Good Health is a not a destination, its a journey for life

Weight loss, feeling better or getting fitter should not be the goal of your health resolutions. These are simply side-effects of living well. If all you crave is to fit into a size 12, run a mile, be beach body ready or be headache free, what happens when you reach that goal? Do you stop the quick-fix exercise programme, fad diet or other temporary solution? What happens to the motivation to keep doing what you are doing?

What happens if you never reach that goal? Do you give up?

Achieving good health and wellbeing should be considered a journey for life, an ongoing process incorporating all aspects of your life. Losing weight, feeling fit, content and pain-free is simply a happy side-effect to this journey.

As Osteopaths we consider the body an interconnected whole. Therefore to stimulate change, anything that influences the body both from within and without, must be addressed. These influencing factors can range from how well rested we are, our diet, our mental health, our physical fitness and our interactions with others.

We call this the ‘Bio-psycho-social’ model of health.

Dr Rangan Chatterjee recently summed this up very well: ‘Because the body is one big connected system, we need to take a much more rounded view. One that considers the 4 key pillars of our daily lives, the way in which we relax, eat, move and sleep’.

Our attitude to finding health needs to be far more of a cocktail approach, rather than a single shot. There is no magic bullet, or one solution, we need to tick every box within the complex organism that is our body.

The key to making good health a journey is to enjoy the process, rather forcing yourself to the gym or through the latest exclusion diet. Making changes to your lifestyle can be so hard, breaking old habits and making new ones take time, and there will be the inevitable pit falls and blips along the way.

If you can make it pleasurable, and even sociable you are far more likely to stick to the changes you have made, especially if you have the support of others.

Look for like-minded groups, either online or in person to connect with, seek support from health care professionals if you need help in a specific area, and above all, if you encounter a blip do not beat yourself up over it, reflect on why and remind yourself tomorrow is another opportunity to try again.

Here are some practical ideas for an integrated approach to your health:

  • For adding more movement to your day try ‘Active10’. There is increasingly less evidence to support the 10,000 steps per day idea, and more evidence to suggest that raising your heart rate for just 10 minutes is more effective and more realistic. Look up www.nhs.uk/oneyou/active10

  • When it comes to sleeping well, respect your natural circadian rhythms. Artificial light interrupts these rhythms, so avoid screens an hour before your bedtime or use glasses with orange filters, and ensure you get lots of light when you wake up in the morning. Try having your morning coffee in the garden!

  • Eating the rainbow is such a good guide to eating well and ensures you get plenty of vitamins. Avoid all processed food and reduce your sugar intake. Ensure you include lots of fibre to support good bowel function and to promote good bacteria. Include lots of good fat in your diet, such as avocado, nuts and oily fish.

  • Incorporate some brain downtime in your day. Our lives are now lived at speed and our stress levels are higher than ever before. Long term high levels of our stress hormone, cortisol, is destructive and inflammatory to the body. I love the practice of mindfulness to help counteract this. This can be a hot bath, a coffee with your favourite magazine or a mindful practice, using an App such as Headspace www.headspace.com

Getting started on your journey to good health need not involve lycra, a suitcase of supplements, medication or a gym membership, just a touch of determination and motivation, and if you need a little nudge in the right direction, we are here for you.

Within the practice we have highly skilled and experienced practitioners in Osteopathy, Nutrition, Pilates, Homeopathy and Counseling for all your integrated heath care needs.

Emma Wightman
Osteopath

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