A while back, one of my patients fell suddenly, unexpectedly, and very seriously ill. One day he was fine, the next day he felt like he had been hit by a truck: body and joint aches, exhaustion, high fever, pounding migraine. A day later he was admitted to the hospital, and stayed there for a few days "in the woods" with classic markers of a vicious virus, including elevated liver enzymes and decreased white blood cells (these are the soldiers that comprise the front lines of battle; the decrease in WBC count meant that they were being killed off quickly by something highly pathogenic). He told me that the MDs said there was not a lot they could do for this unknown virus, other than basic supportive care, and that his body would have to handle it. He was kept and monitored for several days and began improving on his own, then when he stabilized enough, he was sent home to convalesce, with an anticipated long recovery.
If my patient had not already been quite healthy prior to encountering this strong pathogen, how might this virus have affected him? What if his Health Tank was depleted when he was handed this health challenge, a potentially deadly virus, out of the blue? What if he was chronically stressed, a workaholic at a job he hated, never exercising, eating whatever was fast and convenient, and experiencing unresolved underlying health issues such as vertebral subluxation (which diminishes the body's ability to adapt to challenge) or chronic inflammation (which presents as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, fibromyalgia, or autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn's disease)? Would his body have been in a strong enough position to mount a defensive immune system response against that virus? Or, might his body have failed him?
The concept of a "Health Tank" is something you can use to explore the difference between choices that make us healthier, and choices that make us sicker, and the concept of the health reserve we should maintain "just in case." You could think of this simply, like asking yourself as you are about to chomp into that donut: is this going to fill my Health Tank, or deplete it? Or taking the stairs rather than the elevator. Which one fills the tank, which depletes it? At the grocery store, you can use this analogy to make deliberate choices. Every day, when you are deciding between exercise and couch surfing, think about the long-term effects of your decision and its impact on how full your Health Tank will be. When you're up late at night, deciding whether to get to bed or to binge-watch just one more episode... that's a choice that has implications for your Health Tank.
What else is important for your Health Tank? Several basic foundational elements to think about are nutrition, sleep, exercise, hydration, stress management, and maintenance of the physical structure / frame of your body. Don’t forget that your spine houses and protects your nervous system, which is analogous to the computer, circuit breaker, and wiring that monitors and controls the house that is your body (including your immune system!) Getting your spine checked regularly and adjusted as necessary to correct or reduce vertebral subluxations (abnormal position or movement in your spine that impact the function of your nervous system) is preventative maintenance. It’s a tune-up that's kind of like defragmenting a hard drive, or rebooting apps that are hung up. It just helps the system to run better and to be more adaptable to challenge. Further, in a structural sense, if a person is not getting adjusted to reduce or correct the vertebral subluxations acquired from daily micro-traumas and macro-traumas like falls or accidents, their spine may be deteriorating, much like teeth would decay without regular dental hygiene. (Think of the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz!) If, however, a person takes great care of his or her spine, it is in a continual state of repair and regeneration. With everything you do, you will either fill or deplete your Health Tank. That's your choice. And you should note that the avoidable consequences are yours, too.
So, is your "health tank" full enough that if you were to encounter a serious threat or challenge to your well being or survival, that you would have the reserves to surmount the challenge? And remember that health is not just about feeling good - it's about enjoying physical, emotional, and social well-being and a high level of function. It's about your body's ability to adapt to environmental challenges, which requires optimal activity of all of your body systems, most importantly the nervous system that governs your body (and executes you body’s adaptation to change). How would you measure your adaptive capacity, and who can help you with that? And how does that impact your "health tank"? If your nervous system function is compromised in any way, your health tank is depleted. It's as simple as that. That's why I get *my* spine checked and adjusted regularly to correct or reduce the vertebral subluxations that I acquire in daily life. Because while I can certainly be accused of allowing my car's gas tank to ride right down to the E, I will not do that with my body. Getting stranded by running out of gas is usually an easily fixed inconvenience; getting caught with a depleted or empty health tank certainly might have different consequences.
How do you solve the problem of a Health Tank that's on "low?" Who guides you to make choices for your own betterment, who helps you to take care of your body so that you CAN move, sleep, walk, adapt? Do you have someone in your "corner" who knows their stuff, can listen to you carefully and give you appropriate options and advice about movement, exercise, body position, nutrition, stress management?
My patient with the virus ended up recovering strongly. He had a full health tank at the time he encountered the pathogen that attacked his system. His health habits included (and still do) eating very well, exercising, stress management, hydration, adequate sleep, taking time to do things he loves, and he gets his spine checked for subluxations every other week (that's the frequency we've agreed is right for him) and cleared out as appropriate, which helps his body to adapt to all of the challenges in his life. His objective testing (HRV, sEMG, and others) consistently indicated that his body was resilient and adapting well. So, his body was as ready as it could be to handle the vicious virus that invaded, and he successfully overcame it. He is currently back doing the things he loves - enjoying time with his wife, son, and rambunctious dog, and incessantly teasing me every other week about enjoying the sound his spine makes during his adjustment. (Longstanding healthy doctor-patient banter!) I'd hate to think how that story would have gone had he NOT had a full health tank - the impact on his family and community, and their future.
The bottom line is that the time to be as healthy as possible is NOW, not when you can "make time" to make those pesky changes you know you need to make. I'm happy to support you in this mission, and I aim to encourage you to stay on task by constantly presenting you with new information and challenges that help you to think about the health decisions you make every day. Information is power, and my goal is to empower you. One of my patients, an energetic and brilliant woman about my age, recently remarked to me that besides my chiropractic care and my terrible sense of humor, she loves coming in to see me because I give her the information and inspiration that she doesn't get anywhere else, something that is of value to her. Perhaps that would be of value to you and your Health Tank.
You've got plenty of choices available to you as you're looking for someone to support your goal of betterment. Only you can choose what resonates with your goals! The first step is to clearly identify those goals. How full is YOUR Health Tank? If it's not full, what's the solution?
Imagine a future where you KNOW your body is strong, and you KNOW your body can handle what you throw at it - whether it's climbing a mountain or overcoming a bug that's inevitably sweeping the globe. Doesn't the concept of a "Health Tank" seem pretty relevant, viewed in that light? My goal for all of my patients is better-faster-stronger-adaptable-resilient (And we measure each of those improvements individually... that's a different blog!) and with a Health Tank full enough to handle the challenges that are inevitable in life.
I hope your Health Tank is full, and I hope you are never tested like my patient was - by a virus, or by some other health obstacle. That said, if you feel like your tank needs a refill, what I will do is lead you to that place, to help you to create the "space" you want to be in and to help you make the choices that create a future where you are resilient and adaptable (...and what I *won't* do is make you wait an hour in my waiting area or prescribe you a laundry list of pills that you don't want to take!) If the possibility of refilling your Health Tank and enhancing your adaptability and resilience resonates with you, drop us a line or give a call and let's start a conversation about getting you the help you need and want, to strengthen the life you love.