One day you realize, you should eat, feel, or look better. It happens to all of us. At some point, we want to live our lives in a body that allows us to do what we want to do, causes us minimal discomfort, and doesn’t look too shabby either.
But where to start?
Television, books, the internet, everyone out there is feeding us information on how to do it.
How to drop 10 pounds in 10 days.
How to go from couch to 5K in one month.
How to live until you’re 100.
It comes at you from every direction and the path to success is always different. It’s fast, it’s easy, and you can still eat whatever you want. Right?
Wrong. You end up stumbling around in the dark looking for the light switch to make it all clear.
Oh, but if it only worked that way, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this post now. I would know the secret to long-lasting health, be wearing size 6 jeans, and looking fantastic for the low cost of three installments of $49.99.
What did I learn?
I learned that for all the ads which told me my genetics where to blame, my hormones were out of balance, or my willpower was weak, all I had to do was listen to my body.
Yes, the human body is both complex and simple. However, the key was listening specifically to what worked best for my body and the path to better health and overall well-being was illuminated.
How it Started
For many years, I tried all the diets, ALL THE DIETS! Some worked, some didn’t, some were easy, and others were quite the hassle. The common thread was that I was “trying something.” A eating routine here, a powered drink there, and many devices (anyone remember The Thigh Master?)
After many years of this, and feeling like I was the problem, I finally started to look at this from a biological perspective. What were the basics of what my body needed? Stumbling onto this course of curiosity was the key. Figure out your body first.
When I began to look at overall health from the perspective of, “what does my body need to function properly,” two things happened.
#1 Acceptance – After many years of wanting to achieve some physical ideal, I came to accept that I’m an average person with a medium build. I’m no supermodel or an Oompa Loompa, but I’m me and that’s a good place to start.
With all the marketing and advertising around us, there’s always this notation of how you “think” you “should” look. Who sets that standard? You do.
Once you accept the person standing in front of the mirror, and realize there are a heck of a lot more people in the world that look like you than don’t, the first lightbulb is lit.
So, what does a body need that falls somewhere in the middle? That was the first question to address.
#2 Body Research – It was time to do some research: on my own body. What did it feel like now? How did it feel when I ate better, moved more, slept well, or did things that made me laugh. How did it feel when I ate fast food, watched too much TV, or got lost in a doom scroll on social media?
There was a lot to be learned there and the second lightbulb was lit.
So, what does a body need beyond the mental acceptance of its natural state? That was the second question to address.
When you begin to dig in further, that “complexity” piece comes roaring back in a couple of different ways.
What Makes Health Complex?
Individuals feel like good health is complex when:
They can’t lose weight no matter what they try.
They receive undesirable results from routine blood tests when they think they are doing well.
They experience aches and pains.
They don’t understand what healthcare professionals are telling them.
They receive mixed messages about what to eat and what to do from multiple sources.
Finally, the human body itself is a bit of a mystery.
Weight Loss Struggles
When I was attempting to lose weight, I wasn’t sure what to do and after trying a few different diets and exercise programs, I was devastated when the weight came back, or the scale didn’t budge. It makes you feel like giving up.
Again, until you accept your body and listen to it, you’ll always be in this trap, so mindset is very important here. Reframe your messaging around why you want to lose weight. Accept that your body is there supporting you every day and then focus on how your body presents itself. Listen to it, give it what it needs.
Undesirable Lab Tests
If you’ve shown yourself some grace, accepted your body, and done the research to provide your body with what it needs, it’s also devastating when you get lab tests back that show otherwise.
This is not a failure; this is just a reminder that there’s still tweaks to make.
What are the key contributors to those tests being out of balance? Start there. If it’s high blood pressure, back off the salt (but don’t eliminate it). If it’s low vitamin D levels, go out, walk, and supplement. Overall weight gain, cut back on sugar. It will take patience and experimentation to find out what is needed to get you back in balance.
But it’s not a pill, it's not a product, and it's not a procedure.
When your body has aches and pains, you just don’t know why. However, the reason is inflammation. It’s not just that you’re old, or your football injury is acting up, it’s inflammation.
Your job is to address what’s causing it and take the appropriate actions. Inflammation can be caused by what you are eating, or not eating. It can be caused by stress or lack of movement. You’ll find that inflammation is the root cause of most of our aches and pains and rashes and headaches.
Put your detective hat on and figure out what’s causing it. Nature has a cure.
Lack of Medical Expertise
One of the worst things that happens to people when they go to the doctor is leaving more confused than when they arrived! This makes health complex for a lot of people but if the doctor can’t explain it to you, what hope do you have?! A lot actually.
In their defense, doctors are very busy, and few get curriculum dedicated to nutrition, health, and wellness.
Big shout out to those that go beyond the coursebook to embrace natural healing!
However, if your doctor pulls out the prescription pad, always ask what you can do on your own first. If they can’t provide information or options, you can seek out a Functional Medicine Practitioner near you by searching The Institute for Functional Medicine website.
You can talk through your concerns and get the information you need. It’s your health, don’t just do as you’re told. In fact, it will be even harder because you don’t understand what you’ve been told!
Untangling Mixed Messages
Mixed messages about what to eat and what to do for your health from your mother, your doctor, your neighbor, the internet, and the last infomercial you watched is enough to throw your hands in the air and call it quits as well. This is why it’s so important to get to know your body and what it needs. It’s tough but sifting through all the conflicting messages from well-meaning family members up to and including influencers is vital.
Do you need to drink 8 glasses of water a day? Maybe not.
Do you need to cut out all carbs? Maybe not
You’ll find that going back to basics and then noticing how your body responds or doesn’t respond is the most helpful. Shut out the noise of the next person on social media telling you to drown all your food in a miracle powder to lose those last 5 pounds. It never works.
Limited Knowledge of the Human Body
Finally, the human body itself is a bit of a mystery. Flashbacks of looking into that anatomical model in eighth grade science class is still enough to make anyone a little dizzy. All that stuff packed into a small space pumping, flowing inflating, and deflating, keeping us alive. How does all that work?
We’re taught about all the body parts in school and there’s a bit of instruction on the food groups, and general health but that’s all. There’s a huge lack of education around how the human body functions and what we should eat, do, and know to keep it running smoothly from our brains, and organs to skin and joints.
We are all aware of mental health, gut health, physical strength, and flexibility now but most of us were not raised on this knowledge. We know what we know from how we ate with our families, how we played with our friends. For the most part, we avoid getting deeply involved with how the human body works internally, and because of this there will always be a level of apprehension and in some cases fear to go beyond what we are told. It’s only when we take the additional steps to know the how’s and why’s of our body, we will be able to find what works best for us and achieve our health goals. I say, "Let the human body be a mystery no more!"
Whether it’s family history, lack of knowledge or fear, what we want to avoid is people choosing to do nothing at all. In many cases we already know what to do, but we choose not to do it.
Maybe we are not ready. Maybe it’s too complicated for you. However, eventually, your body will decide for you.
What Makes Health Simple?
So, that was a lot of negatives. Now for the good news!
For all the reasons people think that health or the human body is too complex to realize change, it’s just not true.
Yes, there are folks out there with complex health issues. What we are talking about here is living a life, from the start, that hopefully supports you in avoiding, reducing, or completely mitigating the impact of these issues.
How do you do this?
Educate yourself so your body is not a mystery.
Advocate for yourself to receive the best care and options.
Make a better choice for our bodies.
Movement, healthy food, sleep, stress management and purpose.
As a Health Coach, people often ask me what I eat and how I exercise. Next, they want me to tell them what to eat and how to work out. The truth is, I can’t!
When I began my journey into health (with an eye toward weight loss), my first inclination was to cut out all the bad stuff and burn every calorie that entered my body. Wrong!
I was finally able to impact my weight, appearance, lab tests and fitness levels by learning about the basics of nutrition and the essentials that the body needs to function properly.
Simple but impactful stuff.
Find a trusted source grounded in holistic, natural integrative nutrition to grasp the basics of what the mind, body, and spirit need to be healthy. There are so many voices out there so find a credentialed resource with sound nutritional knowledge, not tips and tricks.
Again, keep it simple.
Be very selective, even highly educated, credentialed resources, have their preferences. If something sounds over-the-top or not in line with what you know your body needs, leave it.
Part of educating yourself is learning what works and what doesn’t. With every resource you explore, keep what works for you and leave rest. What works for one person, doesn’t work for everyone. It’s that simple.
When it comes to your health, speak up. Don’t let life “happen” to you. Go to your doctor, listen to them, make your own decisions, get second opinions, try a new way. If you know deep in your heart that going on medication is not what you want, speak up and research an alternate method. Simply let your doctor know that going on medication at this time is not what you want, and you wish to explore another way of addressing the issue.
Don’t do anything dangerous and don’t ignore it but do find a way that works for you and your body.
Better Informed Choices
This is where the rubber meets the road as they say. Along with educating yourself and becoming your greatest advocate, your most effective task is to simply make better, more informed choices.
Should you eat the cookies, or eat the peach?
Should you sit on the couch for 30 minutes or take a walk?
Should you take a new diet pill or try a natural appetite suppressant?
You will be faced with decisions every day. The best way to simply your health is to make decisions in the best interest of your body and health. Will you always make the best choice, no. But if you’ve done the work of accepting your body and reframing your mental approach to overall health, more often than not you will.
A Proven Health Method – The Human Body Simplified
In the end, the human body is quite simple, it requires:
Whole healthy foods, high protein foods, and limited sugar.
Adequate amounts of sleep.
Adequate amounts of sunlight.
Adequate amounts of water.
Movement that raises the heart rate at least 30 minutes 5 days a week.
Low levels of stress and a sense of purpose outside of professional work.
These are the basics, and for all the body’s complexity, this is really all it needs. I wish it were flashy, I wish it were sexy, but it’s just true, and that’s what’s most effective and important.
Where Are You in Understanding Your Body?
The body may not be an open book but the chapters that lie within are not too hard to read if you know where to look and what to do.
What’s working for you when it comes to understanding your body and simplifying your health journey? We would love to hear from you.
If you are struggling to understand and apply a simple health approach to your life, we’re ready to work with you.
When it comes to this post, like it, share it, or leave a comment! Help this community thrive!
Take care and be well,
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach