The Path To Optimal Health Is Not A Straight Line

My journey of health looked like this with far more scribbles.  It wasn't always pretty or perfect but I still put doodle hearts on it.

My journey of health looked like this with far more scribbles.  It wasn't always pretty or perfect but I still put doodle hearts on it.

By WIN Contributor; Dr. Laura Imola, Naturopathic Doctor

I was recently asked* by "Rewire Me" to write an article for their readers that focused on personal transformation which drew from my years of work and life experience.  I wrote on a topic that was near and dear to me: how the path toward optimal health, including my own, is not linear.

What does this all mean...not linear?  It's really quite simple... think of a zig zag... think... two steps forward, one step back... think the winding path to the top of a mountain.  

My hope in sharing my story is that more people are inspired to keep working on getting to their truest and best expression of health.  When the going gets tough, to remember to not give up. 

If you want to hear my own zig zaggy, back and forth, fall down nine times stand up ten, story about the journey of health... keep reading...

 

The Winding Path for the Naturopath

For those who know me, many would find it hard to believe that at one time in my life I hated vegetables.  It would be especially surprising to know that I had an equally strong aversion to exercise of any kind.  It is true that into my early adulthood, I seldom ate my greens, I cursed the thought of physical activity and my passion was sugar.  This would be hard to imagine now, since my passion in life is to not only educate others about how to be proactively healthy and prevent illness, but to also live this way.

It wasn’t always like this, and I had a moment in my early adulthood when I realized that my self care had to change.  Back then, I felt like an old lady trapped in a young person’s body.  

Though I struggled with constant fatigue, I couldn’t fall asleep at night.  I was plagued with frequent infections, regular headaches, felt rusty in the mornings and my hair was falling out.  I felt unwell, but I just accepted this was normal for me.  Deep down inside, I knew my body was breaking down, and I needed to make a change.

There is a tremendous amount of health research linking poor nutrition and lifestyle habits to the rampant chronic illness rates in North America.  In addition, over recent years we are seeing more studies, such as the one published in the journal Circulation in 2013that links sedentary lifestyles and poor nutrition in teens to an increased risk of developing heart disease in their forties.

Some people may think I just jumped right into a healthy lifestyle and kept on going. I wish that was the way it happened but for me, like most people, I found that the journey of health was not linear.  I see many people stuck in a state of mediocre health who start out with great energy to revolutionize their lives.  But as they face challenges or are put outside their comfort zone, their enthusiasm can fizzle out. 

 

"When we are not aware of the fact that the gift of health is earned over time, it is easy to become discouraged and discontinue our efforts."

 

The path towards our best expression of health is a zig-zaggy, up and down, steps forward and steps back kind of path.  When we are not aware of the fact that the gift of health is earned over time, it is easy to become discouraged and discontinue our efforts. It is important to remember that there is substantial growth, self-awareness, realizations and time required to transform our health.

 

"Starting out by making small changes counts just as much as the big jumps into a health kick." 

 

Wading through the healthy options, trying them on, failing sometimes, making mistakes and experiencing the big wins are all rolled into this journey.  Some things we may enjoy, and other things we may not.

 

This is completely normal.

 

It’s part of the process.

 

In today’s age of perfectionism and instant gratification, this can be incredibly challenging to accept at times. Sadly, these two factors often hold people back from making progress and reaching their goals. However, letting go of expectations while walking this uneven road frees the way to higher ground.

Starting out by making small changes counts just as much as the big jumps into a health kick. When we take these steps to do good things for our mind, body and soul, the net result is always positive. It may at times be a climb but the view from the top is worth it.

 

*Acknowledgment: Many thanks to Kaitlin Vogel and the team at Rewire Me for the opportunity to contribute to their great site!  You can see the published article for Rewire Me here.

 

WINing 2016: Sticking to your healthy start

By WIN Contributor: Dr. Laura Imola, Naturopathic Doctor

A new year, a fresh start.  So many of us use the new year as motivation to fine tune or evolve the way we take care of ourselves.  We resolve to eat better, exercise regularly, get to bed earlier and much more.

I find that the best way make healthy changes that stick is to integrate small things that you can easily do each day.  This is how we can make a mountain out of a mole hill, but in a good way.  Small changes can create a footing so we can keep climbing towards optimal health.

Here are some of the little things that can help you keep your footing and stick to your health goals.

1) Drink Water - Replace as many beverages that you can with pure water or herbal tea.  Adequate hydration with pure fluids (i.e. water) helps with energy, skin integrity, mood, joint health, proper digestion and good metabolic function.

 

2) Pre-package your food - Consider pre-packaging your smoothie ingredients in zip-lock bags or containers and store 1-2 weeks worth in the freezer.  This makes getting a breakfast or snack smoothie quick and easy, and it guarantees you're getting a good dose of plant food that day.  

Dr. Laura's Packaged Smoothie: 1 banana, 1 handful of frozen berries, 2 tbsp hemp seeds, 2 tbsp chia seeds, 1 tbsp coconut oil, 1 handful greens/veg (e.g. kale, spinach, swiss chard, collard greens, shredded carrots, etc., or a combination).

Also consider taking an hour on a day off to do a big cookout for the week's lunches.  Again, use containers, cook up 2-3 veggies and 2 types of protein sources.  Then package these in a container for each day of the week.  This ensures you get a healthy lunch and saves time.

3) Create some downtime OR Teach yourself how to have downtime -  Whether it's the go-go-go pace of the day or need to be "doing" something, this state of restlessness is causing stress to be an obstacle in reaching health goals.  

Productivity is important.  However, to be truly productive there must be a balance between "doing" and downtime.  Your body will thank you, your memory will be sharper and you will be happier.  Carve out some time regularly to practice something that restores, recharges and replenishes.  This can be reading a book, being creative (e.g. music, artwork, colouring, dancing), knitting, meditation, prayer, an epsom salt bath, a massage, yoga, time with a pet, time with children, time outdoors, time in nature... the list of possibilities are endless.  

These are just a few small things to help you stick to your health goals.  Working with people on this journey towards optimal health is my passion.  If you would like to take a more proactive health care and utilize preventative medicine, together we can develop a plan that will help you optimize your health and reach your goals.