Dr. Leonaura Rhodes, author and health coach, explains the importance of taking responsibility, control of your own health and how this will help you flourish.
When I was a hospital doctor I thought we doctors were the ones saving lives. But as a Public Health doctor I learned for the first time about prevention (yes really, we weren’t taught much about prevention in med. school). In recent years research has even shown that by changing our lifestyle has a major impact on our health, we can even switch disease causing genes on and off. How cool is that? We have the power to save our own lives, by changing our lifestyle! Working now as a health coach and corporate wellbeing consultant I use this incredible knowledge every day to empower people take control of their health… and their life.
Now before I go any further, some of you may be saying “yes but what if I have an illness already?” or “I have a genetic illness, which I can’t change”. Let me be clear what we are talking about here is optimizing your health, from whatever starting point you are at. Take the extreme example of Stephen Hawking: when diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease, in 1963 he almost gave up on life. If he had not been rescued from negative thinking, by his then girl-friend or if he had shrugged his shoulders whenever he had a set back and said “oh well, may as well not bother trying” he would undoubtedly not have beaten the odds and lived 50 years beyond the life-expectancy he was given. You can always do things to optimize your health.
Your amazing body
Even if you are squeamish and don’t like to talk or even think about how the human body works, you can’t help but agree that the human body is truly remarkable and complex. For example did you know that there are 60,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body or that some nerve impulses travel at 250 miles per hour or that when you blush the inside of your stomach blushes too!?
One of the things that has always fascinated me is that every cell, organ and system in your body is constantly working, co-operating and communicating in order to create balance and healthy function, this process is known as homeostasis. There are tiny little “factories” in every cell, making the energy for life, from glucose and oxygen. This fact along with the fact that through your free-will, lifestyle choices and behavior, means you can always influence your health. This is where your personal power lies, to save your own life, or at the very least to give yourself more energy and zest for life.
Stack the odds in your favor
The medical profession and the media like to overcomplicate health and wellbeing. But improving your health is really easier than you may think. Optimizing health is a balancing act affected by health assets (things that are good for health) and health liabilities (things that are bad for health). Health assets include: breathing right, eating nutritious foods, positive thinking, drinking plenty of water and exercising regularly. Health liabilities include: eating a poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle, negative thinking, habits such as smoking and drinking too much alcohol and of course stress. Improving your lifestyle is no guarantee for good health: accidents happen, infections take hold, cells mutate and joints wear out… but by taking steps to optimize your health you will stack the odds in your favor.
Listen to your body
Your body is sending signals to help you help it to be healthy. When the signals become strong enough, they lead to symptoms such as pain, swelling or fatigue. With our busy lives, we often fail to pay attention to these signals: the bloated tummy after eating bread; the pain in the back after a sedentary day; the headache when we have drunk too little water. Learn to listen to your body and experiment with ways to feel healthier.
Become a health ambassador
When we embrace our power to improve our own health our own life, we have a duty to help others improve theirs. Whether you are a parent, an aunt, a co-worker spread the word to those around you that they too can improve their health. However it’s important to be subtle, people are often very stubborn and you can’t directly cause them to change, you can however influence, educate and support them.
Get expert help
Now this all may sound very easy, and if it were most of us would be in excellent health. Very few people are truly optimizing their health, including me! That’s why it’s important to recognise the areas where you are struggling or self-sabbotaging, and get help. This help may be educating yourself, with books (or if you want to cheat like I do, audiobooks… which I listen to in the car and when doing housework), attending courses or seeking out an expert coach, with an in-depth understanding of health. If you have a chronic health problem then of course you must see a physician or other health care provider, but do know that most are focused on treating illness and not prevention. The key is finding the right expert for you… do research, ask for recommendations, test them out and trust your instincts.
Go forth and flourish
Your health is they key to flourishing in all other areas of your life. You deserve to be living a fabulous life. In order to do so you need to feel energetic, focused, present, motivated, calm and in control, and to feel these things you owe it to yourself to optimize your health. I hope I have given you some ideas to get you started.
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?
I have accepted that I am responsible for my own health and my own destiny. I have a predisposition towards depression and anxiety and I work daily to prevent these from ruining my life.
What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?
I appreciate that my body is amazing and is trying it’s best to stay healthy. I am still working on ignoring the lazy voice in my head that urges me to skip the gym and eat yummy chocolate!
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?
My most rewarding achievement in life, was giving birth to my two sons and helping them survive life threatening illnesses.
I am still working on parenting my boys, now teens… and believe me it’s a challenge!
We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth–we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are–your Identity?
Self-sabotage… I am great at making plans but often not so good at following through. I am a big-thinker, a dreamer and sometimes this is a blessing and a curse.
“I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!)
Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?
I love my crazily creative mind… always coming up with the next big idea!
Image courtesy of Creative Market