Updated: Apr 3
How would you communicate if you did not have words? A baby cries when they have a basic need. A dog barks or jumps around wagging its tail when it has to go outside. Your body typically experiences pain when there is a need. There are many ways to communicate. The trick is to listen.
For so long, I did not understand what it meant to 'listen' to your body. I had horrible stomach issues as a young adult. I ate whatever I wanted, drank sodas, alcohol, and sports drinks galore, and I stayed up late and rose early for work. I spent many sleepless nights in the bathroom with pain. Eventually, I cleaned up my diet, stopped drinking so much sugar and started drinking water, and began to rest better, but I did not attribute this to my stomach issues subsiding. I was not aware that my actions created the storms in my gut.
Later in life, I began having debilitating anxiety. I had it for several years. I would have complete meltdowns on my commutes to and from work. My palms and feet would sweat profusely, my moods were unpredictable, and I did not feel like 'myself' - at all! Sometimes I could not catch my breath and I would be paralyzed with fear.
I sought every manner of help - Western medicine, Eastern medicine, self-help gurus, body workers, healers, spiritual teachers, and even Google! Western medicine wanted to pump me full of pharmaceuticals for all of my symptoms. Eastern medicine exposed me to more illness. (To be fair, I only did acupuncture, and I know now that I went to the wrong person.) The body work was nice, but didn't fix anything. The healers and spiritual teachers probably helped me the most, but did not get to the root cause. And Google always told me I had cancer. I was beginning to lose hope.
I ended up finding an integrative medicine practice that helped me to see that the damage I did to myself as a young adult was finally catching up to me. I never completely changed the habits I had before. I ate things in excess. I mean, why not! It's delicious. And why can't I have delicious things? Well, because my gut didn't like it, that's why!
It wasn't so much that I was eating a lot, but more WHAT I was eating. The body is constantly seeking balance and support. Your body can adjust much easier to damage when you are young. But once you have depleted important hormones and systems, the body is no longer able to compensate. You begin to have new and concerning symptoms. And my new symptom was anxiety!
I know that anxiety is common now. Lots of people have it. Stress is always the first to be blamed. And yes, stress is a big part of it. Very big, actually. Your body's ability to deal with stress - in the form of hormones - declines significantly when you do not support your gut and immune system. And an important way to support your body is to feed it proper nutrition.
Thankfully, my anxiety diminished with meditation, exercise, and significant lifestyle changes. But the most important of those changes was to my diet!
Everyone has a different path to wellness. The important thing is to find YOURS. No one can promise a one-size-fits-all recipe for health. Everyone's recipe will be different. So, when you are choosing what is right for you, remember to listen to your body.
Listening to your body requires you to pay close attention to how you feel after eating something. Sometimes, it requires you to stop eating something in order to really know HOW it is impacting your gut. Elimination diets are easy and helpful in terms of finding food sensitivities or food allergies. Substitutions for certain foods can also be helpful.
Also remember that you are unique, and so are your needs. Just because your friend lost 100 lbs on a certain diet doesn't mean it will work for YOU. Just because someone else thrives on a certain diet doesn't mean that YOU will. It is okay to try those things, but listen to your body first and foremost. If you are trying the latest fad diet and you feel like you are going to pass out, maybe that diet is not offering enough calories to make it through your day. Pay attention. Listen.
Where to Start
Always begin with your trusted healthcare provider. Tell them your goals and what you plan to try. Maybe they will have some suggestions and guidance. If not, find a practitioner who will support you.
Take your age and current health needs into consideration. If you are in your 60s, your needs will be different than someone in their 20s. Maybe following that young body builder's YouTube workouts and nutrition regimen will be too much too fast.
Start slow. Remember to build up to your goal. You will not be able to make all the changes you want immediately. It will take time. Be patient. Be diligent. Be aware.
Today, I Am Well
Reach out to a health and nutrition coach. Maybe you know one? Yes, yes you do. And I am here if you have any questions about how to get started.
The goal is wellness. The path is unknown. But the journey is worth it!
Be well, Friends