Sunday, July 26, 2009

The answer to our society's healthcare challenges -- and yours -- isn't who pays. It's who takes responsibility.

This is me, living a healthy lifestyle --
physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

One of the hottest topics in the news of late is the healthcare reform debate in our nation’s capitol. Put in simple terms, the discussion boils down to one question: “Who’s gonna pay for my health?”

Whatever answer eventually emerges as the winner in the current debate, it won’t make any meaningful change in the health of our society. Health costs are a challenge, but they aren’t the real problem. Spiraling costs and an ineffective healthcare delivery system are mere symptoms. The root problem is the predominant, rigid belief system that health comes from someone else. A majority of people have relinquished responsibility for their personal health and well-being to external parties. That’s understandable. We’ve been conditioned that way our whole lives. How many times have you heard or read, “always consult a doctor before you…?” And how many times have you been told that such and such a drug, supplement, machine, etc., is necessary for you to achieve and maintain good health?

Health comes from within and only from within. It does not, never has, and cannot come from the outside. The only way we will ever have a healthcare system that actually enhances the health of our population is to instill in everyone a sense of personal responsibility for one’s own health and well-being. When that happens, lifestyles will change, dependence on expensive medical care will be greatly reduced, and the need for most pharmaceuticals will disappear. Think that might save a few dollars?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Getting back to basics is powerful, often difficult...and, ultimately, unavoidable.

Double rainbow picture I took from my
backyard a few years ago.

Deja vu?

You may notice that the title of this week's blog is the same as last week's. Last week, I addressed the first part: that getting back to basics is powerful. This week, I'm addressing the part about basics being difficult but ultimately unavoidable.

Take a look at the photo above. It's a double rainbow -- a rare and breathtaking spectacle. The concept of a rainbow is pretty simple. The rays of the sun shining through water droplets suspended in the air refract into the colors of the visible spectrum. We all learned about that in elementary school science classes. We can duplicate the process with a prism. Simple. Basic. Why, then, do I claim that getting back to basics can be difficult? Well, I would suggest that a rainbow is more basic than a prism-generated spectrum because a rainbow does not require anything that is human made. Although a rainbow is more basic, it's a good bet that humans will never be able to duplicate the majesty of a rainbow arcing across the sky.

It's the same with health. Even with the countless drugs, "natural" remedies, surgeries, therapies, machines, books, retreats and everything else humanity has invented, healing always -- always -- comes down to the healing wisdom that resides inside each of us.

Now take a look at the next photo.

Hot air baloon photo I took from my
front yard a few years ago.

A hot air balloon operates on a simple principle. Hot air rises, therefore a balloon filled with hot air will fly. Wind currents at different altitudes move in different directions, so it is possible to steer a hot air balloon by changing altitudes. No ailerons, vertical stabilizers or pitot tubes required. A hot air balloon may not be as fast or precise as a sleek new Boeing 777, but it's a lot safer because a balloon is in resonance with Nature. I doubt any hot air balloon gondolas are equipped with the same state of the art entertainment packages as the latest airliners, but the experience of floating in silence above the beauty and grandeur of the Earth will leave a more indelible memory than a first class airplane flight because flying in a balloon is flying closer to Nature.

High tech airplanes, balloons and all other aircraft have one thing in common. They all gotta land. It's unavoidable. The only way anyone can restore, improve or enjoy health is by facilitating the expression of one's inherent vitality.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Getting back to basics is powerful, often difficult...and, ultimately, unavoidable.

Perfect reflection. Simple.

This month, in my yoga class, we're working on the yoga posture that is the most difficult of all to master. It also happens to be the most basic. At class this past Thursday, it struck me that that's a perfect mirror for life.

The especially difficult posture I'm talking about is sitting. That's right; sitting. Seems simple, but try sitting motionless, spine straight, mind quiet, for even a few minutes. Sitting is an important skill to develop. Even if a yoga practitioner never "masters" sitting, regular practice of that basic posture will enhance one's overall practice.

That's an important reflection of our approach to health. As a society, we have become so enamored with new technology -- "miracle" drugs, vitamin supplements, surgery, machines, natural remedies, new therapies and the like -- that we have lost sight of the healing gifts of Nature.

Think about it. How much healthier would humanity and Mother Earth be if we all ate fresh, whole, local foods, drank clear water, exercised regularly in Nature, and practiced a living art such as yoga or tai chi? In my profession -- Chiropractic -- how much more powerfully would we serve if we focused on empowering life by just adjusting rather than treating complaints with gizmos and peddling other products?

One thing that I have observed time and time again -- in myself and those that I serve -- is that the most amazing health breakthroughs come when we embrace the simple, breathtaking healing wisdom of Nature that exists right inside of each of us.

More thoughts on this next week...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Your body is not just for display, it's where you live, work and play.

If you re trying to lose weight, and are doing so mainly for the sake of appearance, chances are, you will fail. Again. And you might be sacrificing your health in the process. There is one reason why almost all diets fail:

Usually, a diet is a process of doing something you don’t like...
to take care of something you don’t like.

What are the odds of that succeeding?

Here’s a real life story that illustrates this point vividly. When I was a captain in the Marines, we had a Gunnery Sergeant in my outfit who did not meet the official Marine Corps height and weight standards. Back then, the Marines had a program known as the Weight Control Program. Despite its official wording, it played out as appearance-oriented, and had little to do with health and performance.

Even though the Gunny was deemed overweight, he was in pretty decent shape. He easily passed the Marine Corps physical fitness test (PFT) and he could perform all of the duties required of him. That didn’t matter when the Gunny hopped on the scale. Time after time, the doc had to slide the weight farther along the bar than was allowed. There was no avoiding it; we had to put the Gunny on weight control. Once on weight control, a Marine was given a certain amount of time to lose a specified amount of weight. Failure to lose the weight meant a discharge from the Marine Corps. Despite a great deal of counseling, cajoling, joining the Run for Lunch Bunch, and weekly weigh-ins, the Gunny went quite a long period of time without losing any weight. He eventually found himself with one month left and still a long way to go to meet the standard. He was facing the end of an honorable and productive career because of that stubborn spare tire. Out of desperation, he went on a crash diet. He lost a lot of weight in that last month and met his objective.

He succeeded!
He made it to his healthy weight!
He was off weight control!
Hooray for the Gunny!
Hooray for the Weight Control Program!


The Gunny failed his next PFT. He looked better in his uniform, but he had weakened himself so much in his desperation weight loss that he could no longer accomplish his mission. We had a good looking, physically unfit leader of Marines. My purpose for telling this story is not to criticize the Marine Corps. I love the Marines. They have my deepest respect and admiration, and always will. Physical fitness is paramount in the Marines, and I would never suggest that Marines be allowed to have unhealthy bodies. I tell the Gunny’s story to show that the ultimate purpose of the old weight control program—although ostensibly to improve health—was really to make Marines look better. What happened with the Gunny did not serve the Marine Corps and it certainly did not serve the Gunny. Thankfully, the Marine Corps has a better program today than the one we had back then.

The Gunny’s story is a reflection of our society. Many people resort to unhealthy, even dangerous lifestyles in their quest for that ever-elusive Hollywood physique. People have even died on that quest. Good looks, as defined by fashion and fitness magazines, are mere judgments.

When you eat for the vitality that fresh, whole foods give you, rather than dieting for looks, your health and life will improve.