So if you’re like most people in the world today, you may have one or two “health problems” that bother you. When I say health problems, I mean anything from full blown autoimmunity to a general not-feeling-well or lack of vitality. Often, we don’t want to be a less-than-thrilling life, but have any clue where to start, especially with so many different ideas and theories floating around in the media. Or perhaps you’re the person who says “I know what to do, I just don’t do it,” and then year after year continues to live in a way that burdens your body rather than supports it. And you know what, that’s ok. I’m not here to judge or to cast blame, but I do have a hunch that while you may think you know what to do based on the diet tips you read or magazine articles you skim, you haven’t actually taken the time to get connected to your body’s individual needs and aren’t even sure what that looks like.
When I was first starting out on my journey back to health and vitality, I took it upon myself to figure thing out because I had been disappointment and turned away by so many of the conventional medical professionals. I can’t count the number of times I heard “everything looks great, you’re healthy as can be,” or “you may want to consider anti-depressants, there is nothing medically wrong with you.” It was maddening, to say the least, and left me feeling confused and frustrated but also determined to dig deep and uncover the mystery that was my body.
Over the years, as I look back, I realize that there are definitely succinct steps you can take to get you started in the right direction. While you may not resonate with every idea listed, these are the actions I employed that armed me with the knowledge I needed to get well and make informed, personal choices about my health and body. I hope you enjoy them too!
#1. Read, read, read! I realize not everyone enjoys reading the way I do – but if you’re ready to be a warrior for your own health, you’re going to have to get information from somewhere! There are thousands upon thousands of resources just waiting for you to eat up! Instead of looking at it like a chore, or being scared that you’re going to read the wrong article or believe the wrong theory, just start devouring everything in sight and get curious! The more you learn, the more discerning you will become, but for now, try looking at all the information out there with the curiosity of a child. Read up on Paleo, high fat, low fat, higher carb, lower carb, Vegan, grains vs. no grains…Try not to take any of them as dogma, and just see which ones begin to resonate with you. Part of planning a trip means picking where you want to go, and part of picking that destination means doing a little back ground research on the place. Read books, magazines, blogs, publications, journals, etc. Eventually, you will find that themes begin to arise which give you a wonderful place to start.
#2. After you have read up on and found a protocol or lifestyle you would like to try, commit to it for at least 30 days before deciding to move on to something else. You WILL make mistakes in finding the foods that suit you best, and that’s ok. But, part of your customized journey means finding out what doesn’t work just as much as what does, and you won’t be able to get an accurate reading by “diet hopping.” There are adjustments your body must make and mechanisms that may take some nestling to wake up. Symptomology (things like bloating, thin hair, rough periods, thin nails, low blood pressure, etc.) are signs that something has been wrong in your body for a while and is now actually manifesting. You don’t eat grains once and develop a huge allergy to them. You eat them repeatedly, day in and day out until your immune system finally gets pissed and starts shouting about it. Similarly, your body will not always respond positively to a new stimulus just because you hope it will. It needs repair and sometimes that repair takes a little while. Be patient. If after 30ish days, you are feeling like something isn’t making a difference, go ahead and make some more tweaks, but again, I wouldn’t suggest swinging from one pendulum to the other in hopes of a miracle. Slow and steady wins the race my friends.
#3. Listen to podcasts and other informational audio recordings like webinars and video calls. If you’re not so in to reading like I mentioned above, podcasts can be another great information tool to get you started. I love listening to them in the car while I travel, or if you commute for work that would be a great opportunity. We often complain about how we don’t have time to learn anything new, but during the 10-20 minutes you drive to work everyday (twice) think about how much you could learn! Webinars are another great tool, but be aware that most of the time the person putting on the show is probably marketing his or her heath program. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve personally used this tool in my business, but if you end up purchasing every program you listen to, it can get expensive quick. I often listen in on webinars and glean as much information as I can and then fill in the pieces with other knowledge I have.
#4. Listen to your intuition. In the beginning stages of learning, you may not feel like you have much of an intuitive side, but I promise it’s there just waiting to be uncovered. You know better than anyone what your body needs and while you may have had the volume turned down for a while, that intuitive intelligence is inside just waiting to burst forth! I call it Innate, but lots of people have different names for it. Health and wellness is not just about what you put in your mouth, but also about the way you listen to and respect your body’s needs and wants. If something inside you it telling you to make a shift, I urge you to listen! We usually spend time ignoring those little whispers until they become screams and, at that point, undoing the damage is so much harder to manage. It’s easy to get caught up in the dogma of certain dietary protocols, but if you find that every single day you’re craving sweet potatoes and butter, it might be time to look at WHY. Caveat: Cravings for chocolate cookies do NOT signal a deficiency in chocolate cookies. It may however be pointing to something like a blood sugar issue or fungal overgrowth. Don’t discount annoyances as useless information.
#5. Hire a coach. When I embarked upon my journey, I didn’t have the money to hire the type of practitioner I needed, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have if circumstances had been different. I was more than dedicated to my health and able to do it myself, but it took a long time. Two years to be exact. Hiring someone to help you fill in the cracks can definitely lead to a speedier recovery and start you on the path to long-term change. Sometimes it can be very helpful to have an outside eye who isn’t emotionally connected to unhealthful habits you may have developed. But, my advice to you is to be choosy. The client-practitioner relationship is one in which you should feel comfortable, safe and respected. You need to connect deeply with the person you are trusting your health, and therefore life, with, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and make your needs known. A good practitioner will be happy about this because we too want to be able to connect and resonate with our clients. The more we can get to know you and your personality, the sooner we can determine if we will be a good fit together, or if perhaps we should refer you out to one of our colleagues. Everyone is someone’s cup of tea – finding your favorite flavor will just ensure that you get the most successful and enjoyable experience during your healing.
So, those are the places I recommend you dive in if you’re considering making some changes to your nutrition and lifestyle. Like I said before, you WILL make mistakes. That’s ok. The advice I gave out three years ago vs. what I would say today looks completely different! We are ever evolving and that’s part of what makes this path so beautiful. You don’t have to be perfect right now, or ever for that matter. Health is a journey and your body is a beautiful, living creature who’s needs and wants will shift as well as time passes. Learning about your body and health will help to empower you to make decisions that feel right for you, instead of leaving you stuck at the mercy of someone else’s rules. If you need help getting started, that’s ok too! Never be afraid to reach out to someone who’s been in the trenches a little longer, and always remember that there is a solution, even if it doesn’t seem so right in this moment.