Health has become a strong passion for me in the last few years. You can expect me to write on the subject regularly here. But it wasn’t always that way. I never really had to watch my weight—until my late 40’s and early 50’s. No real health issues. I credited my Danish genes.
That’s why the diagnosis in January 2011 was such a shock. The biopsy report determined early stage, slow-growing prostate cancer. My PSA score—a blood test commonly used to monitor prostate cancer—had been creeping upward so I’d had a bit of a heads up. Yet, little prepares you for the “c” word. Just a few years prior I had supported a dear friend through his battle with prostate cancer and I eventually officiated his funeral. That’s a strong visual and emotional image to override.
I will eventually write more detail about the weeks that followed. For now, I want to encourage you to take responsibility for your health and make healthier choices every day.
My Healthier Choices
I wasn’t impressed with the track record of conventional treatments: surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. So I did some research. I found a growing amount of scientific validation for the benefits of lifestyle management. Medical leaders such as Dr. Dean Ornish and others have done extensive studies of the impact of nutrition, exercise, stress management, and a loving support network.
The research confirmed my biblical perspective. God created our bodies to heal themselves 24/7. We stack the deck in our favor when we provide optimal lifestyle conditions for that to happen. Good food, water, sleep, exercise, sunshine, relationships. And eliminate the toxic.
With my doctor’s blessing, I set out to do a health makeover. We agreed to regular testing and examinations to monitor progress and keep a watchful eye.
In his book, The Spectrum, Dr. Ornish refers to an ounce of prevention and a pound of cure. The greater the health concern, the greater the change required. I needed a pound of cure and was highly motivated to arrest and even reverse cancer.
Here are the immediate steps I took:
- Prayer. I believe in an all-powerful, loving God who, as the perfect Heavenly Father, hears the prayers of His children and gives good things. I pray daily for wisdom to align my actions and thoughts with His divine principles and natural laws.
Family support. I was blessed to already have a loving, support network in my immediate family. We weren’t meant to live life alone. I rallied them together, told them the news, and my plan. My wife and children have been my greatest supporters and cheerleaders.
Education. No one is going to take my health more seriously than me. Therefore, I needed to assume full responsibility for my health choices. I am constantly studying time-proven health principles of the past as well as recent clinical studies and anecdotal experiences of others. I’ve built a good team of health professionals from different disciplines. Reviewing favorite documentary videos has kept me motivated.
A plant-strong eating plan. Research shows a low-fat, high-fiber diet to be the healthiest eating plan to combat our most chronic lifestyle conditions. I shifted immediately to an eating plan consisting of vegetables, whole grains, beans, fruits, nuts and seeds. An entire subject of its own; however, I’ve never felt deprived or had cravings.
Exercise. I have a love-hate relationship with exercise. I’ve never been steady long-term. I still wrestle with it. But I walk. I stretch. I do some strength training on my Total Gym.
Sleep. Our bodies heal more when we sleep. Sadly, as with drinking sufficient water, most of us are sleep-deprived. Having a set bedtime routine is essential to a good night’s sleep and I’m continually working on improving mine. One of my mentors, Michael Hyatt, has some great strategies to get a better night’s sleep.
Stress management. I work hard to avoid toxic, stressful circumstances and relationships. My morning routine begins with solitude, breathing, prayer and meditation. I’ve built into my schedule activities that recharge me. Choosing to maintain a positive, joyful, and grateful attitude overrides the many bumps in a day.
This is a brief overview of steps I took to give my body a greater advantage to heal. My primary focus was to curb the growth of cancer. That has happened.
Based on previous PSA tests, it was on track to double in four years. It has increased only slightly. My urologist currently has no other patients that have maintained such a statistically flat score over that length of time. When other patients ask him what else they can do, he recommends following my eating plan.
Additionally, I was pleasantly surprised to experience some other immediate benefits. Within ninety days, I lost thirty-five pounds. My blood pressure went down forty points. My total cholesterol decreased almost fifty points. My stress is down and energy is up.
The bottom line is this: I’m healthier in almost every measurable way today. I wouldn’t change my lifestyle even if a got a report of no cancer anywhere. I’m not cancer-free but I’m keeping it at bay—and improving my quality of life.
Life is 10% of what happens to us and 90% of how we respond. We always have choices no matter what initial reports or circumstances say. It took some alarming news to get me to take actions I should have years ago. Don’t wait. Take steps toward better health every day. I care about you enough to keep writing.
Question: What healthier choices have you recently made and how are you enjoying the benefits? Share your answer in the comments below.