So you’ve gone for a medical check-up and been told by your doctor after a thorough examination and blood work that everything is normal. So why, you ask yourself, am I struggling to lose this extra weight, or why am I always tired, why does my body ache or why can’t I sleep at night?

The thing is, ‘normal’ is just a statistical classification based on a cross section of a population. In other words you fit within a broad range of what is considered normal or average for a population group. This will range from people who fit the minimum criteria for health (according to a skewed perception of what it is to be healthy) to those that are healthy. The fact is, if you’re normal, you probably have a chronic illness for which you’re on chronic medication, because let’s face it, in our society that has become the accepted norm.

The difference between normal and optimal may be all that is holding you back from being an energetic vibrant person or losing that stubborn 10 kg of fat. Consider this for example when looking at blood work:- Let’s assume glucose metabolism, thyroid hormones, and testosterone levels etc are normal, but not optimal, the general approach is to dismiss those things as contributing factors to your inability to lose weight. A closer analysis might reveal that, bringing those levels into the optimal range by nutrition, lifestyle, exercise or a specific supplement interventions may be the key to kick starting your transformation.

Whist I don’t want to call doctors, as I know some very good ones, I think it’s unfortunate that many within the medical fraternity seem to subscribe to a ‘minimum criteria’ approach towards health in which, as long as you’re not in imminent danger of death or disability, you’re normal, don’t worry about it. Forget that you may want to lose an extra 10kg of stubborn fat that just won’t go away, or run that marathon, or have the energy to play with the kids without pain or exhaustion-you’re surviving, what more do you want? I think this is sad because it reduces people to mere statistics, it tramples on the human spirit, it stifles ambition and is a disincentive to healthy living. We all need to guard against this.

Next time you go for a medical check-up, hold your doctor to account. Don’t accept that ‘everything is normal,’ ask him/her where you need to be in terms of your overall health and blood work to be considered optimal. Ask them for alternative explanations for why you are not feeling good or performing optimally; ask for alternatives to chronic medications if appropriate. If they can’t help, ask them to refer you to a specialist who can. I believe doctors have a responsibility whatever your health status to help you to be optimal, not just ‘normal.’ For some, this may be a long journey, and ’normal’ may be a great start, but always work for optimal and surround yourself with people that will help you to get there!