By Dr. Shannon Sarrasin, ND
You are your own best doctor. This is what I tell my patients when they first start working with me. The daily lifestyle choices that you make contributes to the landscape of your body, mind and overall state of health. Lifestyle factors can either be a detriment to your health or they can help you to heal.
After eleven years of practice, it is reaffirmed in my mind that the central pillars that support the healing process include food as medicine, getting optimal sleep and exercise, minimizing negative habits and engaging in stress relieving practices.
I have seen patients put auto-immune diseases into remission, heal from chronic health concerns, achieve pregnancy after struggling with infertility and improve various health conditions. This is not an easy process, and there is no magic pill for success. My patients inspire me daily with their health transformations and at times I am in awe of what is possible.
For this article, I decided to reach out to some of my most motivated and committed patients to find out what has helped them the most in achieving their health goals. Here are their tips for success:
Understand your health
The first step in the healing process is to understand the root cause of your health concerns and all the factors that contribute to your well-being. Perhaps your symptoms are letting you know that this lifestyle is not working for you. Understanding your health needs will arm you with tools for change!
Laura found that understanding her food sensitivities was a game changer for her overall health. “Now that I understand my body and what triggers dis-ease, I am motivated to do the right things like remove food triggers, drink less, move my body and practice good sleep hygiene. The happy thing about this is that my 26 year old daughter is learning from my discoveries and won’t have to wait until she’s over 50 to start figuring out her health!”
Develop a support network
Changing your lifestyle requires support. Reach out to family and friends and surround yourself with like-minded people who will keep you motivated. Your support network may include healthcare practitioners, a fitness group, yoga studio, meditation community, spiritual group, recovery support, etc. Active involvement with your community can improve accountability and help you to stay on track.
Commitment to self-care
Carving out time for self-care has been instrumental in supporting the health of my most motivated patients. Choose to put yourself first. Amber learned to make self-care a priority. For her, the most beneficial is exercise, meditation and taking the time to cook quality foods. She’s learned that “self-care isn’t selfish, it’s necessary.”
A morning routine of yoga, meditation or prayer has been helpful for many of my patients. This practice serves as an anchor to allow time to connect with self. This can improve resilience to stress, improve mood and buffer negative coping strategies such as emotional eating.
For James, exercise is a major factor in keeping his physical and mental health on track. The sense of accomplishment and time spent outdoors helps him to stay motivated and energized.
Enjoy the process
A positive attitude goes a long way in promoting a healthy lifestyle. Try something new, find an activity that you love, explore new recipes that taste delicious.
Thomas finds inspiration in the ongoing exploration of his new way of eating. A plant based diet has helped him to lose 30 lbs, reduce his blood pressure and eliminate nearly all of his asthma symptoms. “I am close to perfecting my jackfruit Maui “ribs” and vegan eggplant parmigiana. I love creating healthful tasty soups, especially at this time of year.”
A common trait among my most dedicated patients is perseverance. Jacquie has never given up despite ups and downs with her health. She is “determined to be her best self!” You are your own best doctor. Small steps can add up to big results. I wish you great success in reaching your health goals.