Watching television today, it’s no wonder so many of us are sick. We’re literally bombarded by advertising for all sorts of different things that sabotage our health. From fast food, to mi…
Source: Are You Paying Attention?
Watching television today, it’s no wonder so many of us are sick. We’re literally bombarded by advertising for all sorts of different things that sabotage our health. From fast food, to mi…
Source: Are You Paying Attention?
A common question I frequently ask my patients is: Are the people you’re trusting with your healthcare decisions really a ‘healthcare’ provider? Seems like a pretty simple question, right? The problem is that we’re living in a day and age where the lines between ‘healthcare’ and ‘disease management’ are terribly blurred.
For example, on my case history form, I have a section that asks:
What medications(s) are you currently taking?
Then, it asks about their vitamins and is followed by a question that asks:
How would you describe your overall health? Excellent Good Fair Poor
I’ve been in practice for nearly two decades and it still surprises me to see patients who may take a half dozen or more medications (and no vitamins btw) but describe their health as “Excellent.” Why? Because the commercials on TV tell them that if they want to be healthy, they have to take this or that medication. Because the people that they trust tell them that if they don’t take the medication, they won’t stay healthy. The problem with both scenarios is that medications are not vitamins. Whether helping to marginalize your symptoms or not, they’re still toxic and have side effects. Further, I propose that if you are taking medications, prescription or otherwise, to manage a chronic illness, you’re definitely not in “Excellent” health. A healthy person doesn’t need medication.
Nowadays, advertising has sold you on the notion that medicine is health. It’s not. Medicine is disease management and disease management is not the same thing as healthcare. Now, I’ll be clear. Modern medicine is a marvel of crisis care and intervention saving countless lives every year. But you have to understand that it really stinks for chronic illness. That’s why so many chronic illnesses are on the rise like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, despite miraculous advances in medicine and technology. The interventions we turn to in these illnesses just aren’t helping us to become healthier.
So, how do you know the difference between the two? Here are a few clues:
You develop some sort of symptom and go to your doctor. Your doctor performs all the tests, as appropriate, to determine the nature of your issue. If he/she then:
If all you’re getting from your doctor is a pill or procedure and you’re trying to get your health back, I hate to break it to you: you’re in the wrong office. If, however, your provider is spending time with you to council you on better nutrition, help you with exercising better, and work with you to better your lifestyle, then you’re on the right track and in the right place. Think about it. Almost all of us have a disease management provider, but how many of us have a healthcare provider? If you can find a good one, you may even surprise yourself at how healthy you can become.
This is the most amazing thing to happen to you! Congratulations! Few things will change your life more than having a child. It’s a joyful time for you, filled with anxious excitement and planning. While you relish this 9 months and the anticipation of your baby, there was one thing you weren’t planing on: pregnancy back pain! Ugh!
Pregnancy related back pain is an extremely common complication of pregnancy. Some estimates place as many as 61% of women as experiencing low back pain while carrying their child. That being said, there are many practical conservative solutions to the stress on the low back that occurs while pregnant.
So, why does a woman develop low back pain? Well there is the obvious answer that with added weight, comes added pressure on the joints. True, the average woman, in a healthy pregnancy, gains 25-35 pounds on average. However, there is more the back pain it than a simply weight gain.
Many women describe pregnancy related low back pain as back pressure, pain across the back, or pain in the hips. Additionally, they may report achiness, stabbing, burning, or instability in the low back. Regardless of the description, the causes of pregnancy related low back pain are many and include:
So, you have low back pain from your pregnancy, what can you do? There are a lot of conservative interventions available to help your deal with your back pain. Some can be accomplished on your own, others require the help and intervention of others. Here are a few suggestions:
If you are struggling with pregnancy related low back pain, there are solutions out there for you. Perhaps the best place to consult about your back pain is with someone who sees a lot of back pain patients, like a chiropractor. Besides adjusting your spine, they can provide you with additional tips and tricks to alleviate your pain.
Has your doctor suggested pain medication to you? Always ask better questions. The decision to take pain medication while pregnant should be a thoughtful one made with your medical doctor. You need to know what research has been done on that medication and its effect on a developing fetus. Certain conditions like asthma and autism have risen to alarming rates, with little research done on the effects of oral medications on an undeveloped fetus. While there is little overt evidence to explain the remarkable rise in childhood illness, that is mostly the result of a lack of research. Just because there is not an established 1 to 1 relationship between a specific cause and disease does not discount an overall trend toward increasing illness due to an accumulation of exposures. I don’t think it’s an accident that autism rates have risen to 1 in 88 kids. Too much of the research focuses on, and debunks, a single specific cause like vaccination and I fear conditions like autism are not due to a solitary cause but a series of toxic exposures over time. Unfortunately, there is very little research on the effects of pre-pregnancy, intra-pregnancy, and post-pregnancy toxic exposure on the developing child. However, it reasons that the rises in childhood illness rates may be linked to the fact that our environment is as toxic as it’s ever been. Anything you put in your body that is not food is a potential toxin. That toxin can affect you and your baby. Pain medication is not food. Anything you feed your body while pregnant, your baby will respond to, either for good or bad. Try to remove as many toxins as possible from your diet and lifestyle. Turning to natural means for alleviation of your pain may make you and your baby a whole lot healthier and happier for a lifetime of wellness.
Life is brief. As humans, we’re tasked with making the most of the limited time we have on this earth. Realizing this, it breaks my heart to see people live below their potential. Now, I have been in the healthcare business for 15 years and have seen miraculous recoveries in conditions ranging from low back pain to cancer. In fact, I would argue there are very few conditions out there that do not have an example of a full recovery with nearly every level of intervention.
Unfortunately, most people hurry through life, never stopping to smell the roses and only decide to try for health after years of neglect. People will literally spend decades of their life abusing themselves, then are perplexed when they develop some disease. The frustrating part for me, as a healthcare provider, is that for most of us, there is no mystery to being healthy. In fact, I would say that most people know what to do, they just choose not to do it. Moreover, many of the conditions for which patients chronically endure are correctible with adequate lifestyle change and focused intent.
In my experience, being healthy is not a matter of chance but a matter of choice. For the average individual, your health at any given period of your life is more a reflection of the decisions you’ve made than fate or some form of destiny for illness. Humans are not built for illness. We’re built to be healthy. It’s what we do to ourselves that makes us sick.
You see, you have a near limitless potential for health inside of you. Even a basic understanding of health shows that your body is constantly repairing the effects of physical and mental stresses. Each and every one of us is under relentless assault. Our jobs, our homes, our hobbies, and our lifestyles are constantly attacking us. And, our body is constantly adapting to the assault.
So, why do people get sick? Is it genetics? Recent genetic research suggests that our environment may be actually changing our genes over time. But, does this mean that chronic illnesses are necessarily passed down? Does it mean that if your father and grandfather had heart disease, then heart disease is inevitable for you too? Perhaps genetics does play a mild role but I don’t think genetics explains the measurable rise in chronic illnesses in recent years. Diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, and even cancer have been steadily rising in the U.S. for quite some time. The World Health Organization ranks the U.S. as 37th in general health but I recently heard a statistic that said we consume 42% of the world’s pharmaceuticals. What does that mean? It means that the ‘solutions’ we are turning to are not making us any healthier. Could a more reasonable solution be that chronic illness is learned? I mean, your habits and attitudes about food, exercise, and lifestyle were learned from your parents, who learned from their parents, who learned from their parents, and so on. So, maybe “it runs in my family” is a less accurate description than “I learned about health from my family.” Break the cycle and live up to your potential.
We are becoming a reflection of the choices we make. They say you are what you eat. In a way, that is very true. They also say ‘garbage in, garbage out.’ I think a more correct phrase would be ‘garbage in, garbage stays.’ You become a reflection of the choices you make, good or bad.
Your body is a machine. Much like a car, for example, how your body functions depends on how you treat it. You can’t expect your car to run well if you only drive it every 6 months and fuel it with garbage. The same is true of you. The difference is, and this fact is lost on too many people, your body can self heal. A car can’t. Your physiology is designed to heal. When you cut your finger, you heal. When you break a bone, you heal. When you get the flu, you heal. So, why is it that when we get, say, high blood pressure, we no longer heal? Why do we stop healing when we get diabetes? Is it because you have some form of genetic marker that says, “Ok, at this age you will get sick with a chronic, incurable disease?” Or, is it more likely that you are no longer able to heal from this illness because your potential has been suppressed due to years of neglect? More importantly, is there now hope for you now?
There is a belief in the population that I have seen all too frequently, and believe to be incorrect, that being sick is part of getting older. What if there was a way to change your direction and restore your body’s ability to heal? I’m not talking about magic potions and hocus pocus. I’m talking about getting your health back by making a measurable lifestyle change. You have a limitless health potential inside of you that you’ve suppresses with your neglect and bad choices. What if you could get some of that back? Wouldn’t even a 10% improvement in your health be a huge win? Your potential for health is still inside of you. You just have to remove any obstacles to the healing process and rediscover your potential. Your body is designed to heal. It wants to heal.
No one has all the answers for completely restoring your health. Frankly, I would be skeptical of anyone making such a claim. However, having worked with thousands of patient’s in my office, I have found several consistencies in patients who have reversed their disease processes:
Don’t know how to get well? Find someone who does and listen to them. There are tons of healthcare providers and coaches out there who do understand health and still have faith in the body’s ability to heal despite huge obstacles. A key piece of advice that you must remember though: health is not the same as disease management. Health is health and symptom control is an illusion. Symptom free does not mean healthy.
Whatever you do, don’t give up on yourself. There is always hope. No matter how dire the circumstances, you still have healing potential inside of you. The question is: are you going to stand in your own way or are you going to make the changes necessary to change you circumstances? You have more power than you know. Choose to be healthy!
What’s preventing you from being well? I mean, for the vast majority of us, total health is completely in our control. Sure, many will claim it to be the effects of bad luck or bad genes but, the truth is, you are largely in control of whether or not you ultimately develop one of the myriad of chronic illnesses that plague millions of Americans.
Poor health is not a matter of fate. It doesn’t occur because we are genetically programmed to get sick either. If we were, humans would be the only animal on the planet that was actually genetically programmed for disease. Contrary to what you may have been told, we are programmed to thrive and live abundantly, not gradually decay and live at less than our full potential.
So, what’s holding you back? Why aren’t you living at your full potential? The bigger questions is, why have you accepted it as normal? Having practiced as long as I have, you realize that the list of reasons that people have not to take care of themselves is as limitless as there are stars in the sky. Here are just a few:
1. I don’t have time – The truth is, everyone has time. It’s just not a priority for you. Sleeping in, watching a little extra television, or relaxing on the weekends is just more important to you. We all have 24 limited hours within the day. Why is it, then, that some people can find time to take care of themselves while others just never seem to be able. The reality is that you must make the time. If your health is a priority, your other activities would be scheduled around taking care of yourself.
2. It’s too expensive to be healthy – In reality, being healthy can be very inexpensive. Eating fresh foods, fruits and vegetables, can be a lot less expensive than the pre-packaged garbage we so readily consume. A gym membership you say? Work out at home, it’s free. Regular preventative chiropractic care is a lot cheaper than treating acute back pain. Heck, taking care of yourself is a lot cheaper than getting sick.
3. It’s too much work to take care of myself – Of course, being well takes work. Anyone can get sick but can everyone be well? The answer is, for the most part, yes. However, wellness doesn’t just happen on its own. Health is a matter of deliberate intent. The body is definitely designed to be healthy in optimum circumstances but who lives an ideal lifestyle? We are all constantly bombarded by physical and mental stresses. What separates the healthy from the disease is how we address those stresses and help our body’s adapt to the constant assault.
4. I have no self control – We all have self control. Without it, we’d all be criminals. More likely. You’ve chosen not to control those aspects of your life that contribute to a healthy lifestyle or may be inconvenient. Whether you manifest any control around a piece of chocolate cake or not is matter of choice. It’s not to say that your choices will be easy for you but all of your decisions have consequences, good and bad. You have to choose to be in control.
5. I just keep forgetting – Again, this is a reflection of priorities. You probably wouldn’t forget to pick your kids up from school. You probably also wouldn’t forget to eat. If you want to be successful at being healthy, you need a schedule and a routine. Write down what you need to do and when you need to do it. A short pencil is better than a long memory.
Now, what does this all mean? It generally means that a person can have every reason in the book to excuse their apathy and neglect. It also means that the only thing standing in your way is you. The reality that many may face, though, is that if you don’t remember and make time to take care of yourself now, time will be found for you later when you get sick. The choice is up to you. Choose to be healthy now or expect to be sick later. Either way, the decision is in your hands. Be well.
Recently, a patient commented to me that “supplements are so expensive.” What struck me as peculiar about the statement was how ill the patient was prior to coming into our office and how much money he was probably spending on disease management for the his array of chronic illnesses. I know that he wants to be healthy. We all do, but I guess I found the objection to having to pay for health as a strange one considering he had certainly paid enough for his diseases.
I would figure that between his hypertension and diabetes along with his osteoarthritis and obesity, he had spent thousands of dollars just in deductibles and co-pays managing the symptoms of his various ailments. Further, he’d probably spent countless hours dedicated to checking his blood pressure and sugars as well as doctor’s visits and working with other healthcare providers. Yet, “supplements are so expensive” and exercise was an anathema. I wish this patient was unique but, to be honest, I’ve worked with too many patients with the exact same perceptions about disease and health over the years.
It turns out that the reason this particular patient felt that the supplements were “expensive” was because he really had never taken them during is life, at least not in any meaningful way. He also had invested very little time or money in regular exercise throughout his lifetime, never having belonged to a gym or making time for regular exercise. When he got sick, he went to his doctor, like many people do, and, instead of being given solutions to improve his health, he was given an expensive pill that his insurance paid the lion’s share of and told to just live with the chronic illness. In a nutshell, this patient reminded me of the cost of health versus being sick.
The simplest way to put the cost of your health in perspective is the true statement that being sick is a lot more expensive than being healthy. I would argue, based on dealing with the public for over 15 years, that the list of reasons for neglecting your health is a long one. Number one on that list, based on my experience, seems to be a fear of losing. Ironically however, it’s not a fear losing their health. I would even gather that many people mistakenly assume that losing health is an inevitability.
It seems to me, based on patient interactions over the years, there two common mitigating factors that patients fear to lose when relating to health: Money and Time. I’ve noticed that your ability to better manage these factors can have a direct substantial positive impact on your health. While many claim to have a shortage of both, my personal experience as a healthcare provider has been that both are more a matter of confused priorities. For many, health is just not as important as other commitments in their life.
You have to realize that health is an investment. Just like investing money will produce a future financial return, so too will investing in your health more than likely pay dividends in the end. If you are slow and deliberate, taking your time but remaining consistent, your wise health investment will most likely pay off in higher quality and prolonged life as you age. If, however, you choose to largely ignore your investment, never donating the time or money that it takes to be well, then you can’t be surprised when you get little return on your health as you get older.
Many think that health is beyond their reach because it may be too expensive, but is that a matter of money or perception? Have you set of a barrier of false beliefs regarding the cost of health that is preventing you from being well? Do you live under the myth that being well is only for the rich? Too often I see the patient who claims they can’t afford the costs of health but can afford a brand new car, fresh landscaping, or expensive meals eating out. In that case, money isn’t the issue. Priorities are.
Our ability to commit to ourselves has also been affected by our expectations from society. Today we live in a culture that has been trained to rely on insurance to cover every health related eventuality and keep us well. We forget, however, that insurance is just that: insurance meant to cover the unpredictable expense of disease. As such, insurance doesn’t cover expenses related to prevention such as nutrition, exercise, and preventative chiropractic adjusting. Insurance will cover what it takes to become healthy if you get sick, not prevention. “But they cover annual physicals and blood work” you say? There is nothing preventative about an annual physical or blood work. These tests are actually a form of early detection, not prevention. As such, your insurance will cover tests meant to detect disease but if you are looking to stay healthy and prevent disease, you will have to pay for that on your own. So, it’s not a matter of “supplements are so expensive.” It’s a matter of you having to get used to paying out of your own pocket for prevention and investing time and money on your own to stay well.
Lifelong health is within your reach if you are willing to change your preconceived notions about what it takes to be healthy. You don’t have to join a fancy gym to exercise. Try exercising at home. Milk containers can substitute for weights (a gallon of water weighs 8 pounds) and walking is free. Often, people also don’t realize that fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats are cheaper than meals eating out or the packaged non-foods we so readily consume on a nearly daily basis. Changing your diet and increasing your exercise will also help your body respond and adapt better to stress. Further, supplementing your diet now with a good quality whole food supplement is a lot less exensive than treating the symptoms of a disease once you become ill. Regular chiropractic adjusting for prevention and maintenance of health is also generally very affordable and within the budget of many people. In fact, people are turning to chiropractors more and more for many non-back pain related health issues because of its effectiveness and low cost in maintaining health.
Additionally, you can’t confuse disease management with health. We are literally bombarded regularly by advertising for all sorts of treatments and drugs which are sold to us as “health.” Most, though, are really just symptom management and come with a hefty financial price tag. While complex testing, medications, and doctor’s visits can be fairly expensive, the generally healthy person does not require these often. Staying healthy is much cheaper than becoming sick.
The second perceived lack that prevents a person from being well is time but, to put it simply, it’s never a matter of time. It’s a mater of priorities. Have you ever wondered how a certain person “finds the time” to exercise or is able to regularly cook healthy meals. The truth is that we all have 24 hours in a day. Sure, you have kids, and work, and stuff. We all do. The difference between the healthy person and the ill person is not that they necessarily have more time. It’s that exercise and planning for a healthy lifestyle is more of a priority for them.
For the health conscious, catching up on the latest television episode, sleeping in, or putting in extra time at work just isn’t as important as healthy habits. As a result, they make the time. Having kids is not an excuse either. Kids have to sleep sometime and adults require far less sleep than children do. A viable option is to either exercise before they wake up or actually make them exercise with you. Who knows, maybe you’ll pass your good habits on to them so that they’ll be healthier adults.
Time is a linear factor. All of us are subject to its daily limitations on our physiology. Are you mastering your time or is time mastering you? One activity I have my patients in the office do, and I suggest you try it, is sit down and write down all of the tasks you do during the day. Almost without exception, people have more than enough time to exercise in the day. Too often, people are very surprised at how much down-time they have and time they really waste during the day where they could be more productive. If all that time were set end to end , there would be plenty of time and then some for better health choices.
“But I’m so tired. I’m just so busy all the time and don’t have the energy,” you may say. Perhaps it hasn’t occurred to you that improving your lifestyle may actually increase your energy levels. Not only will a better planned day reduce your stress, but you’ll be sure to set time aside for assuring your wellbeing. Further, improved health will remove illness as a distraction and may even help you get things done more effectively during the day.
So, is your reason for not being healthy as out of your control as you perceive? Or, more likely, have you set up excuses that prevent you from growing and fulfilling your health potential. No matter the reason, there is a solution for the self imposed limitations that we hide behind. When all is considered, you must keep the end in mind. Ultimately, you’ll need to put some skin in the game to achieve and maintain your own health. Investing a little now in your health will, most like, pay large health dividends in the end because in the long run, the cost of health is a lot cheaper than the price of disease.