Ethics in Biomedical Medicine was one of my favorite elective classes when I was a university student. I was a business major and needed a few electives. This class fit perfectly into my schedule. Almost 30 years later, it remains one of the classes that made the biggest impact on my life and my health. The premise of the class was that, ultimately, I knew my body best and was responsible for my own wellness.
Thus started my journey of becoming healthy and taking responsibility for myself. By the way, I am still on that journey.
I am a questioner, a seeker and an experimenter when it comes to my health.
I think I have tried every diet under the sun, included this supplement, excluded this food group, lifted weights, aerobic exercised, endurance – HIIT – yoga trained, walked, jogged, ran and fasted. Yet, sadly, was not satisfied with my body. Or my health.
In my late twenties I inexplicably started putting on weight and suffered two miscarriages while trying to get pregnant with our third child. The miscarriages were devastating; the weight gain and low energy disheartening. I went to an overweight female PA who told me it wasn’t like I was obese, and to get used to weight gain and lower energy as I got older. Remember, I wasn’t even 30!
That horrible medical appointment sent me on a quest.
I knew my body wasn’t behaving normally for me. I researched, tried different doctors and finally landed on some possible solutions. I was diagnosed as hypothyroid. The month I started medication was the month I became pregnant with our third son. After our last child was born, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and later with adrenal fatigue. It seemed one thing after another was hitting me. And it probably didn’t help that I was practicing bulimic.
I had lived a lifetime of being the chubby girl, love doled out as food, not getting dessert when other kids did because of my weight, weigh-ins in our family kitchen and abuse of diet pills beginning in my very early teens. I lived knowing life would be so much better if I could just lose ‘X’ amount of pounds.
On this journey to wellness I began to realize some key ingredients to health.
- There is Not a One Size fits all Diet or Exercise Plan.
- There is Not a Magic Pill that will make you: thin, beautiful, popular, accepted, successful or loved.
I don’t have to tell you how many billions of dollars are spent annually on diet, health, fitness, prescription medicine, sick days, etc… the numbers are staggering.
I will tell you that Spiritual health is what ultimately guided me toward true physical health. I needed to feel like I was worthy of taking care of and lovable no matter what my size or physical appearance. For me, only a relationship with God could do that. Realizing the the Creator of the Universe loved Me and called Me, ‘Child’ changed everything! That same Creator loves YOU and thinks YOU are over the top incredible, wonderful, worthy and amazing!
What if we moved our amazing bodies? Whether this starts as a walk around the neighborhood you live in or it is training for a 5K – Our bodies were made for MOVEMENT. Doing this out of joy instead of punishment, out of ‘could’ instead of ‘should’ changed exercise for me. Adding physical play outdoors or indoors is something we have available to us (hopscotch, tag, jump rope, disc golf, bag toss, hiking, kayaking, bowling, biking, racquetball, tennis, skiing, swimming – really the list is endless)
What if we looked in the mirror each day and picked one feature or ability of ourself that we were grateful for? At the same time we quit negative self talk…Example: Barb – Your skin looks glowing today! Look at the muscles on your upper arms – way to go Sunshine! Wink, thumbs up and air kiss… Instead of: Barb, your butt and thighs are too big, look at that extra fat and skin around your belly… Do you see the POWER in this?
What if we enjoyed food and were thankful for it? Take a cooking class. Buy a new cookbook – a gorgeous book full of photos. Purchase wholesome locally sourced food. Discover new ways to prepare life giving vegetables and fruits. Quit eating when we are full. Ask ourselves if we are truly hungry before stuffing a feeling along with salty, crunchy or sweet. Could we stop using food for numbing? If we are anxious, sad, lonely, hurt, angry, fearful, uncomfortable how about taking a walk or journaling to consider our feelings. Our feelings matter and we deserve to delve deep into them, instead of eating them. Our enjoyment of food matters also. We need it for fuel AND it can also be a fulfilling part of being loving to ourselves and joyful each day.
What if we reinstated sitting at a beautifully set table (with friends, family or even alone) as a ritual of nourishment? We don’t have to be Martha Stewart here, but there is so much Soul Food that happens when we care about our surroundings! Light a candle, buy flowers for your table, use real plates and silverware, pour your water into a glass with ice and a slice of lemon, use a placemat. These rituals fill us up as much if not more than the wonderful food we serve. Be present and mind-FULL during eating.
What if we shed the negativity around our bodies, food, movement and lives? Can we suspend harsh judgements on ourselves? There are gazillions of dollars spent each year in marketing to make us feel ‘less than’… turn off your television, put an add blocker on your computer, listen to ad-free music, go on a media fast. Take a break from the nay-sayers and sabotaging people in your life. Send your self-critic on vacation. Acknowledge a negative feeling – but don’t partner with it or let it drive your actions. Be the boss of you. Dear guilt (fear, anxiety,etc..), you may not boss me anymore.
What if were relentless about our healthcare? Seriously, us looking out for us, is the best possible scenario. Find a health practitioner that partners with us, listens to us, hears us. I know healthcare is a hot topic these days. But even here – implementing the above five steps is such a huge movement toward wellness that this will seem easier. We can talk to our legislators. We can have an impact on health care. We can start at home, with ourselves, becoming more well and health conscious.
The simple act of believing we can make a difference in our wellness may be the biggest factor in our personal health.
I challenge us to one week of self kindness to ourselves! Let me know how it goes!