Be Your Own Doctor

This easy-to-follow prescription for optimal health starts with three simple directives. Begin today.
Photo: Sweet Ice Cream Photography

By Tapp Francke

In our fast-paced modern society, the basic concept of self-care falls by the wayside. We live in a culture where exhaustion and overwork are valued above relaxation. We take pride in being busy—too busy. So much so that the idea of self-care feels selfish. Instead of taking a walk on the beach, or getting a massage, shouldn’t we be doing something? Our nervous systems were not built for this kind of pressure. Our bodies require downtime to recharge. As a result, we are all in a constant state of burnout. Ann Wigmore of the Natural Health Institute, and author of Be Your Own Doctor, writes, “Your health is what you make of it. Everything you do and think either adds to the vitality, energy and spirit you possess or takes away from it.” So how do we maximize our health potential? How do we become our own health care provider? This is the modern version of “an apple a day…”


Practice Self-Care

The airplane homily—“put your oxygen mask on first”—is 100 percent correct. We need to attend to our own needs before we attend to the needs of others and not feel guilty about it. Prioritize self-care. Self-care is a deliberate action with the purpose of taking care of our mental, emotional and physical states. Psychologist Agnes Wainman explains it as “something that refuels us, rather than takes from us.” This might be different for different people. Some people find their fuel with adventure; some find it with the company of friends, and others find it with solitude. Pay respect to your needs.

Eat Real Food

This is a big one. Nothing can either promote or derail our health more than the food we eat. Ann Wigmore says, “The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine, or the slowest form of poison,” while Mark Hyman, MD, of the UltraWellness Center in Massachusetts, says “I believe the most important and most powerful tool you have to change your health and your world is at the end of your fork.” The food we eat can create inflammation—or it can put out the fire. Feeding our bodies properly means a whole-food, nutrient-rich diet devoid of processed foods and added sugar. Vegetables and low-sugar fruits should always comprise at least 60 percent of every meal. Well-sourced proteins, whole grains, nuts, seeds and quality fats should make up the remaining 40 percent.


Is sitting is the new smoking? Spending extended periods of time without moving has been linked to many chronic conditions, including obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, cardiovascular disease and even cancer. Our current sedentary, screen-based culture tends to limit physical activity. Get up and move! According to the Mayo Clinic, 60 minutes of moderate exercise daily can counteract the effects of too much sitting. The clinic advises people to take a break from sitting every 30 minutes. Get up and walk around. Walk to work, take the stairs—you don’t need a gym to keep your body in motion. The impact of those simple changes can have a profound effect on your health, most specifically as we get older.

Being your own doctor is simple. Take care of your mental, emotional health, reduce stress, eat real food, and get moving physically. Your body will thank you.