Sunday, September 24, 2023

How to Go From ‘Wellness to Wonderful,’ According to the ‘Forks Over Knives’ MDs


From connecting with the natural world to establishing better relationships, here are the secrets to living a healthy, long life from the expert doctors behind the seminal 2011 film, Forks Over Knives.

Investing in your health shouldn’t be expensive. But for many, being healthy often comes at a steep price.

In the U.S., the average person spends over $12,500 annually on health insurance — more than anywhere else in the world. Here’s another stark fact: medical debt in America amounts to upwards of $195 billion.

Put simply: many are struggling to attain optimal wellness. But they don’t have to.

woman running through field
Here’s how to go from wellness to wonderful. | Photo by Vladislav Murashko via Pexels

That’s the overall message found in a new book called Wellness to Wonderful: 9 Pillars for Living Healthier, Longer, and with Greater Joy. Written by New York Times bestselling authors Alona Pulde, MD and Matthew Lederman, MD., the book aims to take readers on “the path from illness to wellness, all the way to wonderful.”

“With so many of us living in survival mode, life becomes less of an experience and more of a job,”  Dr. Pulde tells Ethos. “We are occupied with what we need to get done, and how we can be more productive and efficient. We are so busy ‘doing’ that we cannot spend time ‘being’ or feeling.”

“Balance, happiness, and joy take a back seat to keeping our jobs, paying the rent, and having enough food,” she continues. “But what if our ultimate currency was joy, resulting from a wonderful life?”

From illness to wellness

America’s healthcare system is broken. Aside from the costs, it is complicated to navigate, especially for the elderly, and conventional medicine largely falls short in treating complex health issues at the root as doctors are often taught to treat the symptoms, not the cause.

Here’s one example: eating junk food on a regular basis can result in myriad chronic diseases like obesity, GI issues, and diabetes. In lieu of prescribing a healthier diet, doctors may write prescriptions for medications to help mediate the symptoms. 

“In a world where so many people are sick or suffering, normal is not optimized and nowhere near wonderful.”

“Wellness has to some degree become synonymous with baseline or within normal limits. However, in a world where so many people are sick or suffering, normal is not optimized and nowhere near wonderful,” explains Dr. Pulde. “In fact, normal often means managed through pills or procedures. While these are sometimes necessary, often there are other options.” 

According to the authors, who are the renowned physicians behind the groundbreaking film Forks Over Knives, healthcare providers also fail to take into account other important factors that are vital for good health: authentic connection with family, friends, colleagues, spirit, and the natural world.

The path to wonderful

Instead, the authors take a more holistic approach to wellness. They outline simple ways to accomplish healthy longevity, from optimizing sleep and improving relationships to proper nutrition and preventing — and possibly reversing — chronic diseases and other illnesses.

“Can life truly be wonderful? We believe it can and define optimal health as living in a state of ‘Life is Wonderful,’” Dr. Pulde says. “Not that life is always happy or things are always good but that we are authentically connected to our life experience and have the skills to enrich and enhance that experience even in challenging times.” 

The book also discusses the health benefits of reconnecting with spirituality and the natural world. In relation to the former, studies show a strong correlation between religious beliefs and higher levels of psychological well-being. In particular, higher levels of spirituality were linked with personal growth, strong feelings of purpose in life, better relationships with others, and self-acceptance.

Connecting with nature can also boost overall well-being. Research shows that people who are more connected to the natural world see positive mental health benefits, including feeling happier and less stressed.

The nine pillars of healthy longevity

In addition to their new book, Florida-based Drs. Pulde and Lederman are celebrating the launch of WeHeal. The virtual healthcare model is built on the book’s nine fundamental pillars of health: self, nutrition, activity, play, sleep, family and friends, work, spirituality, and the natural world.

“The conventional healthcare system is really focused on taking someone that’s hurting and getting them back to their baseline, even if that’s mediocre,” Dr. Lederman said in a press release. “Our goal is to get you to ‘Life is Wonderful.’”

The WeHeal platform features leading physicians and educators trained in a variety of modalities, including mind-body medicine, Eastern medicine, and trauma-informed care, among others.

Offering affordable services (visits start as low as $149) it provides virtual one-on-one physician consultations and health and wellness mentoring, in addition to support groups and other classes. (Weekly support group sessions run for $99 a month.)

woman on a ledge overlooking the scenery
The book discusses the health benefits of reconnecting with the natural world. | Photo by Taryn Elliott via Pexels

Wellness to Wonderful offers an alternate path that when practiced can take you beyond a normal baseline of wellness and all the way to a state of wonderful,” says Dr. Pulde. “It is in this state that you learn to take yourself from overweight to trim, lethargic to energetic, discouraged to hopeful, and isolated to joyfully in connection.” 

Overall, when it comes to achieving overall wellness — and feeling wonderful — Dr. Pulde says the remedy lies in the individual. 

“You are your silver bullet. You have the capacity to create the life you desire and that life can indeed be wonderful,” she explains. “The question is, what does that look like? Do you want to live your life piecing together bullet points? Or invest in an experience that is rich in health and joy?” 

To learn more about the authors’ pillars for healthy longevity, visit the website. Or purchase their book, “Wellness to Wonderful,” online.

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