When Dealing With a Chronic Illness, Set Intentions NOT Resolutions for Positive Change

by Dr. Susan Tanner, MD

This post may be a little different than what you might have come to expect from most New Year-New You articles that invade the health and wellness space at this time of year. Today, instead of focusing on new beginnings or lofty goals, I would like to focus on mind-set when subpar health and illness are involved. When you are focused on getting through the day-to-day, or are adjusting to not having as much energy or vibrancy as before, you don’t need the added pressure of entering into a new year, and especially a new decade, with a list of resolutions. In fact, the word “resolution” has become a term I don’t particularly like.

To “resolve” to do something is to make an unformulated decision. And, as most of us have likely discovered and experienced, these resolutions are often short-lived; the challenges of life and the world around us accelerate or never abate, and often, no specific plan was ever mapped out. Then we are left with the guilt of a failed resolution, or feeling defeated and hopeless for change.

Therefore, rather than making this time of year about goals, I would like to offer some tools to help you to get your mind and health in a positive place for better everyday living. Developing good routines and habits are what can help us sustain lifelong, rather than adopting transient processes that ultimately do not work.

To keep things really simple, I have made my suggestions into a list that you could print it out and post somewhere if you wish. I find that seeing a physical list helps me to check it, and utilize it more frequently. I like to post lists like this on my bathroom mirror–it is a private place, but still, a location where I will see it frequently. Some of my suggestions may be surprising, others almost simplistic, but I assure you that small steps lead to giant leaps when it comes to health.

New Year’s Intentions for Improved Health

  1. Make the decision that you would like to be healthier. Write it down as an intention. For example, instead of saying, “I want to lose 20 pounds,” reframe that into, “I am following a system that will optimize my health and energy both now and in the years to come.” Read, write, or say your intention out loud daily.
  2. Realize that improving health comes from reducing your “total body load.” This involves focusing on clean air, clean food, clean water as we have re-iterated in many previous articles. A quick cheat sheet for doing this is as follows:
      • Make sure your air is free of mold, dust, chemicals, and odors to the extent possible.
      • Follow an eating plan that involves little to no sugar or alcohol, avoids processed foods, and includes lots of fresh and organic foods as much as possible. (More on eating plans later.)
      • Drink plenty of pure, filtered water avoiding chlorine and other additives.
  3. Get up and move. Refer to our past article on exercise as medicine. It is said that the body starts dying when it stops moving, and I wholeheartedly agree. Movement, no matter what that means for you, is necessary for increasing metabolism, improving body mass, and assisting mental health. In fact, studies are showing that exercise does more to improve mental health than pharmaceutical interventions. It is becoming the first-line treatment for many mental health practitioners. There are so many options for exercise. Find something you LIKE, so that it is a pleasure, a gift, to be able to do it! It then feels more like a reward than a duty. Consistency is the magic word with exercise, not intensity.
  4. Take time to be quiet at least once daily. This may take the form of prayer, meditation, or simply being out in nature with no purpose except to be still and feel grateful. In our digital world, there are man easy and free apps that can be downloaded onto a phone or computer for easy access. Others may prefer doing it all on their own or reading from printed material. Whatever works for you, or any combination is fine, but the goal is to do it! Nothing goes further at developing a much-needed attitude of self-love than the quiet times. We find ourselves in the quiet times. Loving yourself allows you to then love others, truly.
  5. Keep a gratitude journal. Write in it every night at least 3 things for which you are grateful. This helps reprogram the brain to feel more aware during the day and in the moment, from the big events to the mundane. It is amazing, once you start this process, how many things come flooding out! What starts as 3 things rapidly can grow to 10 or 12 or 20. This is probably one of the best mindfulness exercises I have ever found. This practice is especially helpful for those experiencing times of illness or poor health. It can be hard to see the good, but when you consciously look for it, it can be found all around.
  6. Seek help through expert council to find what overall dietary/eating plan works for you. This may be based on your laboratory results, on preferences, or on specific biochemical specificity, but finding a plan that works for you will, in the long run, be much more successful than simply “going on a diet.” Those words also imply that at some point you will be “going off a diet” and then any progress made will be lost. Eating well has to be something that you do for the long-term, life long, and needs to be something you can and want to live with.

A Gentler Approach to Detox

Now, for those who may prefer more of a jump-start, I am including a one-month plan of what we often refer to as a “detox.” Basically, this is a plan to help the liver, kidneys, and lymphatics remove unwanted byproducts, or toxins, from the body. The right detox can be an excellent start to a health program.

So, here is what that looks like:

  1. Make sure air in your surroundings is clean as mentioned before.   It is hard to remove toxins from the body if they are continually being breathed in. There are many tools like the EC3 Sanitizer Fogger, the EC3 Air Purification Candles, the Laundry Additive, and the EC3 Spray that can aid you in your efforts to keep mold counts to a minimum, even when you are traveling.
  2. Diet: (This may look austere, but it is a structured beginning to eliminate cravings and get the ball rolling.)
      • Drink ½ your body weight in ounces of filtered, pure water daily. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, drink at least 80 ounces of water daily.
      • Eat at least three meals daily of lean organic protein, such as chicken, fish, beef or bison, 4-6 ounces per serving. If you are vegetarian, you may substitute organic tempeh, black or red beans, quinoa, walnuts, or eggs.
      • Eat six servings daily of green/leafy vegetables. These should be organic, and may be cooked or raw. 1 avocado daily may be added, as well as 1/3-cup of raw, unsalted almonds or pumpkin seeds.
      • Eat two servings daily of berries, organic, ½-cup per serving.
      • One meal may consist of a protein shake. I prefer one of the “medical food” shakes such as Thorne MediClear SGS or Metagenix UltraInflammX. These may be mixed with water or with unflavored, unsweetened coconut or almond milk.
      • If you get really hungry, a second shake may be consumed. You can add your berries or even veggies to the shake to give it a little bit more body.
      • Eat two tablespoons daily of organic olive oil, avocado oil, or almond butter.
      • Make sure starches are gluten-free for the time of the detox month and can be in the form of 6 crackers or 2 rice cakes.

3.  Supplements:

(Note: All supplements I mention below can be purchased on the Wellevate platform.)

      • Add 2 Magnesium Glycinate daily at bedtime.
      • Add Pure Encapsulations Nutrient 950 without copper or iron, 6 capsules daily. It is a great detox vitamin!
      • Add CellTropin homeopathic sublingual spray to support pituitary and endocrine function and to boost energy and stamina. It also supports the immune system.

Following your detox, think about how you can gradually expand this into a long-term and doable program. When you are ready, I recommend professional nutritional council to see what is best for you. A skilled practitioner can help tremendously and can tailor any program to you, so that success is inevitable, rather than fleeting.

The bottom line is that once the decision is made, putting the steps into action becomes easier. Rather than a resolution, it is a specific plan toward health with REAL steps that WILL help. Progress is progress and worth celebrating no matter how small. I think we all just need someone to tell us how and where to start sometimes for us to begin. The benefits of feeling better and more energetic will help to give momentum and reward to keep you going. It all starts with a DECISION, not a resolution. I know you can do it!