A Code So Basic That It’s Often Overlooked!
Based on the title of this article, you probably think that I am going to present the hottest new fashion. Nope! While I do love stylish clothing, a discussion around the latest trends is not in my wheelhouse.
In this article, I will discuss a code that is so basic that it is, for the most part, often overlooked.
It took me over fifteen years and at least 300k out-of-pocket to learn the importance of, embrace, and implement this "D.R.E.S.S." code into my daily life.
My Story In a Nutshell!
At age 26 I found myself deep in the rabbit hole of chronic health challenges with life-altering symptoms including but not limited to hives, angioedema swelling, crushing fatigue, debilitating migraines, body aches, anxiety, depression and more.
For a long time, I pursued conventional medicine interventions that involved many diagnostic tests, a growing list of prescription drugs, physical therapy, and psychotherapy.
None of this helped much, and the drugs brought on nasty side effects and created more complex issues in the long run.
After seven years of this approach, I switched gears and headed in the direction of integrative and holistic health care. This is when I was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease & Company and Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome.
In Pursuit Of “Cure Alls” and Quick Fixes!
My quest to regain my health from these conditions led me to consult with numerous chronic illness specialists, spend time at several high-end healing clinics, and pursue many, extremely high-priced treatment regimes.
Nowhere amidst all of this, however, did I ever truly make the fundamental pillars of health and healing a top and consistent priority in my life. By this, I am referring to the D.R.E.S.S. Code!
D = Diet
R = Rest
E = Exercise
S = Stress Reduction
S = Supplementation (targeted and bio-individualized!)
There was some focus on these factors but not near to the level it needed to be. For instance, I went through periods of eliminating gluten and dairy and reducing sugar and I attempted many fad-like dietary approaches in the form of aggressive juice cleanses, extremely low carb diets, and more.
I took many supplements, but there was never really a systematic approach to implementing them, nor did I ever have much of an understanding of how they were helping me.
I did not take near enough ownership or responsibility for my own healing.
Instead, I continuously looked outside of myself in hope that somebody else had the ONE answer for all my issues and that there was a single treatment protocol that could “fix” me.
Lack of Structure In My Daily Routine!
In terms of rest, exercise, and stress reduction, I was a hot mess!
I made no attempts to reduce my exposure to circadian rhythm disrupting blue lights and electromagnetic frequencies coming from all the technology of which we have all come to depend on and love.
I often stayed up into the wee hours of the night frantically surfing the internet for answers to my ongoing challenges versus making sleep hygiene a priority. Heck, I did not even know what blue light, E.M.F.s, and sleep hygiene were really, let alone how they contributed to metabolic chaos® in the body!
When it came to exercise, I was going from one extreme to the other. I either did not do any at all for weeks and sometimes months at a time due to the crushing fatigue, or I overdid it.
And stress reduction! Forget about it! First off, I had little to no understanding of the mind-body connection and I believed that my health challenges were solely due to biochemical insults such as infections and toxins.
I was not mindful of the dynamic interplay between my thoughts and emotions and my physical wellbeing. Because of this, I remained highly reactive and engaged in destructive patterns such as over-analyzing, worrying, perfectionism, and ruminating for a very long time.
Caught In A Viscous Cycle! Lessons Learned!
All of this equated in keeping me stuck in a vicious stress-fear-pain-illness cycle and prevented all the tremendous and highly costly biochemical based interventions that I implemented from helping move me forward.
Sadly, it took me at least 15 years to realize this and make the necessary shifts in my life for healing to occur. My realization came in the form of a massive physical and nervous breakdown that forced me to walk away from my career as a high school teacher after 18 years. I continue to recover from the aftermath of this collapse to this day.
I now understand that this breakdown was the massive kick-in-the-butt from the Universe I needed to return to the basics and make self-care a focal point of my healing journey. It was at this point I realized, of which was greatly facilitated by my training in Functional Diagnostic Nutrition®, that without The D.R.E.S.S Code for Health and Life Success in place, no amount of fancy treatment protocols will yield success in creating sustainable wellness.
In other words:
You can take the best, most expensive supplements, eat the cleanest diet, do the best detox protocols, and implement the most cutting edge health treatments that money can buy. However, if you do not eliminate factors within your environments and in your life that overwhelm the nervous system and put your cells in defense mode, you will likely be spinning your wheels as I did for a long time!
If you relate to this and it resonates with you, then here are some general, helpful guidelines for you to consider and assess in your own life on a daily or weekly basis!
DIET: Avoid trendy dietary approaches aimed at trying to "cure" you of all your woes in a short amount of time. Instead, focus on making a whole-food, anti-inflammatory, and organic whenever possible diet part of a consistent, daily routine. Avoid overeating and eating in between meals as resting the digestive tract is equally important as nourishing it.
Additionally, it's essential to realize that how we eat is just as important as what we eat. For this reason, avoid eating on the run, while doing other things, in a distressed state of mind, and for emotional comfort. Slow down, be mindful of your food, express gratitude to all the people, animals, and hard work involved in providing you with the meal, and chew each bite thoroughly.
REST: A balanced circadian rhythm and consistent, deep, and restful sleep are essential for healing and optimal wellbeing. Without these, the cells of the body will move out of energy producing mode and into defense mode, resulting in all health supportive functions such as digestion, immune response, and detoxification to slow down or come to a halt.
For optimal sleep, it's helpful to get sunlight exposure within 30 minutes of waking, avoid exercise and other stimulatory activities in the evening, limit blue light exposure at night, and have a regular bedtime and pre-bedtime routine to help wind you down. For a comprehensive list of high-level sleep interventions, read my article here.
EXERCISE: Daily, nourishing movement is critical! Both too little and too much are equally harmful. In light of this, find a daily exercise routine that is manageable to implement, that you will stick with, and one that does not further tax you. When in doubt, walking and gentle stretching will never let you down.
STRESS REDUCTION: Stress comes in many forms: physical, biochemical, environmental, relational, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Because of this, it is necessary to take inventory of all the factors in your life and within yourself that may be placing undue stress upon your body and mind and begin taking measures to eliminate or reduce as many as possible.
In terms of psychological stress, the body will not and cannot heal amidst fear-based thinking patterns and a chronically activated stress response. It is necessary to find ways of relaxing and detoxing mental and emotional toxins.
Some of my favorite modalities for doing this are T.R.E (trauma release exercises), binaural beats, Emotion Code, daily movement, guided meditation, journaling, and simply being an observer of my thoughts and the way I choose to respond to life events.
SUPPLEMENTATION: This is purposely listed last because as I stated earlier, no amount of supplements can offset the harmful effects of destructive lifestyle habits and chronic stress. They may help in the short-term, but in the long-term, they are merely be bandaids.
Some rules of thumbs to consider when it comes to supplements are as follows:
Avoid supplement overwhelm! Many times, less is more. Taking too many often overburden the body, particularly the liver and is a stress on your bank account and mind.
Educate yourself! Be sure you understand why you are taking each one and that there is a logical system in place for implementing them.
Realize that some baseline supplements will likely always be needed! The reason being is that the soil has become drastically depleted in essential nutrients, and therefore, it is difficult if not impossible, to get all we need for optimal health through diet alone. While everyone's needs are different, some of the most common required supplements are magnesium, B vitamins, Vitamin D and K2, and omega-3 fatty acids.
In closing, if you are currently stuck in your health or in your life in anyway, I highly encourage you to shift your focus to your daily habits. What we do and how we show up in our lives on a consistent basis holds many answers we often seek outside of ourselves and largely determines our ability to create vibrant health and personal success in our lives!
Ok! So that's a wrap for this week's article. I hope it provided you with some helpful food for thought and a starting point for implementing your own D.R.E.S.S Code For Health and Life Success!