Taking Control of Your Wellness

January 23rd, 2012

Are you in the driver’s seat when it comes to your health? If not, take the wheel and start driving. You will thrive in exact proportion to the amount of personal responsibility you take for your wellness. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been focused on thriving in body and mind. Now I want to bring those two together. The mind and body are a match made in heaven, meant to be together for the good of the whole person and the whole world. You have more power in your mind and body than you likely realize, including the power to heal yourself and spread healing energy around you.

Don’t feel overwhelmed by this. While you are the driver, there are others in the car. In fact, there is a whole travelling troupe of partners, your support team, on the road trip called life. In the car is your doctor, a whole range of complementary and mainstream wellness practitioners. There are yoga instructors in the car, and spiritual advisers, nutritionists and wellness coaches. They’re all there to SUPPORT you, but you remain the driver under all circumstances. You make the ultimate decisions about which way to turn, how fast to move and how to respond to circumstances.

Under the hood is the engine of your life. It is a combination of the genes that brought you here and the environment that surrounds you. It is both nature and nurture, DNA and thoughts. There is horsepower behind this baby that you haven’t fully realized yet. The shell of the car is your body; the tires your legs, the windows your vision. Sure, there are a few rust spots (scars) and the odd reminder of previous dings (arthritis). But this is to be expected. After all, you’ve clocked up some good mileage in this jalopy and seen plenty of life. You can give her a paintjob and even replace some parts if you need to. But the real force comes from within the engine. This is your mind; the place to focus your energy. This is the untapped potential that just gets more powerful with age. It includes the thoughts that are driving your consciousness. Fill her up with quality thoughts, beliefs that come from your highest self. It includes the will power to persist when conditions are tough, the thrill power to hold a vision for your wellness and the still power to accept circumstances beyond your control.

You WILL face some potholes and some of them will seem too deep to maneuver. Some may even be chronic. Just keep a firm grip on the wheel, and draw on any of your resources and support team, and you will find your way around, or through them while staying whole and intact as a person. It’s all about personal responsibility. Take this story for example.

A Doctor was known for miraculous cures for arthritis and always had a waiting room full of people. One particular lady came to see the doctor, completely bent over in half, shuffling slowly, leaning on her cane. When her turn came, she went into the doctor’s office, and, amazingly, emerged within a few minutes walking completely erect with her head held high.

A woman in the waiting room who had seen all this walked up to the little old lady and said, “It’s a miracle! You walked in bent in half and now you’re walking upright. What did that doctor do?”

She answered, “Ah, he gave me a longer cane.”

Getting a longer cane is a great metaphor for taking responsibility for your health. Some of the solutions are as simple as buying a pair of reading glasses, taking a regular walk or removing even one item from your diet. We each have a responsibility to understand our bodies and our triggers for disease and take action where we can.

We tend to expect miracles from doctors and get lazy about our own responsibility. I love the episode of House, the TV show about Doctor House the brilliant diagnostician. A bright orange guy comes into the clinic complaining of back pain from golfing. He apparently has no idea that he is completely orange. House tells him that his wife is cheating on him because it is one thing that he hasn’t noticed that he is orange himself, but if his wife hasn’t noticed then she must not be paying him any attention. The guy comes back to the clinic a few days later. It turns out that House was right. The guy is no longer wearing a wedding ring. House diagnoses the orange skin as being caused by eating too many carrots.

The most effective therapies will work WITH you, with your lifestyle and tapping your own healing power, rather than fixing you. Recently I went to a doctor about back pain and left his office gluten free, well at least I cut a lot of gluten out of my diet. Who would think that diet would affect back pain? For me, too much gluten leads to inflammation. Changing my diet was the equivalent of getting a longer cane, taking personal responsibility for what I can do about my body. You can do more for your wellbeing than you likely give yourself credit for, and good doctors will help you to help yourself.

A study undertaken in Germany in 2004 showed the radical power of the body to support the healing process. 101 men with angina were randomly divided into two groups; half were given stent angioplasty as their only therapy, and the other half received 12 months of exercise therapy (20 minutes a day and a 60 minute weekly aerobic class.)

After one year, men in the exercise-training group had an 88 percent event-free survival rate compared with 70 percent in the stent angioplasty group.

The exercise-training group had a 16 percent greater maximal oxygen uptake than the angioplasty group. The study points to three important facts.

  1. The heart is a muscle. It can be strengthened with exercise just like all of our muscles. Like all our muscles, if the heart is not used, it weakens and atrophies.
  2. A blocked artery is not just a mechanical problem. It is the result of complex events including inflammation, clotting and immune responses. It needs to be treated as a whole person challenge.
  3. Stenting only addresses the problem in one segment of blood vessels. Exercise positively impacts the WHOLE heart.

Diet, exercise and rest are the initial answers to ANY healthy problem. Before taking medication for cholesterol or many other issues, give your body a chance to correct the imbalance through lifestyle choices. Dr Richard Schulze, a world leader in natural healing and herbal therapy, said

The first step in natural healing is responsibility. Natural healing is about taking control of your life and being responsible for everything that goes in and out of your body, mind and spirit.

The best news is that it doesn’t have to be a choice. You can drive the car AND ask your support team for help. You can use the stent AND the exercise program. Imagine the power of bringing ALL your resources together- personal responsibility, exercise, a mindful diet AND the best that science has to offer. What an incredible partnership. Unbeatable in fact. Step aside Mario Andretti. I’ve got my hands on the wheel and my eyes on a year of awesome wellness. Who’s with me? Let’s drive convoy.

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  1. This was a fabulous post today! The blog posts are great but this one especially stood out to me because I can personally relate to what you are saying! I deal daily with medical issues (Schwannomatosis, chronic pain, etc.) and I like that it puts a positive spin on the subject of health & wellness without getting too preachy and/or sentimental. It’s just right! I myself, as a writer, decided to start a blog to create awareness about my condition, Schwannomatosis. A lot of folks don’t know about it and yet it’s part of a larger genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis — also under the radar. There is NF1, NF2, and then the newly named Schwannomatosis. It is where tumors grow on nerve endings throughout the body causing no pain to extreme crushing pain. There is no cure at this time. I am telling my story on the blog and plan to tell other patients’ stories as well. I find your posts motivating, inspirational, and powerful. I do have a link to your blog on my Web site b/c I read it quite a bit & think it is a great resource for people living with NF or any chronic condition for that matter. Thank you for doing what you do. –Leslie

  2. [...] is shaped by beliefs, new knowledge and deeply lived experience. Part of this perspective is claiming responsibility for your [...]

  3. Jason says:

    Ian, you have hit the nail right on the head. I suffer from a chronic condition affecting hormone balance in my body. When I am exercising and activley enjoying life I feel great, positive. However, if the hormones are down and I am down I can easily start to lose control of diet and exercise and consequently feel like…well…crap. Key as you have discussed, is to stay in the drivers seat and get out of the back seat.

    Cheers

    Jason

  4. Jay Mac says:

    I am curious to know how you’ve integrated gluten-free into your shopping without having to run all over town or shop online. Or have you been able to accomplish it?

  5. Lindyray says:

    I went gluten- and dairy-free about 18 months ago, and feel so much more energetic and well than I had for years. It is not difficult; we don’t HAVE to eat bread, cakes and pastries. Try basing your diet on lean protein, fresh fruit and vegetables, and rice and potatoes for carbohydrate. Easy!

  6. Laura says:

    Great article!  Love the story of the cane, and the focus on responsibility.