Monday, March 7, 2011

You might be somebody's hero...

"Work like you don't need the money, love like you've never been hurt, and dance like no one is watching", Randall G. Leighton. Well, what if people are watching you dance? Who would those people be? What would they think? How would they react?

We spend all the time in the world thinking about how we can better ourselves. We read blogs, we listen to speakers, we take classes, and we make sacrifices all in the quest for self improvement. These are good habits, without them, we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of our predecessors. If you're not moving forward, you're moving backwards, and you recognize that. So reach over your shoulder and pat yourself on the back, you deserve it. Self improvement is your dance. So the question is... Who's watching?

When I talk to patients about changing their life styles to allow for healthier eating, I often get asked the same question; "What are my kids going to do?" Commonly patients tell me that "All my kids eat is bread and pasta, they love it." I love this question because the answer is so clear; "Don't you love those things also? What are you going to do?" We need to always remember that other people are more capable than we give them credit for. It's admirable that your immediate thought is considering the welfare of others before you consider your own. But it's foolish to believe that others would not value the positive change in their lives the same way that you will. The fact is, I'm not a parent. I hope to be one in the future, but right now my advice to parents comes from my experience with patients. My goal is not to provide parenting advice here. It is simply to point out an obvious example of how your choices can be influencial on someone else. Whether you are influencing your children, your friends, your co-workers, or your patients and clients, believe me when I tell you, you are influencing someone.

So the next question is, what will the people you influence think of your choices? Unfortunately there is no way to know for sure. What you can know for sure however is that if you make decisions that you truly believe are moral, upstanding, positive, and representative of yourself, whether they agree with your choices or not, others will have no choice but to respect them. Some people will think you are correct, smart, and worth listening to. Others might tune you out. If you use the Barbara Walters principle (always act as if Barbara Walters is there with a camera crew and a microphone to record your every action), you will never have to recommend doing as you say and not as you do. Believe me when I tell you from experience, living this way will give your words merit, and it will help you sleep at night.

So the last thing to consider is how others will react to your choices, words, and actions. Well, it probably depends on who the word "others" represents. Hopefully if it represents your patients, they will follow your lead and live longer, healthier, more fulfilled lives. If the "others" are your friends, you might influence these people who are so important to you to make more health conscious decisions. Maybe the activities you take part in when you get together will shift from expensive dinners out to cost effective, health promoting hikes, sports, or dancing. Perhaps, in the case of your children, they will have a healthier role model which would lead them to live healthier lives.

I'll never forget the night that my father made a choice that influenced me to this day. I mentioned earlier that I have never been a parent, but for my entire life I've been a son. I was about ten years old I was at one of my father's softball games. The league was extremely competitive and the game was a playoff game. His team was losing, the bases were loaded, there were two outs in the last inning, and it was dad's turn to bat. All I could think of was "wow, he must be nervous because I sure would be." My father walked right over to me, looked me in the eyes, and told me it was "time to be a hero." He wasn't nervous at all. A few short moments later my father sent a ball over the left field fence to win the game. Dad was right, it was time to be a hero. He just didn't realize to who. My father is a chiropractor, I don't think it's a coincidence that I am too.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Socially Well, Physically Diseased.

Does your social status infringe on your ability to achieve wellness? It has been my observation that efforts to achieve wellness are no longer the norm in society but the outlier, the exception, the weirdo.

Think I'm wrong? Consider this, how would your co-workers look at you if you came into work with your breakfast; a salmon filet, some steamed broccoli, and a handful of walnuts? If that's not weird to most people at 8am, I don't know what is. Now compound that experience. Your office is carpeted right and it's pretty clean, so walking around barefoot would not be dangerous to your health. Kick your shoes off, relax, build proprioception in your feet, support your arches, create more stability and flexibility around your ankle, have less back pain. Oh wait, you can't kick your shoes off, because if you walk around your office with no shoes on you are a weirdo. It doesn't matter if your shoes produce endless back pain for you and you are extremely comfortabl when you get home and kick them off... you better keep those babies on at work, don't want to be weird.

So let's assume that you are your own boss and you do whatever you please in your office. In fact, you demand that your staff eats salmon, broccoli, and walnuts for breakfast every day! Your office is all based on telephone and internet conversations so no client is ever going to meet you or your staff anyway! What will your friends think when you tell them that you go to a chiropractor? Did you know that only 7% of the population is gutsy enough to skip the medications and seek healing through natural remedies? That means that most likely 93% of your friends will think you are weird for going to see your chiropractor, even though it is the only thing that has relieved your pains for the last 20 years! Once again, socially, you're a weirdo.

This concept even comes into play when you exercise. Of course everyone knows there is nothing weird abot going to the gym and getting your sweat on. What can be weird though is how you do it. Are you like everyone else in the gym? Do you go from machine to machine and move your body on a track that the machine dictates? Maybe not, maybe you are a big muscular guy who sticks to free weights and cables, you have read all of the fitness magazines out there and your workouts fit their recommendations to the letter. Still not weird. But what if you are me? I'm the guy in the gym that doesn't come to socialize, I don't meet my friends at the gym. I rarely touch a bench press and I haven't sat down to lift something in over 5 years. You will never jog next to me on a treadmill or glide next to me on an elliptical. I'd rather run outside in the freezing cold in my snow boots. I wouldn't even know how to operate many of the fancy machines in the gym anymore and I've been a certified personal trainer for 7 years! You can find me in the gym doing power cleans, pull ups, squats, dead lifts, push presses, plyometrics, and other functional exercises. That makes me weird. I don't fit in to the social environment at the gym.

I'm not unrealistic. I run a chiropractic practice and a personal training business that are growing in their successes and I know that if I really stick to my convictions of walking around with no shoes on it would scare clientele away. That's bad socially, bad economically, and when I can't afford to buy vegetables, bad physically and emotionally too. So I get it. You can't just be a total weirdo all the time unless if you are a complete genious. The point of this posting is not to get you walking around barefoot, eating salmon for breakfast, and ignoring your friends at the gym. The point of this posting is to get you thinking. Are you making the best choices? For me, wearing shoes to work is the best choice even though I know physically it is not. That's why I take them off when I'n not seeing patients. But you bet your ass I eat fish for breakfast regularly. And when I'm at the gym it's not to make friends, it's to make progress.

Is your social standard getting in the way of your health and wellness? It's easy to see, look down, can you see your toes? If you can it's a good start. Go to the bathroom mirror with your shirt off, like what you see? If you do then you are even more on your way. Ask yourself, if you are doing everything you can to make yourself as healthy and as well as you can (a pint of ben and jerry's from time to time not withstanding). If the answer is yes, either people think you are weird and you are cool with that (which is awesome), or you might be someone who could benefit from a little more education (which is fine as well).

Patrick Henry once said "give me liberty or give me death." Well, we have liberty. Why do we take life for granted?