Tag Archives: health coaching

Health Based, Not Weight Based

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I’ve been learning more about obesity and how it appears to increase the risk for disease.  Key word there is “appears”.  But before I get into that, I think we’d all agree that it’s just obvious that obesity negatively affects health in some ways.  Some obese people can go decades with excellent blood panels and be otherwise healthy, but the extra weight can lead to obstructive sleep apnea and osteoarthritis.

In my nutrition studies I heard a lecture by Dr. Barry Sears where he underlined that obesity and disease are correlational and not necessarily causational.  In other words, obesity is present in a large number of those with disease but we can’t prove if it’s the obesity causing the disease or if the two just happen at the same time.

Studies in the near future should really make this area more clear to us.

In the meantime, this information, coupled with this country’s weight obsession and the fact that people assume a person is healthy simply by looking at their weight, should really change the way we approach health.

I wrote recently about the law of attraction.  When we as a society focus on fixing obesity, you know what we are collectively doing?  We are focusing on obesity.  Instead of focusing on health.  Some would argue that a focus on reducing obesity is a focus on health.  But essentially it’s not because as humans, we look for the quickest solution to our problems and a focus on obesity means we focus on things like a reduction in calories, low fat, low sugar, foods that promise to reduce weight, products that promise to help us reduce the pounds, etc.  Food marketers are pretty smart and have zeroed in on our thoughts and have created a billion products just for us.  And the majority of these products are full of the very substances that caused us our problems in the first place.

What if we focused on a health based approach?  Instead of screening people on their BMI, what if we took their blood pressure and conducted blood tests for their hormones, blood sugar, lipids, and white blood cell count?  Not only would this help many thin people suffering from fatty liver disease and high cholesterol and early stages of cancer, but it would send our society the message that just because you’re thin doesn’t mean you’re healthy and just because you’re fat, it doesn’t mean you’re unhealthy.

Obesity can’t be too comfortable.  Physically, it feels nice to have a weight that doesn’t make it difficult to breathe or move.  But, I fear it’s extremely uncomfortable because of society’s view of obesity.  We’re so advanced right?  And yet, future generations are going to shake their heads in pitiful disbelief when they read about how we treated fat people.  Not to mention how we were willing to assume and judge before truly understanding.

I was generally pleased that Michelle Obama has been highlighting childhood obesity and yet I’ve always felt like the mark was missed.  Now I know how I feel about the initiative.  Hearts are in the right place but the approach is based on weight when it should be based on health and society’s access to the basic components of health.  Right now, more than ever, we need to teach our children about real foods and healthy habits without calling them fat (honestly, if I was a large kid, that would depress me).  We don’t need them to get on some chemical laden “nutritional” diet drink.  We need to work to provide all areas in our country with fresh, affordable food, proper nutritional information, and perhaps teach the basics of food and cooking in schools, rather than teach people how less calories equals less weight gain.  Who in their right mind is going to say, “Yes, I feel empowered now that I know I just need to eat less and move more.”  Obese people have fat cells that work differently than other people’s.  Their cells literally make them feel hungry, very often.  And as I’ve said before and will say again, who will endure hunger indefinitely when they don’t have to?  Who other than someone with an illness, such as an anorexic?

With all this focus on the extra weight issue, we’re avoiding making the message really straightforward and we’re avoiding doing the right things to increase our nation’s health.  We don’t want our congressmen, those who can change crucial laws, to think, “Ok, so we’re trying to get the obese people to adopt a healthy lifestyle…check.”  No, we need them to see the true challenges that many thin and not so thin people have when it comes to eating healthy.  How about subsidizing fruits and vegetables for starters, eh?  Maybe then people’s cells could get the nutrients they need and would stop asking for so much food?

Obesity and it’s links to type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, fatty liver disease, etc, are very complex.  Let’s respect that fact so that we can respect those who are being stigmatized-the very thing we all hate to happen to us.  And let’s focus on the actions that will actually help us.  Checking out our insides instead of our outsides only and helping people make better lifestyle choices because they want to be healthy, not because they want to be thin.   I don’t think it will happen with our overemphasis on “you’re too big”.

I didn’t lose weight by thinking I was too big and needed to drop weight, by the way.  I did that for years and only got bigger.  I lost weight by getting into the habit of thinking, “I’m beautiful, I matter, and I want to learn how to take care of myself”.

It’s time for our country to adopt a health based approach.  One where self love isn’t a joke or an ego driven ideal but a standard for treatment starting with oneself and extending to all others.

Caring About Health is Patriotic

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“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

~Aristotle

This isn’t a political post.  It’s a post directed at you and me, the individual, who makes up our place and culture.  We have a lot of power in our hands and we should use it.

It’s always been clear to me that a holistic approach to all things in life is a good idea.  After all, holistic simply refers to an emphasis on the whole and the interconnectedness of all the parts.  It has nothing to do with shunning modern medicine or being a vegan.

When it comes to health, holistic just means that there should be an awareness on the whole.  So in the case of a person in terms of being a patient, it means that their emotional and mental state matters as much as their physical state.  It’s all connected and everything has the potential to affect everything else in the body, mind, and spirit.

Is a cheap and effective treatment somehow less than an expensive and equally effective treatment?

Our modern healthcare system seems to think so.  There are hundreds of equally effective, safe, inexpensive treatments for ailments out there but our system almost always defaults on the high tech, risky, and extremely expensive ones instead.  In the end, we’re bankrupt and unable to sustain any health.

So I think now, more than ever, do we need to recognize that grandma new a few things about preventative health and natural remedies and combine that knowledge with the fantastic information we have today.  It’s about integrating allopathic and alternative medicine for the best possible outcome for the patient.  It’s Integrative Medicine and we should have never been so cocky as to rely only on expensive drugs while forgetting all the simple tools for prevention.

I know it’s hard to learn about something that isn’t interesting.  I’m lucky in a sense because I love reading about this stuff but I know it’s not that way for everyone and I respect that.  But, I would say that it’s imperative that we all not only research on the presidential candidates as part of our good citizen job requirements but that we also learn more about health and wellness.

I don’t mean anything fancy or intricate, I mean, watch a few documentaries, learn about our food and health system.  The first step to better health is an increased awareness about how we live.  And think of how important good health is for a country.  Part of our duty as citizens is to do what each of us can to ensure good health for ourselves and our children.

This is all important to you because if you don’t feel well, good luck on reaching your hopes and dreams.  Feeling less than great or feeling ill really puts a damper on one’s plans.  And since life is generally challenging enough, we don’t need to add health-related obstacles into the mix.

I think much of our problems in this area stem from our culture and the way we tend to follow what is mainstream, feel a bit nervous about straying from the norm, and fail to question authority and common knowledge.  Common knowledge isn’t necessarily accurate knowledge.  And questioning isn’t harmful, it’s just investigating, double checking, being sure that something is the right way to go.

So I guess what I’m saying here is that I hope our state of affairs will inspire us all to take some time to educate ourselves about how people have stayed healthy over the years.  How did people manage before modern medicine?  Why do some cultures have much better health than ours?  What can we adjust in order to save ourselves and our kids?  Health-wise, our ship is sinking.  But rather than despair, we just need to be the spirited, proactive people we are, before it’s too late.

I grew up wanting to be a doctor, totally impressed by what they do.  I didn’t know how much power I had as one simple person. Once I educated myself a little and safely adjusted my lifestyle, I was blown away by how cheaply and simply I could heal my body and stay healthy.  If most of us could manage something like this, we’d all have a lot more health, happiness, and money in our pockets and then a lot more resources and attention to give those with more serious health issues.

And isn’t that what we all want?

Is it Your Doctor’s Job to Motivate You?

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I hope everyone’s Holiday weekend was grand.  Mine was full of wonderful memories, highly excited children, and some laryngitis.  I still sound like a dying squawking bird but luckily I can still write!

I recently read a doctor’s article on how health coaches are becoming more accepted and recognized for the service they provide.  His case was that doctors endure many years of medical school and get no training on human behavior and how to motivate others.  He says that really isn’t a doctor’s job.  He says that is why he “prescribes” patients a health coach, someone with the time and training to help get a person’s motives down to a nitty gritty and support them to follow through with lifestyle changes they want to make.

You know, I have always assumed it was a doctor’s job to motivate patients but now that I think about it, doctors really are trained in medicine and I doubt they get classes on perfecting their bedside manor and figuring out how to engage people.  I don’t think they’re trained in counseling.  Not to mention, most doctors have a very limited amount of time with each patient.  A former doctor of mine said he had about 7 to 15 minutes with each patient.  That’s barely enough time to figure out what’s wrong with a person let alone talk to them about how life is going and how they are feeling about their diet and exercise and the stress in their lives.

Ideally, health counselors or life coaches are built into the system and covered by insurance companies for widespread accessibility.  That is not the current state of our health system however and that means that so many people are left to their own devices.

I think that’s why I focus SO many of my posts somewhere inside the realm of motivation.  Every totally impressive person I know has locked into what personally motivates them.  They latch on to this and keep it in the forefront of their mind.  They eat, breathe, and sleep it.  There is no other way to be very successful at something than to know exactly why you want to do it.  Losing sight of this equals failure. The what, when, how, and where all sorts itself out as long as you know why you want to do something.

I’ll be taking on clients soon as a holistic health counselor and I am making plans right now to remember all those who can’t afford this service.  I’m thinking about giving local group sessions and seminars for free or at highly discounted rates.  Those with less money are probably those who don’t even make it to the doctor often enough and could use more support with their lifestyle habits.

Sometimes all some of us need is a little encouragement and attention to what motivates us and perhaps, in the current paradigm, it isn’t our doctor’s job to do all those things.

What do you think?

Going back to School and Calling Guest Bloggers

Courtesy of Ana Morales

 

I wanted to let everyone know that I signed up to attend the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.  It was a tough decision.  Not because I don’t have time or the energy or interest to do this but because it involves money.  All the money in the bank actually.  But if there is anything I have learned in the last few years of my life, where I’ve improved a lot of the ways I do things and changed many of my circumstances for the better, it’s to act today, instead of wait for tomorrow.  Tomorrow has a funny way of turning into never, you know?

When my kids were born I experienced something like an epiphany because they were healthy and I feared they wouldn’t be.  So two weeks after a painful c-section I thought, “I need to share what I’ve gone through right away!”  And in particular, I felt I needed to share the hope I felt after having healthy babies with type 1 diabetes.  I wanted others to feel that hope for themselves and know that I was doing ok despite many really difficult years and that if they were going through a difficult time, it didn’t mean they couldn’t overcome it.  It saddened me to think of other women out there to be as worried as I had been and to feel so helpless as I had felt.  I’ve learned we’re not helpless at all.

So my husband recognized my passion in this area and when I said I’d love to do this program in a few years he said, “Why don’t you do it now?”  All sorts of excuses popped up in my mind like the fact that my kids take up a lot of my time and energy (as they should) and my husband works long hours and in a field that doesn’t always provide steady work.  Alex is very, very practical with our expenses and yet I guess he knows that I find the topic of nutrition and health one I never tire of.  Truth is, I was interested in the body’s relationship with food as a child before I had diabetes.  Diabetes helped that interest grow and my first two years of college even focused on science, only I couldn’t decide between nutrition and sports medicine.

This program recognizes that there are different ways of eating that work for different people and it takes into consideration the emotional and psychological influences in our lives and how that affects our bodies.  This program focuses on a holistic approach to nutrition and exercise and I totally appreciate that idea!  I feel very aligned with the idea of learning how to coach people in a way that let’s them do all the deciding about what’s best for them and helping them pinpoint their motivations so they can leverage those for energy in their lives.  I love helping people with their health because I know it’s everything and I don’t take mine for granted and I look forward to learning so much more this next year. I can’t wait to share what I learn with you all and see what you think!  I learn so much from you and I thank you for that.

Wish me luck!  I’ll be documenting my journey with this program on the blog.  I’ll have my own health coach and I’m eager to see how the techniques used to coach someone can positively impact their lives.  I’ll let you know how it goes :)

I also want to open up the blog to more writers.  So if you want to guest post some time, contact me at sysy@thegirlsguidetodiabetes.com.  You don’t have to be a pro blogger or anything.  You don’t even have to be female.  Plenty of men read this blog, simply glancing over all the pink.  You can be a caretaker of someone with diabetes.  The type of diabetes doesn’t matter, either.  What I don’t want is copywriting.    Thanks :)

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