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Redefining the Wellness Paradigm

Amanda Archibaldby Amanda Archibald, RD

Health is not cultivated in one day. Nor is illness. We don’t suddenly wake up well or succumb to sickness.  Life, illness and wellness is a journey we cultivate. Our health becomes an expression, or a mirror of the world we have exposed ourselves to. Exposure may be in the form of food, the environment, or our emotions, for example.  Health or sickness is a destination in life’s continuum; a consequence of life’s choices – the mid-point of a journey.

We are all familiar with the adage that Rome was not built in a day.  Neither was your health or your sickness. So with this in mind, why would expect your health to be restored in one visit, one medication or even one healing modality?  The models of healing espoused by the integrative medicine community embrace the idea of balance. Sickness reflects a body out of balance. Wellness reflects a body in balance. No one pill, one supplement, one food, one exercise or one healing touch restores balance. Balance is a system you work towards – throughout life.

In today’s healing environment, health professionals are coming together to create integrative (connected) programs to restore your health. This requires a paradigm shift in how practitioners link services, and how consumers need to embrace the new healing (otherwise known as medical) experience. Medicine is not a candy store in which your doctor suggests a series of medications to calm your ills. Medicine (0r restorative health services), is a compilation of services, which may include medication as one aspect of your healing program.

Here’s what you need to know if you are seeking services to restore your health and vitality.

  1. Healing is a journey and has many components or prongs.
  2. One medication or supplement or food will not heal you.
  3. An integrative approach to restoring your health is a pre-requisite to your future.
  4. Forget visiting one practitioner and thinking that they can rebalance your system and heal your ills. They can’t.

What the wellness visit of today should look like – and what you should expect

Your doctor (MD, ND, DO) is a springboard to nourishing your wellness, but not the end point.  A healing plan may embrace some, or all of these healing modalities:

Rebalancing through nourishment. Nutrition fuels your body. You cannot escape this notion or cheat on yourself.  Whether you feel well or unwell, nourishment is your foundation. No healing visit occurs without this discussion. If it does, demand it!

Rebalancing through touch. The healing modalities of acupuncture  and massage have roots as deep as humankind. While nourishment runs deep, acupuncture and massage stimulate the body even more deeply. While nourishment provides the building blocks, acupuncture and massage prompt the body to do its job, get up and heal itself. The gentle prod, the invisible embrace. A critical neighbor, friend and kin in healing.

Rebalancing through emotional wellness, gratitude and friendship   We do not heal well alone. Humans innately need touch, comfort and friendship. Andrew Weil addresses these core needs in his recent work Spontaneous Happiness.  Converse with your practitioner about support systems in your life and ask for help in building these structures as part of your wellness journey

Rebalancing through Movement.  Movement or dance as Mark Liponis, MD calls it, makes your immune system purr. Purring = wellness. Growling = sickness. Healing requires movement. If your movements are restricted, seek guidance from a Registered Yoga practitioner or a practitioner with expertise in movement (Kinesiology). If your limbs or body aches, or you cannot move your body, your healing plan must include healing touch from massage or acupuncture or the healing touch arts.

Rebalancing with Nature.  Nature is a natural life force that surrounds us and embraces us. It is what Richard Louv (Author of Last Child in the Woods), calls Vitamin N. So many of us are busy getting all our other Vitamin letters, but omit the one that is essentially free. Nature is a natural restorative, a massage for the senses, food for the soul. It is right there, in the space between your car and office door, or front door. Pause a while in this space, every day and build your life around occupying this space more than any others. It is free medicine.

Shifting Your Paradigm. Finding Your Solutions

It’s time to shift our expectations for the healing or “medical” visit. Forget the one stop shopping and “in and out burger” equivalent of healing. Look for a company or practice whose approach includes an in-depth consultation and a plan before you go anywhere. Your healing plan should include nourishment solutions, healing touch services, movement and flexibility recommendations and resources or services that support your very essence. Expect to buy a package of services and not a one-time fee for one visit. One visit cannot heal you, because it cannot embrace the very essence of who you are and who you want to be.

Amanda Archibald  is the principal of Field to Plate. She provides culinary nutrition services nationwide to clients in partnership with Meryl Brandwein Nutrition.

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