Living LifeWise is a regular column provided by LifeWise Ambassadors – LifeWise employees whose healthy choices are helping them live better lives. Today’s column is provided by LifeWise Ambassador Laura McLeod.
My mom gave her doctor carte blanche when it came to her health. She didn’t ask questions and took any pill he prescribed. Yet still she suffered from depression, diabetes, and later, COPD and emphysema. She didn’t associate her health issues with her lifestyle choices – she was overweight, very sedentary, and had a penchant for snacking on unhealthy food.
Growing up it was always just me and mom, so it was devastating to watch her health decline, and I felt powerless when I lost her way too soon. One of the ways I’m honoring her memory is by choosing differently.
Ben Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” While he didn’t have healthcare in mind, this approach has been my go-to for my own health. That axiom, coupled with my belief that lifestyle trumps genetics, led me to explore alternative and complementary therapies.
To stay healthy, I’ve tried a variety of healing modalities, largely out of curiosity. Some stuck. Here are the few I wouldn’t want to live without – and why.
I was introduced to natural medicine when I moved to Vancouver, BC. I saw a naturopath for minor health issues and was asked to try an elimination diet to see how my body responded. My digestion, energy and coping capability all improved, and to this day, I limit my dairy intake and rotate corn, wheat and other grains. I now consider what I eat my first line of defense against illness.
Appointments with my current naturopath, part of an impressive group at Seattle Healing Arts, last a minimum of 30 minutes and together we take a holistic approach to my health. She “gets” me. She knows I want to give my body what it needs to take care of itself so I rarely need medication. Traditional western medicine has its place. For instance, when I had a bronchial infection, my naturopath didn’t hesitate to prescribe antibiotics.
That first naturopath? He was a graduate of the highly acclaimed Bastyr University in Kenmore, Wash. – now the largest natural medicine school in the country. A teaching clinic in Seattle makes care affordable to those who may not otherwise have access.
Call it carpal tunnel or tendonitis – whatever it was, my wrist pain threatened to keep me from working. After several months of seeing a neuromuscular therapist for weekly 20-minute sessions, the pain was gone.
Today I see a therapist who specializes in deep tissue massage to manage issues that come from sitting too much and repetitive motion. And there’s a lot to be said for taking an hour just to relax. A healing touch is powerful, and massage has many other benefits, too.
Sitting too much also causes old injuries to flare and creates alignment problems. When my neck or hips go out, it’s not just those body parts that feel out of whack. Being out of alignment takes the flow out of my qi, so to speak, and causes pain in odd places, so I see my chiropractor for monthly maintenance.
Washington-based Vitality Specific practices upper cervical care, a more gentle – and specific – type of chiropractic.
While I don’t consistently use other modalities, I’ve occasionally used acupuncture for allergies and muscle pain, and Reiki, flotation and meditation for relaxation and focus. I take supplements based on what my body needs rather than the latest trend.
I also trust that mental and emotional health contributes to physical health, and what I believe makes a difference. Ultimately I believe I’m my own best health plan, so anything I can do that contributes to my overall health, I’m willing to try.
Laura McLeod is an internal communications manager at LifeWise, and is convinced that lifestyle trumps genetics. Because her genetics include many lifestyle-based illnesses, she strives to eat well, exercise and get regular check-ups. While she’s officially reached ‘mid-life,’ she believes you’re only as old as you feel. Laura lives in Ballard with her long-time partner and her energetic, playful cat. Learn more about Laura in our Living LifeWise video series.