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Step 1

THE Triad of Life™

Step 1: "T" Take The Assessment



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Hello, I'm Dr. Michelle Kmiec Founder of Online Holistic Health and The Triad of Life’s™ Holistic Lifestyle Program. First off, I would like to congratulate you on taking this first step toward achieving optimal health!  This program was designed to show you how living a more holistic lifestyle can help you to discover the true meaning of health and realize a greater sense of well-being. Throughout the program we are going to explore the three major components of health and the importance of maintaining balance in all three areas so that you will not only feel healthy, but more importantly feel alive!

There was a time not that long ago that I didn't know the difference between “simply living life” and feeling alive, but the distinction became clear to me when my health became compromised and I was forced to make some serious personal decisions and life changes.  Fifteen years ago I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and this just stopped me in my tracks.  Additionally, leading up to this diagnosis I had been experiencing paralyzing anxiety. As you can imagine, I was more frightened than I had ever been and I did not know what to do.

However the one thing I did know was that I was not going to be a slave to pharmaceuticals.

Had I chosen to go down the road of traditional medicine, my prognosis was not good.  Sadly, it was a path filled with darkness and one that offered little to no hope.  This was unacceptable to me and thus began my quest for a holistic means of healing.

I was determined not to allow this diagnosis to rule my life.  I knew there had to be an underlying reason why my health was deteriorating and I had to get to the bottom of it, and quickly! So I decided to change everything in my life - after all what did I have to lose?

But then the bigger question arose...Where do I begin?

Well, it seemed to me that in order to regain my health I would need to start by reflecting and taking inventory of how I was living my life.  It seemed logical that by doing so I might be able to  determine how and why I landed at this compromised state of health. And this is exactly where you will begin when you engage in Step 4, your first action step.

What I quickly discovered was that I had been living in a constant state of stress. In fact, I had been living with stress for so long that I had actually adapted to it, as though this was a normal way of living. This of course is far from feeling alive!

Stress on it’s own is not necessarily a bad thing. For example, the “stress” of taking an exam, competing in a sporting event, making a presentation at work or performing in a recital can actually help improve focus, clarity, strength, and endurance.  These types of stressful situations are usually temporary ones. However, what I am talking about is Chronic Stress.

Chronic stress leads to Inflammation which is present in all major disease conditions including:

  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Autoimmune
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes (Type 1 and 2)

Inflammation is also present in other conditions such as:

  • Insomnia
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (constipation or diarrhea)
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Skin Issues (Rash, Redness, etc.)
  • Arthritis
  • Muscle stiffness and Joint Pain
  • Chronic Allergies (Especially allergies that get worse every year)

Chronic Stress = Chronic Inflammation

Chronic stress is one of the leading health problems that plague modern society, and the result of chronic stress is inflammation. There are two things that both medical practitioners and holistic practitioners agree on:

  1. Chronic stress and chronic inflammation are two major contributors to any illness or disease, and in today’s fast-paced society, it truly isn’t a big surprise that the two are closely related.

  2. Chronic stress is the result of an imbalance of 1 or more of the following 3 components of health vital to overall well-being: physical, nutritional and emotional.  If any of these areas are chronically stressed, then chronic inflammation becomes unavoidable, eventually resulting in disease.

Thus learning how to reduce inflammation in the body is a primary factor in the prevention of disease, and is vital to reversing a disease condition once it is present.

The Holistic Lifestyle Program is based on the concepts of The Triad of Life™.  But what exactly is The Triad of Life™?

The Triad of Life™ is essentially an equilateral triangle symbolic of balance as it relates to health and well-being. Each side of the triangle represents one of the main components of health.

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  • Physical (Structural)
  • Nutritional (Chemical)
  • Emotional (Mental)

Let’s briefly discuss each component.

Physical (Tangible)

Many people lack the benefit of a well-rounded physical fitness regime, which includes aerobic exercise along with strengthening and stretching activities. Often this leads to chronic stress in the body and when this occurs the result is chronic pain syndromes, fatigue, mood swings, sleep disorders and the eventual belief that all of these symptoms, along with a decrease in flexibility, strength and endurance, are the results of aging. However, in reality many physical/structural issues are simply the result of imbalances within the muscles caused by overuse, injury, improper usage and overexertion, all of which can result in inflammation, and inflammation equals pain, which not only affects balance on the Physical side of the Triad, but can also disturb balance on the Nutritional and Emotional sides.

Though this side can be difficult to get into balance, it is also the easiest to understand. Examples that directly result in an imbalance on this side of the Triad are:

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Lack of exercise
  • Lack of well-rounded exercise (meaning only partaking in anabolic exercise (weight lifting) and not any aerobic exercise, or vice versa)
  • Muscle distress due to lack of stretching, resulting in muscle pain, and eventually joint pain leading to arthritis.
  • Injury (from falls, accidents, etc.)
  • Injury from overuse and/or repetition

Nutritional (Tangible)

Proper nutrition is an important part of a healthy lifestyle but sadly, because of our fast-paced daily routines, the convenience of processed and fast foods has become a staple in the Standard American Diet. Now, occasionally eating processed and fast foods should not be a cause for major concern if all three components of your Triad are in balance. Problems arise when these foods are consumed on a nearly daily basis, because most processed and fast foods contain artificial food dyes and other harmful chemicals that are known to cause harm to your health.  Did you know that many of these artificial food dyes are banned in other countries due to the concern of ill health effects?  

There is also the issue of agricultural pesticide contamination, and this is particularly so in specific fruits and vegetables such as berries and lettuces. As the pesticide residue slowly accumulates in your body day by day, it can eventually cause, and does cause, adverse health effects such as mood swings, hyperactivity, allergies and even cancer.  

Another concern is the excessive amount of sugars and artificial sweeteners that are present in many foods today.  When you consume these foods on a daily basis they can cause severe gastrointestinal issues, which is apparent by all of the anti-diarrhea, anti-constipation and anti-heartburn medications that are available at any supermarket or drugstore.  If you experience any of these symptoms, especially chronically, this is a red flag that your body is nutritionally stressed and in a state of chronic inflammation. Balance of the nutritional component of your Triad has now been affected, and because all three of the components are related, this imbalance will likely impact your emotional component as well as contribute to pain that may limit you on the physical side.

Balancing the Nutritional Component can be a bit trickier than balancing the Physical Component; especially since countless concepts of “healthy nutrition” can be found on the internet. The hardest concept (more like an obstacle) comes directly from the medical profession and its “standards” of nutrition via the famous RDI (Recommended Daily Index) – formerly known as the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance).

Examples that directly result in an imbalance on this side of the Triad are:

  • Fast Food/Processed food
  • Smoking
  • Excess consumption of alcohol
  • Pharmaceuticals (prescription and OTC)
  • Recreational drugs
  • Excess sugar consumption; especially artificial sugar
  • Extreme diets
  • Over exercise (great example of one that can be present on at least 2 sides of the Triad)

Emotional (Intangible)

Now, the reason we categorize this component as “intangible” is that unlike the Physical and Nutritional components where you can either perform a specific exercise or eat a specific food, both of which are tangible actions, the emotional side revolves around intangible actions such as thinking, feeling and your overall belief system.  For this reason the Emotional component is hands down the easiest to recognize, but most difficult to change.

This is the side of the Triad that directly relates to how we think and process information, and the emotions that are brought about by our perceptions. (This is why the placebo effect can CURE disease, and why the nocebo effect can CAUSE disease).

The emotional side of the Triad actually determines whether a person can reverse a disease state or not.

This is important because it means that we have the ability to induce inflammation within our own bodies if we are unable to effectively manage stress. More importantly, inflammation can be brought on by our own thoughts, and the emotions that we attach to them.

Examples that directly result in an imbalance on this side of the Triad are:

Minor chronic negative thought patterns

  • Grief (loss of a loved one)
  • End of a relationship (partners, friends, family)
  • Start of a new career (only if self-doubt and fear dominate)
  • Worry and fear (non-paralyzing)

Major chronic negative thought patterns:

  • Any of the above conditions if you can’t “let go” and move forward in life
  • Negative attitude towards life (giving up)
  • Paralyzing self-doubt (fear of changing anything in your life)
  • Self-hatred (lack of self-acceptance)
  • Worry and fear that paralyzes you

And then there are those times when we are faced with a dangerous situation and count on our stress response (better known as the Fight or Flight Response) to take over and give us our best chance of survival. In these situations, our body releases three important chemicals:  

  • Adrenaline (also known as epinephrine or “the fight or flight” hormone)
  • Norepinephrine
  • Cortisol

These chemicals (hormones) are produced by the adrenal glands and are released the instant your brain gets the Stress Alarm – DANGER!

Physical signs:

  • Pounding Heartbeat
  • Faster Breathing
  • Sweating
  • Tense Muscles
  • Increased Blood Pressure
  • Surge of Energy!

And because the “fight or flight” response is vital for survival, other important components of health are temporarily halted until you are physically safe, or “feel” safe:

  • Immunity
  • Digestion
  • Reproductive/sexual desire
  • Cell growth

So it is easy to see that if you maintain this state of fight or flight, the continuous release of these hormones would have detrimental effects on your health.

Imbalance of The Triad of Life™

Here is what a possible imbalance of the Triad could look like...

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In the example above, you can see how chronic emotional stress can result in physical stress. The Triad is now distorted with long extended physical and emotional lines bringing the equilateral triangle out of balance. The long extended lines indicate distress, lack of balance (or a distortion), inflammation, and/or eventual disease.

Visually, you can see that if 1 or 2 lines are extended, then the remaining one must now be shortened. A shortened line indicates depletion; in this case of nutrition.

One example of the above scenario could look something like this:

A sedentary job (working in an office, computer work, etc.) and lack of exercise can lead to physical stress (and inflammation) in the form of:

  • Bad posture
  • Low back pain
  • Shoulder tension/pain
  • Headaches*

This can then result in chronic pain and fatigue that starts a chain reaction leading to nutritional stress (internal chemical depletion):

  • Insomnia
  • Pain Syndromes
  • Headaches*

Resulting eventually in emotional stress:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • ADHD
  • Headaches*

*Notice that a Headache is a symptom that can be caused by an imbalance on any of the three sides of the Triad.

If this unhealthy cycle is not interrupted and corrected, then each side of the triangle will continue to grow in a distorted manner moving farther away from balance until it no longer resembles an equilateral triangle.

Special Situations:

It is important to note that there are certain situations in which you could have an equilateral triangle but still be out of balance. The following illustrates this type of false impression:

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Using the 2 extremes as an example, you can see that if you are maintaining good physical, nutritional, and emotional health, you are in balance, as illustrated by the small green equilateral triangle on the left.

However, it is also possible that you could have unhealthy practices in all three areas and STILL have an equilateral triangle, as illustrated by the large red triangle on the right. This is actually the most extreme expression of imbalance.

So to achieve optimal TOTAL health, the only true depiction would be that of the small green equilateral triangle. Another way of looking at this would be - the smaller the equilateral triangle, the fewer health issues.  

Another interesting scenario is when you are doing everything right physically (aerobics, lifting weights, stretching, etc.) and doing everything right emotionally (thinking positive, practicing meditation, keeping a journal, etc.), BUT you are doing everything wrong nutritionally (habitually eating fast and/or processed foods, consuming too much sugar, overindulging in alcoholic beverages, etc.).

Your body can handle poor nutritional choices for a day or two as long as you quickly return to the healthier habits necessary for nutritional balance.

If the poor choices are ongoing, dramatic change will occur, as illustrated in the image below which depicts no triangle at all.

Total balance cannot be achieved when one side is out of balance.

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The chemical changes that occur within your body from poor nutrition will soon affect other areas of your health such as mood, energy levels, immune system, and cardiovascular system.

This will then automatically lead the other two previously balanced sides to states of imbalance.

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So now that you understand the concept of The Triad of Life™ are you ready to take your Assessment?  Remember, it is vital that you answer the questions thoughtfully and honestly so that you can get the most accurate representation of your current Triad.

At the bottom of each step page you will find a button, as displayed below, to click once you have completed the step.

It is important to do this because it will unlock the next Step and will mark the beginning of the time requirement for Steps 4 - 14.  This will be discussed in greater detail in Step 3.

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You can begin by clicking the button below to take the assessment, and when you have finished, I will meet you at Step Two.