Lifestyle Medicine. Say it slowly and think about what you’re saying. Lifestyle Medicine, something we all could use a little bit of. So, what is it exactly?
The American College of Lifestyle Medicine says, Lifestyle Medicine involves the use of evidence-based lifestyle therapeutic approaches, such as a predominately whole food, plant-based diet, exercise, sleep, stress management, alcohol moderation, and tobacco cessation, and other non-drug modalities to prevent, treat, and, oftentimes, reverse the lifestyle-related, chronic disease that’s all too prevalent.
Dean Ornish, a well-recognized lifestyle pioneer states that Lifestyle Medicine is made up of nutrition, physical activity, stress reduction, rest, and social support systems.
Sounds great to me! Well, almost. I support bio-individuality and believe that for some, a plant-based diet works wonders but for others, it may not. However, I love the idea of Lifestyle Medicine and think that it makes so much sense! As an FDN Practitioner and Certified Holistic Health Coach, I spend a great amount of time exploring Diet, Rest, Exercise, Stress Reduction, and Supplementation. This is the DRESS for Health Success Program®. Some of these categories roll into what we call primary food. This might not be what you expect. Primary food is not what you put on your plate, that is secondary food, it’s what is going on in your relationships, your career, your physical activity, and even your spirituality. Do you have healthy relationships? Or do you have energy vampires in your life? Are you getting regular physical activity? Or are you spending the majority of your time stationary? Do you have a fulfilling career? Or are you in a job that you hate? Do you have a spiritual practice? The secondary food is what you put on your plate. It’s secondary because if the primary food is lacking, it doesn’t matter how much organic kale or chia seeds you eat, you will still be missing something. This all sounds like good Lifestyle Medicine to me!
Lifestyle Medicine is not a new idea. Hippocrates, the father of medicine recognized the value of food as a medicine many centuries ago. He had a philosophy, Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. Hippocrates was not the only one who thought this way. Lifestyle recommendations have been recognized in ancient healing traditions for a very long time.
Abraham Maslow, who was best known for creating Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1943), believed that human beings have within them an inner nature that strives in a positive way to actualize their true potential. He described the inner nature as being delicate and subtle and easily overcome by habit. This relates to the saying, listen to your gut. We may not know all there is to know about health and wellness but if we listen carefully and quietly to our inner nature, our gut, we know what is best for us. So why are we not doing it? Do we not trust or even hear our inner voice? Do we not have the willpower?
This is where a Health Coach comes into play. A Health Coach will help you hear the subtle cues your inner nature is trying to share with you. A Health Coach will help you find a vision to work towards, create actions steps to move towards your vision, and help you find ways to hold yourself accountable. It’s ideal to start small and build on each action step to create something great. This idea was stated well by Vincent Van Gogh, Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.
Start small, listen for your inner voice and create something great! Try some of the ideas below.
- Nutrition: Eat real food and avoid processed food. A good rule of thumb is if there are more than 5 ingredients on the food label, give it a pass. This means, eat veggies, fruit, organic or grass-fed meat and milk, pasture-raised eggs. Choose healthy carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes. Use healthy fats like cooking with coconut oil, use olive oil and Bragg’s vinegar for salad dressing. Drink pure water, avoid GMO’s, refined sugar and artificial sweeteners.
- Rest: Get to bed by 10pm and wake up by 6am. Limit screen time an hour before bed or wear blue light blocking glasses. The blue light from the tv, computer, and cell phone lowers the production of melatonin, your sleep hormone.
- Exercise: Try to get daily exercise but don’t overdo it. If you are being too hard on yourself exercise can act as another stress. Daily walks are wonderful, maybe some high-intensity interval training on some days with yin yoga on other days. If you like to workout at home try the MUTU System. The exercises start off gentle and then increase in intensity as your strength builds. It’s a 12-week program but you own it for life and hopefully, it will become a daily habit for you.
- Stress Reduction: Add some breathing exercises into your daily schedule. Check out Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 breath. While your mind is quiet, listen for your inner voice. Try a yin/restorative yoga class or find one on YouTube. Treat yourself to an Epsom salt bath with a good book! Remove the energy vampires from your life.
- Social Support System: Develop your web of support. On a blank piece of paper make a circle in the center and write your name in that circle. Now create lines that go out from your circle and add other circles. They might include your partner, your doctor, your health coach, a sibling, a house cleaner, etc. Put the name of the person, how they support you and their phone number in the circle. Brainstorm, who else can be in your web of support? Who are you missing? Call on this support system as needed.
- Reduce your toxic load: Look through your cleaning supplies at home, can you switch anything out for a more natural product? Check out the EWG’s guide to green cleaning products. What you put on your body is just as important as to what you put in it. Check out EWG’s Skin Deep guide. My daily skin care regimen includes products from Annmarie Skin Care. Annmarie is all-natural, organic, wild-crafted and you can pronounce all the ingredients on each product!
Interested in Health Coaching or FDN? Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® and the DRESS for Health Success® Program are proven methods that have helped thousands of people! To learn more, schedule a FREE 15-minute consultation.