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By Dr. Jeffrey Spencer, M.A., D.C.
Wellness Chiropractor to the "world's greatest" athletes and performing artists, including Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, Troy Glaus, Bobby LaBonte, and U2.
Most people aren't living even close to their optimal potential. The insidious slow slide from youthful vitality and enthusiasm to diminished health is pandemic. A few pounds here, a little less activity there and 10-20 years down the line there's a completely transformed person barely resembling the former self in looks, performance, and optimism. It's a shock to confront that reality but the good news is, it is 100 percent reversible. What's inspiring to know is that, in most cases, a person's best work is always on the other side of life's worst moments.
For example, Lance Armstrong's spectacular Tour de France victories came after his near-death encounter with metastatic cancer. None of us are any different than Lance in that respect. Our lowest moments give us the opportunity to decide that we want to create a better life and provide empowerment to overcome great adversity.
Everyone at some point in their life will confront a period of long, sustained hardship, which in my experience has proven to be an essential rite of passage in developing the commitment, persistence, and passion necessary to express our birthright talents to the fullest and to appreciate life's gifts. Lance said it best when he said, "When you get a second chance, go all the way."
Each of us has our own "second chance": every second of our lives. Nobody in their right mind wants to live an ordinary, boring, and mediocre life when we have the ability to create an extraordinary life experience. In reality, it's next to impossible to make the commitment to "go all the way" in life or to manifest our highest talents before ill health or tragedy takes it from us, for it is the loss of health that creates the intimate knowledge that health is a gift.
Without our health, we are not capable of living a full life, let alone contributing constructively to others. Getting well is an individual process dependent on a person's state of health at the point of realization that life's present course doesn't have a future. It is by the realization that one's present state of life and health is no longer acceptable, that one finds the commitment to do what it takes to create a better life.
Discover Wellness Today; It Is Your Second Chance
As the wellness chiropractor to some of the world's greatest athletes, I have had the good fortune of seeing the amazing results of what a wellness lifestyle can do to enhance a person's health and performance. Thousands of chiropractors practice across America. They are all focused on providing great wellness care to people in their community; people who are seeking to improve their own health and well-being and live their very best life. Please know that you don't have to want to be the world's greatest athlete to benefit from living a wellness lifestyle.
Discover Wellness Recommends
The following list is a summary of the key items I've found that produce the best long-term results for my patients and myself:
1) It is of the utmost importance to ensure that the physical structure of your body is in proper alignment. Your spine and joints are the foundation of your body and are, by definition, the backbone of your body's ability to function properly. I recommend that all of my top performing athletes, celebrities, and superstars receive consistent spinal care to ensure their optimal alignment and therefore their best health, performance, and well-being.
2) Do some form of cardiovascular training four to six days a week at low to moderate intensity for 30-60 minutes. Never overdo it, as this can lead to illness, injury, burnout, and increased inflammation in the body, which health experts agree is the gateway to all disease. If possible, the body prefers doing a few types of cardiovascular exercise throughout the week such as swimming, cycling, jogging, rowing, or walking.
3) Set the tone of the day by doing active strengthening and stretching exercises first thing in the morning, such as yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong, because they combine diaphragmatic breathing with movement. Doing this upon rising clears the mind and prepares the body for the day. People who do this have better attitudes than those who don't. Keep in mind that the body wasn't designed to exercise hard first thing in the morning.
4) The brain needs its own health and wellness program as much as the body does. It is well documented in scientific research that people who use their brains regularly doing mental exercises are more productive than those who do not, and they are less prone to debilitating brain degenerative disease such as Alzheimer's. Chess, checkers, crossword puzzles, reading, and all forms of strategic planning and problem solving encourage brain fitness. Only a few minutes a day can do wonders.
5) The body is 70 percent water and this is where the chemical reactions that sustain life take place. Water plays a vital role in how cells talk to each other to orchestrate full body movement, overall health, and well-being. Most people are chronically dehydrated from not drinking enough pure water, not having enough minerals in the body, drinking too much coffee, and eating too many processed foods. As a general rule, eight glasses of pure water should be consumed per day. Water also helps detoxify disease-producing toxins from the environment such as air pollution, solvents, pesticides, paints, and home cleaners.
6) Take a multivitamin and mineral supplement daily to provide the micronutrients needed to support the body in today's rush-rush culture. Vitamins and minerals, however, are not a substitute for a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and non-farm raised fish and non-hormone or antibiotic-fed fowl or beef. Vitamins and minerals do not directly give us energy but work with the food we eat for that purpose and should be viewed as a nutritional insurance policy.
7) Take an antioxidant supplement every day. Antioxidants are the vitamins A, C, E, and selenium, and are important for neutralizing the effects of molecules called free radicals that produce inflammation and accelerate aging in the body.
8) Every morning before going to work or interacting with people, invest a few deliberate minutes recommitting to your life's purpose. This anchors the spirit to the principles that will govern how you react to life and how you interact with other people.
9) Be charitable. People who help others seem to be happier and more optimistic than those who don't. There is something healthy about giving to others.
10) Mentors help shortcut life's learning curve and can make a powerful difference in a person's life. Giving back to humanity by mentoring empowers individuals and society. Be a mentor.
11) Always get enough rest. Refilling the energy stores from day to day is pivotal to being a long-term productive enthusiastic person. Excess fatigue creates mental dullness and burnout. Being overly tired can make a person do and say things they deeply regret.
12) Never go too long without eating. Those who eat before getting hungry never deplete their energy stores that otherwise open the door for mental errors, injuries, and illness. Wellness depends on having a steady flow and regular supply of nutrients in the body to keep it and the mind strong and vital.
13) Resolve personal conflicts immediately. Being conflict-free allows the mind to explore more constructive life pursuits. It is well known that pent-up emotions are detrimental to health.
14) Building purposeful pause into daily life not only recharges the body, but the mind as well. More effort is not always better. Those who do not provide time for regular reflection are most often those who burn out the fastest and are least productive. A 15-20 minute break in the afternoon seems to be the magic formula to give the body that breather necessary to keep the brain and body moving at peak capacity.
15) Hobbies are a great way to keep passion in life, keep the mind alert and engaged, build another career, and free the mind from daily stresses and strains. All of the most successful people I know do several things in life and never spend too much time at one thing too often, as that's what puts monotony in life. For example, I know a very successful doctor who also writes books, and an accountant whose passion is woodworking. Both of these people are some of the most vital people I've ever met.
16) Get enough sleep. It is the only way to recover from life's daily stresses and strains. Lack of sleep leads to poor recovery and eventually breaks the body down, resulting in needless injury or illness. A minimum of seven hours of sleep each night is recommended.
17) Staying well depends on breathing good air. Oxygen is the spark plug that generates our energy. To get the best quality air, spend time outdoors on a regular basis and use a high-quality air filter indoors.
18) Avoid exposure to air pollution, pesticides, moldy places, chemical sprays, and solvents, as they are poison to our bodies. The energy required to detoxify the body of toxins takes away from our productivity and increases our risk of illness by adding to the total body burden.
19) People living quality wellness lives cultivate and nourish meaningful relationships. Make it a priority to spend time with people who enrich your life and are of like mind. Having fun with your self, family, and friends, and being social are important in being well, and help make the world a better place.
Dr. Jeffery Spencer is, as described by Lance Armstrong in his book Every Second Counts, "part doctor, part guru, part medicine man.... While he fixed us physically he also fixed us mentally … we believed Jeff could fix anything … judging by the people in and out of his room the most important person on the team might have been Jeff." Dr. Spencer was Lance Armstrong's personal chiropractor at all seven of his Tour de France victories.