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Taking Back Control of Your Health through Lifestyle Medicine

I have spent so much time, actually the entire past year, thinking about what I wanted to write about, what topics I wanted to focus my energy on, and how I wanted to define myself in the career space I entered into, specifically Pain Medicine, after completing 10 years of medical training.

But in the end, I censored everything I wanted to say. I was afraid of putting myself out there, or choosing the wrong topic and so, instead of creating, I spent all of my time thinking. In the end, I was completely stuck in the same place.

Shifting from conventional medicine...

I’ve made the choice that this year will be different. I spent the last 12 years being an academic, reading and discussing and practicing medicine. While I’m grateful for everything I learned, after only a few years in practice, I find myself thirsty for more knowledge. And not the kind found in medical textbooks.

I finally started reading on topics that interested me like mindfulness, inner work, and self healing and have been surprised how much it’s come to influence my own medical practice. I was trained to focus on the physical body, treating the symptoms of disease with medications and procedures rather than really getting to the root of the problem.

Don’t get me wrong, conventional medicine still plays a critical role in my own practice and to the healthcare system in general. If I have appendicitis, I want a capable surgeon to remove my appendix. But medications and procedures that simply treat the disease without focusing on any other changes is short-sighted and ultimately exhausting, to both the patient and the healthcare system.

Changing the focus to lifestyle inteventions

When you start to shift the focus from viewing disease as disease and rather view it as a symptom, the solution to the problem changes. You can treat high blood pressure with a medication…or you can treat the root of high blood pressure…like poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, etc. If you don’t treat the underlying problem then you will only mask the symptom, but allow the problem to fester.

It’s the same with chronic pain. Chronic pain is a symptom of an underlying problem, whether a muscle imbalance, muscle tightness, degenerative changes, nerve compression, chronic inflammation, or even secondary to stress, anxiety, depression or emotional trauma. 

Don’t get me wrong. There are times when conventional treatment is necessary, but in many more cases, conventional therapy is temporary and simply acts as a Band-Aid to provide a short period of relief. Ideally, during this period of relief, you’re able to engage in addressing the underlying problem.

The only long-lasting change comes from getting to the root of the problem by addressing underlying physical, mental and emotional sources of pain, burn out and fatigue. This will require an honest review of daily habits related to diet, exercise, mindset and sleep and then mindful attention to improving these aspects of your life.

It’s time to take your life back. The body has a remarkable ability to heal itself assuming we provide a nourishing environment for it to do so. Allow your body to work for you and get back to what you love doing.

WHAT TO DO NEXT?

Read more articles on related topics by checking out my Blog.

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