What is the functional approach to health, wellness and healing?
You’ve probably been exposed to the term “functional medicine” by now. But do you really understand how this differs from standard or conventional care? And when you may seek one form of treatment over the other?
The conventional medicine model tends to focus more on symptoms a person may be experiencing and is fantastic for treatment such as a surgical procedure, massive or deadly infections, trauma, heart attacks and stroke. Should you ever find yourself requiring a life-saving surgery or a cardiac event intervention, you couldn’t be in better hands than those of a conventional medicine specialist. Functional or integrative medicine, by contrast, focuses on getting to the root of disease and treating the whole person utilizing a variety of protocols that integrate lifestyle changes, supplements, & alternative therapies as a few examples. I do not practice medicine in either capacity, but in my coaching practice, I approach the client-coach relationship with the same perspective as the functional model of care: by considering the whole of a person's life and their unique challenges. I work one on one with clients to formulate a personalized strategy to accomplish health and life goals based on an evaluation of diet, fitness level and habits, relaxation techniques, personal relationships, play, work, career and relationship to environment. At every level and with every protocol, it’s a team approach. Change can only be implemented if the client is motivated, feels confident in their ability to implement change, and can execute a plan. That begins with trusting the person you’re putting your faith in. It also requires the client go into the coaching relationship with realistic expectations. In our current 90-mile an hour culture where we all want something immediately, our ability to see and play the long game is often overshadowed by claims of instant wealth, health, or celebrity. What used to take days, weeks or months can now be accomplished in a couple of seconds. Communication is nearly instantaneous with today's technology, and as if that weren’t fast enough, we even abbreviate words to avoid the extra couple of seconds it may otherwise take: LOL, BRB, BTW, TTYL. I completely get it and I’ve been guilty at times. But when it comes to health and wellness, it’s not so simple. A pill will often only mask symptoms. A problem usually didn’t occur overnight, and it will most likely not be resolved overnight either. As well, a strategy that worked for your co-worker may not have much effect on you. This is perfectly illustrated with regard to diet: one person thrives on a ketogenic diet and drops a couple of sizes in record time whereas another completely bonks with little carbs in their regimen and doesn’t lose weight at all.
We are all unique and our challenges and advantages vary widely. In this way, I believe our wellness strategy should be personalized. I also believe health and vitality are both a right and a privilege. There are no shortcuts or secret formulas, but I believe we have a responsibility to ourselves, our families, and our fellow countrymen to take as good of care of our body, mind and soul as possible. We have no way of knowing how many days we have on the planet, but I know this for sure: we each have a special reason for being here and you can’t do your good work in the world if you’re old before your time, un-inspired, and un-healthy. So find a functional, holistic partner in health, get motivated to be your best self and just get going. It’s never too late or too early to get healthy!