Primum Non Nocere is Latin for “First do no harm.” All health professionals learn this edict early in their educational process, as it is a driving principle of healthcare worldwide.
I have embraced this imperative ethical principle throughout my career, and my foremost piece of advice to people everywhere is that it’s a motto everyone should adopt. Both health and fitness are requirements for optimal human performance.
Unfortunately, rates of poor health and impaired fitness continue to rise worldwide. Most remedies for various ailments—whether they be food, drugs and dietary supplements, fitness programs or other therapies—only address symptoms, while ignoring the root cause of the problem. Examples include fad diets that continue to contribute to the overfat epidemic, workout plans that increase injury while reducing health, and over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements that don’t treat the cause and can produce side-effects. Oddly, people continue to believe in these remedies and diets despite clear evidence to the contrary.
Few are spared, including young people, fitness enthusiasts and even professional athletes. The “fit but unhealthy” paradox is seen in those who are powerful enough to perform great athletic feats, but are nevertheless plagued with injury, illness, disease and sometimes even death.
The hallmark of our society and healthcare system is to treat symptoms instead of treating the cause of these problems (or preventing them in the first place). This approach to healthcare is obviously not working.
What is the MAF Method
Our answer to this problem is user-managed health and fitness: each of us takes personal charge to play a more active and precise role in wellness. I invite you to join this process through The MAF Method. It’s a simple concept. First we self-evaluate through an assessment process using surveys to help determine the direction of the second component, lifestyle. Answering key questions can help guide the changes that are most valuable for our individual needs. As a result, we can also learn which supplements, treatments and other additional healthcare components may benefit us.
The MAF Method is a suite of tools and remedies, the culmination of extensive clinical experience, art and science, and feedback from individuals about their experiences. In essence, user-managed health and fitness helps us win the lifestyle game.
The method centers on finding the causes of injury, reduced human performance, illness and increased disease risk, and addressing them directly to substantially improve our health and fitness. In most cases, the primary problems (various physical, biochemical and mental-emotional imbalances) that cause secondary symptoms, are easiest to remedy when better understood and exposed.
Finding a compatible health professional to assist us in this endeavor can also be valuable. In fact, many practitioners use these same tools to gather important information from their clients and patients.
The MAF Method offers a simple, holistic approach to wellness through a better understanding of lifestyle and how it affects our bodies. It’s a way to get back to our natural instincts and intuition humans have always had but too often lose by blindly following diets, off-the-shelf exercise plans or other cookbook, one-size-fits-all approaches.
After almost 40 years of helping individuals of all ages and abilities, and persons with the widest possible array of illnesses and spectrum of personal goals, I’ve yet to find a single best diet or exercise plan that works for everyone. None exists, despite the hype of new books and plans coming out weekly (all of which claim to have found the answer). Instead, the MAF Method offers a way for individuals to address their particular health and fitness needs by balancing food, nutrition, exercise, stress and other lifestyle issues.
Of vital importance to optimal health and fitness is a great aerobic system. With the help of natural, healthy foods and balanced workouts, maximum aerobic function—MAF—helps the body burn more fat and control weight, increase energy and regulate stress, improve physical and mental performance, and eliminate the unhealthy signs and symptoms of an impaired quality of life.
Where to Start
The MAF Method uses primary assessments as the first step in evaluating the body to help prioritize the lifestyle changes that will have the greatest impact. While health practitioners assess with laboratory tests, physical examinations, history taking and other evaluations, questionnaires continue to be among the most important tool. It is also natural for humans to self-assess.
A proper assessment helps bring more accurate actionable steps and faster responses that lead to improved health and fitness. To a large extent, this is accomplished through lifestyle modifications associated with food, exercise, stress and other factors. With a better understanding of the body’s needs, making these primary changes help address the causes, versus secondary changes that include one-size-fits-all diets or other remedies that merely treat symptoms.
The MAF Method’s user-managed health and fitness approach relies on surveys and self-tests, which can provide vital information directing users to make relatively simple lifestyle changes specific to their particular needs. Surveys are in the form of questionnaires, while self-testing includes such approaches as dietary evaluation and exercise heart rate monitoring.
Applying the Method
The MAF Method is simple yet vast because that’s the nature of the human condition. It’s simple because we all must meet the very similar basic benchmarks to be healthy and fit—such as great aerobic function, and natural foods. It’s vast due to all the possible physical, biochemical and mental-emotional factors that influence us, (and because we are all different). Each of us begins the journey to better health and fitness with the first step and from a different point.
The MAF Method addresses three primary lifestyle factors in detail that can most significantly impact health and fitness:
Diet and nutrition
Movement and exercise
Stress and aging
Imbalances in these three areas often result in various signs and symptoms that, at the same time, are clues to the causes of poor health and fitness. For example, too much or too little of certain foods, physical activity or stressors can impair various systems of the body.
It should be noted that the use of tobacco and excess alcohol intake can obviously impair health significantly. One way of tackling these problems is to come back to them after addressing the items below, when your body will be more capable of making the necessary changes.
Users begin with 8 key surveys. These are associated with carbohydrate metabolism, inflammation, the nutrients vitamin D and folate, the aerobic system, stress regulation, the brain, and aging. Answers to the questions lead to a calculation of higher or lower risks, with users guided to take important lifestyle actions to reduce or eliminate these risks. (The term risk refers to signs or symptoms that may increase or decrease the likelihood of a person developing a particular problem, e.g., cigarette smoking is associated with a higher risk for chronic disease.)
The 8 surveys are introduced below, and at the end you are given the option to START with the first survey. In addition to the risk assessment, each step includes links to articles that help direct and support your journey towards optimal health and fitness. You manage the process, and can come back here at any time to take a different route or explore new topics.
Step 1. Regulate Carbohydrate Metabolism:
The consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugar (junk food) is a common primary cause of poor health and fitness. It can lead to carbohydrate intolerance (CI), which significantly affects health and fitness. Early stages of CI are associated with increased intestinal bloating and gas, sleepiness after meals, physical and mental fatigue, and increased body fat. It can ultimately lead to conditions such as high blood triglycerides, hypertension, insulin resistance, and obesity, and even diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. To begin, take the CI survey by clicking the button below. Your survey answers for this and subsequent steps will determine which articles are most useful for you. You can skip ahead and read more about CI here.
Step 2. Control Inflammation:
Acute inflammation is the body’s normal response to recovery and repair after daily wear-and-tear. Chronic inflammation develops when the body is unable to produce sufficient anti-inflammatory chemicals, often due to a lack of healthy fats or the presence of refined carbohydrates. Chronic inflammation is often the first stage of injuries and pain. Click the button below to take the Inflammation survey. You can also skip ahead and read about chronic inflammation here.
Step 3. Balance Vitamin D:
Inadequate levels of vitamin D has become a serious problem in today’s world. This nutrient, vital for a wide range of health and fitness functions, is best obtained through regular exposure to natural sunshine (while avoiding sunburn). Many people don’t obtain enough sun exposure to maintain healthy vitamin D levels and may need to a dietary supplement. Take the Vitamin D survey by clicking the button below. You can skip ahead and read more about Vitamin D here.
Step 4. Balance Folate:
A key vitamin called folate helps regenerate cells and regulate a multitude of health and physical fitness factors, including disease prevention. Folate is naturally available in many foods, including certain vegetables and meats. It’s unhealthy cousin, folic acid, is a synthetic version found in most dietary supplements and fortified processed foods, and is shown to have serious potential side-effects. Click the button below to begin by taking the Folate Deficiency survey. You can read more about folate here.
Step 5. Build the Aerobic System:
Maximum aerobic function, MAF, is a key foundation of optimal health and fitness. Improved fat burning is associated with higher levels of physical and mental vigor, injury prevention, increased energy, better endurance and optimal human performance. Those less able to burn sufficient fat must rely more on sugar, and tend to be less healthy with problems such as low energy, increased body fat and weight, less endurance and reduced fitness. Survey 5: Overtraining, as well as the MAF Test, are both subcomponents of this step. Start the step by using the 180-Formula to find your MAF exercise heart rate, which is used to maximally develop the aerobic system. Click the button below to continue:
Step 6. Manage Stress:
Much more than an emotional condition, stress has physical and biochemical manifestations that are just as destructive, if not worse. Physical stress can come from excess sitting, wearing ill-fitting shoes, or muscle imbalance, while chemical stress can come from a poor diet, air pollution, or unnecessary drugs. Regulation of stress begins in the brain and works down into the body. Click the button below to take the Stress survey. You can skip ahead and read more about Excess Stress here.
Step 7. Build a Better Brain:
Various forms of brain dysfunction, including cognitive dysfunction such as Alzheimer’s, result in dependency on others, expensive personal-care costs, loss of ability, and added family stress. Even relatively minor impairments, such as reductions in memory, learning or creativity, are problematic for adults and children. Various dietary factors, easy exercise and stimulating activities such as music and other creative endeavors, can help build a better brain at any age. Click the button below to take the Brain survey.
Step 8. Healthy Aging:
We all grow older, but can control the pace. Various lifestyle factors can make us age faster such as physical inactivity and impaired muscle function, chemical exposure (cleaning products, toiletries, cosmetics, pesticides, chlorine and fluoride) and poor diet are common examples. Virtually all the above steps also impact how we age. Click the button below to take the Aging survey. You can skip ahead and read more about the physiology of Healthy Aging here.