Last week, I was catching up with my mom, and as we got to talking about my career and what I’m up to with Holistic Shape Up, she told me that several of my relatives had been reading my blog posts and asked her “so what does ‘holistic’ mean anyway?”. She said the question kind of caught her off-guard, and when she went to answer it, she found it difficult to explain it too! This all got me thinking that, although the term “holistic” and the phrase “holistic approach to healthcare” seem to be thrown around a lot in our society recently as the concept is becoming more well-known, the term is pretty vague.
So what does “holistic” mean, and why
do I believe so firmly in taking this approach
According to Merriam-Webster, “holistic” is defined as “of or relating to holism; relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts” (1).
It helps to think of “holistic” as “whole-istic,” because holistic health or medicine looks at the entire person and all the factors that contribute to health and disease. This means not only examining the physical symptoms or causes of illness, but also the mental, emotional, and other lifestyle components of any human’s life – because all of these things inevitably effect us.
This is very different from Western medicine, which is reductionist in nature: divided into specific specialists, each focused on one particular organ or organ system. Along these lines, physical symptoms are often the main thing addressed by Western medicine; although it is definitely important to stop the pain and discomfort of any illness/disease, focus also needs to be on finding long-term, sustainable solutions to the root cause of those symptoms. A holistic approach will not only look at symptoms and physical causes of illness, but also what else in the person’s life might be causing imbalance. However, holistic medicine is not pitted against Western medicine. Instead, holistic healthcare includes western concepts, in addition to all other theories, such as eastern medicine, nutrition, homeopathy, spirituality, and exercise. It looks at everything – to get a WHOLE picture!
If you think about the human body, it makes sense that you can’t necessarily just take the heart or just the digestive system, address its aches and pains, and expect the whole person to be “healthy” – because even if that one part is the cause of disease, it does not exist in isolation. Your nervous system connects with everything; your blood flows through vessels coursing throughout your whole body, your lymphatic system travels alongside your blood vessels; nutrients from your food, oxygen, hormones, neurotransmitters and other chemicals can travel from one organ to another. It’s all interconnected.
Take it one step further: the mind-body-spirit connection. Not all physical symptoms/disease have physical causes. We all know that a stressful life can cause headaches, stomach ulcers, hair loss, and all kinds of other outward effects. This is just one example of how various aspects of your life (whether it’s your career, your relationships, your financial struggles, or anything else that happens during the day), can lead to problems in your physical body. A holistic practitioner will address your mental, physical and emotional health and seek out where any imbalances exist so that sustained healing can occur. How can you be truly “healthy” and “feel good” if your job is causing you endless emotional pain, or if you’re in a strained relationship with your spouse? I don’t think you can.
The goal of holistic health is overall wellness. This way, your happiness, joy, self-
esteem, vitality, and empowerment are all enhanced, and you can truly live as the best, healthiest version of yourself.
This is the purpose of my work. My intention and promise with Holistic Shape Up is to listen wholeheartedly to each of my clients and work with them to find their own “healthy,” by looking at your whole life, not just your physical concerns, and support you to discover simple, natural dietary, exercise, and lifestyle shifts to create lasting positive change for life-long health, so that you can go into each day feeling happy, fulfilled, and full of life. Because everyone deserves that.
And that’s where my tagline (pictured at the start of the post) comes in:
Move. Your body each day, in a way that feels good to you.
Eat. Real food that nourishes your body.
Connect. With others, with your spiritual beliefs, and with yourself.
Thrive. As your best self, by incorporating the first three tenants into your daily life.
MECT, each and every day.
Ps. If you enjoyed what you read, and you’re ready to transform your health and your life, sign up for my free “Game Changer” Consultation today
1. “Holistic.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 6 Aug. 2013. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/holistic>.
2. “Human Physiology: The Nervous System.” Wikibooks.org. 7 Aug. 2013. <http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Human_Physiology/The_Nervous_System>.
3. “Integrative Nutrition Plate.” Institute for Integrative Nutrition. 7 Aug. 2013. <http://www.integrativenutrition.com/glossary/plate>.