Could living holistically be the missing key for many people in the U.S. who are currently dealing with obesity, chronic pain conditions, or other diseases?
The American College of Sports Medicine and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics jointly published a report in June of 2014 that focuses on the holistic approach to nutrition and exercise rather than the debate which is better. Co-author and ACSM member Melinda Manore notes that:
“It is time we collectively move beyond debating nutrition or exercise and focus on nutrition and exercise. Nutrition and exercise professionals working collaboratively, combined with effective public health messaging about the importance of energy balance, can help America shape up and become healthier.”
The paper, which appeared in both organizations’ journals, suggests that individuals who focus on one or the other aspect of health are not receiving the full benefits of either. Integration may be the necessary but missing ingredient for a healthier overall life.
In the article, researchers use the term energy balance to articulate the need to combine exercise and nutrition into one holistic health practice. This form of energy balance may even be an answer to the epidemic of obesity in the United States. The article makes the following suggestions for integrating exercise and diet more holistically:
- Collaboration: The integration of energy balance into education and continued training for exercise science and nutrition professionals to stress the collaborative benefits of both disciplines
- Schools: Encourage physical education teachers to advocate for energy balance and develop programs with schools at all levels
- Standards: Schools should also work to develop core standards that integrate the approach of energy balance
- Lunches: Federally-funded nutrition programs and schools should collaborate to improve lunch offerings to incorporate energy balance solutions for healthier choices
- Messages: Advertising speaks volumes to consumers in the U.S. so it can be used to promote an understanding of energy balance and how individuals can apply it to their own lives
- Support: There are plenty of existing programs that promote holistic living; these should be given more priority as a means to emphasize energy balance to more people
Energy balance and holistic living
The idea put forth by the American College of Sports and Medicine and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics should resonate with individuals interested in living holistically.
Rather than focusing on just one aspect of the body or one area of pain, the body is viewed as a whole. Each part is dependent on another and all of those respond to the environment and outside forces. However, within this concept, not only nutrition and exercise are important. The idea behind living holistically is to integrate every aspect of your health and well-being. It is truly an energy balance of mind, body, and spirit.
It is equally important to acknowledge the intangible parts of your being as well. To only focus on one aspect doesn’t restore the body’s natural balance. Here are some additional methods for maintaining a strong mind and spirit along with your body.
Your physical healing
Pain is a signifier that something is out of balance. Treating the direct symptoms to relieve pain is only one aspect of care. In order to fully heal from acute or chronic pain, the treatment should be focused on your entire body.
Many Eastern practices rely entirely on a holistic approach to healing and many people suffering from chronic pain find relief with treatments such as acupuncture, yoga, and chiropractic care.
It is also important that you don’t ignore pain. When you ignore the signals your body is sending you to let you know that energy is out of balance, you may inadvertently create a greater imbalance.
Your emotional well-being
Pain doesn’t always manifest physically. There may be psychological or physical traumas that result in an imbalance of your emotions. This can cause mental changes, such as anxiety or depression.
You can help calm the symptoms of anxiety by learning deep breathing techniques or allowing yourself to be pampered with a massage. You may also want to stop and think before reacting to situations that are likely to raise your blood pressure. Meditation and visualization can help restore the balance of your emotions.
Your mental health and wellness
Emotional and mental balance often goes hand in hand. While emotions tend to be more reactionary and primal, your brain wants to process things logically. This energy balance can easily tip one way or another causing a negative reaction. Instead of letting your mind race into unhealthy thoughts, try to focus it on things that can help you maintain a holistic balance in your life. Perhaps you can keep your mind busy by ensuring that your environment is calming. Create a safe space in your life that makes you feel good about yourself.
Regardless of how you wish to practice spirituality in your life, it can help you balance your energies. Since holistic living is really equilibrium between mind, body, and spirit, this isn’t a part of your being that can be ignored. Some people feel comfort from praying or creating sacred spaces in their homes. Others prefer ritual or spiritual studies. Whatever is the right path for you, it is okay to explore its many winding and twisting trails.
Remedies and therapies
Depending on the level of pain that you’re experiencing, you may find a need to pursue treatments or remedies. When diving into the world of holistic medicine, you can explore anything from herbalism to shamanism and everything in between. Work with a holistic practitioner to determine which tools are best for your specific condition.
Creating energy balance in your life is essential for living holistically. Don’t only concentrate on food and exercise, but recognize that it is a full integration of mind, body, and spirit.
What do you think about living holistically and how you can integrate an energy balance approach into your life?
Image by Keoni Cabrel via Flickr