There are so many “health experts”, gurus, and celebrity trainers pitching their diet and fitness advice that we as a society should be fit and healthy by now. But for some reason we are not. I think it is partially because most of the health advice is based on personal experiences and while valid for some people doesn’t apply to others.
It brings me to a difficult but at the same time very empowering realization. Nobody can tell me what to do to be well and to stay healthy, I need to figure it out myself. And you do, too!
Learning how to listen to an internal health expert, your body, is one of the 1st steps in finding your personalized wellness strategy. Your body offers an amazing source of wisdom if you are willing to explore it. It can guide you in anything starting from what and when to eat, how and how much to exercise, and even what to do with your life and how to find true happiness. We have that knowledge, it is a matter of tapping into it.
Learning to Listen and Understand the Teacher
- Learning how to listen to your body is important.
- Learning the language in which your body communicates is crucial if you want to decipher it’s message.
- What is even more important is acting based on what your internal voice tells you.
There is a difference between listening to the body and actually responding to that internal voice. It is the same difference as knowing the rules and acting according to them. For me it proved to be a lot more challenging than I expected.
One of the reasons that it was so difficult is because things that my internal teacher was whispering went against my logical beliefs. They were against what I read and what experts said. It was scary to follow the advice coming from inside not from someone with a big name and recognition. It was also difficult because it required letting go of my beliefs and changing my routine.
Often we get attached to our routine. There is something very comforting about predictability and doing things the way we are used to. Unfortunately, attachment makes us less flexible and less open to new things, even things that might be better for us than what we currently do.
How many times have you seen someone justify drinking coffee or alcohol because they find studies that show that it can be good? I see people who hurt themselves based on their old beliefs that something is good for them even though their body is telling otherwise. For someone it can be excessive exercise that breaks down joints and depletes muscles, for others – continuous grazing that causes bloating. In our day and age, one can find studies supporting almost anything. Contradictory studies can help you justify eating grains or refusing them, having fruits or cutting them out, drinking coffee or staying away from it, taking supplements or throwing them out, treating yourself to daily chocolates or putting a ban on cacao. Whatever you want, science got your back!
Still, most of us choose to trust some professor rather than our own body! We trust industry-sponsored questionable studies more than our body’s internal voice.
Nothing Is Written In Stone
Circumstances change, we change, our needs change. Keeping an open mind and not getting attached too much to the ideas, routines, or beliefs will allow you to see the world more clearly.
Our body changes continuously and its needs change along the way, we have to listen and adapt. There is nothing wrong with changing your beliefs as your understanding deepens. Victoria Boutenko is one of the people who was not afraid to publicly recognize that her understanding of nutrition and health has changed over the years. After years of promoting all raw diet and blaming cooked food for cravings, Victoria noticed that her body felt better with some cooked foods present in the diet. While it caused some people to judge her, others appreciated her honesty.
Ask Your Body What it Needs
One of the easiest ways to start learning from your body is to ask for feedback. I often go through this exercise with my students and everyone seems to really enjoy it. First read through the steps and then give it a try!
- Lay down or sit in a very comfortable supported position
- Close your eyes
- Take a few deep breaths and mentally say to yourself “I am relaxing, my body is fully relaxed with every exhale”.
- Keep your breath at natural slow rhythm. Deep and slow.
- Do a mental scan of your body and release any tension that you find.
- Start by saying “hi” to your body. ‘Hi body! How are you doing today?”
- Listen to what your body communicates to your in feelings, sensations, or thoughts that arise.
- Ask your body: ‘What can I do to make you feel better today?’
- Listen and act it on it!
One day your body might ask for a nap, another day for a run, and a green juice or chocolate. As long as you are listening to your body and don’t let your mind interfere, it will be a clear and authentic message that will bring good results if you follow!
F*ck the ‘no pain, no gain’ thingy!
One of the most powerful lessons that I learned from my body is that being fit and strong does not have to involve pain and struggle. It can be pretty easy, fun, and joyful. Surprised? I was, too!
Another cool thing that I learned from my internal teacher is that a six pack is not the only determinant of a fit body. A fit body is a body that wakes up full of energy, can run up the subway stairs without feeling fatigued in the quads, will dance all night without being tired the next day, hike all day, and digest food efficiently. (Yes, workouts and digestion are quite connected. Too much or too little will make your belly unhappy!)
- You can create a beautiful, strong, fit body by moderate exercise, meditation, stretching, relaxation, visualization, and mindful clean eating.
- If you prefer a harder and more painful way, then you can create a fit body by intense exercise, timed eating, supplements, and lots of will power to keep doing it.
The Choice Is Yours!
My body is telling me to go with the 1st one and that’s what I am working on:). In a Saturday I will tell you why I had to move from the will power and super intense workouts. Stay tuned by subscribing on the top right and please check out Spinach and Yoga page on facebook!
For now: Have you tried to listen to your body? Did you ever feel torn about following your body’s feedback when it was contradictory to what your mind was telling you to do?
Listen and you will hear!
PS: If you are new to relaxation or guided meditation and would like some help learning to listen to you body, schedule a consultation with me and I will be happy to work with you on that. You can also come by to Strala on Tue for a 7pm yoga class and we can chat before!