Finding a Healthy Balance
Monday Morsel (a couple of days late!)
just a little something
to begin your week.
I have had the fortunate opportunity to visit several different integrative doctors in the Chicago area since my cancer diagnosis. It has been so interesting for me to piece together each recommendation to find a healthy way of life that works for me. As I’ve mentioned several times before on this blog, one of the main lessons God continues to teach me is finding the balance between living a healthy life vs. trusting God with my life and future. Some subscribe to the theory that eating a regimented diet and eliminating the environmental toxins will prevent cancer reoccurrence (or initial occurrence). The problem with this line of thinking is that you can easily take these healthy changes to the extreme and become too focused on health as the end goal. (Not that I know anything about this! ha!) And then of course some subscribe to the theory that it doesn’t matter what you eat or what you do, if you’re destined to get cancer, you’re going to get cancer. The problem with this line of thinking is that you can easily shrug off the importance of eating well.
In the last year-plus of reading, researching, listening, talking, and praying, my goal is to land in the middle of these two theories, while leaning more toward the first. I absolutely believe that God is ultimately in control of my health and my healing. I could eat broccoli and drink green tea 24-7 but if it’s in God’s plan for me to walk the cancer road for His glory and my good, then no amount of leafy greens will prevent that. However, I do believe that God also asks us to be mindful stewards of our bodies and to pay attention to the way that He designed our bodies to work. To me, eating well helps accomplish this goal.
I will be the first to admit that I struggle with finding balance between these two ways of living and often I pendulum-shift from one side to the other. I am constantly asking God for wisdom on how to honor Him with the way I eat and live, and I find it’s an everyday process of listening to Him prompt and lead me. Some days I feel the nudge to let loose and allow myself a splurge while other days I sense the importance of implementing self-control and making a healthy choice. If I am not continually talking to God about this topic, I can easily swing too far over to the I-have-to-make-sure-I-watch-every-single-food-item-that-I-put-in-my mouth side, and then I realize that I am making health my ultimate goal. God has been teaching me that good health is not the ultimate goal; knowing Him more and looking more like Him needs to be my focus.
All of that to say, I thought I would pass on several of the lifestyle changes that I have implemented over the course of the last two years. Clearly, these are my personal choices and certainly aren’t the “how-to” on healthy living.
Michelle’s Healthy Living Changes:
- Exercise five days a week. (Research has shown exercise pumps much-needed oxygen through our bodies as well as many other benefits.)
- Drink plenty of water. (I have been told to drink half my weight in ounces to stay hydrated.)
- Drink green tea. (Research shows green tea helps to prevent cancer and reduce anxiety.)
- Eat only organic animal products: chicken, beef, eggs, and dairy. (This is very important because of the hormones and antibiotics in conventional products.)
- Eat mostly a plant-based diet, focusing on coniferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, etc.) and mushrooms. (To not blow our budget every week by buying everything organic, I usually focus on buying organic produce if it falls under the “Dirty Dozen.” Otherwise, I use a vinegar-based produce scrub on the conventional produce.)
- Eat plenty of food sources rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like salmon and flax seeds. (I add ground flax seeds to my oatmeal most mornings.)
- Add more plant protein into my diet (like beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains) and eliminate white flour, sugar, and processed foods.
- Eat seven servings of fruits and vegetables a day. (I help accomplish this goal by drinking a smoothie each day loaded with spinach/kale, berries and other good-for-you-stuff!)
- Take good-for-you supplements like a probiotic, Vitamin D, fish oil, resveratrol, multi-vitamin, and curcumin. (My nutritionist told me that I should only take supplements in capsule form and not tablets because tablets are really hard for our bodies to digest and so the vitamins are not well absorbed. I order my supplements through my cousin from Douglas Labs.)
- Manage my stress well by doing fun-for-me activities, spending regular time journaling, reading the Bible, and doing exercise yoga. (Full disclosure: I am trying to work the most on this particular one right now!)
- Take time for myself to relax and sleep well.
- Use only organic or toxic-free body products. (It never occurred to me until researching that my body absorbs the toxins I put on my skin through lotions, make-up and body scrubs. The Environmental Working Group has an excellent website that shows you the toxicity level of each of your products.)
- Use plant-based cleaners in my home, including bathroom cleaner, dish soap, laundry detergent and the like. (I realize I have never written a post on what I use in my home; mostly because I have been finding recommended products through trial and error. I will post some recommendations soon but please send any you have found to work well.)
- Use essential oils in my home and on my body. (I have reserved my chemical-filled perfume for special occasions only and have eliminated chemical-filled air fresheners in my house.)
- Trust God, trust God, trust God for every day as well as my future.
This list is by no means all-inclusive but it does include many changes I have made to my lifestyle. It is amazing how I can see and feel the benefits of these changes in my skin, my energy, and the like. I would love to hear if there are other changes you have made toward the balance of healthy living.
May we choose to find a healthy balance while keeping the main thing, the main thing: knowing Christ intimately through the ups and downs of life.