We now have access to an almost immeasurable wealth of information and resources that could help each one of us improve our health.
But we’ve also been warned against access to that knowledge without experience or wisdom to back it up. This is especially true when it comes to holistic health and healing: mind, body and spirit.
Healing methods, ideas, and approaches are everywhere. It’s a saturated industry! Add to that the doctors and healthcare professionals working within the medical and insurance industries, and things can get crazy confusing, contradictory, and potentially damaging.
Seriously, it’s hard to find real health and healing amidst the sea of conflicting advice, trends, and arguing physicians…
But I believe each human has ownership of their own body, and that each person knows their body best. I’m all about encouraging people to take that ownership and work with it, by learning all they might want to know about how that body works, and how best to support it.
So, I’m listing a few (just a few; don’t consider this post definitive) ideas and mindsets you can adopt whenever you embark on a health or healing journey.
These mindsets and ideas will help you employ critical thinking, freedom from fear and over-dependence on external sources, promote prevention to create less reliance on the American insurance and medical industries, and encourage safe and effective experimentation.
Fear of reprimand or negative consequence. This shows up as relying on the dude in the white lab coat with letters after his name to be the absolute authority on your body- but he doesn’t live in your body and never will. Your body is yours and you know it best.
Falling for slick marketing, hype, feel-good approaches that promise quick results without cultivating inner awareness or patience. This can also cause an issue with “too many cooks in the kitchen”- interesting approaches, health people or ideas that contradict each other, or keep you trying dribs and drabs of something for a short time and then abandoning it for a new idea.
So what are some ideas, mindsets, and questions you can ask to make better choices about your health?
Do they cover all areas of human health: body, mind and spirit?
If they don’t, do they include or collaborate with people in the areas they don’t focus on, to incorporate a holistic approach for their audience?
It’s important to not exclude one or more major parts of yourself, while hyper-focusing on only one aspect.
This can show up in someone who focuses all their attention and energy into their physical body to the detriment of their mind and spirit.
This is a common theme in American health trends, but there are also groups that overly focus on the spiritual elements, or on just the mental/psychological aspects of healing.
Who is their target demographic? Young people/young men looking to cut and jack their physique for optimal performance? Menopausal women coping with depression?
Advice for each demographic will vary ENORMOUSLY and applying what’s good for a young dude won’t work or help for (and can injure) a woman who is stressed, aging, lacking sleep, etc.
Trends tend to be fundamentalist (extreme) and not sustainable for long term practice. Furthermore, trends tend to not look at the big picture, instead trading fast results for future consequences.
For example, things like juicing can go way too far. It’s true that juicing fruits and veggies can quickly get a big dose of micronutrients into your body.
But you absolutely need the prebiotic fiber in produce, there’s no bypassing that. Fiber is essential for blood sugar regulation and digestive health. Juices and some smoothies remove this fiber which can cause a really big, fast spike to your blood sugar. Doing this on a regular basis can have dire consequences for your health.
And, chewing your produce is a vital part of the digestive process. Eating in a calm, slow way to engage the parasympathetic nervous system, is the only way full absorption of nutrients can happen. If we are chugging our nutrients or pounding down a quick meal replacement, we aren’t receiving anywhere near the full benefit.
Another trend is to completely eliminate a macronutrient, such as carbohydrates or fats, and this usually isn’t sustainable unless you have a specific diagnosis and are working with a professional who can teach you how to make that an effective lifestyle, for your individual biology.
Books and blogs about restrictive diets can be great resources for information- but your body is an original, individual system that requires fine tuning and targeted support.
There are no “cookie cutter” bodies and therefore there are no “cookie cutter” health approaches that will actually help someone, long term.
Trying something because it sounds effective, seems cool, interesting, powerful etc. without knowing your specific, individual needs for vitamins, nutrients, knowing your hormonal status, etc. can lead you to more unresolved health issues.
Another example would be a busy single mom. She won’t benefit from HIIT (high intensity interval training) exercise and restrictive keto diets due to her nervous and endocrine systems being under constant stress. She would be throwing fuel on the fire.
Knowing your individual biology takes time and usually testing, like DNA testing and gut biome testing, as well as patience with experimenting, staying free from others’ opinions on how you “SHOULD” respond, and tracking how you respond over time, trying one thing before moving on to another approach.
Going cold turkey from something usually doesn’t work for most people either, so incorporating changes over time is ideal but never encouraged in our McHealth culture, where results are wanted fast and on demand.
What is your WHY beyond external results or validation. I write about this a lot, and I think it’s a really overlooked but important part of health and healing.
Why do we want to lose weight? Why do we want to look better? Why do we want more energy? If all your motivations are based on how other people respond, then that’s not sustainable.
If your motivations are based on “getting” something, or on looking a certain way to have safety or access to resources, such as a woman staying young-looking so she doesn’t experience ageism at work…these are all things we should be aware of.
When we have motivation for a goal that is totally about us and not dependent on anything outside of us, we can usually find ways to stick with our choices.
There will always be exceptions and nuances to “health rules” and people who embody those exceptions.
Beware of people who claim that exception is available to ANYONE, i.e. IF I CAN DO IT SO CAN YOU! This removes your freedom for critical thinking, as well as personal responsibility, to get to know yourself deeply and intimately.
Going off someone else’s results as being totally true for you is engaging in fantasy thinking or avoiding what’s true for you NOW, in this moment.
If you’ve been pushing your body (or area of health or improvement) for a while and that area still isn’t responding…your mind, spirit, or body may be trying to communicate something with you. Or maybe it’s time to let go and surrender, to rest for a time.
The process of “letting go” isn’t something we have learned in this culture- it’s always go go go and do do do. But truly releasing a persistent issue in body, mind and spirit (letting go occurs in all areas of self) can be the path to the peace you need to truly heal.
Being more objective about actual results isn’t easy, but detaching from your expected outcome can be a filter through which you see the truth of real data and results.
Feelings and beliefs are SUPER powerful, and the placebo effect is a real thing you CAN use to your advantage, but trusting that your beliefs will override reality when your health is on the line, probably isn’t a safe long term approach.
Your body, mind, and spirit are individual to you. While some health trends and ideas are based on solid approaches that seem to work for most bodies, minds or spirits, it’s up to you to be in charge of your complexly unique self.
That requires some skills you might not be encouraged to incorporate, or you might believe you don’t need to…but taking some time to know yourself better than anyone else does could be the key to your health freedom.