Parents teach their kids lifestyle behavior patterns. Perhaps you, as a parent-leader, have failed many times at making lifestyle changes. There may be a part of you that doesn't even want to read this book or participate in the workshop. It may be difficult for you to concentrate, or maybe you are overwhelmed with what you have to do. It may have been years since you felt well. I hear this every day and so you are not alone. This is all too familiar in the world of chronic disease and symptom management. So.... I wonder if you would be willing to put all of that aside & take a leap of faith with me?....
Elizabeth Bohorquez, RN, C.Ht
LET'S START AT THE BEGINNING...
We all start off pretty much the same, at least on the outside, but if one could visit the genetics of you as a baby , the underpinnings of many chronic diseases would most likely be found at cellular levels. These are parts of your internal wallpaper or tendencies towards particular diseases, as well as addictions. Your future health outcomes, as well as your cognitive or mind development, depend on how your parents cared for you, as well as how you cared & continue to care for yourself in later years.
Of course, habits are born early. As a young child your learned from your experiences & what your senses tell you from the time you were an infant. Your parents & siblings were your early health & wellness teachers. If they weren't practicing good lifestyle behaviors, you learned what not to do...... & like all babies, learned it very well!
While statistics are often seen as boring, they do help us to self-motivate. Chronic diseases account for 7 of every 10 U.S. deaths & for more than 60% of medical care expenditures. In addition, the prolonged illness & disability associated with many chronic diseases decrease quality of life for millions of Americans.
It's a good idea to stay aware as you walk through life. Notice people & their level of health. See if you can spot those with chronic disease. A good mind exercise is to image your head on the body of someone with a chronic problem. Focus on the lifestyle behaviors that accompany the individual. If you are shopping, look in their carts. If you are in the mall, observe their ability to move, as well as the level of fatigue. The better your focus on the problems displayed by other individuals, the more you will uncover that can be beneficial to you in your own self-growth. This says to the subconscious mind, "this could be me." These humbling moments of self-awareness can be extremely powerful in developing inner programs for change.
THE CRITICAL ROLE OF HEALTHY EATING
Perhaps you picked up my book or registered for this workshop because you know that you need to change your eating habits. This was a good first step. Perhaps you already know that good nutrition lowers the risk for many chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, some types of cancer, diabetes & osteoporosis. For example, for at least 10 million Americans at risk for type II diabetes, proper nutrition & physical activity can sharply lower their chances of getting the disease.
Good nutrition that is designed to meet the specific needs of your body and exercise level also stops food cravings, bingeing, as well as cravings for other addictive substances.
Perhaps another reason you picked up my book is because you have noticed a resistance to change in some areas of your lifestyle behaviors. You are certainly not alone. Although Americans are slowly adopting healthier diets, a large gap remains between recommended dietary patterns and what Americans actually eat.
It is very interesting to observe people & their relationship to eating. Most people tend not to pay any or little attention to what they eat or drink. There is often a complete lack of discipline, as if food and beverage had nothing whatsoever to do with the internal functioning of the mind and body.
Truth be known, there is a huge connection between nutritional intake, chronic disease development, management & symptoms. Many individuals live in continuous food stress, causing their body and mind to function at very low levels. The chronic disease is often blamed, while the true culprit is the food stress.
OH.......THE POOR BODY PARTS
I wish you could be a fly on the wall of my office & listen as I interview patients about their eating habits. It is rare to find a single soul who is not experiencing what I call food stress, or disorderly eating. One cannot help but feel sorry for the poor body parts sitting before me. These body systems & cell groups are locked up, unable to get what they need to survive.
Imagine someone carrying a hungry baby in their arms & refusing to feed it. When individuals refuse to feed their body correctly, it is very much the same. The person with the baby could be arrested for child abuse. It’s unfortunate that there isn’t a law against self-abusing one’s body. Perhaps if there was such a law, people would begin to pay attention to what they are doing to themselves.
When the mind & body are under food stress, additional stress chemicals are produced as the body attempts to find balance. It is well known that chronic disease states are stress related. The medical literature suggests that 60-90% of disease states are related to stress in some way. This is actually good news. Translated correctly, this means that 60-90% is within one’s power to change.
There is much to be learned from observing chronic disease & the lifestyle behaviors of those with the problems. There is no lack of people to observe. Walk through the supermarket, the mall, the movie theater, the baseball park or just about anywhere else. Go into the school cafeteria or walk the halls, observing the junk machines. Count the fast food restaurants as you drive through your town. Try to locate a healthy place to eat. See how many non-food places sell junk food at their registers.
Observe how many people are eating outside of regular meal times. How many of these people are doing something else while they are eating. This is called mindless, or blind eating. Walk through your office or workplace and see how much junk you can locate. Watch for ongoing cans of soda or the bottomless coffee mug. Also look for those items that people try to pass off as healthy “alternatives”. Then ask yourself, why do we need to eat all day long?
Observation or assessment is key to designing change, because if one can't see what needs to be changed, how can it be possible to do so? Sometimes these statements appear ridiculous, but once you begin paying attention to the problems that surround us, you might be stunned by what you uncover about yourself.
The reason for this is that most people live their lives on automatic pilot, not paying much attention to what they do "moment to moment." They don't see the big picture, nor the minute changes occurring in the mind & body triggered by unhealthy lifestyle behaviors.
Little attention is paid to the reasons why heart disease, diabetes, circulatory disease, asthma, or the many others develop in some people, but not in others. Why do these diseases speed up during particular times of life and not in others? Little attention is paid to why the bowel is irritable, or why the body keeps breaking down in so many areas. Little attention is paid to why anxiety and/or panic disorder seem to be problematic in some, or why the anxiety comes in the afternoon & not the morning. If this sounds like detective work, you are right on the mark.
CHRONIC DISEASE vs CRONIC CONDITIONS
So, what is the difference between a chronic condition & a chronic disease. Is it possible to reverse these? Broad definition of chronic disease are illnesses that are prolonged, do not resolve spontaneously & are rarely cured completely. Chronic conditions such as irritable bowel or gastric reflux may not be labeled as a chronic disease, but again it is just a matter of words. What's important is that many can be prevented and if one is already present, the outcomes can be improved by reducing the risk factors.
It is vitally important to accept the concept that everything is connected & this is very good news, the reason being that once a person takes full responsibility for the working of the total picture, the outcomes can change dramatically. That is not to say that all diseases will reverse completely, but once a person makes healthy lifestyle changes that include nutrition, stress & emotional management, as well as exercise, the body begins to heal & recovery is on the way. It may be that chronic pain is reduced, blood pressure normalizes, or digestion improves.
Just a word of caution here. Please discuss all lifestyle change programs with your physician before starting. You may be taking certain medications that will need monitoring as your blood sugars stabilize. If you are over-weight you will probably begin losing stored fat. If you are under-weight, your body will respond in healthy ways to your improved lifestyle changes. It is not uncommon for certain types of medications to need a dose adjustment. The physician may choose to actually eliminate certain medications as your body begins to respond to these changes.
This program will present information that may appear very simple on the surface. You might even view it as far too simple for managing any perceived large problems. Make no mistake. The answers to big problems are often very simple indeed. Most answers are subtle, and this is the actual reason for the lack of success. True long term success lies in doing the same simple, subtle things over & over, & then over & over again. Boring? I don't think so. This is where the tools of persistence & continuity come into play. This book & workshop are about developing these powerful assets.