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The silver bullet: Taking ownership of your health

The silver bullet: Taking ownership of your health

Dr Greta Prozesky

Even after 15 years as a general medical practitioner, it still amazes me that people seem so ready to give up “ownership” of their health.

Patients are all too ready to believe and do whatever their doctor says, without question. Or, alternatively these days, they are too ready to demand that their doctor prescribe a pill and to believe that is all that is needed make them feel well.

I have practiced medicine in several different countries, and this attitude seems to be very widespread and getting worse, rather than improving.

My recipe for health is to breathe, smile, quieten your mind and move your body, and this is where yoga comes in.

Rather than sitting in a doctor’s surgery, waiting to be fixed up, health is about living your life day-to-day in a way that promotes health.

Easier said than done, of course.

Five years ago I saw a photograph of myself and I was shocked. I looked dreadful. I didn’t feel well or have the energy to do the things I had to do. I’d been married a few years prior and everyone kept asking if I was pregnant. I wasn’t!

That photo helped me make a change.

What we eat, what we do, what we think and how we think: all of these things have an impact on our health.

The hardest thing is changing

Time and again, I have seen patients take ownership and make lifestyle changes with dramatic results. Starting to exercise and changing the way they eat has transformed them physically and mentally, even having an impact on chronic illness such as diabetes, depression and cancer.

 As I began to practice yoga and to change the way I ate, I saw the impact on my own life.

 There are four things that help us to take ownership of our health:

·           Making the decision to change.

·           Taking the first step.

·          Getting support from others.

·          Discovering what motivates you to stick at it.

Seeing that photo was the moment that I made a decision to change. And the first step I took was to start yoga classes.

If you decide to change and ask for support, you’ll be surprised at how ready people are to help (after all, it’s so much easier to give advice than to change yourself!)

For me, seeing the gradual return of my shape, and feeling my energy and well-being return were enough of a motivation. But for others, motivations might be different. For example, if you want to give up smoking, perhaps booking a holiday based on the money you have saved might be a greater motivator for you.

 Going the wrong way

We live in a society where people like to blame, and to find external reasons for why things have gone wrong. Most people are not ready to take back ownership of their health and happiness.

But in my experience, health is a collaborative thing, especially in chronic disease.

I am a living example, but I was lucky: I was introduced to yoga by my mother, who has been practising yoga for most of her life. She also became a yoga teacher later in her life. She set a great example for me to follow.

I’ve always preferred to focus on wellness rather than illness, and my own experience has shaped the way I practice.

I’ve had to learn over the years, that I cannot heal the world. I can be an assistant or a catalyst and give advice, but in the end it is up to each of us as an individual to make the changes that make us well.


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