C. Mae Waugh
Aspiring Leadership Academy
Framingham Public Schools
Reflection to Love Your Body by Barry Taylor, N.D.
Barry Taylor is not a typical doctor. Instead, he provides naturopathic therapy through the ideology of loving one’s body. His ideology examines the dichotomy between health and healing and when he spoke to us on Monday afternoon, he taught that if we want those whom we lead to be healthy, we need to model health and healing ourselves.
He asked what would it look like if our students came into our classrooms well-nourished, rested and ready to learn? Is this an image we wish for? If so, we as leaders must then set examples for our students and staff. It is nonverbal cues that dominate the majority of human communication—so what does sipping a coffee in front of the class everyday say to them? Coffee for breakfast is okay.
This lesson made me think of a message I received from one of my students on one of those warm spring days a few years ago. She sent me me a picture of her prospective outfit that morning: short shorts and and a tank top. She wanted to know if it was appropriate for school. I responded by asking her if it would be okay if I came to school in that outfit? No way! was her response. Well, there’s your answer, I said. As an educator I’ve sought to model organization and professionalism and tranquility, but I hadn’t given much thought about what modeling a healthy lifestyle looks like.
It’s like the emergency procedure message on an airplane: in case of an emergency, secure your air source before helping those around you. How can we expect our students or staff to make healthy choices and have healthy habits if we, ourselves, do not?
His book, Love Your Body was a conversational text that taught through anecdotes and case studies. It gives an alternative to modern medicine, which is filled with antibiotics and reactive practice, instead of preventative practice. Dr. Taylor writes, “In conventional approaches to medicine, the “cure” is defined by whatever makes the symptoms go away.” (p.22) Instead of reacting to aliments by placating symptoms, we should build healthy lifestyles that nurture health and wellness.
Chapter 2, “Foundations for Health,” in particular, instilled a fear in me of dairy, meat, coffee, alcohol and white sugar. Dr. Taylor wrote extensively about “adrenal overload,” which is when blood sugar bottoms out due to frequent consumption of sugary products, habitual dieting, a family history of diabetes, allergies, more than five alcoholic drinks per week, significant distress over an extended period of time, or managed pain for an extended period of time, causing your adrenal system to compensate, since the adrenal system isn’t designed for constant use. I’ve experienced enough adrenaline-filled moments thus far in my lifetime, but I was unaware that when I was running on limited sleep or an unhealthy diet, I was using my adrenaline for survival. According to chapter 2, an optimum diet and holistic approach can alleviate pre-menstrual symptoms, headaches, depression, candida, asthma, eczema, ADD, allergies, lung function, psoriasis, chronic back pain, and arthritis.
In Love Your Body, Dr. Taylor focuses on the importance of nutrition throughout our lives. “As life’s circumstances change, so do the needs of our bodies” (p.29) From birth, to childhood to old age, nutrition demands vary wildly as we grow, according to Dr. Taylor. Children need different nutrients and proteins than do teens, than do adults, because our bodies are ever-evolving. As a former vegetarian, I am aware of what constitutes a healthy lifestyle, rich in fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. But I was completely unaware of how our bodys’ needs evolve as we age.
Optimal health lies in balancing our lives, according to Dr. Taylor. In Love Your Body he writes, “The way we relate to our job responsibilities and our pursuit of money, our parenting, our obligations to school and grades, the seemingly endless ‘to-do’ lists—these become so dominant in our lives that we often feel deeply out of balance, or we might be so entrenched in coping strategies that we don’t even see how out of balance we are” (p. 78). Sometimes I get caught up in the Western idea that my character is measured by my successes. However, according to Dr. Taylor, “Healing reminds us that we are human beings, not human doers.” (p.79).
In his presentation and in the book, Dr. Taylor recounts a story of a hiker who falls off a cliff. The hiker calls out for help and God responds, but doesn’t give him the response he seeks. God tells the hiker to let go, which is terrifying, but only because the hiker doesn’t know there is a ledge right below him. The lesson is “Sometimes we need to let go before we can see our way” (p. 105). In order to find a more healthy life, we must let go of the gluttony in which we are currently consumed. In Love Your Body Dr. Taylor quotes Lao Tzu, “Only when we are sick of the sickness/Shall we cease to be sick” (p. 77).