As a gastroenterologist at a busy urban hospital, I spend my days looking up people's bottoms. Which is funny when you read about it and really not funny when it's happening to you.
Many of the folks who come to me with severe and often debilitating symptoms want me to provide an instant and permanent solution. So they can then leave my office, dignity regained and never speak of the incidence again.
Problem is, it's almost never that simple.
What may start as digestive discomfort -- constipation or diarrhea, bloating or rashes -- can escalate into something more insidious if you don't force yourself to examine how your choices affect your health.
Should you blame your parents?
Yes, your genes do matter, but they are not the determinants of your destiny. Studies have shown only 20 per cent of hospitalizations and deaths are caused by genetics alone, and health is 75 per cent lifestyle. The choices you make each time you eat, move, think and behave all play a pivotal role in creating your health, or lack thereof. This means that the main drivers of your health are actually your internal and external environments.
This is the stuff you can control.
You need a healthy life to create a healthy body. There is no quick fix, and no pharmaceutical can erase the effects of poor lifestyle choices. You can only ignore this fact so long before you end up on a hospital table dreading what your doctor is about to tell you.
Four Things You Can Do Today to Heal Yourself:
Everyone is torn between their insane work hours, demanding kids, household stress and financial pressure. Yet some folks seem to thrive and others end up on my endoscopy table. Here are the four habits I prescribe to everyone who wants to become a more powerful, vital, successful and happy version of themselves.
1. Find a Fit Friend or a Fitness Community :
Look around you and see who has the results that you want. Just like a mentor in business, find yourself a mentor for your health. Seek out someone (or better yet, a community or group) that has it together and learn from them. You may find this support in person via a running or walking buddy or you may only be able to connect online via a Facebook group dedicated to helping people in your particular situation (new moms, seniors, etc.). If you can afford a trainer to customize a program for you, you'll be hard pressed to find a more worthy investment.
2. Manage Your Stress Better:
You can't avoid stress (and will drive yourself crazy if you try). But you can find ways to reduce its impact on your mood, behaviour and body. Whether you employ a playlist of uplifting songs that you run to on your lunch break at work or you download a guided meditation app like Headspace, make it a priority to bring your cortisol levels down and your life will improve in every way.
3. Eat More Vegetables:
No matter what diet you choose, when you look at each "healthy" diet more closely, from paleo and low-carb to vegan and macrobiotic, they all have one thing in common: no matter what the core dogma is, they encourage you to eat more fresh fruit and veggies. Problem is, preparing these foods can be time consuming and our culture disdains "mundane" tasks like meal prep. I could rant on for hours about this, but let me cut to the chase: make meal prep fun. Get the whole family involved. Play music. Indulge in good tools like a sharp chef's knife, a high speed blender or a food processor. Buy yourself some recipe books that excite you or trawl food blogs for free. You are what you eat. So are your kids. Ignore this fact and I'll see you in the endoscopy room...
4. Shift Your Mindset:
Too often people embark on a health kick in order to meet some cosmetic ideal -- fitting into a particular bathing suit, for example. When they don't make fast enough progress, they get discouraged and fall off the wagon. Instead, I want you to think about the kind of person you want to see in the mirror. The kind of person who is powerful, who loves themselves enough to stand up to temptation, who makes better choices for themselves and their loved ones and who's in it for the long haul.
Health is a lifestyle, not a destination.
If there is anything I have learned from my many years of examining peoples' bottoms it is this: If there is a magic pill, that magic pill is you. Your body has an awe-inspiring ability to heal itself if given the fuel, tools and support it needs. And just like learning to walk or ride a bicycle, these habits might seem overwhelming and all-consuming at first, but they'll soon become something you won't even have to think about.
The Key Is to Start Now. Today.
There is nothing gained from waiting another moment, until it is too late and we meet under less than ideal circumstances. Most disease is preventable, and lying on my endoscopy room stretcher is NOT an inevitable outcome.
Print out the four steps and put them somewhere you'll see them every day. Then make any effort you can think of to actually do them. You might have "bad" days where you revert to old habits (we all do), but instead of beating yourself up over them, just get back on the wagon and keep going.
That way, the next time you're lying awake in bed, it will be because you're reading a fabulous book or cuddling a newborn or making passionate love and NOT because you have a doctor's appointment the next day and are terrified of what you might hear.
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