Posted: 05 February 2011 at 6:17am | IP Logged
My wife Grace attended a networking meeting the other day. She was among fifty or so other women all promoting some form of â€śweight-lossâ€ť program, life coaching or other related business. Grace realized that most of the women their meant well, but were somewhat misguided in their core beliefs â€“ that losing weight was the answer to achieving optimum health. They all had success stories and those before and after pictures illustrating amazing weight-loss in just a matter of months. The before and after pictures, a widely used marketing tool to attract vulnerable individuals or those hoping to lose weight and eager to try anything â€“ and whatâ€™s wrong with that? The â€śI will believe and try anything mentalityâ€ť fuels the problem by focusing on the wrong goal of losing weight; rather than achieving optimum health.
This story is prelude to a bigger problem in this country: those who know the least about human metabolism or physiology, are the ones selling you â€śthe answerâ€ť to being overweight and unhealthy. Although I have not looked up the actual statistics, I presume that there are thousands upon thousands of individuals selling â€śmagic bulletsâ€ť throughout this great land. Every time I go online or turn on the TV, I see ad after ad selling weight-loss stuff by celebrities or steroid enhanced fitness gurus. But guess what, Americans are still overweight and unhealthy, and the numbers are on the rise and heart disease is still the number one killer. Itâ€™s time to wake up and realize that there are no â€śmagic bulletsâ€ť or â€ścuresâ€ť for being overweight or generally unhealthy. The only way to succeed is to take control of your health, but first you must answer this fundamental question: how serious are you?
If you are falling for the online or TV weight-loss hype, or believe that The Biggest Loser is the answer, then you are setting yourself up for disappointment. If however, you realize that body fat loss and good health are a result of changing your lifestyle, and a consequence of becoming healthy and fit, and are willing to put time and effort in achieving optimum health, then you are on the right track and will achieve great success. You understand that achieving optimum health is the ultimate goal and has great value.
Years ago, when I was an undergraduate student, I worked part-time in one of the late Jack Lalanneâ€™s health clubs â€“ I had the inflated title of; Head Trainer (based on my physical appearance rather than my knowledge at that time). On a very rare day, Mr. Lalanne, the general manager and other corporate types stopped in my club as part of a national tour. I will never forget what Mr. Lalanne said to me as he shook my hand, â€śyou must value yourselfâ€ť he said. When I asked what he meant, he replied â€śbecause you are in good shape, most people value their homes, cars and money more than they do their health.â€ť
After many years, schooling and experience, what Mr. Lalanne said to me many years ago still resonates loud and clear today. Is it possible that people value their material things more than their health? How about you? What do you value? If you really value your health then you will do whatever it takes to make the necessary lifestyle changes to achieve it â€“ and I donâ€™t mean taking medications to lower your cholesterol or blood pressure. This is not going to make you healthy; in fact, these drugs and others actually rob your body of precious vitamins and minerals necessary to function optimally. Moreover, taking drugs does not address the underlying factors that are causing your condition in the first place. Taking drugs is treating the symptoms or the tip of the iceberg. Itâ€™s time to get serious and look below the water line at the base of the iceberg, were the hidden giant lurks â€“ and in a nutshell, thatâ€™s the definition of functional medicine.
Focusing on the underlying causes of disease, then making lifestyle and environmental changes to offset genetic and systemic markers through natural and integrative medicine is the premise of functional medicine. Taking control of your health is the answer, and doing so requires looking beyond the hype and the empty promises of fast weight-loss or easy solutions; itâ€™s looking at yourself in the mirror and realizing the truth - then taking action. Optimum health is not about losing weight anyway; rather itâ€™s about balancing your biochemistry and life. Balancing your biochemistry is achieved by first investigating what imbalances and deficiencies exist and then correcting them. Balancing your life is self-explanatory â€śall work and no playâ€¦â€ť You get the picture.
â€˘What is your waist circumference measurement? If your waist (largest part) is half the size of your height in inches or larger, then you are setting yourself up for systemic inflammation and disease.
â€˘What is your body fat percentage, rather than your BMI (a less accurate assessment)?
â€˘Are you deficient in micronutrients - are they functioning optimally?
â€˘Are you taking supplements, but not sure why or if they are right for you or even effective?
â€˘Are your cells deficient in EPA/DHA setting your immune system up for weakness and disease?
â€˘Are there environmental factors promoting hormonal imbalances?
â€˘Are your hormones all over the map?
â€˘Are you insulin resistant?
â€˘Are you taking medications?
â€˘Are your medications depleting your body of necessary nutrients?
â€˘Is your digestive system functioning optimally or are you vulnerable?
â€˘Are you overlooking the most accurate markers for cardiovascular disease?
â€˘Are you exercising? If yes, are you doing it correctly or maximizing your cardiovascular, muscular and metabolic potential?
These are questions you need to answer if serious about achieving optimum health, but doing so comes at a price including time, effort and financial.
Time and Effort: you must take the time to investigate and then put in the effort by implementing what you have learned by making the necessary lifestyle and environmental changes. â€śHow serious are you at achieving optimum health?â€ť
Financial: investing money into your evaluation and laboratory testing to determine what your imbalances, deficiencies and underlying markers for disease are. â€śHow much do you value your health?â€ť
The rewards are much greater than losing a few pounds or looking good in a bikini or shorts. The ultimate reward is offsetting disease, and living a longer life of quality â€“ without medications or seeing a doctor every month for a refill. Being able to play with your kids and grandkids and not running out of breath or feeling fatigued after carrying groceries from your car to your kitchen. Having the energy and mental acuity to function at your fullest capacity, regardless of your age! Age is neither a detriment nor a deterrent unless you allow it. But, if you let yourself go, you will become even older (biologically) than you really are. Letting yourself go is giving up on your health and relying on conventional medicine for your survival â€“ this is not the answer.
Dr. Michael R. Sardone