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Is stable chronic illness the same as health?

After 40 years of being in healthcare, I have come to realize that far too many people are complacent about their health. They tend to “dumb down” the standard, chalking up their current health state to “the aging process” or comparing themselves to the average person their age and figuring they are “doing OK” (relatively).

We have a healthcare system that is good at prolonging life by stabilizing chronic illness and rescuing people in acute crisis. From this perspective “good healthcare” could include Chantix to quit smoking, lisinopril for your high blood pressure, atorvastatin for your cholesterol, metformin for your elevated blood sugar, and omeprazole for the heartburn (which is caused by all the other drugs you are taking). This combination is not uncommon, especially in men. For women, it is more often levothyroxine for hypothyroidism, bupropion for depression, lorazepam for anxiety, tizanidine for sleep, and pantoprazole for the heartburn (again, caused by the rest of the medications).

You would be surprised to learn how many people who are on these or similar drug regimens will profess to “being healthy.” I don’t think they are lying, rather their perception of health has been influenced by a medical system which is highly adept at “a pill for every ill” and proclaiming them “healthy” because each of their “ills” has been addressed, and they are now stable within their chronic illness.

If this at all resembles you, what are you to do?

The first thing you need to do is improve your mindset and redefine health. If you had vibrant health, what would you be like? What would you weigh? What would you eat if you were that weight? What would your self-respect be like? What would your sleep be like? Who would you hang out with? What would you do with your leisure time? Would you keep the same job you have now?

In short, if you were that healthy person, what would your behavior be? Start being that person, one step at a time. Sometimes the steps are small and sometimes they’re big. Sometimes you even take a step or two backwards. Don’t give up. Just start being that person, little by little.

When it comes to diet, you simply cannot eat what everyone else is eating. If you consider that over two-thirds of the population is overweight or obese it makes total sense! If you don’t want to be in that predicament, you have to eat differently. Start with eating real food at least some of the time and increase at whatever rate works for you while you simultaneously decrease the “junk” you eat. When you do eat “junk,” do it consciously and view it as an exception. Don’t beat yourself up. Then get back to being who you want to be.

You need to move your body too! It is designed for movement, not laying around. If you struggle with this, just take a small step, such as getting yourself some quality walking shoes. Begin by making a deal with yourself that you will put those shoes on every day. That’s it, just put them on. If you feel like walking, then walk. If you don’t, then don’t. Just put the shoes on every day. Eventually you will be walking because it is the first action that is the hardest.

Additionally, you need to allow your body to recover. Sleep does that! Both your body and mind are rejuvenated by sleep. Deep sleep heals your body and REM sleep heals your mind. Good sleep begins with good sleep hygiene. Simply searching the internet on sleep hygiene is a great place to start. And again, start with simple steps.

Once you get going, let your doctor know that you intend to become heathy and ask which is the first of your medication you can eliminate. Usually this will involve a weaning process your doctor should guide you on.

Keep moving forward with the steps that work for you. After a time, you will realize you are now someone who is conscious of their behavior. You’ve developed habits that are healthy. When those habits become part of you, you become the healthier person you set out to be. It all starts with conscious intention.


Michael Buyze, L.Ac. is a healthcare entrepreneur and visionary who has over 40 years of healthcare experience with expertise in acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, functional medicine, clinical exercise physiology, and nutrition. He owns and operates East Wind Healthcare, an acupuncture and wellness clinic with a 24-year history of helping people in the Fox Valley with offices in Appleton, Oshkosh, and Fond du Lac. He holds Master of Science Degrees in Chinese Medicine, Business Administration, and Exercise Physiology. He and his team offer acupuncture as well as wellness programming for acute and chronic pain, fertility, autoimmune, and many other chronic disease states. Acupuncture consultations and wellness consultations are available by appointment. Contact information: East Wind Healthcare, 3000 N. Ballard Road Unit#3, Appleton, WI 54911; 404 N. Main St. Suite 201, Oshkosh, WI 54901; 180 Knights Way, Fond du Lac, WI 54935 (inside Forum Health); Tel: 920-997-0511; Website:

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