Is your body trying to tell you something? Would you even know its voice?
If I had understood that my body was whispering to me years ago to stop, slow down, and listen, I believe I would not have crashed as hard as I did (twice). What I have since learned is this: If you do not listen to the whispers of your body to slow down and change what is not working, you will get to a point where that whisper becomes a scream, and your body will no longer take "not now" for an answer. It will make itself heard, period. Do not pass go, do not collect a million dollars.
Here are some examples of these "warning sign whispers" you should be on the lookout for:
-Do you require caffeine just to make it through a typical day?
-Are you tired during the day but wide awake at night?
-Do you need to have alcohol (yes, this includes wine or beer) every night?
-How are your stools? Do you have frequent diarrhea or constipation?
-Do you get frequent headaches?
-Do you have skin issues, such as rosacea, psoriasis, or eczema?
-Do you have constant post-nasal drip?
-Do you have (really) bad breath?
-How about tummy troubles? Do you get frequent indigestion, bloating, or stomach pain?
-Are you sick often (colds, flu, etc)?
-How is your body temperature? Does it run in the 96's or low 97's? (note: this is not "normal," despite what your Doctor may tell you)
-Do you feel fatigued, or get "brain fog" after eating?
-Do you have any sort of addiction or crutch (whether it be legal or illegal)? Addictions can include non-food or drug addictions such as gambling, sex, or even exercise. Analyze your crutches, and be honest with yourself whether it is an addiction or not.
If I had listened to my body, I would have heard that something was not right, and would have been able to work to rebalance it before bad turned to worse.
I was running 5 miles every day. At first it was great, and I felt good afterward. After a while, I began to come back from my runs and would immediately feel very fatigued, as if someone had drugged me. Instead of listening to these warnings, I thought that I just needed to be in better shape; that if I kept pushing my body, I would break through this intense fatigue.
I began to require increased amounts of coffee just to make it through my day. Right before my body began "screaming" to the point I could no longer ignore it, I was drinking coffee all day up to 3 and 4 PM just to get through the day. At night, I would get a second wind and would switch to wine to help de-stress. I would wake up exhausted and do it all over again.
I was also having frequent diarrhea, a pounding heart when trying to fall asleep, and my body temperature was running in the low 97's.
All of these warning signs make sense in retrospect. My adrenals (which help to regulate energy, stress and sex hormones, blood sugar, and many other functions) were obviously struggling due to stress, poor diet, excessive caffeine and alcohol intake, and excessive exercise.
Ok, so you've recognized that your body is giving you warning signs. What do you do next?
Lifestyle is the first area to analyze and adjust. Recognize and decrease stressors you may have in different areas: work, family, friends, household, and/or demands you place on yourself.
What are you putting into your body? Caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, drugs (legal or not), and processed foods (anything with an ingredient label) all contribute to biological stress.
What beneficial things are you NOT putting into your body? Increase your intake of produce (fruits and veggies), clean filtered water, grassfed/free range meats, and healthy fats (avocados, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, grassfed butter/ghee are a few examples).
Work on ways to better handle stress: low intensity exercises such as walking, stretching and bodyweight exercises. Work on breathing properly and deeply (initiate breath through your diaphragm/stomach, versus your chest). Schedule time for self-care. Get outside for sunlight and fresh air. Laugh. Play.
If you have worked on all of these areas and are still having issues, there could be further underlying causes to address. I will be writing more about the most common underlying causes in the upcoming months.
Find a good Naturopathic Doctor or Functional or Integrative Medicine Doctor who can help you be a health detective to pinpoint your issues and help you work toward rebalancing and restoring you to optimal health.
My sincere hope is that you will learn from my mistakes. Listen to your body now, before it gives you no other option.
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