Nutrition, Movement/Exercise, Stress Management
Which world of wellness do you frequent the most? Is your primary care physician an integrative provider, more conventional with a little complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) thrown in, or a conventional “purist?” Is the focus mostly on the physical “What’s wrong” approach?
Maybe you are one of the lucky ones whose primary care provider embraces all aspects of integrative medicine’s philosophical foundation. That foundation includes a mind/body connection, faith & healthcare, beliefs & culture, a therapeutic relationship based on prevention and wellness, community & environment, individual empowerment, use of evidence-based therapies, treating the whole person, and strategically coordinating care with other healthcare professionals.
No matter how your provider conducts his or her practice, one thing is for sure. You will be missing out if they haven’t proactively embraced three wellness basics = Nutrition, Movement/Exercise, Stress Management. These are the foundational principals of integrative care and should be for any healthcare professional in the 21st century.
That means your doctor is going to challenge you to set a wellness plan, goals, and SMART actions. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Actionable/Attainable, Rewarding, Time-phased. Not too many doctors provide this kind of guidance, do they? That is one of the key reasons why our nation’s healthcare system sorely needs reform, not just with making sure we have affordable care but also the type of care.
Yet, no matter how dedicated a physician may be with comprehensive care, it won’t really change your wellness outcomes if you are not proactive yourself. Your doctor can’t force you to eat right, get your body moving, and manage your stress for you. You are center-stage.
So, what is the “right” nutrition? What is the “right” kind of movement or exercise? How can I reduce stress in my life? Start with the reality that one way does NOT fit all. Your body is just that…your body! We will have to get over the mindset that says, “Just go the doctor, get some med, and move on with my life.” Wellness doesn’t work that way (as defined in part 1 of this series). Wellness is a process, a dedicated lifestyle each moment, each day.
Your body has a uniquely combined genetics, chemistry, environment, and health condition that will determine the “right” nutrition, movement/exercise, and stress management. Your job is to listen to what your body is telling you, do your wellness homework, seek out appropriate wellness professionals who will work together, and make wellness a daily part of your life.
If I were to summarize nutrition basics, these would be it:
- Eat whole, nutrient-dense foods, and lots of water.
- Make quality foods part of your quality living; feed the whole person—body, soul, spirit.
- Be aware of those products that may hurt instead of helping you, including allergies and food sensitivities.
- Practice moderation and self-control—Mental and emotional attitudes toward foods create good and bad habits; chemical/food addictions can impact our body & mind, and bring on disease.
- Choose an eating pattern and supplementation that fits your specific nutritional needs—chemical/metabolic individuality is what makes each of us physically unique; your needs are specific to you, often requiring appropriate testing and monitoring. Learn how your body functions to make appropriate decisions. Stay informed on drug/supplement interactions, both positive and negative effects.
Notice how I use the word “movement.” I have learned the word “exercise” tends to lessen motivation and commitment for us all. Consider all the ways you move in your day. Are you sitting at a computer all day? No matter your occupation, there are ways to include appropriate stretching, weight-bearing, and aerobic routines throughout the day.
How many times have you said to yourself and others, “I am really stressed today.” Stress on the body and mind does have a purpose. Both positive and negative events and changes bring on stress. If you want to gauge your current stress level, go to my website, Celebrating Your Journey and take the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory on the Wellness page. To learn more about your stress level and ways to counter it, Dr. Richard Rahe has several products that may prove helpful.
I encourage to you seek out wellness providers who are ready to help you seek, reach, and achieve your wellness goals one step at a time. You will be amazed to discover what and how much you eat, move or exercise, and manage your stress will do for your body, mind, and spirit in your daily routines and life. In part 4, the focus will be on What’s up Doc? = Finding the Help You Need.