By Dietitian Jill Place
I see them all the time in my nursing home. Some will … some won’t. The some that will are limping toward action.
If you’re wondering what the H— I’m talking about it’s these people who have either had a joint replacement or are recovering from a stroke. Some are out there trucking along on their walkers way after their physical therapy daily session.
I even saw one guy walking just yesterday with no aid (i.e. walker, cane, or wheelchair) whatsoever. I kindly quipped to his physical therapist, “What are YOU doing?”. He laughed and shrugged.
Some patients, however, walk three steps and fall back into the therapist’s arms … and into the safety of their wheelchairs. I have a special place in my heart for those that just won’t stop walking. Because I was one of them.
My Limping toward Action Story
Almost 11 years ago now I moved into a new house. Typical me … I thought if I just put one more box away I’d be good for the night.
I was TIRED from the move. And it was my first day back consulting. It was the first time I moved in 17 years, I wasn’t totally sure about the house choice and … a lot of stuff whirling in my brain …
I finished unpacking the box, stuffed the empty in the trash, and … to this day don’t know what happened! All I remember is crawling to the phone, calling my friend and yelling … “My foot is flopping … my foot is flopping … ”
A short time later, I was off to the hospital to get my shattered ankle operated on. And so began a very long year of limping toward action. Literally …
Because I couldn’t put my foot down for 13 weeks. And, when I did, it was a long road back to fully-function. Never totally got there … stairs are always a problem …
But the limp back was a revelation. I learned patience … had to … I fell on my ass one day hurrying with a hard cast on my leg. Never did that again … learned some humility along the way.
But all the time in action. I couldn’t stop … like the people in my nursing home that do 20 laps around it.
Always moving forward … from wheelchair … to walker … to cane. The cane is still there in my hat tree in the bedroom. So that I can always remember …
Your Mindset is MOST Important …
Obviously, your mindset can “make or break” your outcome. It does for the people in my nursing home. And it did for me.
And it does for the people in my private practice. I find it so important that I have five questions on my questionnaires for all my clients that tell me how ready they are to change their lives, diet, exercise, do mindfulness and take supplements.
That very important information not only helps me formulate a treatment plan for them … it tells me, in the words of psychologist Carol Dweck, whether my new client has a fixed or a growth mindset. She describes both in this way …
Fixed vs. Growth Mindset
For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value …
Believing that your qualities are carved in stone — the fixed mindset — creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over …
Every situation calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality, or character. Every situation is evaluated: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser? . . .
There’s another mindset in which … the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.
Although people may differ in every which way — in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments — everyone can change and grow through application and experience.
Do people with this mindset believe that … that anyone with proper motivation or education can become Einstein or Beethoven? No, but they believe that a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable); that it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training.
How this Translates to My Kind of Practice
The doctors at Vine Healthcare (both MDs AND Functional Medicine Practitioners) have translated these fixed and growth mindset ideas into a way to better look at health challenges. Not oddly, the doctors there also had health challenges similar to mine. I’ve highlighted sections I think are important.
- While patients with a fixed mindset avoid challenges, our patients with a growth mindset embrace challenges and are honest with themselves about the reality that they’re facing a health challenge, and are actively looking for solutions.
- Our patients with a fixed mindset give up easily, but our patients with a growth mindset choose to lean in when they hit a roadblock. They see the roadblock as a learning opportunity to rule something out, and choose to believe that they’re further along than when they started because they learned something that didn’t work. …
- Most patients who are unwilling to put in effort don’t make it to our practice. It’s worth acknowledging that any change requires effort – especially one as crucial as regaining health. Our patients with the growth mindset embrace effort and are willing to invest time and hard work into trying an alternate path.
- Our patients with a growth mindset don’t view themselves as victims of their illness but instead, choose to embrace this trial as a deeply character-building challenge and believe that they can change the course of their health trajectory. Of all the things on this list, this one can be the hardest …
What Mindset Do YOU Have?
I find that people who have a growth mindset and have embraced the idea of Functional Medicine (read my article, Dysfunction vs. Disease, if you don’t know what I’m talking about) have almost MIRACLE health outcomes.
There’s the story of Joe and Mary. Joe beat pulmonary fibrosis … a known death sentence … with both growth and Functional Medicine mindsets.
Then there’s Cora. She was easy … she grew up with parents who embraced Functional Medicine. And keeps coming back … we’ve just begun more treatments for her Hashimoto’s.
Cora leads a hugely busy life. And hates taking supplements. So we’re doing further testing and then I’ll design a plan for her.
And then there’s Mark. Mark lost 70 pounds. It took him eight years but he hung in! And came every week.
Mark has the growth mindset … as those at Vine Healthcare counseled … to invest time and hard work into finding a solution that worked just for him.
Yes, it took him a long time. But I gently guided him to discover weight loss tools he hadn’t thought of before.
Tools that are not only of a growth mindset but also embrace all three … body, mind AND soul. And Mark is an M.D. … a TERRIFIC M.D. who is much better off in every way for going through his journey …
How about you?