Over the past ten years I’ve transformed my way of caring for my body from working hard to try and make it a certain size and shape to working hard to make it as strong and healthy as possible.
In the process I’ve started doing a lot of things to better care for my body. I now get annual physicals, I have yearly skin exams, I started eating more vegetables, I started going to bed a little earlier, I try to drink more water (always trying with this one), I started taking vitamins, I’ve increased my daily activity and focused more of strength training.
While I feel that all of these things have added to my overall health, by far the most important thing I’ve ever done for my health is I learned to tune out mainstream advice and diet trends and just listen to my body.
That’s worth saying again- health is SO personal. Sure there are probably some good rules of thumb- eat plants, drink water and move, but beyond that, it’s hard to give blanket advice that fits everyone. Tomatoes may taste incredible to me, but cause another person to experience acidic agony. One person may thrive with the heavy weight and adrenaline rush of Crossfit, while another may prefer the more gentle challenge and mental clarity that yoga provides. While gluten make wreak havoc on one person’s digestive system, a slice of bread may help another person feel more satisfied with a meal. I think you get my point; I’ll stop.
One of my favorite challenges in health coaching was getting to know a person and together discovering the alterations in lifestyle that would work for them and help them achieve their health goals. Everyone is at a different point in their health journey and creating a one-size-fits-all plan is impossible. I loved helping clients learn to tune into their bodies by helping them focus on how they felt after eating certain foods, completing various exercises or experiencing different situations. Watching their optimum health plan unfold as they discovered what felt best for their bodies was exciting.
It’s taken me a few years, but I can say now I am very in tune with my body. I can tell if a fever is creeping up on me and know that a day of rest can fend it off before it even begins. I can sense when to push myself physically and when I truly need to take that 30 second rest to avoid pulling a muscle or straining a joint. I know that while my body handles gluten and dairy pretty well, beans tend to mess with my digestion. I know sometimes that using 30 overlapping nap minutes to take a power nap myself is more beneficial than trying to push through my to-do list.
Of course, being in tune with my body doesn’t mean I always listen to it. Occasionally I stay up too late, forget to drink enough water or devour more than my share of chips and onion dip, but I know how to get myself back on track.
Personally, I’ve found my body runs best on unprocessed foods- vegetables, proteins, fats, grains and fruit. I’ve realized I need some exercise each day to wear my body out and allow it to sleep soundly. I appreciate having quiet time in the morning to start my day. When I eat, move and live this way, I have more sustained energy, smoother digestion, less blood sugar spikes, more mental clarity and a more positive attitude. Basically, I just feel good.
And feeling good feels good.
What does healthy look like to you?
Can you feel a difference when you eaten certain foods versus others?
What makes the biggest difference in how you feel physically?