What is your ONE thing?

by in Kitchen Sink, Motivation March 31, 2008

by Dr. Nicole Sundene


Are you tired of feeling like you have to do everything with your health all at once?

Do you feel overwhelmed trying to figure out how to get on a healthy whole foods diet and lifestyle?

Are you sick of feeling sick from a refined foods diet?

Have you tried many things only to fail and try and fail again? Well you aren’t alone. From my experience working with numerous patients, friends, family, and even strangers I encounter–only about 10% of us can quickly let go of an unhealthy behavior and develop a new one.

For nearly everyone else, changes best happen gradually over time as you successfully tackle one health goal at a time.

First I would like to officially welcome you to my blog and say thanks for stopping by my “kitchen table” to chat with me and my expert guests about whole foods and healthy living. Second, I would like to give you a starting point of reference for achieving your preventative medicine health goals.  The best way to keep track of the kitchen table is to subscribe to our RSS feed or weekly newsletters.  We do our best to update you between 1-3 times weekly with healthy recipe and lifestyle tips. Our writing team works hard to motivate you to the latest and greatest in healthy living.

I started Kitchen Table Medicine because I realized in my second year of naturopathic internship that all patients essentially need the same things.

We all need clean air, chemical free water, a reduced total load of exposure to toxins, positive mental attitude, adequate sleep, stress management, healing from past challenges, meditation, and organic whole foods.

Many people read the typical “Twelve Point Preventative Health Plan” from their Naturopathic Physician and feel immediately overwhelmed that they have to do it all at once. Really it is much much easier than that. In order to feel healthier, all you have to do is pick ONE thing at a time to work on until you get it down. Once that becomes a habit you are then ready for the next thing. Perhaps the most important portion of my prescription to you is not the herb, vitamin, or drug I am prescribing; it simply is to “Get more sleep, learn to cook whole foods meals, exercise, and tell people to be nice to you”.

You only need to simply pick one thing off that list in order to be successful at accomplishing all those goals. It doesn’t matter what your jumping off point is because the rest is bound to fall in to place. If you don’t believe me then let’s walk through some basic examples…

Say for instance you decide to deal with your low energy levels by shutting your television off early and giving yourself the gift of one more hour of extra sleep each night, you will most likely eventually have the energy to start exercising. As you get healthier from your new exercise routine, your body will naturally crave unprocessed foods to eat so cooking healthy organic meals won’t feel like a chore. Or conversely you may decide to just start eating better, which would then give you the energy during the day to eventually start exercising which will in turn wear your body out for a good solid night of sleep. Maybe instead you commit to training for a triathlon with a group of friends. From the extra exercise, everyone sleep improves and you all then get the added notion to join a whole foods cooking class together to learn some new healthy recipes.

It will be an adventure.

As your body gets in to a better state of balance making the healthy choice becomes natural because you will start to crave that which is good for you. An unhealthy body craves unhealthy things. A balanced body craves better things, natural things, healthy things, whole foods things.

Trust me. I’m a doctor. I see this kind of thing all the time.

Sometimes we simply need to just start out with asking people to be nice to us while we are making changes. Adopting a healthier diet or lifestyle can feel overwhelming and frustrating especially if you are already in pain or struggling with the news of a recent difficult diagnosis. Be sure to start off by asking for the support from those around you. Explain to them why you are trying to do the things you are trying to do so they will be that much more motivated to help you meet your goals. Invite them to join you in the process of getting healthier.

Forward them this article and tell them what your goal is in the subject headline. You should be able to rely on support from your community. Asking for help gives you the opportunity to reciprocate helping others, and that is the exact “good stuff” that keeps the world going ‘round.

So just pick one thing. Really it is that simple. I promise!

What is your ONE thing you would like to focus on right now? Now feel free to subscribe and join the conversation. It is fun and free.

We also have a forum that you can participate in, a book club, and conduct product reviews if you care to submit a question or topic of interest.

~Dr. Nicole Sundene
Naturopathic Physician

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  1. Molley, Evil Genius March 31, 2008 at 7:16 pm Reply

    Doc, how do you get the extra sleep if you have to study all the time?

  2. More great information Dr. Nicole! Do you mean that 4-5 hours of sleep a night isn’t enough?
    No wonder!
    Really good advice about picking one starting point instead of trying to do everything at once. Everyone should be able to start somewhere.
    Thanks Dr. Nicole!

  3. I need all three of those key things, but I think you have identified an important issue; getting support from those around you.
    Great article Doc!

  4. Molley- Can’t you just but pre-made research papers on line? I only charge $50 a paper!!! ;D I also make the best science fair projects! Ok, just kidding…So no time for sleep? What are the other options…Hmm… let’s think about that…sometimes not getting enough sleep is just an unfortunate part of our reality…which is where the diet, exercise, and tell everyone to be nice to you portion of things. Missing sleep was the most difficult thing for me in med-school and I often would cancel plans on the weekend to just sleep (ok ok family and friends I am officially busted and I AM SORRY but I was really really tired!)

    Now I would take a look at your daily schedule and wonder if there REALLY is no time for sleep or if you are doing what many busy adults do and staying up way past your bedtime because it is the only way to get in some “me time”. Many moms I talk to are guilty of staying up late watching tv and drinking wine because it is the only time they ever get for themselves, as understandable as that is it often creates a vicious cycle that feeds in to the next days crankiness and disasters that leads to the following night needing that much more wine and tv. If they go to bed a few nights a week when there kids do then usually it is enough to cope better.

    If you really are tired remember that a good nights sleep is one of the best things for a student because it is FREE and it is going to rejuvenate your body and fried mind. When that is not possible then you want to optimize your sleep as much as possible. Be sure that the few hours you get is solid. I make a lavender massage oil that is about once ounce of any oil (canola, olive, almond, jojoba, etc) with about 15 drops of lavender essential oil…rub the oil on your temples and in to your feet before bed (you can tell your husband that ‘Dr. Nicole says you have to massage my feet every night!’) you can also add a drop of lavender to your pillow. According to Chinese Medicine massaging the feet helps “pull the energy down from the head” when we are in school we are in our heads all day and it is tough to get out. Walking and cycling are also great for this. Keeping a journal by your bed to write out your random thoughts is always helpful.

    I know how tough it is to have to temporarily sacrifice your well being for the greater long term good of your life so just keep up the good work and know that this is all temporary. You can sleep for a month straight when you graduate! Until then just do the best you can in the other aspects of your lifestyle to nurture and care for yourself.

    And don’t forget that I am proud of you!

  5. Dr. Moon- Thank YOU for stopping by….some people do really well on 4-5 hours of sleep and studies show that not everyone has to have 8 hours. As much as I envy those short sleepers that is just not for me and not for most people, I would say most people that I interview are shortchanging themselves an hour or two each night. When we get tired we crave carbohydrates, so actually treating insomnia is an important part of weight loss programs.

  6. Justin- Well you always have my support! When people are making a lot of changes it can be hard on their family as they can be a bit miserable to be around while they are making adjustments. If they are already miserable to be around then the family might not notice so much. LOL

    Thanks for being my number one commenter! I am sending you the very first Kitchen Table Medicine T-shirt as soon as I get some made!

  7. practice not perfection, right doc…



  8. Senza- That is exactly right! LOL

  9. I’m still trying to decide if I’m one of those people that thrive best off of 5hrs a night, and taking a 30minute cat-nap if I get drowsy mid-day. There’s the start to my ONE thing…

    So if I need to sleep more, so be it.

    I’ll start next month on this experiment, after finals. =) I do need to exercise more, but w/ studies there’s just no way to get exercise in every day. I’m not one of those that can read as I’m on the treadmill =(

    I guess I’ll stick w/ my Karate 2-3 times a week.

    Love ya, Doc!

  10. Hey I read and blog on my bike trainer all the time! It can be done you know… ;D

    Let me know how your experiment works out. I am a big fan of protein and veggies for lunch as a preventative to avoid the afternoon slumpies. Of course a big cup of coffee always works too…er I mean green tea.

    • Doc, when you say “Protein” for lunch, what sort of thing do you mean? I want to avoid eating too much meat AND I’m lactose intolerant…

  11. I have always enjoyed your articles and believe exercise and eating right will be my new goals for summer. I want to look good for my trip to disneyland. One question, is meatloaf a healthy meal?

  12. Mclaughlin- Oh my gosh of course meatloaf is a healthy meal but that is only if your mama cooks it for you! The high fat content in red meat is what you need to watch out for as the arachidonic acid just creates inflammation, heart disease, hypercholsterolemia and an ugly parade of other good stuff…Lean red meat can be enjoyed once to twice a month. They high lycopene content found in ketchup or tomato paste is good for the prostate so meatloaf can possibly be made in to a healthy meal.

    Now with that said I will definitely be holding you to this eating right and exercising goal. You might want to be scared now…

    Keep reading me and you will be the best looking person in Disneyland most certainly!

  13. Justin- that is good you are trying to avoid eating too much meat, be sure to only eat the lean meats like turkey, chicken and fish. Other good sources of protein are beans paired with either corn or rice, soy, and nuts and seeds (preferably raw to preserve the delicate oils that are good for you…roasting turns them rancid) nuts and seeds should be paired with whole grains to have a complete protein. Check out the “Diabetes Diet” as it will teach you how to pair high fiber foods and protein with your meals so that you will not get that mid afternoon drop in blood sugar that results from a high carbohydrate lunch. You may also want to visit the vegetarian category because if you are eating less meat you want to make sure you are still getting all the nutrients in that you need. Hollah if you still need help dear!

  14. Hey, to McLaughlin, I love meatloaf, but wanted to find a healthier alternative. We now make ours with lean ground turkey. With all of the additions for flavor (garlic, ketchup, etc. we can’t even tell the difference.

    Dr. Sundene, I love what you are doing here. You’ve come a long way, lady! I will be using your site frequently.

  15. Hi Dr. Nicole,

    I’m achieving my goal for Tuesday by naming you my “New Blog Of the Week” (NBOTW). I’ve seen your comments on some of my favorite blogs, checked out your site and love what you write/share.

    My NBOTW is my way of paying it forward as I enter my second year of blogging. Each week I find a new blog and showcase it for a week. What you do with the “honor” is up to you…no strings attached…just my way of sharing a new blog/blogger with the community of readers/commenters who frequent my site.

    I will be introducing you in my post for Tuesday (4/8). If time permits, come on by and say hello to my readers.

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