Many people these days are looking to live a healthier life. There are the younger millennial who have grown up with a health and fitness conscious media and advertising industry where “healthy living” is marketed to within an inch of its life. Then there are the mummies! Now that they have little ones to be caring for and well lets just say, their energy and waistline are not what it used to be, suddenly become aware of not only their own health and wellbeing but also the responsibility of their children to boot. Last but not least there are the middle-aged upward population whose vincibility inevitably presents itself and the focus becomes –
“How can I grow older with the best possible health & energy and least debilitation and illness?”
Regardless of where you fit into this picture, the desire and drive is there to live the healthiest life possible.
So why is it that its so bloody hard to stick with the plan???
I work with people who fall into all of the categories above. They are intelligent people, educated people, and I have come to see a pattern as to why people struggle to “ stay on the wagon” when it comes to living a “healthy” life. The following are the 3 biggest blocks I see repeatedly to sustainable natural health and wellbeing and once we are aware of them, we give ourselves a much better chance moving forward.
1) INFORMATION OVERLOAD
When it comes to health and wellbeing we are flooded on a daily basis with information, much of it conflicting. TV, radio, online, magazines – its as if every other day there is a new silver bullet; an exotic herb that will reverse ageing, a fad diet that will prevent cancer or an exercise regime that will get you into the size 6 swimwear just in time for summer ……. and on and on. Dietary advice is probably the most obvious example of where you can end up feeling like going for a Big Mac out of sheer frustration and confusion! And all of the approaches seem to have double-blind research to back up their standpoint. It’s an absolute minefield. Here are a few example of this (and I’m not saying that any of these claims are accurate or not , just very confusing if read together??)
- Vegan is the way forward for your health and the planet.
- Paleo diet is most natural and heals many chronic illness.
- Eggs are good – eat many. / Eggs will give you heart disease.
- Red meat increases cancer risk / Red meat is essential for good mental health.
- Humans cannot digest gluten/Only Celic’s have a physical reaction to gluten.
And lets not even get started on sugar – the ROOT of all-evil.
Bloody exhausting, exasperating and downright depressing the whole thing!! I have struggled myself with navigating this territory. Having studied and applied a number of approaches, many conflicting, what I have come to understand is –
THERE IS NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL EVER!!!
Maybe, just maybe considering the technicolor kalidescope of life with all its wonder and challange, the idea of common sense and everything in moderation still applies, although you may be shunned for suggesting such a thing! Eating food that is as close to as nature created can only be a good thing. Nature knows better than us smarty-pants, too big for our boots humans. This is a good baseline to begin with, and then we do our best, given our circumstances from there.
Bottom line – Be very mindful of navigating this sea of information and not becoming a victim of strong, emotionally charged marketing. Find a practitioner whom you resonate with and who is open to you exploring what fits for your body and life circumstances. Stay flexible.
2) THE ALL OR NOTHING APPROACH
The next hurdle that I see people fall on over and over again is the “ALL OR NOTHING” approach. This is a very deceptive thing that plays mind games time and time again with people. How many of you have started a new regime of eating, exercising or some other activity and given it your all, felt wonderful for your efforts and the results only to find that over a period of time, not only do you “fall off the wagon” but end up feeling guilty, ashamed and angry with yourself for failing, finding yourself back at square one or worse?
New Years resolutions are a great example of this! The truth is that this being human, the challenges we all have in our lives and inevitable curve balls we are played make it often impossible to stick to the extreme all or nothing regimes. We all have familiar, well-trodden pathways in our lives and these habits and patterns are actually reflected in the neural pathways in our brains. They can be re-routed, absolutely with time and correct effort however this approach not only is mostly futile, but also can negatively re-enforce our original ways of being.
I say “mostly” as once again I don’t believe that all people are the same and I can guarantee that I will have someone come back to tell me indignantly that they can absolutely do this. So I say to those people for whom this doesn’t apply – Fair play, good for you and I’m thrilled you have found a way that works! I am speaking to the rest of you here, whom have had the experience that I have had in relation to this and are ready to accept that the All or Nothing approach just isn’t a fit for you when it comes to creating a sustainable, positive approach to your health. So what is the solution?
Slow and steady wins the race.
Small, actionable, sustainable steps towards your goal with a clause in there that humans often take 2 steps forward and 1 step back. This builds in a buffer from the savage self-criticism that can come when challanged in making lasting change. So I’m very aware that some people reaction to this may be – ‘Is this a bit flaky? Is she saying sure take it easy, have whatever you want and don’t be hard on yourself??” The answer to that is I’m saying its your own choice what you do or don’t do, its nobody else business or concern. If you want to make lasting positives changes in your life its takes commitment and effort. However being harsh with yourself, forcing yourself to comply with a set of rules imposed by anyone else and taking an all of nothing approach to your health and wellbeing is more often than not barking up the wrong tree!
Bottom line: Extremes of any sort, while you may get an initial hit from them are generally not lasting. Become aware of your patterns of behavior and belief systems that have you in a constant state of flux.
3) AWARENESS OF THE MIND-BODY CONNECTION.
Last but not least – actually in order of importance I would place this as No. 1 on the list. Many of us think that if we can just stop eating them cream cakes, crisps or whatever your perceived “guilty pleasure” is, if we can just stick with the exercise regime, lose X amount of weight, maintain the correct supplement regime so we have enough Vitamin D in the winter, our magnesium levels are balanced, our B vitamins, omega oil levels etc. etc. are correct then we will be healthy and happy.
NEWSFLASH – It doesnt matter how pristine your diet is. No matter what your size, shape, exercise regime or how many supplements you take, if your mind, your thinking is not effective you are in trouble. If your emotional response and ability to effectively respond and not react to lifes inevitable curve balls is not in place, you will hit a wall. When the ongoing stress and general glorious mess of being human in all its glory come your are not going to sustain wellbeing on any level for too long.
Don’t get me wrong, to eat a healthy diet whatever that is for you, staying active to keep your energy moving and supporting your system with select supplement’s, herbs etc. will fuel your body and nervous system putting it the best possible position to deal with whatever comes along. However, the mind is the driver of your body, your body is only the vehicle, so you can have a Maserati as your body, keep the oil changed, the tires in good nick and give her a deluxe wash and polish every week. But if the person in the driving seat is a overwhelmed, confused, emotionally over wrought character with no direction or control of themselves, well that Maserati is not going to live up to its full potential now is it!!!
Ultimately, our mindset, our thinking, our charge of the driver is what brings us forward in life in a good way and without understanding and investing in this, all the physical intervention while looking good on the outside does not lead to a sustainable way forward. And for many people, believe it or not coming face-to-face with their mind, emotions and inner world is far more challenging than dealing solely with the body. It’s unknown territory and can be a frightening prospect to look under the bonnet, especially if its been years or maybe you’ve never looked before.
BOTTOM LINE: For true lasting health and wellbeing, both the mind and body need a regular servicing, the proper cleansing, nourishing and environment. There are many ways to begin this process and even more ways to sustain it. Willingness to have a look is the first step.