I have found, over time, that happiness in life seems to be the greatest when I strive for balance in the three basic aspects of life: Mind, Body & Spirit. Yes, I am a physician, and I spend the majority of my day applying advise and treatment plans that have been demonstrated to be effective through the tried and true scientific method. However, I know from personal experience, and from working closely with patients for over 15 years, that science alone, does not bring fullness and happiness to life. Truth and learning can be found through study and also by faith. Finding balance and peace physically is important, but finding that balance emotionally and spiritually are often essential. Being able to follow a Ketogenic Lifestyle effectively over the long term (longer than 6 months) actually requires understanding of some basic principles. This is the first in a series of articles regarding The Principle Based Ketogenic Lifestyle.
I treat patients with obesity, one of the most difficult diseases to address in the medical office. I find that just applying diet alone doesn’t always solve the problem. If the patient’s life is out of balance emotionally or spiritually, the stress this causes often halts effective weight loss and metabolic healing. You may disagree with me on political or religious issues, but healing is not about politics nor is it about religious doctrine – it is about understanding where we are, the path forward, and our potential to get there. The mind, body and spirit are deeply interconnected. Often, until we recognize and treat those connections, true healing cannot occur.
The first step in treating any illness, including weight, is recognition of the problem. The Medical Community has recognized Obesity as a disease, but obesity is also a symptom of underlying physical metabolic dysfunction that may be tied to the mind and spirit. Daily journaling is the tool that lets one see if the dysfunction is tied to mind or spirit. I ask my patients to keep a daily food journal. This is very important in looking at the patterns of macro-nutrient intake. But the more powerful effect of journaling allows one to see how food is tied to emotion – mentally and spiritually.
Simply writing down what you eat each day, when you eat it, and how you felt after you at it is actually quite profound. The patterns that emerge are usually seen and identified by the patient long before I ever see them. In fact, patient’s often bring those patterns up before ever showing me their food journals.
I’ve found, in keeping a food journal myself, that combining my journaling with other other daily goals, uplifting thoughts and reminders was even more helpful and powerful. This can be done on paper, a notebook, a planner or even on the computer. (I have a few patients who are accountants or engineers – they bring in complex spread sheets). What is important is daily consistency. It takes about 3-4 weeks of journaling to begin to see patterns.
I have taken the advise of one of the leaders of my church to “ponderize” a scripture, meaningful poetic verse or truth filled quote each week as part of the journaling process. He defined “ponderizing” as the act of pondering and memorizing a scripture or a favorite uplifting poem or verse each week. This is done by writing the verse on a written card or note in a place that you will see it frequently each day during the week. When you see it, read it and ponder it. Just the process of frequently reading it will lead to memorization each week. I have found that reading and pondering a verse 3-4 times a day for a week, lends itself to easy memorization. Each time you read the verse, think about it and ponder it for a moment, then go on with your day. This will give you a brief opportunity to elevate your thoughts each day, and will give you a place your mind can go and think when you don’t have to think. It gives your subconscious mind the ability to solve complex patterns at a higher level.
Said David O. McKay, “Tell me what you think about when you don’t have to think, and I’ll tell you what you are.” “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he . . . ” (Proverbs 23:7).
For some reason, with all the cares of the day, work, family and the challenges of life, I have fallen out of this habit for some time. When this leader mentioned this process in his comments, I was reminded of the peace and balance I used to feel each week when doing this simple activity. I have recommitted myself to restart this activity and I invite you to do the same. This time to ponder opens your mind and allows you access the deeper worries and fears holding you from what you what to accomplish. It takes great courage to make permanent lifestyle and dietary changes. When someone can’t clearly see what lies ahead, it fills them with fear, doubt or both. But journaling, even in its simplest form, gives a person the ability to resist and then master the patterns that have kept them from change. As Mark Twain said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.”
Courage is tested when we purse difficult goals, fight against disease with unknown outcomes, or work to regain health. The testing can be painful. Journaling, and ponderizing in the process, gives courage to take small steps, one day at a time. Admitting to, journaling when we fail or make mistakes, fear of failure or feeling unsure actually increases our courage. Being given a week to ponderize an uplifting scripture or verse enhances that courage . Journaling successes and failures empowers us individually. The psychiatrist Carl Jung wrote:
“There appears to be a conscience in mankind which severely punishes the man who does not somehow and at some time, at whatever cost to his pride, cease to defend and assert himself, and instead confess himself fallible and human. Until he can do this, an impenetrable wall shuts him out from the living experience of felling himself a man among men. Here we find a key to the great significance of true unstereotyped confession – a significance known in all the initiation and mystery cults of the ancient world, as is shown by a saying from the Greek mysteries: ‘Give up what thou hast, and thou will receive.'”
Journaling and ponderizing allows one a form of confession and renewal. It gives one courage that you have survived today’s challenges and seen the pattern of fallibility in them. It is actually energizing. And, the path to healing begins to become clear.
Journaling also is a great way to outline side effects from carbohydrate withdrawl that will last for 2-4 weeks (That’s for another blog post, however).
Feel free to ask me about the verse that I am ponderizing each week. I will happily tell you which verse I am pondering and memorizing; but, I will in tern, ask you which verse you are ponderizing.
This week, the verse I am ponderizing comes from the Bible – Genesis 35:2-3:
“Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: And let us arise, and go up to Beth-el; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.”
Did you begin your food journal? And, what verse are you going to ponderize this week?