Lifestyle is Medicine

By now you are probably familiar with the often used quote by Lao Tzu: “a journey of a thousand miles begins with single step”. The deeper truth is that each step you take shapes both your ability to reach your destination and the experiences you have along the way. In other words, the choices you make day after day, step after step, come to define you. What’s more, those decisions often dictate not only the quantity of time you have on Earth, but the quality as well. Embracing the responsibility for your own wellbeing can feel daunting, but knowledge truly is power, and you have more useful information at our fingertips than ever before. I’m hear to help simplify it.

There is a new medical specialization known as Lifestyle Medicine that is “the systematic practice of assisting individuals and families to adopt and sustain behaviors that can improve health and quality of life.” We’re all familiar with the idea of preventative care, so why is it significant that our tradition-bound medical system has developed this new area of study and practice? It’s not only because five of the seven leading causes of deaths in the US can be attributed to chronic, lifestyle-related conditions. Lifestyle medicine recognizes that your physical health, emotional wellbeing, and the accumulated effect of your daily lifestyle choices are inextricably linked.

In encouraging us to take steps that help us to flourish and thrive in Middlescence, lifestyle medicine provides another piece of armor in the fight against ageism—no matter which way ageism slices. When I was in my early 40s, I suffered from what I described as feeling “bone tired” sometimes as early as 11am. My well-intentioned younger doctor made a judgment. “Barbara,” she said, “if I was your age and did as much as you do with your work, your family, in your community, well I’d be exhausted too!”

I wasn’t offended by her benign ageism. She meant no harm. But she assumed that at the ripe old age of forty-something (ha!) my vitality had naturally waned and that was normal. It wasn’t. I took on the task of learning more about personal energy and vibrant health. I’m ready to share what I’ve learned.

In big and small ways, there are cultural norms and stereotypes, and frankly, there is ignorance that results in our undermining our own potential.
- Barbara Waxman

There has never been a more auspicious moment to recalibrate our plans and to take the necessary steps to increase both the quantity and quality of our time on this planet. We’ve been living and working in unprecedented times with our energy and focus at an all-time low, challenging our mental health and blurring the lines between life, work, and every other role we play. The pandemic has made the truth about our unbalanced approach painfully obvious. But we have untapped reserves of resilience, which is as much a muscle as resource.

There are many paths to building your resilience, physically, emotionally and mentally. Volunteering, it might surprise you, is one of them. Since Covid began I’ve chosen to double down on investing in I’ve ExtraFood.org, an organization that rescues excess fresh food from businesses to secure and deliver freshly made meals to nonprofits serving Marin’s most vulnerable children, seniors, and families. If 2020 has taught us anything it’s that we are capable of meeting challenges and situations few could have foreseen. And we literally feel better and more energized for it.

Lifestyle is Medicine | Health is Wealth | Barbara Waxman

As we face a new year let’s embrace the wisdom of a woman who knows something about the power of putting one foot in front of the other.

"I think one of the keys to living more fully is inching closer and closer to unconditional self-acceptance. Living a full life does not mean consistent happiness or striving towards perfection, it means working towards accepting ourselves whenever we can."
- Megan Roche, Physician, Ultra-Running Champion, Clinical Researcher at Stanford University

Rather than hoping to change course via resolutions made at the end of last year, I encourage you to build a solid, holistic vision this year with the new Five to Thrive Quiz© online experience, which employs 25 science-based questions to assess what energizes you most. The questions are designed to zero in on practices that the ancient traditions and modern research agree can contribute to your sense of wellness, happiness and ability to thrive at home, at work and in the world.

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Barbara shares resources to help you cultivate the pillars of resilient leadership: mindset, energy management, and work-life integration.

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New and updated for 2022, Barbara’s science-based, proprietary Five Essential Elements process will enable you to discover how the Elements can change your life. Assess your current energy status and turn insights into action by creating an activation plan to cultivate clarity out of chaos, live authentically and expand your leadership capacity.

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