In order to best improve your health, just remember the mantra, “Base hits win the game.” Your best results will come through how you live day-to-day over time — not through isolated events.
Many people find themselves in a similar situation when they are newly diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. You get a diagnosis. Panic sets in. You realize that you need to make changes in your life — and fast. It may not have come as a complete shock to you because you may have always been hedging your bets, but now that gamble is catching up with you. The problem is you enjoy the bad habits you have created and aren’t prepared to give them all up.
Your story is not unique. In fact, I hear the grumblings all the time. People know a lot of the things they are doing are not working toward achieving good health. The sense of urgency upon a diagnosis drives them to make necessary changes in their life. And often they are aware that there are a lot more changes they need to make before it is all over.
Don’t beat yourself up and feel defeated. Remember: Base Hits win the ball game. To keep yourself motivated and always moving forward, it is sometimes necessary to take a moment and stop to acknowledge the steps you have already taken and recognize the achievements you are making in taking Strides To Achieve Results (STAR). Consider the following questions to evaluate your STARs:
Before your diagnosis, what were you actively doing to improve your health?
When you found out about your diagnosis, what did you do to learn about your symptoms?
Did you take any steps to improve your health?
Every action begins with a thought. Thought sets a new trajectory toward how you act. In fact, reading this now shows movement in the right direction. Remember, educating yourself is an important stride. That’s great! There’s another STAR.
Simple Changes Can Help Improve Health and Achieve Long-lasting Results
1. When modifying your diet, it is often easier to add recipes into your diet than eliminate your favorite foods. Don’t throw out those old recipes just yet. The more you learn new recipes, the more likely it is that you can make a few simple adjustments to your old favorites. Plus, adding in new recipes helps keep you from feeling like you are being denied and keeps a little variety in your diet. This doesn’t mean that you should continue to include forbidden foods. I have some great anti-inflammatory recipes in my book The Autoimmune Fix to help build up that recipe repertoire get started on the road to a diet that will work for your body rather than against it.
2. You can make substantive change in one full swoop when you replace everyday objects with a healthier option. For instance, replacing your air filter, swapping out plastic with glass, replacing your shower head, or throwing out cleaners with toxins and creating non-toxic cleaners are simple changes that will benefit you long after you implement them. The best part? It’s virtually effortless. You can learn more from my You Can Fix Your Brain Masterclass, created as a complementary tool to my book You Can Fix Your Brain, which will teach you easy, practical steps you can take weekly to adjust your environment and improve your brain health.
3. Know thyself. Work with what you have. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Use your personality to better guide you in creating a plan you can stick with. (Read on for more about personality types.)
Taking the First Step to Improve Your Health
You may have a long road of recovery ahead of you, and yes, the more you can do to benefit your health, the farther down that path it’ll get you. It’s hard to stay motivated sometimes knowing that your goal is going to take a long time to reach. I tell my patients to remember the phrase, “A thousand miles begins with one step.” For now, just worry about that one step and acknowledge how far you’ve already come.
Don’t forget that there is an emotional component in good health, too. You need to show yourself love and forgiveness. Acknowledge past mistakes, but don’t live in them. Step beyond them and recognize that you are now entering a forward-moving place that takes you out of those shadows.
With every step you take, you are closer to your goal than you would’ve been had you not implemented those changes to improve your health. You are making Strides To Achieve Results! These results can vary, and some may be more exciting than others. Sometimes that might mean sickness isn’t progressing as quickly. Sometimes that might mean you have one less symptom. You may not visibly see the impact it has, but either way your body appreciates the improvements you are making. You can task yourself with measuring your progress, which helps to both direct you in making the right choices and motivate you through a deeper understanding of what is happening inside your body.
So, how do you take the first step? Good results always start with a good plan. You have to work with your personality type and learn how you learn best in order to achieve your best results.
Achieve Better Results by Working with Your Personality Type
What’s the best way to identify your personality type? There are hundreds of different personality types, all with narrow variations, but for the purpose of this article, we have broken them down into four main categories:
- The Fast Acting, Competitive Leader
- The Analytical, Perfectionist Planner
- The Socially-driven, Sweet-natured Team Player
- The Creative, Spontaneous Free-Spirit
While you may tend toward one of these four groups, you will find aspects of yourself in all of these categories. Pay attention to where your strengths and weaknesses lie in order to tailor this to you.
The Fast Acting, Competitive Leader
#1s – We’ll call you our leaders. You tend to be assertive and task-oriented and want change immediately. Writing your tasks down to have in front of you may help. For instance, buy a poster board and some Post-It notes. On each post-it, write down something in your life you need to change. On the left side of the poster board write a header at the top left that says, “To Do.” On the right side of the poster board, write STAR. These are the current Strides To Achieve Results. As you complete or implement a “To-Do” into your life, move that Post-It to the STAR side of your board. Put more difficult tasks at the bottom of your to-do list. When you reach these, revisit whether these tasks need broken down into smaller more achievable tasks that will allow you to continue moving forward. If you find you rely on calendars and planners, schedule your tasks directly into your calendar. And as a leader, if it helps motivate you to lead the charge, you can start your own support group. This will keep you motivated and accountable. You can even build in a competitive component that allows you to set a goal to meet your daily, weekly, and monthly targets.
The Analytical, Perfectionist Planner
#2s – The biggest pitfall for the analytical planner is they tend to be patient and proceed only AFTER formulating a detailed plan of execution. This can lead to a loss of motivation and a delay in the STAR-reaching process. If you have this problem, pick one thing that you know will be a part of your strategy and get started, even if your plan is not complete. An easy place to start is educating yourself; education is the cornerstone of creating a comprehensive, well-thought out plan. A journal is a great way of capturing the most important information that you learn along the way and allows you to revisit it to keep you on track. If you get tripped up, you may have begun a plan before fully understanding and creating your big picture course of action. The sense of urgency behind health-related crises can sometimes force you to act prematurely, but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. The changes that you already made can be incorporated into a new blueprint for success or honed a little with the new information you now have. Remember the end goal. Plan for good health. Follow the plan you design, but don’t get too caught up in the details. To help walk you throw some of those changes, consider taking a course like the You Can Fix Your Brain Masterclass or Base Hits Win the Game. Or, simply follow the protocol outlined in The Autoimmune Fix.
The Socially-driven, Sweet-natured Team Player
#3s – The Socially-driven, Sweet-natured Social Team Player can tend to rely on external motivation. For the social person without a system of support this can be incredibly difficult, but there are a few things you can do. Encouragement and praise go a long way with you. Step one is to create a daily mantra of encouragement, a weekly intention for an action step, and a monthly reward system that works with your efforts — not against them. (For instance, you don’t reward going a month on a gluten-free diet with foods containing gluten.) A reward may be a special outing like a sound bath meditation or a deep tissue massage.
Step two is seek out a support system. Be careful who you seek support from. Pick someone who understands your situation and your personality. The wrong person can sew seeds of doubt, be discouraging, push you too fast, be codependent, or not push you at all. This is why you want that daily mantra — for times you need to sustain yourself. Ultimately, you cannot always rely on others for your own self-improvement.
If you post on social media, keep it to a closed, supportive group where you can offer support to each other. If you post on a larger forum, you risk haters and doubters or people who may frustrate you and make it more difficult to stay on track. You can find support on the weekly theDr.com Facebook live streams. Here you will be with like-minded people who are also actively seeking to learn in order to improve their health.
For lifestyle activities, consider classes at a gym where you can enjoy the social aspect of group activities, or find a workout buddy or diet buddy. You tend to do so much for everyone else — you are just as worthy of your time and effort. A socially active life enhances the quality of life.
The Creative, Spontaneous Free Spirit
#4s – The Creative, Spontaneous Free Spirit is energized through the imagination and exploration. You are limited by constraints. Do not place your focus on what you can’t do. You have an amazing journey ahead that can be filled with experimenting to keep you excited. When you feel limited, do something creative. ANYTHING. Variety is the spice of life, and it will recharge you. Then try to figure out the thousands of things you could be doing and aren’t. Lifestyle activities you have not tried. Foods you have never eaten. Find fun ways to keep things fresh while still incorporating steady change that can easily be maintained into your life.
Remember, your goal is to live a life of optimal health. This includes social interaction, activities that keep your mind engaged, moving your body, eating a variety of healthy foods, minimizing exposures to toxins, and reducing stress.
If practical changes seem boring, use doing something fun and different as your reward system. For instance, install the shower head, and head to the beach, or change your air filter and try an aromatic new dish. Build a raised garden, where you can create something and reap and share the benefits of the organic food you grew.Sign up for a health summit and implement something in your life that day. Variety’s the spice of life, so keep it spicy.
Reaching for the STARs!
Remember that we all share little bits of multiple categories. Whatever areas help you most, use it to improve your health. You can achieve much better results when you work with your strengths and minimize fighting against those weaknesses. There’s no use fighting them when you can simply shift your plan to work around your weaknesses in order to help you improve your health in a way that fits into your daily life.
The important thing is not to get complacent and stuck, but always make Strides To Achieve Results. This is your health, your vitality, your life — and only YOU have the power to change it. People can learn to live within their limits, but breaking out of those limits allows you to grow into a physically, mentally, and emotionally better person. This is the place you want to get to — a place that offers you choice in how you live.