Humans come equipped with the most sophisticated system of equilibrium ever developed – physiological homeostasis. Trillions of cells, each with their specific monitoring protocol, have evolved into an arrangement of perfection millions of years in the making. And yet we mess with it daily. We consistently override its instructions meant to keep us running optimally. Our egos insist we take control and construe the body’s signals as something to conquer.
Why is it so hard to listen to our bodies? Because we don’t agree with what they have to say.
We translate warnings as incorrect because they don’t fit in with what we want to do. We ignore the whispers and fight against the shouts. Our need to immediately gratify the way we want to feel leaves us meddling and manipulating against our bodies best wishes. The cooperative flags our body hoists and waves aren’t coming from enemy lines. They’re meant to exclaim you’re not getting what you need.
Three of the biggest areas we ignore and pay heavily for later are: sleep, eating, and pain.
You’re tired, but you don’t want to be tired. So you grab a coffee or an energy drink and go merrily on your way. Or you finally ARE tired but there’s 20 minutes left in your Netflix episode. I can make it. Tomorrow is too late to find out what happens to Red and Taystee. Twenty minutes later, amidst “I can’t believe that’s how they’re ending things!”, we relish in what a good decision that was. In the morning, when we hate ourselves, we reach for that coffee or energy drink to right our wrongs.
If you’re tired at a weird hour or the caffeine isn’t working like it used to, perhaps its time to reset things and allow yourself to be sluggish for a bit. I know, the more we’re used to pep the more we dread lethargy, but we need some slow to counteract the fast. It’s the balance of things. The body can correct itself if we’re willing to get out of the way.
The dogma and fear we’ve bombarded ourselves with when it comes to nutrition is paralyzing. Good intentioned folks look up from their computer screens and have no idea what they should eat. What kind of world are we living in when fruit is demonized and organic cookies are gobbled down by the handful? This food is bad, that food is good. I can’t eat. I have to eat. Carbohydrates will kill you. More protein. I only have a limited window for maximum nutrient absorption…
We’ve taken one of the greatest joys of life – eating – and made it a complicated tangle of sadness and frustration. Somewhere along the line we went away from the simplicity of “when you’re hungry, eat, and when you’re no longer hungry, stop” into a competition of superiority littered with exaggerated restrictions. If you’re doing everything right and not getting the results you seek, adding a bit of what you’ve taken away might be the solution. The answer’s often found in moderation.
Luckily, I think we’re getting away from the mantra of “No Pain, No Gain”. It’s not supposed to, nor does it have to hurt when moving your body or performing a type of work. If it does, you might want to question why it hurts and why you’re doing that type of work in the first place. The joint-by-joint approach explains that source of pain often stems from dysfunction above or below the area in question. The type of exercise you consistently choose to do can be just as much of a cause as it can be a cure. Again, many times the remedy for what ails us is to take away the behavior that’s generating the negative outcome. Doing less can lead to more.
For those of you over the age of 30, the days where you ‘just wake up and everything’s better’ are over. Healing requires effort. One of the hardest lessons for the aging population to learn is that it takes work to get back to normal. The other is that joints don’t have an expiration date. Shoulders and hips don’t stop functioning after a certain age. The body performs as it is routinely asked to perform. Those expecting a breakdown can reinvest their attentions in preventing a breakdown, or act in repairing one.
The rules we adhere to should agree with the feedback system bred into our genetic code. Nobody on this planet should know more about your body than you do, and nobody should be paying more attention to what it’s telling you it needs. It’s the ‘wants’ that are deceiving. If you’re lost and disheartened in trying to reach your goals, ask yourself:
Who’s rules are you following, and why do you trust them more than your own?