(I know, it’s kind of a silly play on words, and I was probably the only one that got it. We normally go back to “the fundamentals,” but the name of my practice is “Fundamental Health Solutions.” I’m a doctor, not a comedian.)
Several questions emerged from that article that I want to address this week.
Why Go Back To The Fundamental(s)?
There is a common opinion in this country that we are the most advanced generation ever to live on the planet.
I’m not sure I agree with that. Sure, we’ve made some advances in creating conveniences for ourselves and making our lives more comfortable. But are we healthier?
As a part of the Blue Zones Project, I’ve learned about cultures around the world where people live past the ripe old age of 100 years without major health problems. They don’t die in their 60s of heart attacks or cancer. They don’t have most of the conveniences and comforts of American culture. What they do have working in their favor is something much better. The folks at Blue Zones call it the “Power 9.”
What Were They Doing Right?
The people in the Blue Zone don’t go to the gym, but they stay healthy because they move naturally every day. They walk to places they want to go, wash their dishes by hand, work with their hands in the field or the garden or the fishing boat.
The ones that live past 100 keep a moderate pace of life, spend lots of time with friends and family, engage in regular worship and community groups, and their diets are made up primarily of vegetables, fish, and oils.
They live very much as their great-great-grandparents did. As a result, they live longer, happier lives than the rest of us.
We can learn much from them.
What Have We Become?
Our culture is stressed out by work demands, debt pressure, and failed relationships.
We are driven by greed for consumption, competition with our neighbors, and pressure to obey the marketing messages around us.
Most of us don’t take time to rest, and when we do, our recreation is as exhausting as our work.
We neglect to cultivate a relationship with our Creator and like-minded people.
So many of us work for a check, not for our purpose. Many of us have no idea what we were put on this earth to do, and it leaves a gaping hole in our subconscious minds.
We eat food based on how it tastes or how it makes us feel, instead of eating for the nutritional value.
Our grandparents wouldn’t have even recognized most of the food items on our grocery store shelves. Because our food comes from a test tube (and not the earth), our bodies develop inflammation in response that causes swelling and pain.
Does that sound like a more advanced civilization?
Here’s the worst part.
When we experience pain in our bodies from eating wrong, we try to mask the pain with a “pill” instead of just eating right:
- Sometimes it’s a prescription drug or aspirin.
- Other times, it’s caffeine or alcohol.
- Sometimes, it’s sex, shopping, or entertainment.
We choose a complex solution to a simple problem and end up creating more problems in the form of side effects.
The answer to many of our problems is simple: we violated a principle that has been in place since the dawn of time, so we need to get back to that principle.
What Are Those Principles?
Most of us don’t know.
It might surprise you to know that I own a car. It’s an older car, and I really only use it to go to church and the grocery store, but there you have it. I walk to work to make sure I get in 10,000 steps each day.
I’m not much of a car guy, like my friends who can tell what’s wrong with an engine just by turning it on. If I sense that something in the car isn’t working right, I check the owner’s manual. The same for the air filters in my home (which is currently fighting an outbreak of mold due to some faulty plumbing under my kitchen sink).
What Is The Owner’s Manual For My Wellness?
But if I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: it’s too bad life doesn’t come with an Owner’s Manual.
Well, the truth is…it kind of does.
Some would say that The Bible is the Owner’s Manual to life. Others would argue that with all the anger they can muster in their souls. I understand both sides. I get it. I’ve been open to the Bible and I’ve been closed to the Bible.
For now, let’s set all that aside and look at some other places where wisdom can teach us.
What Did Our Ancestors Do?
Back before Netflix and air conditioning, humans in Egypt built giant stone pyramids without the use of bulldozers, giant cranes, and 18-wheelers. They did it with human strength and engineering. Do you think we could do that today?
The Mayan temples. Same deal. The Gardens of Babylon.
While our design has gotten more (and sometimes less) elaborate, our engineering hasn’t matched what those ancient civilizations accomplished.
Learn From Others’ Results
My question is: what did they eat? How did they cultivate and tone their muscles? Many of them lived to be over 100 years old, and they were vibrant and active until they breathed their last. There are no references in ancient writings to wheelchairs or convalescent seniors. They spent their days outdoors, walking in bare feet for much of history. They were connected with the earth in tangible ways. Not hugging trees, but physically touching the ground.
I thought this was interesting: there are many stories in the Bible about feasts and parties, but no mention of junk food. There is no mention of sugar, but abundant references to honey as a sweetener, including the admonition not to eat too much of it. It talks about serving wine at meals – but not getting sloshed with it. Balance. Moderation. Pacing.
I don’t want to get into a theological debate about anything, but my point is that we suffer disease because we’ve gotten away from the way our bodies were designed to work. We are putting the wrong fuel in the tank, and that’s where most of our disease comes from.
So Why Is Attitude The First Wellness?
Any time I do a presentation on wellness, I mention that the tagline of my practice is “Think Right, Eat Right, Move Right, Live Right.” And almost every time, someone challenges me on it:
Why does the chiropractor care about how I think?
I have shared my practice with several other chiropractors over the years. You probably know many of them. Most of them are still practicing here in Naples. I went around and around this debate with several of them. They couldn’t understand why I put “think right” first, either. I’m a chiropractor, for Pete’s sake, not a psychologist.
Here’s my rationale.
- If I adjust your spine, but I can’t get you to change your movement habits, the adjustment is going to go back out of alignment. You’ll come back and we’ll do it all over again.
- If I can’t get you to eat differently, the diseases we are fighting together will win eventually.
- No matter what I say to you, unless you are willing to change the way you think, you are not going to experience sustainable wellness.
Here’s the other challenge I get: “Dr. Steve, who are you to tell me how to ‘Think Right?’ Are you telling me I have to be a Christian like you?”
Of course not.
How To Think Right…Really
I’m a wellness coach first, and a doctor second. When I say “think right,” I’m not telling you that you have to conform your thinking to mine. That would be controlling, and I don’t want to control your life. I’m lucky I have any control over my own life.
I want you to get different results, so I coach you to different results by helping you identify behaviors that are limiting your results and adjusting them. It’s just little adjustments, usually.
What I’m saying is that, if you want to achieve sustainable wellness, you have to be coachable. You have to be willing to learn and apply a behvaior that you previously had done differently.
Stop The Insanity
You already know that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. If you want to improve your wellness, you have to change something you’re currently doing. Even if your health is really good, it can only improve if you are willing to change something.
The willingness to learn, to change, and to apply new thinking to your life is the difference between winners and losers. It’s the difference between success and failure. To get my practice where I want it, I have to submit myself to coaches and teachers who have the results I want. I have to change the behaviors that got me where I am so I can move to a new level.
You will never get results beyond what you think. To go beyond what you currently have, you have to think differently.
That’s why I put it first.
Results Start With The Willingness To Think New Thoughts
I can tell if a patient is going to be successful or not simply by how they respond to my suggestions. If they grouse and gripe about having to give up their favorite food or drink less alcohol, or add an exercise to their busy day, I already know we are going to be limited in what we can accomplish together.
It’s fine to enjoy the taste of the food you eat, but that’s not the point. I’m glad that certain foods make you feel happy, but that’s not the point. The point is nutrition, not taste or comfort. Taste can deceive you into overindulging in something that will hurt you. Whether it’s chocolate cake, fried chicken, or alcohol, it’s the same principle.
You don’t have to be rich or an intellectual to get amazing results. But if you’re teachable and willing to think differently about your life and habits, you are already on your way to enjoying a healthier life.
There is a physical limit to how many people I can treat in my office, so I really want to work with people who are committed enough to living healthier lives that they are willing to change the behaviors that have been stealing from their health.
No one can do it for you – not even me – but if we can partner up and follow the principles of wellness, we’re going to do great things together.
Stop By My Office
If you live in the Naples area and have questions about this, stop by my office and let’s talk. I’m in the professional park behind the new ElDorado furniture store on the corner of Pine Ridge Road and Airport Road. I’d love to visit with you.
And be sure to share this article on your favorite social media channel. You never know who might be looking for this.
“At the end of your FEELINGS is NOTHING. At the end of your PRINCIPLES is a PROMISE.” — Eric Thomas