Monthly Archives: July 2011

Health Is More Than Eating Nutritious Food

Health is more than eating nutritious food. It’s about the choices we make every day. Exercise or sit home and watch television? How about that invitation from friends to get together? Join them or stay home and read a book? And, lazy Sunday mornings when faced with a choice of staying in bed or getting up and heading out to an inspirational message at church? What about financial decisions? Stay in this job or leave? Does the money justify the stress? Health is more than eating nutritious food; it’s about the choices we make every day.

Do you know the answers to the questions above? Let’s take them one at a time:

  1. Exercise or sit home watching television. That depends on what’s been going on in your life. If you’ve been exercising regularly, and you’ve had a difficult, busy, crazy day, then sitting at home and watching a mindless television show might be the perfect choice. If you’ve been sitting at home watching mindless television for weeks, months, and years on end, turn off the TV and get moving!
  2. Going out with friends or staying home. Have you been out with friends several times this week? Then it’s a good idea to stay home. Some people like spending time alone, and if you’ve chosen to be alone most of the week, then going out with friends is probably a better choice. Building and nurturing relationships is valuable. Friendship and laughter can be the best medicine. Find a happy balance between solitude and activity. This goes for outgoing, party-loving people as well … Too little solitude and you’re likely to lose track of who you are and where you want to go. Go out and have fun, but make time for quiet as well.
  3. Stay home or go to church. Yeah. Luxuriate with a latte and newspaper while still sleepy-faced and in your jams, or dressed properly for church and out the door, coffee in hand? I’m sure you’ve caught on by now that the theme of the day is balance. There are days when sleepy-face with a latte wins out. I pick one day a week to give myself the gift of nothing scheduled in the morning because an unscheduled morning is one of my favorite things, and sometimes the only day available is Sunday, but I do try to make it to Unity Church of Overland Park because the message is so often pertinent to whatever is going on in my life at the time. If you choose the latte and sleepy-face over church on a regular basis, think about finding a church that has a message that resonates with your soul. It can be a life-changer.
  4. Financial decisions. I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity of getting hooked on big salaries and benefits packages, but have recognized the mental and spiritual cost of staying in those positions before spending got out of hand. (I was a Market Researcher at a major pharmaceutical company. Their lack of ethics was evident even in the 90s.)I always had a sense of financial responsibility (osmosis! my mother was a bookkeeper) I was able to take lower-paying positions that suited my lifestyle better because my house payment was reasonable and I had very little debt. (Not that the high salary wasn’t tempting!)
    It’s never easy to walk away from a good-paying position, and in this economy it’s not a good idea to walk away from any position without another one lined up. If you’re unhappy in your current career situation, look for ways to improve it. If you decide you need to change your position, and you’re not in a financial position to make the change, work on a budget plan that will get you where you need to be. In the meantime, are there opportunities at work to improve your situation?
    Whether you are able to change careers or are trying to improve the situation you’re in, identify what you love about your work and what you don’t, and what hobbies you enjoy. What is it that interests you? After you’ve worked with these questions, use your answers to help you find a career path that fits you. Listen to your intuition–Let your gut be your guide!
    Basically, that’s how I decided on my new career as a Health Coach and began training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. It began when I realized that my boss would eventually move on, and I had no idea what my position would look like when he left, so I decided to be proactive and figure out what I wanted to do. I identified what I love about my current job: problem solving, talking with people and making their day better, being part of a group, and the diversity of people I meet. Outside of work I love my continuing journey to better health, and have always been crazy curious about nutriton, health and fitness. We spend so much of our time at work that it’s time to realize we can take control of what our work looks like.

Health is so much more than nutritious food, and a Health Counselor is so much more than healthy recipes. For more information on how a Health Coach can help you, go to www.healthworkskc.com

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How Changing a Diet Changed a Life

I know a person with MS; let’s call him Tom. Tom has had some issues with alcohol over the years and was recently released from a 90-day sentence in a prison alcohol treatment program. When he had been back for a few days, we got to talking about his MS and how bad it was; there was numbness and tingling in his hands and arms and he said that his feet felt like anvils when he came up the stairs. His depression was pretty deep.

I had read bits and pieces about diet and MS and offered to print out some of what I came across for him. I also suggested Vitamin D supplements since I’d just read a lot about the prevalence of Vitamin D deficiencies and the host of problems, including MS symptom exacerbation and depression, that was caused by not having enough of it. I was pretty sure, based on his pasty complexion, that he hadn’t been getting a lot of sun in prison.

I came home, printed out information from The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, John MacDougall, MD., and information about the Swank Diet. There was also a NYTimes article which referenced two women, Ann Sawyer and Judith Bachrach, who had written a book titled, “The MS Recovery Diet.” (There are also naysayers who discount diet’s role in symptom relief, but there are people who argue about the benefits of healthy eating everywhere.)

While I was not at all recommending replacing medical treatment, I was certainly encouraging Tom to try to resolve some of his symptoms through diet. I was surprised and delighted that he not only read the information, but immediately began to put the strategies in place.

Last week, we were sharing a vegan lunch, and I told him that the dollop of aioli wasn’t vegan. He wouldn’t touch it. He said, “No way am I eating that. I’m feeling good and I don’t want to do anything to mess this up!” This was less than two months after he began changing his diet. He said he was able to run up the stairs, and there wasn’t any numbness in his hands. I could observe that he wasn’t as depressed and his color was much improved.

I’ve personally given up dairy, gluten and meat, along with rarely eating tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes, something I thought would never happen, but I don’t have any symptoms of asthma, arthritis or hypertension anymore. I can walk two miles a night without feeling an ache or pain. I can swim laps for a half hour, then go walk a mile on the track and ride a cycle for a half hour without any breathing problems. I have more energy than I had when I was 25 and I’m 61 … That’s what I’m talking about!

Tom had to give up dairy, gluten, eggs and meat for this to work for him. As Ms. Sawyer said, “The approach is simple, doesn’t cost anything and nobody is making money from it. We’re not saying the diet is a cure; it’s a way to control the symptoms of MS. Walking around watching what you eat is a lot better than sitting in a wheelchair.” Isn’t that the truth!

Diet! What a fantastic tool we have available to us and yet so few people choose to use it. Whether you have allergies, asthma, arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, fibromyalgia or MS … Why not give it a shot? It sounds difficult and frightening at first, but when you start feeling so much better, and you get better at preparation, making good choices, and finding products that you like, it really becomes second nature.

I decided to become a certified health coach because of the success I’ve had with changing my diet. A lot of people don’t need to make the drastic changes that I made or that Tom made; they just need to discover what works for them. Often, people just want to have more energy, lose weight, or sleep better.

One way to make the process of changing your diet easier is to work with a health coach who can help you experiment with what works for you and can even help you learn how to prepare some  foods that might be new to you. A certified health coach has the knowledge to guide you through the process. In September, I’ll be certified to offer a six-month health coaching program. Since I’ll be new to the coaching process, I will be offering the program at a substantial discount. So, if you’re interested in making a change, let me know and we can make arrangements to get together in September!