What Real Health Means to Me – Mary Jo

Guest post by: Mary Jo Hunninghake

Real health is such an interesting term for a concept that has changed so much over the years and will continue to evolve for years to come. I have been involved in my own “Real Health” journey for over 50 years. Probably my first phase was growing up in a home where my mother was a great cook. She was a Home Economics major in college and taught foods and sewing classes at the high school level. I thought she was the best cook in the world. At that time, meals were very balanced and consisted of a protein (red meat, chicken, or fish), a carbohydrate (rice, pasta, or potatoes), and a vegetable. I made six lunches every night for my parents and siblings. I made a sandwich on white bread and put in potato chips, fruit, and cookies. Because my mom was the “expert”, I guess I would have concluded that this was “real health” with processed meats, lots of carbs, sugared cereals with cow’s milk, and lots of cookies.

During my college years and for about ten years after, I survived by eating whatever was available and whatever I could afford on a meager teacher’s salary. I didn’t give much thought to healthy eating, but tried to maintain some of the habits from my childhood. I was entering the times when low fat, low sugar, and eliminate carbs was coming across the horizon. We changed from white bread to lots of fiber, brown rice, whole wheat breads and pasta, and still lots of cow’s milk for the calcium that was supposedly great for our bones.

Probably the biggest change came when I met and fell in love with Dr. Ron. Boy, was he a different sort of guy. He was a vegetarian, ate a pretty healthy diet, meditated regularly, and almost looked too clean for me. That was truly the time when Real Health took a front seat in my life through what I would eventually learn from him and love about the good example he lived. I tried to clean up my cooking and provide healthy meals on a regular basis. As we started our family, I continued doing what I thought was right at the time. We did have some chips and cookies in the pantry, but not as much as most. (When my kids spent the night at a friend’s house, they made me very aware about how stocked their friends’ pantries were!) We weren’t perfect but we were still learning.

As Ron continued helping me with my health, I learned an interesting concept from him about how Real Health can be very deceiving. I might look healthy and feel relatively healthy, but have an underlying root cause for why I might be tired or not feeling as good as I could. This was when I started to delve deeper into where I really thought I might be and what I was willing to do to be healthier. Real Health was now a priority.

I would like to share some elements of wellness that are very important for me and that I have learned in my Real Health journey. Am I doing all of these steps to my satisfaction? Probably not. But, it doesn’t make them any less important as I continue to strive for better health for the remaining years of my life.

  1. Self-responsibility – No one can “make” you do anything. You have to choose it and take personal responsibility for your choices.
  2. Food choices – If we tried to follow every plan on the market these days (grass-fed, organic, lectin free, gluten free, lactose free, low or no carbs…etc), we would have little left to eat. Make good choices based upon what you think your body needs and what you think is best for you.
  3. Exercise – Keep moving with some form of enjoyable exercise.
  4. Stress management – This is a big one for me as I continue to shape the minds and hearts of 2nd
  5. Environmental sensitivity – I work on this constantly as each day I work in an old building. I have a special fan going constantly to pull dust out of the air. I have a salt lamp and a diffuser going daily to try and lessen the unclean air in my room.

If you ask me in 10 years what Real Health means to me, I would probably have a different answer. Be open to letting Real Health be the best it can be in your life and enjoy the journey and path toward feeling better and appreciating the highest quality of life possible.

Each month we have guest authors write a column for our Health Hunters newsletter with the prompt “What Real Health Means to Me”. We’ve been blown away by the content, and the variety of answers, that they have provided. We know that Real Health is very personal and health goals vary. We hope that you find their stories inspiring and will share with your friends and family as well!

All “What Real Health Means to Me” articles

If you’d like to write an article of your own, please email us at newseditor@riordanclinic.org.