The DIY Healthy Lifestyles Center promotes a “do-it-yourself wellness” program featuring the 5 Essentials for Healthy Lifestyles.
Beginning in 2018, the DIY Healthy Lifestyles Journal will be presenting its first eGuide Series of articles that will walk you through creating your own healthy lifestyle.
The ideas for this program developed from my own experience with fibromyalgia and its (mis)-management within my local health care system. Just for the record, I’ll note here that it has greatly improved since then. I don’t want my current health care providers to think I’m talking about them.
How The Plan Came to Be
The DIY Healthy Lifestyles program is based upon my academic studies combined with 20+ years of personal research in natural health and healing in a quest to manage my own fibromyalgia and degenerative arthritis.
As I mentioned, the Journal documents my discoveries in natural health and healing while trying to manage chronic pain and fatigue. I developed fibromyalgia in the late 1990’s, almost at the same time it was being discovered. In fact, it had only come to be labeled “fibromyalgia” a few months before I went into the clinic to find out why I was in so much pain all the time and so tired I couldn’t function.
My first clue to trouble was to find out that the doctors in my small community clinics didn’t take any time to read medical journals or research studies. I had already done my research on the Internet, which I had just gotten access to. I read more about fibromyalgia than the doctors did.
One doctor said he had a colleague who had what sounded like what I was describing and that she’d had to leave the clinic because she was too ill to work. The doctor said she had left a book in her office and we should go look at it.
We went to her now-empty office and he took the book down off the shelf, blew the dust off the cover and opened it for the first time. After thumbing through a few pages, he said that I was probably correct and he agreed with my diagnosis. (Thank you, doctor!)
He told me the book says he should test me for a few other diseases. I told him what he needed to test for and he looked for that page. He then looked at me and said, “You know more about this than I do.”
That’s what you want to hear from your doctor. That day, I learned that I knew more about a condition than someone who went through eight years of medical school and had been practicing for the past twenty years. This was long before I’d taken up studies for a degree of my own.
I did not have a good feeling about this.
A Science Project
From that point on, I became a medical science project for pretty much every doctor in two separate clinic systems. The doctor who’d first “diagnosed me” turned me over to the new doctor who had come in to replace the one who went on medical leave.
On my third visit with the new doctor, I told him my employer suggested I apply for short-term disability and he had to sign off on it. This doctor told me that I was “just another whiny slacker trying to get out of having to go to work” and that I was “just looking for someone to feel sorry for me and give me more drugs.” Yes, he actually said this, verbatim. Needless to say, I left that clinic in a hurry.
Being there was only one other clinic my little town, I had no choice but to go there. The doctors there pretty much just tried to guess what diseases my symptoms acted like and gave me a drug for the related disease–none of which I had–so the drugs actually made me feel much worse.
I finally drew the line when I literally could not wake up or move in the morning and I began experiencing heart palpitations. I’d also been having the most intense, Stephen King-scary nightmares I’d ever had in my life. I was already fatigued and now I couldn’t sleep at all.
I was a mess and all anyone wanted to do was change my prescription to something else. I’d also heard that the doctors I was seeing were known to enjoy kickbacks from the pharmaceutical company reps and that people like me were their meal ticket. I finally told them I’d had enough of their “treatment” and left.
Do-It-Yourself Health Care
My experiences with small-town conventional “health care” led me to think about that old saying:
“If you want something done, you’ve got to do it yourself.”
Attributed to Charles-Guillaume Etienne, a 17th century French drama playwright. In the original French version, he wrote: “Un n’est jamais servi si bien que par soi-même.” or “One is never served so well as by oneself.”
One of those providers at that clinic was my dear Physician’s Assistant who arrived just as things were getting really bad. He approved short-term disability from my job, and then long-term disability. When that ended, my employer just let me go. Fortunately, I was able to qualify for unemployment benefits and public assistance. I went from $2000 a month to $400 and I had to pay rent, phone and Internet service and keep my car going.
When you’re sick, unemployed, and living on a shoestring, you’d think there wouldn’t be much you could do. I was surprised to learn how much you can do for less than $40 a month.
At that point, I started creating my own wellness program on an extremely limited budget from a number of different–and sometimes unusual–sources.
And that’s where the DIY or do-it-yourself in “DIY Healthy Lifestyles” comes from.
The DIY Philosophy
Shortly after I’d decided to take matters into my own hand, I discovered another inspirational quote:
“Do what you can with what you have from where you are.”
After thinking about doing things myself and then seeing Teddy’s advice, I sat down and made up a list:
- Do What You Can: Use my savvy thrift shopping skills to find things cheap
- With What You Have: Less than $50 a month to spend
- From Where You Are: a tiny 1 bedroom upstairs apartment with a small dining room off the kitchen, which was also my computer room.
Then I made a second list:
- How can I use what little space I have to start cooking real food and start exercising?
- Check websites and library books for recipes and exercises that don’t need a lot of space or equipment
- Shop garage sales and thrift stores to see what I could find.
I found a lot in these searches, like:
- Books on natural health and lifestyle change.
- Whole food recipe books.
- Stretch bands and exercise videos.
- A Yoga book and mat.
- Meditation, relaxation and hypnotherapy CD’s.
- Aromatherapy essential oils, candles, bath products, and lotions
- Motivational books and videos.
- A blender with a food processor attachment
- Health and wellness magazines.
- Workout clothes and walking shoes.
- A pedometer.
- A mini-step machine
- A fitball and workout video
Within three months, I had my own little wellness center in corners of my dining room/computer room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom.
It can be done and you can do it yourself.
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Then, begin learning how to create your own healthy lifestyle by doing what you can with what you have from where you are.