All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves and branches grow. - James Clear, Atomic Habits
We all like Shortcuts. Ways to get where we want to go without traveling over the path that we know will get us there.
At some point, we all ask ourselves, "Isn’t there an easier way to do this than to put in the work day after day before we see demonstrable results?"
The short answer is no. We all have to travel along the long path that allows us to get to the desired place.
When I started Dignity Integrative Health and Wellness, I was confident that a systematic process of using established diagnostic processes, detailed personal and family history, a physical exam, and appropriate lab testing, including genetic evaluation as indicated, would allow us to craft a personalized plan focused on the four pillars of health:
For the most part, this has been a very successful process for our patients. We have seen remarkable changes in individual health and well-being, from the reversal of diabetes to a near complete resolution of chronic (greater than 10 years) gastrointestinal issues. Most patients describe profound improvements and energy that allows them to move throughout their day without the daily fatigue they used to experience.
Yet in a minority of cases the root cause diagnosis is more challenging. Like our lives, issues do not unfold in straight lines. There are times when we have to go back a few steps to reevaluate the possible causes of the issue and dig deeper to find solutions. It is humbling and gratifying when we circle back to explore deeper issues like environmental toxins, heavy metals, mold or chronic low-level infections which may hold the key to the resolution of the challenges patients face. It is a learning process for me and my patients.
In a large percentage of patients there are always other challenges. Life often gets in the way. We all lead busy lives—there are careers, kids, family obligations and unexpected events that distract us on our path to optimal health.
I recently received a text from a woman who heard me speak over a year ago and took to heart what I had said. She let me know that she had lost 40 pounds, changed her nutrition to minimize processed foods, now eats vegan several times a week, and works out regularly. Her sleep has greatly improved while cutting her blood pressure medicine in half. It moves me greatly that I had this impact on her and her long term health.
As I reflected on why it became clear. She made her personal health and well-being a priority in her life. She took the long road!
This is an issue I see more commonly in women than men, though it applies to both. Unless we make the mental switch that our personal health is a priority, it will never be possible to achieve our goals. While our bodies can overcome bad habits in our 20s and 30s, as we move into our 40s and 50s those habits start to show their cumulative negative impact. Symptoms like fatigue, joint pain, abdominal discomfort, and lack of sleep are the harbingers of the damage you have done, mostly unknowingly, to yourself.
These changes have often happened over decades, gradually and progressively until reaching a tipping point. The reversal of these processes, thankfully, do not take decades but often 6 to 18 months to see the full impact. The good news is that simple steps like a 10 day elimination challenge (were you eliminate all the harmful foods you’re eating) show immediate effect. It gives you a taste, pun intended, for how good you can feel.
But then the real work begins.
The road to success is built day by day based on the decisions you make and keep. Simple habits like not looking at your phone first thing in the morning, getting outside and walking for 15 minutes after dinner or practicing meditation daily do not just happen. They are habits we build on that long road to optimal health.
The good news is we have experience to show you what you need to do and where you need to go. With support from our team we encourage you on your path to personal health and longevity. Not a short cut and well worth the journey.