‘Can’t you just give me some pills instead?’
I’m embarrassed to say those words came out of my mouth. Sat staring at the doctor as she warned me if I continued on the path I was on I would burn out. Less than 2 months later, I lost everything.
It’s not easy for me to admit that I used to see my body as the enemy, an uncomfortable bag of bones that held me back from operating at full capacity. I used stimulants to work faster during the day and turn off at night and then there were the pills to lose weight and vitamins to solve the low blood sugar issues and fainting spells. I abused my body in the most horrendous ways until the day I decided I was going to make the world a happier place.
I knew then I had to change.
Those acquainted with my articles or follow me on Instagram will know that I promote the importance of self care as a preemptive measure rather than a solution. But at no point have I openly talked about the my struggles and how I’m still learning that by listening to my body I can be more productive in all my endeavours.
“Do not worry; eat three square meals a day; say your prayers; be courteous to your creditors; keep you digestion good; exercise; go slow and easy. Maybe there are other things your special case requires to make you happy; but, my friend, these, I reckon, will give you a good lift.”-Abraham Lincoln
I spent many months watching global leaders talk about wellness; how they ‘fit it’ into their schedules with ease and why they are better leaders for it. I watched Ted talks way past 1am, to then get up at 5am to start my working day.
Funnily enough, at no point did they talk about their bodies. Only how they maintained good mental health to be the best version of themselves. It was only when Arianna Huffington stood up and talked about the necessity of sleep did I start to understand the connection between nourishing the body and being the best version of myself. I mean, I always applied this thinking to athletics, but never to the everyday person living their life.
With this in mind, I decided to ask a select group of friends with very different lifestyles what their relationship food was like and how they refuelled to get through the day.
Interestingly the majority said they try to maintain a certain structure to their daily diet, though the food choices they made were dependent on hunger levels, emotional needs and what was available.
They all seem to have the right idea right?
But if we do have a healthy approach to food, why did Change4Life release a frightening statistic, saying that 9 out of 10 children will grow up with a dangerous amount of fat in their systems, all that will cause life threatening illnesses later on in life.
Where are we going wrong then? We stopped listening to our bodies.
Our bodies are the most sophisticated organisms in the world. They helps us navigate and understand the world around us. When run efficiently our senses are heightened, our perception of reality changes and energy levels rise, overall we are better.
There is a minefield of information out there about wellness, balanced diets and nutrition and it’s easy to feel intimidated by the writer tapping away at their keyboard whilst sipping a turmeric tonic in their activewear and Whistles slogan sweatshirt. (swear that’s not me, I’m currently snuggled in cashmere with a hot chocolate in hand!)
I understand your struggles, because they are my struggles too. Today I want you to take back the reins, to give you a basic understanding where to start. I want to help you feed the change your body is craving.
5 tips to reconnect to your body and nourish change in your life.
Turn down the stimulants so you can hear you body.
When you’ve spent a long period of time relying on sugary food or caffeine to get you through the day, you create an unhealthy addiction to stimulants that drown out the natural rhythm of the body. It can suppress the warning signals your body gives you to let you know to slow down, to replenish.
The day a work colleague convinced me to cut sugar revolutionised my life within 2 weeks. The first week was hell on earth (sorry team) but afterwards, I could hear my body telling me what it wanted. I made good choices with food and my energy levels stabilised and my overall well being improved dramatically.
Drink plenty of water
Our bodies are largely made up of water so it makes sense we keep it hydrated and happy. You’d be surprised to learn that by the time our brain has registered the fact we’re thirsty, we’re already starting to dehydrate and our mental/physical performance has started to become impaired. But that’s not all, water helps insulates all our major organs and helps flush toxins from our system. I bet after reading that you’re already reaching for the water!
Try different things.
When the body starts craving foods, it’s actually asking for certain nutrients and minerals to heal/perform better. But if it doesn’t have the internal knowledge where to get these from, you may find you crave poor substitutes. For example,how many times have you craved fries? The reason is probably that your body needs potassium but due to your limited diet choices, it demands fries. By trying different foods and introducing new food gradually , the brain will start to catalogue them, so when the body does needs something specific, it will hopefully ask you for a baked sweet potato instead of bucket of fries.
Understand that food is fuel not a love affair.
I would love to say that I’m a mindful eater that always makes sound choices, but that’s a lie. I love food so much that I use it to celebrate, to commiserate and to punish my body. I can probably associate my love affair with food to any Taylor Swift song, and it has to stop. I have to shake it off and rethink how I approach my daily diet and try to enjoy everything within moderation. If this sounds like you too, why not start today, it doesn’t have to be this massive overhaul where you clear your cupboards and pledge your life to 5 fruit and veg a day. I’ve only just started this week, focusing on breakfasts and experimenting with different foods to see what will take me through to lunchtime. So far the winner has been porridge with a sprinkle of nuts and honey. If you do decide to start today, why not share your winning fuel food stories!
Your body is a machine and if you don’t use it, it will rust up. Regular exercise not only helps you maintain a healthy body but it boosts the production of brain chemicals that helps eases any mental tenses. For those in the throes of a love affair with food and don’t know how to break the cycle. Start getting more active and soon you won’t be a victim of the empty food promises anymore.
Once you start to treat your body as a vehicle to your own happiness, you’ll make the right choices with ease, you’ll have more stamina to reach those goals and I promise your life will change for the better.
Love your body, it’s the only true home you’ll ever have.