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Achieving Our Own Optimum Health

Health and disease are defined medically in objective terms, using specific parameters and risk factors as guides. To determine if someone is healthy, medical providers typically complete a physical examination and evaluate quantitative data that includes the results of lab work and other tests, blood pressure and body mass index (BMI). In a field where evidence-based is the dominant mode of thinking, qualitative data can be elusive and defining health may be more complex than can be determined by numbers.

However, health as it pertains to the individual may be best defined by our subjective experience, which involves many factors. Someone with a perfect BMI may feel depleted or hopeless due to a painful relationship. The question is whether or not they should be considered healthy.

For most of us, an assessment of health encompasses numerous quality-of-life considerations, including how well our relationships and emotional support systems function, how we manage stress, what we do with our creative energy and how often, and what we are losing or gaining in the pursuit of a single outcome upon which we might be fixated, such as being skinny or looking young enough. We must ask who judges our health or well-being and how that judgment affects us.

This all reveals where we are putting our energy and if we are satisfied or dissatisfied with the resulting outcomes. The motivation to change grows when we are no longer willing to tolerate our dissatisfaction. Then we ask ourselves about where we are now and to which version of health we aspire, as well as what we are willing to change or do to progress toward who we want to be.

Many factors such as access to resources and the effects of environmental toxins and genetic predisposition may be beyond our control. Focusing on them may lead to feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. At times, we might express anger or frustration in regard to health, feeling that we are doing everything we should to be healthy, yet we continue to face health challenges.

Our expectations of health may differ from our experience due to physical, emotional, psychological or even financial limitations. Some people cannot afford to eat organically, do annual cleanses or utilize supplementation, even though they want to fulfill their health potential.

Yet, if we are willing to change our minds, bodies and behaviors, we can be co-creators of our health. Albert Einstein stated, “Problems cannot be solved with the same mindset that created them.” The true nature of health seems to be one of continuous questions and seeking. Let us think of health with a sense of openness, in which the goal is improvement, not perfection that never comes. If instead we focus on what is in our power to change and improve incrementally, then each step we take toward health will result in its continuous creation.Sharon Thurow

Sharon Thurow is a family nurse practitioner and the owner of Thurow Primary Preventive Healthcare, located at 216 N. Green Bay Rd., Ste. 103, in Thiensville. For more information, call 262-242-3966 or visit


Strategies to Achieve Our Vision of Health

• Find or build a support system: an exercise buddy, a monthly group meeting and family.

• Utilize tools and the capacity to get organized, think critically and plan ahead to our advantage.

• Plant a little something in our living spaces such as a box of herbs or a full-blown garden. Buy other produce by subscribing to a community supported agriculture project or buying from a local farmers’ market, even if only seasonally.

• Ease the pressure to buy all organic by prioritizing using the Environmental Working Group’s Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists.

• Practice self-care by getting adequate sleep, staying hydrated and clearing out what can be eliminated to make room for what is coming.

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