I’m hearing more about lifestyle medicine these days (thank goodness!), including another movie “What the Health” on the problems of “big health” (pharma-central health care and advocacy, processed food and other areas where $ over-rides health). Like life itself, it’s more complicated than good guys and bad guys. I love health advocacy groups, and taking funds from big pharma, is well, OK – so long as it funds lifestyle – and while pharma is often used when lifestyle ought to be the first line of treatment, drugs do save lives (with side effects). It’s just not black & white.
The American lifestyle – including:
- An over-processed, nutritionally devoid, inhumanly raised food supply,
- More sedentary lives,
- And inadequate ways of handling stress (we love us some comfort food & screen time).
All add up to bodies more likely to express the chronic disease tendencies in our family histories. We have so much room for improvement!
In the post-truth age, I am going to do my best to tell you my whole truth on this.
It’s hard to live well today.
It’s nearly impossible to eat well all the time. That’s OK, because you do not have to be perfect. If however you have biomarkers of disease (like high fasting blood sugar and A1c, lipid labs suggestive of cardiovascular disease) or symptoms (achy joints, weight gain, skin issues) that something is out of balance, you’ve gotta give it a try. You’ve just gotta keep trying. I love to eat and sometimes overeat (my 55 year-old metabolism is slowing down down down despite exercise, and that’s probably a good thing in the long run) so managing my weight is a constant companion. So, I practice.
It’s hard to get adequate physical activity. The evidence and advocacy groups say you need at least 30 minutes of moderate movement most days of the week. Ten-thousand steps might need to be elevated to fifteen (which doesn’t matter if you, like me, sometimes come in at the 1,000 range!). In order to be healthy, as you age, you’ve got to move. Quite a bit. As much as you can. Your life needs to be physical (even if you have limitations – if you can use your arms but not your legs, use your arms. There are a million ways to do it (I walk and clean and garden and do yoga and even, recently calisthenics classes – weights). I still need more. I sluff off. When I do it I feel better – less achy, higher energy. So I practice.
It’s hard not to get stressed out. Life is upsetting. We are past the Co2 tipping point, for goodness sake. That’s really bad news. We are losing a lot and need to learn to let go. But what we are losing often feels really important. And so it is. That’s why I carry around a book that helps me work on non-attachment. My own personal practice is non-attachment while caring. It’s tricky, but a really good practice. It works for me. So I practice.
So, what to do?
- To work lifestyle medicine – the heart of preventive health, or being in balance with the earth and our own bodies, we do need to wake up. To not buy the cultural norms being sold to us. To know that both fake news and true healing are alive and well in the food and health industries. Health is in the nuance – in the middle ground between fake and true.
- We have to know who we are and show up for our own lives in a real way. To be honest, I don’t care what you eat in any given moment. I do care if you enjoy it, and very much hope that you do. Whatever you decide to eat, decide to do, decide to be, do it all out, have fun with it, learn from it and carry on. There is a full, true, healthful version of you in there, and I so wish that you dance in that version more of the time.
- I can’t see a way around getting up. We have to participate in our lives in a physically and mentally active way in order to be healthy. We need to dance and clean and hunt and play golf and badminton and what ever else we love to do.
At this point in time, lifestyle medicine is a little radical – a little against the grain. It’s a little uncomfortable and might feel a little judgmental – who do you think you are, doing all that self-care?! That’s a really good questions.
Here’s my answer of who you are: you are a divine expression of God. That’s why you deserve to be your fullest expression. That’s why you deserve to take fantastic care of yourself.
Go forth and practice! Let your freak flag fly!