The Iceberg Model of Wellness

(Credits: John Travis)

“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ~ Albert Einstein

Icebergs reveal only about one-tenth of their mass above the water. The remaining nine-tenths remains submerged. This is why they are such a nightmare in navigation, and why they make such an appropriate metaphor in considering your state of Wellness.

Your current state of health, be it one of disease or vitality, is just like the tip of the iceberg. This is the apparent part – what shows. If you do not like it, you can attempt to change it, do things to it, and chisel away at an unwanted condition. But, whenever you knock some off, more of the same comes up to take its place.

To understand all that creates and supports your current state of health, you have to look underwater. The first level you encounter is the lifestyle/behavioral level – what you eat, how you use and exercise your body, how you relax and let go of stress, and how you safeguard yourself from the hazards around you.

Many of us follow lifestyles that we know are destructive, both to our own wellbeing and to that of our planet. Yet, we may feel powerless to change them. To understand why, we must look still deeper, to the cultural/psychological/motivational level. Here we find what moves us to lead the lifestyle we have chosen. We learn how powerfully our cultural norms influence us, sometimes in insidious ways – like convincing us that excessive thinness is attractive. We can learn, for example, what “payoffs” we get from being overweight, smoking, driving recklessly – or from eating well, being considerate of others, and getting regular exercise. We can become conscious of any psychological payoffs based on dysfunctional childhood experiences – like stuffing away our feelings as a way to gain approval from Mom and Dad.

This booklet is a journey of self-discovery and ultimately, better health. It is not enough for us to wait until we are sick to get healthy or until we have a symptom to go to the doctor. We were not born with a little instruction book that told us how much should we eat or what kind of food, vitamins and exercise would suit the body best.

Few of us know how to optimize this beautiful creation – our bodies. The information in this booklet is all about helping people thrive. It is about creating an environment in which you can feel fully healthy, fully engaged, fully alive and not have to deal with chronic symptoms that so many of us think are inevitable parts of aging.

We are living in very exciting time in medicine, a time of transformation. We are now beginning to understand how the body works and how to use that information not only to treat illness, but to help people improve their health. We need to understand the five basic forces of illness which are malnutrition, inflammation, impaired metabolism, impaired detoxification and oxidative stress. For any physical condition, the chronic ones in particular, the above five forces are the root of the problem.