Upon being asked if I’d be willing to share a bit about what it means to be “living naturopathically”, I said, “sure, of course!” And then I found myself taking a pause to ask myself, “what does it mean to be living naturopathically? “
Naturopathic doctors and their advocates in the field provide informative articles and online resources on the definition and scope of naturopathic doctors. I continue to learn and understand more as my exploration continues. Hearing others’ stories of what brought them to naturopathic medicine or what the practice means to them personally has been useful to me. It was another person’s story that opened my eyes to how the naturopathic medicine approach could help me in my own wellness journey. Here I share my journey, with hopes I can pass on the benefit to others.
My Journey to Health
Eleven years ago, I was a picture of poor health. I was diagnosed with a rare and severe GI bacterial infection, unable to eat much of any real food, and relied on a medical food shake each day to get some of my nutrients and calories. I lost 25 pounds, which for me was a significant percentage of my body weight. I began working actively with a naturopathic doctor who referred me to get a prescription for high intensity, long-term antibiotics to treat my infection.
This is an example of a situation where, from a naturopathic perspective, it required a higher level of intervention to overcome the obstacle to my health. My Naturopathic Doctor’s protocol helped me to both manage the side effects of that intervention and begin to identify how to effectively reduce inflammation, using a personalized protocol. Subsequent to that infection, I received diagnoses of three autoimmune conditions. I’m relieved and grateful that I’m no longer on maintenance prescription medicine for any of those diagnoses. I am able to manage these conditions successfully first with food as medicine, next targeted nutritional supplements, and herbal therapies. My GI specialist was amazed that he did not see any evidence of ulcerative colitis or inflammation after my most recent colonoscopy. None of this happened overnight. But it did come with patience, determination, and confidence in my natural approach to healing the root issues.
Guiding Principles for Day-to-Day Care
For me, living naturopathically comes down to three guiding principles I use in my day-to-day care for myself.
- I want to live with vigor so I vigorously take care of myself. I enjoy being physically fit and active. I’m one of those people they call “a mover.” I enjoy movement – whether it be cycling, hiking, my dancing or my Pilates practice. I’ll also readily admit, I don’t sit still very well. Therefore, in long meetings I’m not the colleague you want to be sitting next to.
- Natural first. Natural next. Rarely chemically produced or prescription drugs. We all have aches and pains that bother us or the occasional injury or sickness. I use the most natural source of anything I’m putting in, on or around my body.
- Every day is a recalibration. I have learned what nutritional and supplement support my body needs on an ongoing basis due to my genetic propensity and natural responses to my environment. This is the baseline support I know my body needs. But every day is different. I approach each day with that perspective as I consider what adjustments my body may need in my meals, sleep, activity, supplements, etc. based upon what is going on each day and how my body is responding. And all of these recalibrations serve as reinforcement to help my body re-stabilize itself.
Fitness is a Priority
I work in the fitness service industry training with clients five days a week. I need the physical strength and stamina to be able to demonstrate various exercises with proper form for my clients. I seek to continue to maintain and gain strength and stamina in my own workouts. I want my life to be a living example of how prioritizing fitness discipline benefits health. And quite simply, I often need the strength and stamina to be on my feet and be in the present moment with each of my clients throughout their movement practice sessions. Just as I design workout plans for my clients, I also focus on my own proportions of high-intensity cardio intervals, strength training, and stretch/release work to progress my personal fitness
As a health advocate for others, I must continue to learn and educate myself about industry practices, research, and new developments. I also believe in and want to be a role model for fitness discipline, I also believe and want to be a role model for nutritional excellence. On days when I’ve increased the intensity of my strength training, in particular with a power versus endurance focus, I may purposely make a curry for dinner or add turmeric to my protein shake to boost the anti-inflammatory content of my nutrients and help to ease my muscle soreness. If something from lunch didn’t quite agree with my stomach, I may add some licorice root and aloe to my filtered water to help ease the tummy ache while I prepare for my next meeting.
My Natural Life Today
I have now returned to endurance cycling, swimming and dancing as well. I cycle 50+ miles at a time and have completed multiple ultra-endurance cycling races, two triathlons, and several half marathons. I’m stronger physically, mentally and spiritually than I was 11 years ago. I no longer get frequent head colds and viruses as my immune system is strong. But most importantly, I’m more in tune and sensitive to being able to identify what my body needs day to day to keep myself healthy and in-check without fear of slipping into a flare or losing control of my health. Living naturopathically has taught me how to be more attuned to my nutritional needs and to have faith and confidence in my body’s ability to heal itself as I tap into the healing power of nature with naturopathic medicine.
Laura Hill Temmerman, MPH, MBA, FACHE is an integrative healthcare advocate and former hospital process improvement engineer with a penchant for teaching Pilates. Based out of two studios in the Bay Area, she specializes in both Pilates for overall fitness enhancement for athletes as well as rehabilitative-focused movement. She also continues as a Board Member for the California Association of Healthcare Leaders with the American College of Healthcare Executives, of which she is a Fellow. Find Laura on Facebook and Instagram.
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