tomorrow may be too late.
So, what if we all changed our thinking so that healthy living was not something that restricted us and that takes away all the fun but instead is the very thing that guarantees are ability to do things we want? What if you figured out what was most nourishing for your body so that you knew the right “fuel” to put in it? Recently one of my clients said that by understanding what was good for her body and making the right changes, she now craves the stuff that this good for her. By doing what makes her feel good most of the time, she can indulge on a night out with friends or weekend social event. When she feels like she has overdone it she can now course correct, go back to the healthier choices, and ensure she is maintaining good energy and avoiding the negative effects that the unhealthy living has on her body.
When I finally figured out what foods my body was sensitive to and cut those out of my diet (at least most of the time), it was truly a liberating experience. When I discovered that just getting out for a long walk 3-4 times a week helped my physical and emotional well-being, I came to see my hyper-active dogs as a blessing in my life because they keep me exercising regularly. What is “healthy” for me is different from what is healthy for you, but many of the basic principles are the same. I hope you’ll consider thinking about healthy living as liberating and not restricting, as empowering rather than imprisoning. The more proactive we are in managing our own health, the happier and healthier we will be in the long run!