Let’s talk about relationships for a minute… having strong, healthy relationships is pretty important to all of us, right? They are the spice of life. They are the source of all our joy. They make every situation better. In fact, you can’t replace a deep connection with another person with anything else in this world. Not possible. Don’t bother trying, you’ll end up in therapy or rehab.
But there is one relationship in our lives we tend to ignore more than any other. Some of us may not even know this relationship exists! And just like with any relationship we know if we don’t put in the time, effort, and consideration, the relationship will weaken and eventually die. I’m currently looking out the window at the severely dehydrated plants on my balcony, which are withering away into brittle leaves as I write this – oops. Don’t worry plants! Mumma hasn’t forgotten about you (well she kinda did…).
The relationship that I’m talking about here is the one we have with our bodies.
How many of you broke up with your body a loooong time ago?! If we believe that all relationships require quality attention and love, then how do you reckon the relationship between you and your body is going? How much thought do you give each day to what you could do to look after it better? How much time do you give to actually looking after it?… I know that I certainly could do a better job with giving her a little more rest.
I’m always worried when I talk about health related topics; I get self-conscious that people are rolling their eyes, or that they’ll somehow feel judged by their own lifestyle and food choices. I probably used to be one of those people too. I also used to think, “sure, sugar is not great if you want to lose weight, but it’s also delicious so who cares.” That was about the extent of my health knowledge and endeavours a few years ago. Today I want to share with you what changed for me – because it changed in a big, big way! And if you’re pursuing your own health endeavours then I’m hoping this can inspire you to keep going more purposefully, or to simply start.
My Journey: A few years ago I felt like I seriously lacked energy; physically and mentally. Even though I had already started to add more and more healthy foods into my diet, I didn’t feel the difference. I’m often (ok, always) impatient with my body – this was one part of our relationship I had to work on – and I get very frustrated being restricted by poor vitality. I thought I would try a basic cleanse and see if I could heal my gut; because someone said gut health was important and I listened.
I bought a book called ‘The Healthy Life’ by Jessica Sepel. It was basic, easy to digest (pun intended) and had pretty pictures. It was the first health book I ever read. I loved her approach to holistic health as that was something I whole-heartedly believed in (yes, another pun). So, I tried out her 3 month gut healing program. I stuck to it like a champion! And during the process something magical happened…I actually started feeling more in-tune with what my body did and didn’t want to eat. Not only that, I also busted through all the false beliefs I had about what eating healthy would be like. For this reason, I’m a big advocate for just getting started…
It actually doesn’t matter where you start, or what diet you pick, or what exercise regime you choose…JUST START something! Because when you start paying attention to your body, your body actually responds to you! In fact, it’s probably been talking to you for years but like the crappy friend you are, you’ve been ignoring all the calls! You know this is true 😉
I’ve changed the kinds of foods I eat so many times and have had moments of pure rage trying to figure out which foods I should and shouldn’t eat – it seems no health professional can ever bloody agree. I’ve been through a lot of trial and error. But you know what? It doesn’t actually matter if I started out being 100% correct about what to eat. I’ve learnt, and am still learning, so much about my body through the process.
The first step is to start paying attention to your body.
And you do this by starting any health program; no matter what one and no matter how small.
The second step is to love and respect your body.
And this is the kicker right here! This is what changed everything for me…
The more I learned about my own body, the more I became interested in how our bodies work in general. That interest quickly turned to admiration. I realised at every second of every day, every system and organ in our body is working together tirelessly to keep us alive. Our immune system is a fortified army waiting to attack any foreign invader. How exactly all the systems work in our body is so complex, and still relatively unknown, it boggles the mind. However, all I really needed to know was that my body worked for ME. Everything it did was for ME. I began to feel gratitude for the effort my body went through to protect me and heal me from all physical and emotional pain. My next realisation was that I did nothing in return….I took, and I took, and I took all day long – day in and day out, year in and year out – and never gave anything back (except maybe a facial or massage here and there). Bad, bad friend! I actually felt remorse about the neglect and rejection I had given to something so generous and forgiving towards me.
Think about it… you’ve had a rough day – just a tough, tough day full of stress. Cortisol and adrenaline pumping through your body all day to keep you going. All your internal organs and systems working on overdrive. You come home, put up your feet and want to treat yourself. You pull out the tub of ice-cream and indulge. Now your poor, exhausted, overwhelmed body has to get back to work at protecting you from the toxic food you’re eating to “reward” it’s efforts. When I understood what I was doing, it was like a slap in my chocolate covered face. And my attitude began to change.
Throughout my day, and when I came home, I started to think about what nourishing foods I could give to my body instead. I started to think of ways I could replenish my body. I started to give back. And like with any relationship – the bridge started to mend. My body will fight for me with everything it’s got (literally with it’s life) – and my once ungrateful self is now fighting for it in return.
I’m still not perfectly healthy. Far from it. I’m certainly not some transformed Yogi! But I’m paying attention, I’m making a daily effort, and I’m loving this renewed relationship.