Become a Project Manager of Your Health

Visiting doctor after doctor, none could diagnose my pain. They would prescribe a pill with the hopes of relief. Finally one doctor, after still not providing a diagnosis, said, “Let’s give you a hysterectomy. Maybe that will help.” This experience led me to become the project manager of my own health.

doctorTwo issues currently exist with our Western medical system. First, our current system no longer treats the patient but treats the symptoms. Medications are administered not to remove the illness but to relieve the symptoms. Pharmaceutical companies market to patients and doctors offering quick fixes to our discomfort. Secondly, the medical practice has become so specialized they have forgotten the overall individual and how the systems work as a whole. These specialists have amazing knowledge about individual systems and their functionality but are often at a loss as to how the other parts of us could affect that system.

Because of this, whether taking care of a family member or your own needs, it is important to take control of your health and wellbeing. By becoming the project manager of our health, we link together the specialists, add in our own inherent and empirical data, and make lifestyle changes to reduce and prevent illnesses. Hire in the specialists when you need their knowledge, but know you are the decision maker.

Four ways to be the project manager of your health:

Know Your Body

When you experience a symptom, look at your whole body not just where the pain is. What other symptoms, large or small, are you experiencing? Our bodies are complex interconnected systems. When one area is off, it may be caused by something else – or may be affecting something else. I remember when I was having heel pain eventually I learned that it was caused by a tight muscle in my thigh. It I focused on relieving the pain in my heel, I would have never found the true cause of my pain – and it would have come back.

Be aware of how your unique body works. Be a detective of your distinctive body and its functioning. How do you feel after different foods? What happens just before you notice symptoms? How does your exercise or sleep affect your body’s functionality? Take the time to uncover correlations to help you understand the cause and effect of your discomfort.

Look Beyond Your Body

Remember to look beyond the body itself. The way we eat, exercise, sleep, move, believe, think, and act all have an effect on our body. In my own case, my inability to decrease my stress level was the key factor of my physical body pain. Don’t immediately blame your body or some disease for your issues. Sometimes the culprit is our lifestyle. Our bodies are designed for perfection, how are you helping or hindering this perfection?

The power in looking beyond your body to your habits and way of living is in empowering you to minimize or remove unwanted symptoms. If you always have acid reflux after eating pizza, try to stop eating pizza instead of adding a pill to your diet. The pill is only covering up the symptom and may be negatively affecting other parts of your body. Instead, try making lifestyle changes and see how you can positively affect your health.

Inform the Doctor

Doctors have degrees in medicine but they don’t have a degree in your specific body; only you do. Trust yourself. Know that you are the expert of your body and what is good for you. It is your responsibility to let the doctor know about other issues, other reactions you have noticed, and ways you have found to bring relief. Speak up and help the doctor understand how your unique body works. Remember that the doctor is not with you every moment of every day. Only you are. Your responsibility is to ensure all your healthcare practitioners are aware of your unique situation and needs.

A friend recently went to the doctor for an infection. The remedy the doctor prescribed would have been counter to the cancer procedure this individual was on, even though this issue was spelled out on the intake form. Doctors are human too. They may over look things. Be your own advocate and ensure nothing is overlooked.

Doctors are magnificently specialized which means they have vast knowledge in one area, but it also means they may only look at one part or system. Help the doctor to see the whole picture of your unique case. Just like a project manager, coordinate different teams (doctors) to ensure the project is being handled properly.

Look to the Long Term

In our current immediate gratification society, we often want easy and quick results. A personal trainer I know was working with a few women on their New Year’s resolution weight loss goals. These women were disappointed when they only lost two pounds the first week. In other programs, the women often lost eight pounds the first week. However, they also regain the weight as quickly as they lost it.

Our health is a marathon not a sprint. Short term fixes may also lead to fast-paced reversals. Quick solutions may also create other issues in other parts of our bodies. As the project manager of your health, look to the long term. Take the time to create a diet, exercise, and mental health routine which slowly and surely creates a strong foundation for your health. This may take longer and take more will power than simply popping a pill, but it also allows your body to health itself and maintain better health for a longer period of time.

Melissa Heisler

Hiding Not Seeking

Caffeine has always been my constant companion. In my younger years, caffeine came in the form of Mountain Dew. When I entered the workforce, my caffeine delivery system became coffee. As energy drinks entered the marketplace, Monster became my drink of choice. The thing is, caffeine is not good for me. I have known for a while and recently had a doctor prove it. And yet, I didn’t stop putting caffeine in my system.

Have you ever had a habit you wanted to break but didn’t have the motivation to do so? Or if you could break it, the habit would come back? The problem may not be willpower. The problem may be that you are treating the symptom not the cause.

Melissa Heisler
Melissa Heisler

When I was drinking coffee, I didn’t like the taste of every cup and I hated how it discolored my teeth. Yet I would drink cup after cup. If I had a Monster or two, I would have the shakes and couldn’t concentrate. Yet I would have more the next day. When we digest things which are not good for us, we actually experience a high. The high is created when our bodies rally the troops to fight the unwanted guest. As adrenaline attacks the invader, we experience a seemingly pleasurable high from something that is actually not good for our system.

But knowing all this did not give me the power to remove caffeine from my diet. This is because I did not drink it to get the high per se. I was using the high to hide my pain, discomfort, and negative emotions. If I was in a good mood, I didn’t need coffee. If there was troubling me, I longed for caffeine and could think of nothing else. When I was caught up in the high of caffeine, I could ignore what was bothering me. Caffeine is my Band-Aid, my mask. This addiction distracts me from those things I don’t want to face. But you know what? The things I didn’t want to face are still there after every cup.

Next time you reach for your mask of choice whether it is coffee, chocolate, potato chips, or a marathon of CSI, stop. Put down your addiction and wait. See what emotion, fear, anxiety, or worry washes over you. Then work through that discomfort. By going through the discomfort you can remove it once and for all. And in doing so, you can also release your addiction.

Melissa Heisler

Surrender versus Outcome

In May I posted about The Power of Surrender.  At the time I was learning how surrendering means focusing one’s energy on their mission and passion instead of on tasks and to-do’s.  Surrender is also focusing on one’s heartfelt desires but not being caught up in what it will look like to manifest them.  Surrender is living in the bliss of one’s true purpose without regard to what the end result will be.  And at the time it was fun and easy because there were frequent tangible results helping me continue to surrender and have faith.  As usual, things change.

Melissa HeislerWhat is interesting is that things are still progressing and “wins” are coming out of seemingly nowhere, but it has become harder to recognize and celebrate the positive movement.  You see, I began to create my own expectations for outcome. I began to be specific in what I wanted to see and I created timelines and dates on when I wanted to see them.  As a result of my focus on what I wanted to see, my mood diminished.  Negativity, disappointment, and stress entered my life.  I had stepped out of the joy of doing in surrender and had moved instead into the discomfort of trying to make things go my way and expecting they would.  And worse yet, changing the way I worked to “force” them to go my way.

I can not express strongly enough how this brought me pain.  It changed my mood.  It changed the way I related to others.  It changed how I experienced each day.  It changed my desire and enjoyment in projects.  Overall, it was horrible.  I was not in joy.

At first I thought it was because things changed around me.  I could state a case for this, that or the other being the reason I was dissatisfied.  But hopefully you know by now our experience is the result of our thoughts not things.  Next I attacked the idea of surrender.  If I hadn’t surrendered I wouldn’t be in this situation and then I thought maybe I was wrong about this whole surrender thing.  Further and further I went down the rabbit hole of negative thought, expectation, disappointment, and judgment.

I was pulled from the abyss by talking to a friend.  The friend saw that I was doing what I was doing for others, not myself.  This was true, and has been my modus operandi for my entire life, but this time I realized something more.  It was not because I was acting for others that I received pain.  I would have had this same pain had I acted for myself.  No, the pain came from the meaning I put on my expectations.

Expectations or a specific desired outcome is not harmful in itself.  The harm comes from labeling the expectation.  If I don’t get X then, I am not smart, I am not successful, I am letting others down, I’ll never get to where I want to be, life isn’t fair, etc.  Pain is not from receiving a desired outcome or not, but it is from what we deem the result to mean.  This goes back to experience being the result of our thoughts.  I had added meaning to events and the meaning is what pulled me down.  True surrender is viewing life as it is without adding in our interpretation.  Surrender is living without judgment.

Take a look at your own life.  Identify where you are currently experiencing pain.  Now look not at the situation but look at the meaning you place on the situation.  See if you can change the meaning and therefore change your experience.