Lifestyle is Medicine
Hello! It’s been awhile. Crystal (Herrington) Medal here with @SavoringHealth - I’ve had recent inspiration to share my health journey again after a long, long hiatus. Life looks different now!
I was promoted 9 months ago and now am the Whole Health RN at the Minneapolis VA. I’ve gained so much from this role, from health coaching veterans. The disease reversing, life overhauling, chain breaking differences I’ve seen in these veterans lives has been nothing short of miraculous.During this time, I’ve learned one common theme holds true: Lifestyle is Medicine. It’s not just food -- it’s sleep, mental health / mindset, relationships, surroundings, spirituality, movement, and so much more. Looking at health and wellbeing through this lens changes everything about the way we should be providing medical care, but also changes how we should be living.
Through these experiences, I’ve found a lifestyle that makes me feel my absolute best. I’m more in tune with my body then I’ve ever been. Practicing mindfulness in each separate area allows us to recognize when there is a gap between where we are and where we want to be.
That’s the Secret: Identify the gap, and acknowledge what it’s going to take to get to where you want to be.
This is where it’s helpful to have the support of somebody who can actively listen to you. Often times as a health coach I feel like a set of ears and not too much more than that. It’s a lot of listening to what’s going on in the person's heart. More often than not we know what we need to do to feel our best. Whether it be getting back on the walking routine we used to daily, or having those morning smoothies that always made us feel more energized. Sometimes it’s just a matter of talking it through and reminding ourselves what actually made us feel so good in the past.
The definition of Medicine is “the science or practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease.” Typically, we take two parts of this definition and tend to forget the third. Practicing medicine, at its heart, is the prevention of disease.
It’s the little choices we make day in and day out that add up and dictate our health outcomes years later. Most of the time breakfast or your daily walk doesn’t feel like medicine, but when we shift our mindset about what medicine truly means, we begin to understand that it is first and foremost our lifestyle that fits the very definition of medicine.
I challenge you to think of your life through this lens and to identify an area that you’d like to improve. What change would make the biggest impact in your life?
Focus on reasonable and sustainable changes. Don’t tell yourself you’re going to run 5 miles a day if you haven’t even walked 5 miles in years. Choose an action that fits seamlessly into a routine so you’ll be motivated to complete it.
Humans take the path of least resistance, so make it easy for yourself to make the healthy choice. Put the unhealthy choice out of site, and keep the healthy choice front and center.
- Keep a glass of water next to your bed at night so it’s convenient to drink first thing in the morning.
- Put your yoga mat on the floor next to your bed, so you’ll already be on it and ready to stretch prior to falling into bed at night.
These types of simple switches are what make being healthy the easy route, the path of least resistance. Once you start making these choices, recognize your bodies response to the choices you’ve made.
- Do you notice less sugar cravings when you eat more protein?
- How are your bowel movements after drinking more water?
- Do you have less self-deprecating thoughts now that you’ve incorporated a gratitude practice?
- Do you treat your family and friends better now that you’re sleeping more?
This is what mindfulness truly means. To bring a sense of non-judgmental awareness to how your body and mind react to different choices throughout the day. Recognizing when a new habit makes you feel good will solidify that choice as the one you’ll continue to make.
As you navigate your journey with health and wellbeing, my biggest tip is to Keep Things Simple.
When we begin to stick to one ingredient whole foods, we can figure out what our bodies reaction is to each food and in turn build our lifestyle around that which makes us feel our best. Water, nourishing whole foods, meaningful movement, and a positive mindset are powerful tools in healing and maintaining our wellbeing.
Warm Wellness Wishes,