I’ve been studying and practicing medicine for over 30 years. My formative years of medical study were in the traditional system of Western American allopathic medicine. I read all my textbooks, memorized details about anatomy and physiology, and then learned how to diagnose disease from a compilation of a patient’s symptoms. And during my residency training, I learned how to treat those diseases and help women heal their conditions and enjoy good health and wellness.
And yet in my day to day profession of taking care of women, I realized that although I was treating diseases, sometimes my patients were still less than totally well. I realized that the absence of disease does not equate with OPTIMAL health and wellness. Even in my own life, I developed medical conditions despite caring for myself with adequate nutrition, rest, and exercise.
So, what was missing? What did I not learn during my initial medical training that was essential to health?
Integrative Medicine – the new model. In the last few years of formally studying and practicing integrative medicine, I have come to realize that the balance of mind, body, and spirit is really at the foundational core of wellness. We are not just a bunch of organs connected by a circulatory system or nervous system or bony structures. We are more than the sum of our parts. We cannot fix one system and ignore the interrelationship to all the other systems. And we cannot separate our bodies from our minds or view ourselves separately from our environment. We are an ecosystem of bacteria, viruses, AND our own unique DNA, and that individual ecosystem exists in the larger ecosystem that is our family, our community, our country, and our planet, and it all needs to be intricately balanced to achieve optimal wellness.
And yet, we often diagnose disease without regard to the particular patient’s total being/self. We prescribe medicines without first looking at patient’s nutrition, metabolism, biochemistry, and activity level. We ignore the scenery that is the backdrop to the story of our lives and that of our patients. And in the rush to get through the day, today’s medical professional is more likely to prescribe pills or surgery to fix problems that started at the grocery store, at our dinner table, in our minds, or in our homes. As an integrative medicine practitioner, I still use all the tools of allopathic medicine like medicines, surgery, and chemotherapy when needed, but I also embrace other healing modalities when proven effective. As patients, we are longing to feel good and we seek answers in modern medicine. Yet like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, we alone may own the secret route back to health, but following the yellow brick road requires knowledge, insight, diligence, and practice.
With all the pressures and hustle bustle harried pace of our lives, we may try to work harder and run faster on the treadmill of life. Instead, we should work SMARTER. Sometimes the best way to health is to take a break.
The secret is: get off the speedway every day, even for 20 minutes! Break your pace. Honor and elevate yourself!
- Breathe. We take breathing for granted since we do it 8-12 times every minute on average. Sit in a quiet room; perhaps turn off the lights. Sit in your favorite chair. Close your eyes. Inhale gently but steadily. Listen to your breathing. Hold your breath. Feel the tension escape. Exhale. Break your daily rhythm. Repeat this.
- Figure Out Your Biorhythms. Biorhythms were a popular concept in the 1970s. But it applies just as much today and probably more so today given our crazy, non-stop Be in sync with your unique body and how it functions. Even if your workday demands that you shuffle the kids to school or show up at work by 9, listen to your body. It’s speaking to you. Embrace that in light of these mundane demands.
- Meditate at least once a day, and if possible twice — in the morning and at twilight. If you have never meditated before, you absolutely must give it a whirl. Again, go to your favorite room; perhaps turn off the lights. Sit in your favorite chair. Close your eyes. Cleanse your brain – focus on you. This is YOUR time to rejuvenate. If you are new to meditating, this may take several sessions before you are able to be comfortable with just sitting. You will improve over time and enjoy more restoration and comfort. To learn more about meditation, click here.
- Be sure to hydrate 24/7. Water cleanses, removes toxins, and purifies. Water beats sodas, juices, and processed beverages hands down.
- Examine your diet. Watch your food intake. As Michael Pollan, author of FOOD RULES, says, “Eat food, mostly plants, not TOO much.” Eat lighter, not necessarily to control your weight, which is often important, but to give your digestive system a rest. Honor your body.
- Move. Regular exercise is essential. Choose an activity that you enjoy. Sitting too much daily can be as destructive to your health as smoking. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of movement at least five days per week.
At West Coast Women’s Reproductive Center, we strive to provide women with total wellness and help them with fertility. To learn more or schedule a consultation, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us at 818-986-1648, or attend a class: find our schedule at WomensReproduction.com.
Dr. Tina Koopersmith is a board-certified OBGYN and REI as well as a board-certified practitioner of Integrative Medicine. For over 25 years, she has served the women of San Fernando Valley and beyond, helping women achieve total wellness and fertility. She is a graduate of Duke University Medical School and specializes in empowering and honoring women.