Welcome everybody to More Than Healthy as we continue to share our weekly health tips. This week we’re talking about something that is near and dear to my heart and my own life experience. Tip #82 is all about the benefits of having a support network on your health journey.
I first read about this concept in Dr. Mark Hyman’s book Young Forever. He says that one of the foundations of health and longevity is building meaningful relationships and community. As I think back on my own life, I absolutely know this to be true. My “village” has been completely integral to my success in overcoming my many health challenges.
This topic goes along with meaning and purpose which we talked about in Tip #76. We need to have meaningful relationships in our lives and a community around us that supports our desire to improve our health.
An all-too-frequent scenario
We see this play out in so many ways in our More Than Healthy Functional Nutrition practice. A client comes to us with significant health issues. We do a hair analysis and determine that they need to remove gluten, sugar, and dairy from their diet. Their body is inflamed, and because of that, their immune system can’t do its job.
This leads to health issues. It might be as simple as gas, bloating, constipation, or skin issues. Or it might be as significant as headaches, pain throughout the joints, memory loss, or even a disease diagnosis like autoimmune, diabetes, or heart disease.
Typically at this point, our clients are highly motivated to make these changes. But then they go home, and their community (whether it be a spouse, partner, children, parents, friends, etc.) isn’t very supportive. They say, “You can do that, but I’m definitely not doing it!”
If that were all that happened, it would actually be fine. But more often than not, the family member starts to sabotage our client and all their efforts to make good food choices. I think this happens because a partner (or other close family member, and sometimes even friends) can feel threatened when someone makes significant improvements in their life. They feel guilty if they’re not willing to make changes, too. And when someone close to them is sabotaging their efforts, it makes it extremely difficult for them to stay on track.
My support network on my health journey
I totally recognize that I was extremely lucky to have Carla by my side throughout my health journey. There is honestly no way I could have stuck with all the changes I had to make if Carla hadn’t supported me.
Carla has always been the cook of our family. Once I realized that I had to cut out all gluten, sugar, and dairy for my health’s sake, I could have cooked my own food separately from hers. But my awesome wife said she wanted to do it with me, and that she wanted to see if she could change up her recipes to work for me. “You’ll be my guinea pig,” she said. “Let’s see if we can make them still taste good even without gluten, sugar, and dairy.”
She was so supportive during the many months I tried to do the juicing protocol. It was so much work, but she never complained. She would prep them, juice them, and pack all my juices for me to take to work. She also made the soup I ate every day and baked my potato and any other vegetables I was able to have. After I retired from my company I was able to take all of that over, but initially it was all her.
Fortunately, we eventually discovered that the protocol didn’t work for me, and the one I’m on now is much easier. But I have no doubt she would have continued to support me if that protocol had been the right one for my health. As it is, the one I’m on now is still a lot of work, because I try to stay away from processed foods. So that means a lot of meal prep and home cooking on Carla’s part.
The “eat-what-you-want” myth
She will tell you that it hasn’t been easy. There were many times when she would’ve liked to just wave a magic wand and change it back to where we could eat anything we wanted, anytime, with no significant health challenges. But we both know the reality is that those days are gone.
And truly, they were never a reality. Because now we know that everything we eat affects our health. Everything we put in our bodies affects us positively or negatively depending on what it is, where it came from, the ingredients used (or not used), how much we eat of it, and when we eat it. It all is recorded in our amazing bodies.
It’s true that we can abuse our bodies for a while, and it is such an amazing instrument that it can compensate well… until it no longer can. We’ve seen this over and over with myself and with our More Than Healthy clients.
We talk a lot about this in our book Unlocking the Leaky Gut Code. I think intestinal permeability affects more people than we know. Most people are walking around with inflamed bodies and massive amounts of pain, and they haven’t got a clue what to do about it other than take more pain medication. That just makes the problem worse. I got a little sidetracked there for a minute – but that’s what happens when we don’t make the changes we need to for our health. And our relationships and community can really affect how successful we are at reversing our health issues and achieving optimal health.
Some client examples
We have seen this over and over again with our clients. Here are a few examples of stories they have shared with us:
One client was totally committed to giving up gluten. But her husband was against it and did everything he could to sabotage her progress. He would buy her favorite donuts, cinnamon rolls, and cookies and bring them home for her. She would be able to resist the temptation for a while but eventually always gave in to it. Carla had told her that for her to be successful, she should remove all these things from her home. And to avoid going to the favorite places that have your treats. It’s impossible to not get exposed to sugar, but don’t make it easy. She was totally on board, but her husband was doing everything he could to show her she couldn’t do it. He didn’t understand how detrimental these foods were to her health.
Another client was working to reduce sugar. She did a pretty good job on her own, but when she and her husband would go out to dinner, he was not helpful. “I don’t want dessert,” she’d tell him. He would then order two desserts (the ones he knew she loved) and by the end, she’d eaten one of the desserts. She said she could only say no so many times before she gave in.
That’s been my experience, too
I’ve seen this many times with my friends and family too. They will say to me, “Just one slice of bread, one donut, one dish of ice cream, can’t make that much of a difference.” Obviously, they don’t understand that for me any of those foods equals pain. They also don’t understand that I am a sugarholic. If I have even a little sugar then it leads to more sugar and pretty soon I’m back where I started, inflamed and in pain.
Fortunately for me, Carla gets it. She’s not only my biggest cheerleader, she works every day to help ensure I’m successful. She makes a separate yogurt for me that’s made with coconut milk (she can have cow’s milk with no issue), and I’ve seen how much harder it is to make my yogurt than hers. She’s vigilant about making bone broth from scratch every week from the best sources so the soups she makes for me don’t cause an adverse reaction. She cooks almost everything I eat from scratch (with the exception of my Siete chips or when we go out to eat). She buys organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, and pasture-raised chicken and eggs for the same reason. It can’t be easy every week to do that, but she does.
Big effort = big payoff
I hope I haven’t scared you off with that list. The truth is, it’s a lot of work! But it is SO worth it to us both. And it has paid off enormously. Not only have we been able to reverse or put into remission every single one of my health problems, we have both actually become genetically younger!
Our latest body scans told us that epigenetically (according to our genes), confirmed we are actually younger than our chronological age. I’m 66 years old. But I test at age 43! Carla had similar results. This is remarkable, especially given where I started from in this journey.
The right support network on your health journey makes all the difference
There was just no way to do this topic justice without explaining how much effort we’ve gone through to make this happen. Something I’ve heard Carla say is, “David always brags about what I do to help ensure he stays healthy, but I always tell him he’s the one doing the hard work. Every day he has to choose at every meal to avoid all the foods that cause him inflammation. Every time he’s at a restaurant, he has to pass up some of his favorite foods because they don’t take the extra effort I do to make them gluten-free. He has to watch others eat treats and snacks all around him and he never gives in. I think that’s truly remarkable. And so I’m willing to do my part to support him.”
The truth is, it’s been teamwork from the beginning. And it’s made all the difference.
You are who you spend time with
You’ve probably heard the adage, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” You’ve heard it because it’s true. The people you spend the most time with shape who you are. They determine what dominates your attention. They affect the attitudes and behaviors you’re regularly exposed to. It can’t help but affect your own thoughts and behaviors.
Darren Hardy writes in The Compound Effect: “According to research by social psychologist Dr. David McClelland of Harvard, the people you habitually associate with determine as much as 95 percent of your success or failure in life.”
That’s huge. And it has important consequences, especially when it comes to healthy living.
How can you find a support network on your health journey?
In Dr. Bredesen’s book, The End of Alzheimer’s, he talks about how important it is to have someone by your side that’s willing to help you do all the hard work it takes to reverse a debilitating disease like dementia. He says he’s seen very few people that can do all that has to be done on their own. He encourages his patients’ family members to get on board and adopt the lifestyle changes he’s advocating for the patient as they will see some pretty remarkable health benefits too. The clients that have the most success have a friend or family member who does just that.
But what do you do if you find yourself in a situation where your spouse or significant other isn’t on board or is actually sabotaging your progress?
How do you maintain a strong social support network?
Win them over through results:
Although it’s difficult, it’s not impossible to achieve your health goals on your own. One of our clients has a husband and six children. She started making her meals by cooking the meat, vegetables, and salads in ways she could have them. She’d add bread or dessert for the family so they didn’t feel they were being deprived. Then on pizza night, she’d just pull out her leftovers and eat those while everyone else had pizza. They watched as their mom and wife started feeling better and better. Many of her health issues disappeared. After a while, the husband told her he wanted to eat exactly what she was eating. Even a couple of her kids decided to join her. She said they are all feeling the effects of reduced inflammation and loving it.
Find an ally:
If your spouse (or other people living in your home with you) isn’t supportive, try to find an ally who is. Perhaps an adult child sees the value in what you’re trying to do. Or a close friend. If you can find someone who is onboard, that one person might make all the difference. Tell them honestly what you’re trying to do, and then ask them if they’d be willing to be your ally and support. Ask them to hold you accountable, and to help remind you of what you’re trying to accomplish when things get hard.
Find a health coach:
The other thing that Dr. Bredesen suggested was to find a health coach that would help you stay on track. Having a coach is proven to help with a variety of different health goals, including sleep, stress, weight management, exercise, nutrition, life satisfaction, and time management as relevant to mind and body health.
A coach can help you to achieve long-lasting effects (vs. immediate but short-lived ‘quick fixes.’) A coach has also been shown to help you feel more in control of your own wellness. With the help of a coach, you are more likely to set attainable health goals and overcome challenging obstacles.
Coaching others and helping them to reclaim their health gives Carla and me an immense about of joy. We’ve been able to use my life experience and Carla’s functional nutrition expertise to help many people get back on track and feel better than ever. We’d be very happy to help coach you, too.
Find a strong WHY:
How strong is your why? If you know me at all, you know I preach having a strong why for anything you want to do in life. You for sure need a strong why if you’re trying to make big positive changes to your health. There’s a whole chapter dedicated to this in our book, Unlocking the Leaky Gut Code. You can also go back to Tip # 52 to learn more about how to create a strong why.
Hair analysis can help
Something else to consider is that finding connection may be a little more difficult if you’re struggling with your health. Maybe you’re simply deficient in some vitamins and minerals, or you have something more serious like a parasite or toxic metal overload.
A great way to find out is with hair analysis testing, an amazingly informative service now offered at More Than Healthy. With just a few strands of your hair, you receive a full report looking at toxins, nutrients, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, electromagnetic frequency exposure, chemicals, radiation, parasites, immune factors, and foods you should avoid.
Go to our website to learn more. You can schedule a local hair analysis or order it online to be mailed to you today.
More Than Healthy is part of YOUR support network
We always enjoy hearing from you, and we are happy to answer any of your health questions. Go to our social media pages on Facebook or Instagram (@morethanhealthyliving). We try to respond to all questions.
We’d love to become your health coaches as you work to become “more than healthy” and achieve optimal health. Thanks for joining us, and we’ll see you next week.
Note: Remember, we’re not doctors. We’re just sharing with you what’s worked for us on our health journey. You will want to consult your doctor before making any major changes to your diet and supplementation.