Growing up in the suburbs, I watched my Dad lace up his tennis shoes for a two mile run every day after returning from Offutt Airforce Base. Mom taught tennis in a city league, encouraged us to swim and ride our bikes, and took us along to softball and volleyball league games she and Dad enjoyed.
We took for granted that sports and extra-curricular activities would make us well-rounded adults some day.
When it came to food, Mom was ahead of the health revolution, buying whole wheat bread and banning soda and junk food from the cupboards. She’d say “Have an apple” whenever we whined about being hungry between meals.
I adopted most of these values in my adult life, so you can imagine how it shook me up to find out I had breast cancer 11 years ago.
How could someone raised by health-conscious parents end up with cancer at 40?
Here’s my theory: there’s more to good health than a low-junk diet and regular exercise.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big fan of leafy greens, sunrise walks, and downward dog. These practices played a key part in my recovery. They helped me fight fatigue and kept my attitude optimistic.
No doubt, the old school philosophy of staying physically fit and eating well still work to build discipline and strength.
But when we find ourselves under long-term stress or up against a chronic illness, we have to dig deeper, get support, and ask for help. We’ve got to stretch our fitness and food reserves a little farther.
Today, health is about more than whole wheat and running shoes. It’s time we freshen up our old ideas about what keeps us healthy.
For me, staying in fighting shape helped me make some tough choices, like leaving the financial stability of my marriage, getting counseling, closing a stressful business, and developing healthy emotional boundaries.
Whether you’re fighting cancer or pushing limits at the gym, you’re struggling with old patterns of behavior that probably don’t fit your new reality. An hour of weights and a plate of kale change the way your body looks and feels, but they don’t teach you to how to let go of destructive habits and toxic people in your life.
Even on a less life-threatening level, relieving hot flashes, indigestion, insomnia, fatigue and anxiety takes more than doggedly following rules about nutrition and exercise.
In my herbal practice, patients who gather a team to support their health goals make swifter progress. A patient who suffers from chronic anxiety, for example, improves quicker by asking for guidance with practices like fitness training, yoga, nutrition counseling, meditation or spiritual work, and herbal therapy.
There’s less likelihood of quitting or backsliding when your trainer, counselor, coach, herbalist or close friend are keeping you accountable to your own goals.
Herbal therapy alone will improve anxiety to a great degree (and menopause symptoms, insomnia, fatigue, pain, you name it). Switching off the thoughts that trigger anxiety – now that takes persistence, a strong will, and lots of emotional energy. A good coach or therapist can give you tools to help.
Give yourself credit for the healthy habits you’ve already started. Then take a modern approach and find someone you trust to get you the rest of the way. Maybe it’s a counselor, a life coach or an herbalist!
Mo Horner of Natural Healing Omaha, Nebraska’s only female Registered Herbalist, offers herbal, natural and practical alternatives for personal health. In her clinical practice, Mo specializes in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Herbalism. Her weekly blogs are chock full of interesting and inspiring natural health wisdom at www.NaturalHealingOmaha.com or email Mo at firstname.lastname@example.org and phone 402-933-6444.