Time to Thrive
By Debra K
I believe we all have a job to do in this world. We all have a purpose and a reason for being. For a long time, I had no idea what mine was. I fumbled around—a lot. But after some intense personal experiences, clarity came: I knew my mission was to inspire people to get healthy. Ideally, I would transform the wellbeing of our entire nation. I admit, it was a lofty goal, and also a little ironic since I was a middle-aged chicken-wing-and-nacho addict. But who was I to argue with destiny?
I admit it was an uphill battle to get myself on the road to wellness. It’s been similarly challenging to help other folks do the same. We are enduring a seriously tumultuous time right now. For many people just getting through a day is enough; forget adding wellness to their do-do list. But I am relentless in my pursuit because it’s my passion. I care so deeply about this subject, and it’s my hope that you will find something here that will inspire you to change a habit or two, invest a little time in your health, and get closer to discovering your own true purpose in life.
WHERE TO BEGIN?
Let’s be honest: just trying to decipher what “wellbeing” means is tricky. Open a magazine, click on a YouTube link, ask your doctor and you’ll get a dozen different, often conflicting opinions about how to be healthy.
It’s important to realize that there is no one-size-fits-all kind of wellbeing. “Healthy” looks different for each of us. But for everyone it is a process. I actually like to call it a journey. My own journey to wellness has included many twists and turns, hills and valleys. But I’ve been able to identify three significant steps that were integral to my eventual success. One or all of them might be a good place for you to begin.
STEP ONE: RELINQUISH THE PAST
I find it absolutely crazy that things from decades ago can prevent us from moving forward in our current lives. But you know what? It’s true. For many of us, our path is cluttered with unresolved issues from our past and we waste precious time and emotional energy trying to maneuver around them. I have learned that to move forward, we must first go back. As we journey through our personal history, we can discover what events from the past are creating the anchors weighing us down in the present, and preventing our elevation to the next level.
On my path to wellness, I discovered several moments from my past that still evoked a pretty ugly response. One was an ex-boyfriend who gave me my first taste of body shaming by declaring my naked form looked “uhhh, okay.”
Another was from a parent who told me to “stop resisting and just do what you’re told, Mouth.” Right then I knew that thinking differently or speaking my mind was unacceptable and to be avoided, or I’d be punished.
Then there was my ex-husband, who tried to control my natural leadership skills by attacking my femininity: “You should have been born a man because you act just like one.”
Your stories—some may be similar, some very different—are likely right there under the surface waiting for you to let them go. I encourage you to take some time and think about the moments from your past that still come back to you at inopportune times and make you feel small or angry or scared or less than. You have to find a way to make peace with them, and if you need help doing so, make sure you get it, because as long as the past exists in your present, it still has control over you. Letting go of what’s weighing you down is the only way to rise.
STEP TWO: GET CLEAR ON YOUR PURPOSE
Why are you here? I don’t mean right this second, reading this article. I mean: why do you do what you do in the world? What is your purpose? If you don’t know, you’re not alone. I only discovered my reason for being 12 years ago.
I was climbing the corporate ladder at the time and I noticed the higher I climbed, the lower my health sank. Though I’d been juggling an array of annoying physical ailments, it was a swollen and infected eye that finally face-planted me in my doctor’s office.
Per the usual routine, I stepped on the scale first. With dismay, I watched the nurse move the counter weight higher and higher. “Gee, I had no idea my eye was THAT swollen,” I said when she finally stopped at a number I’d never seen before.
Twenty minutes later, the doctor rushed in—late, of course—and asked why I was there. “I have heartburn, I’m not sleeping, my stomach is always on fire and now I have this eye thing.” As I spoke, he wasn’t looking at me; he was scribbling furiously on a pad. He tore five pages off and shoved them at me. I realized with alarm that they were all prescriptions.
He started to usher me out the door without having asked a single question about my stress level, my exercise habits or my food choices. He didn’t even care about my weight gain. He just wanted me out of his office so he could see his next patient.
Before the door closed behind me, I threw the prescriptions back at him and yelled, “There has to be a better way!” Now I was miserable and mad. I felt worse instead of even a little bit better. As I drove home, I thought about the millions of people who drag themselves into doctor’s offices across this country and leave with a handful of quick-fix prescriptions instead of a solid, workable plan for getting at the root of what ails them. It’s the byproduct of inattentive physicians who prescribe to the “onto the next patient” model of care.
That was the moment the course of my life changed forever. That’s when I knew I needed to help inspire big changes. The seed was planted. It didn’t sprout for a while, but eventually it broke ground and began to thrive. Go figure: my sense of purpose was solidified during that really crappy doctor’s appointment.
For you, the light bulb moment might have occurred while having a heated argument with a spouse, or in the midst of a maddening work project. Or maybe it will come to you during a long night spent awake with a sick child, or on an otherwise ordinary early morning walk along the beach. Be on the lookout for signs. If you’re feeling so overwhelmed or angry or frustrated you wanted to explode, you might be on to something. Or maybe there’s an activity you do that excites and engages you so much that you lose track of time, or forget to eat that sleeve of Thin Mints or check Facebook or worry about all those things you’ve been worrying about. That’s also a sign.
If a lightning bolt moment feels too dramatic or elusive, try writing down a description of the kind of person you want to be, and what conditions might be holding you back from being that person. Pay attention to your words. They can begin guiding you on your path toward fulfilling your sense of purpose.
STEP THREE: TEND TO YOUR BODY
I used to focus primarily on my body’s physicality—i.e. what it looked like on the outside—and for the most part I thought it came up lacking. (I blame that stinking boyfriend who made me feel less than all those years ago.) But now I view my body as a vessel to carry my soul on its life journey of fulfilling my purpose. Love it or hate it, it’s mine. With this shift in thinking has come a sense of responsibility and love and a desire to care for my body. It has to be healthy to accomplish what I want to in this world.
Confession: just a few years ago, I once again face-planted into a doctor’s office. Luckily, this time it was a functional medical clinic in Delray Beach called the biostation. After enduring an extremely challenging year, I was suffering from insomnia, high cholesterol, irritated stomach, low energy and—as I learned through yet another fun step on to the doctor’s scale—some extra weight.
It was all disheartening, but Dr. Martin Bloom, Medical Director of the biostation, helped me regain perspective with a little education about my wellbeing roadmap. He explained the importance of beginning treatment where a specific patient currently is, instead of using a generic plan that works for some but not all. A more individualized starting point can be determined through a full diagnostic blood panel, which is far more detailed than most patients receive from a traditional physical exam. Delving into factors that affect one’s quality of life, including unhealthy trends and imbalances, can make all the difference in resolving root causes and restoring wellness.
We all know getting physically healthy is not an overnight process. But it definitely won’t happen if you don’t take a first step. For me, the most dramatic positive changes occurred when I addressed my depleted vitamin levels, minimized inflammatory foods and committed to working out at least three times each week.
TIME FOR CHANGE
I’d be lying if I said I never fall off the wellness wagon. Even now, I have hectic days and stressful weeks that cause me to slip into an old bad habit or two. But I never veer too far off the path and I never hesitate to get right back on track. I’ve learned on my journey that I am worth it.
When a person is functioning at his or her highest level, that person has the ability not only to change their own life and the lives closest to them, but also—dare I say?—change the world. And wouldn’t you agree the world needs change now more than ever? The time to be well is now.
Debra K. is an Emmy nominated television producer and host. She is a published author and the founder of two companies in the wellness industry — Well World TV and — ADDY award winning Well World Productions. She is a graduate student of Heroic Public Speaking, a school for public speakers.
At the heart of everything Debra does is the desire to inspire, educate and share information that helps create a Well World. Find her on Facebook at @Well World TV and @Debra K.