Have you ever audited yourself on the way you plan for your most precious gift: your health? We tend to spend time planning our financial strategy, our travel, our social life, but few of us create a health strategy for ourselves.
With the growth of the functional medicine movement, I have pondered its basic premise: build whole-person health by addressing the underlying causes of disease. Applying this same premise to my individual health strategy opened up some insights for me personally about how to set my own health goals and methodology.
Looking for and addressing the underlying causes of disease or dysfunction provides clues to where to start in creating a health strategy. I often ask people to tell me their health story, starting with the lives of their parents before they were born. Events, exposures and experiences create chemical and cellular patterns and memory in our bodies that often exhibit as symptoms much later. I often think of my job as solving a puzzle, or connecting the dots. I saw a patient recently with severe itching for the past 3 years. When we went through her health story, we realized that one of her medications was changed to a generic form 3 years ago. Now we have investigated the additives in that generic form of a medication that she had tolerated previously, and found that she has an intolerance to one of the binding agents in the pill. Without this kind of sleuthing, a traditional approach would have been to prescribe an anti-histamine or steroid, but the originating factor would have continued.
Louise Hay, best-selling author of You Can Heal Your Life, describes how our mind and body are connected and that the root cause of illness is our life experiences and our thoughts about them. I find this concept empowering because it offers us the option to revise our own story and thus our own health outcomes. When we partner our own perspectives with a caring investigation of our story, the result is truly “functional medicine” with the power to transform our lives.
If you would like to perform your own health strategy audit, I suggest the following steps as a possible mechanism:
- Write out your health story starting with the environment and events occurring while you were in-utero.
- Write out a list of health challenges and a list of health triumphs that have occurred in your life.
- Look for a health practitioner who will think through your story with you.
- Identify causative factors that have led to your challenges and triumphs.
- Seek ways to address and heal the underlying causes of disease or challenges.
- Assess whether you can include more of the actions that caused your health triumphs.
- Create a plan with specific actions and due dates to reach your health goals.
- Work with an accountability partner or coach as you work your plan.
Dr. Brossfield is the medical director at the Eisenhower Wellness Institute and can be reached at (760) 610.7360.