It’s been a whirlwind few months for me. I wrote my 3rd ebook, Real Lunches, Real Easy, which is a collaboration with 100daysofrealfood.com. We sell it for 2 weeks a year only, so not only is there the whole writing process, but then there is the sales strategy, marketing and all that goes into that. ANYHOO, couple that in with kids being home for summer and then going back to school, my husband starting at a new firm, regular old mom duties and I am flat out pooped! And I’m feeling the effects. Can you relate?
I’m a big believer in hearing the cues that come from within. It’s really not rocket science; your body is smart and will tell you the answers if you just pay attention to them. This is apparent in so many areas. And with that being said, here are my reasons why you should listen to your body.
Listening to your body with exercise
I’m an avid exerciser. Think: moving my body in some way, shape or form 6 days a week. I feel better; my body tells me so. 5 years ago, I was a gym rat; a slave to the machines. As I slowly made my way outside, I realized how much better I felt being in nature and moving in more of a natural state. I didn’t need that machine with the unreal environment; what I craved was fresh air, sunlight and the feelings that come with being outside. Instead I’ve swapped the treadmill for the road, and the elliptical for a game of tennis with a friend, or a walk with a fellow mom. There were some days over the summer that instead of succumbing to “working out,” I’d get the kids and we’d go for a bike ride together, or take a walk on trails. Talk about a win-win!
How to choose the right exercise for you
Stress, hard work and busy lifestyles create tension in the body, which can lead to chronic aches, tightness, and more. While many people try to alleviate these symptoms with alcohol and sugar, this can ultimately add to unease. Exercise is a great way to release tension – you just need to stay mindful of which ones can benefit you at different times. Listen to what you need and what you are craving. Don’t feel like going for an all-out run? Perhaps today is a day for a walk, or a day to spend time gardening.
Think back to when you were a kid. What was it that fueled you then? Were you always on your bike? Or out climbing the jungle gyms in the neighborhood? Chances are good that you will still enjoy similarly-related activities. Another suggestion: if you are feeling unfocused, a vigorous exercise (think kickboxing or running) can help you find focus. On the flip side, if you are feeling tight or tense, perhaps swimming, Pilates or yoga are more of a fit for that time.
As always, talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise program, but listen to what your body is telling you when choosing what activities to take part in.
Listening to your body with food
This is such a big topic, this could make a post in itself, or even a few. Since attending the Institute of Integrative Nutrition last year, I realized (or should I say that I learned) that we are all individuals. This means that there is no perfect diet. Yes, you read that right. What works for me may not work for you. And that person who you religiously follow on Instagram and aspire to eat like? Guess what – those food choices may not be the best ones for you.
My diet has taken so many forms over the last 41 years (oops – did I just say that?);) Of course back when I was a kid I just followed what I actually wanted – a place that I’m slowly coming back to. But in-between, there was the “all carbohydrate” diet where I ate a white bagel for breakfast, spaghetti with marinara for lunch and dinner and Snackwells (remember those??) cookies in-between. Sounds healthy, right? I cut out red meat and pork 24 years ago and chicken and turkey 4 years ago. I focused on plant-based foods, but then I realized: I needed a little bit more. My body was talking to me. And I listed. I added in some fish and occasional eggs, and that’s where I am today.
How to choose the right diet for you
Stop listening to all of the hype around you; the Paleo, the gluten-free, the all carb/the no carb talk. Instead, start listening to you. Yes, I absolutely believe that some forms of eating can be beneficial to certain ailments. I’ve personally had success with the FODMAP diet, but I was pushed to a point of needing to do this. My GI symptoms were incredibly bothersome (and I had an organic acid test done that revealed some bacteria in my gut that needed to be addressed). I’ve heard of others having success with the Autoimmune Protocol diet. But if you think about it, these are cases where people are listening to their bodies and attempting to heal.
Don’t just go gluten-free because you think it will help you lose weight. Instead, look to your body for the answers. It will tell you what it’s craving. Given the chance, your body wants to be well and heal itself. And no, this is not your excuse to eat a bunch of Snickers bars because “your body told you to”, wink-wink.
Listening to your body in healing
I’ve been battling a lot of what I call “random ailments” over the past year, but looking back, they started after the birth of my 4th child 6 years ago. Within the last year I have been diagnosed with:
- + Rheumatoid Factor
- + ANA (a test for autoimmune)
- + AMA (liver antibodies)
- Raynaud’s Syndrome (started 6 years ago)
A few more also exist, but I’ll spare you the details. What I have discovered is that there are two lifestyle factors that greatly increase my symptoms: s
tress and sugar. Yes; stress and sugar most definitely cause flare-ups, such as increased joint pain, fatigue, occasional mouth pain and more. My body is talking to me, andI need to listen!
Look at my right hand in the image. My last two fingers were so painful and swollen. And yeah, I know it’s not pretty; I’m okay with it. I hope you won’t unfollow me because of my manly hands, lol!
I’ve been taking care of myself with rest, adding in yoga and also adding lots of turmeric and cinnamon to my diet. For the past week, instead of working after my kids go to bed, I’ve opted for the couch and some TV, or my bed and a good book.
I have found that if I don’t listen to my body and keep pushing, pushing, pushing, my body fights back and I end up getting ill. Have you found the same?
Now it’s your turn; I want to hear about you. Do you tune into your body? Has this helped you in the past, or is this an area where you can improve?