What is Health? the gift of guides to follow
by Tammera Karr, PhD, BCHN, CDSP, CNW, CGP
This question popped into my head this morning as I was thinking about a dear friend enjoying a spring National Monuments RV trip.
Each morning she makes her green smoothy, does her yoga, embraces the day’s adventure of vistas and views with her soulmate, and rests comfortably in her fifth wheel at the end of the day’s travel. The freedom to stop and rest, sleep in and go for leisurely hikes, taking in the smells of the earth and air. ( all shown to change immune function)
Sounds pretty wonderful to many of us. We may not appreciate the time and dedication this remarkable health practitioner has spent crafting, nourishing, sacrificing, and supporting her lifestyle of health. It didn’t happen overnight; part of her vision may never have included a fifth wheel. Throughout the years I have known her, she has been kind, generous, pragmatic, honest, and open to opportunities. For my friend, health is something you live, more than all the supplements, diet restrictions, or diagnostic tests. These items are ingredients, seasonings if you will, but the daily choice of Lifestyle makes health.
Another remarkable woman in my life is a cancer thriver; she is a dynamo of energy, intellect, and dedication. Each day she rises at 4 am to call her father in Europe. Then begins her workday with students and faculty in differing time zones. This lady is not a cook; “not in my contract,” she says. Yet health is a daily passion and joy. The joy she receives from doing what she loves is an important element of her cancer-free lifestyle. Her relationship with her soulmate, who is the chef, feeds her in many ways. There is a balance; one steps in to fill a role while the other steps into a different one, both movements in harmony. Through joy and sorrow, lifestyle has been an active choice – daily activities, time allotment, rest from work, trauma, worry, and media. These aspects of health we can think of in cooking terms as – proofing, cooling, and serving.
According to research published in 2022, Lifestyle makes up over 80% of an individual’s health. Lifestyle is a banquet of dishes that nourish, excite, comfort, and sustain us. I know clients who feel battered, abandoned, and alone. To some, they view this as the result of how others have treated them, not the choices they have made. Then there are those who seem to rise above and still find joy. This is a choice, not an easy one, but one that changes brain chemistry, digestion, immune function, inflammation markers, and countless genetic receptor site regulation responses.
So once again, I reflect; on the wonderful life and health my husband and I have; the daily supplements are expensive – choice; the quality food is expensive and time-consuming – choice; the location we live in is remote and challenging – choice, time spent writing, painting, building, restoring and developing gives a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and pride – choice.
Health isn’t about early detection, medical appointments, worry, fear, or apathy. Health is about engaging, making choices, and inviting joy as a choice each day.
What have you stopped doing that you enjoy?
What in your life energizes and or refreshes you?
Freehand watercolors were done by Tammera while enjoying time away from her phone, computer, and research. These breaks and the use of a brush clears the mind and improve eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills in addition to being creative. There is no pressure to be perfect or professional, just let the water carry the color and see what happens. She has not painted for over 20 years and is gradually inviting it back into her life just for the fun of it.