I’ve been having lots of conversations lately about the expectations we have for ourselves. We expect once we begin taking action to improve our health condition, that a shift to doing better will come quickly.
We read books, or internet articles, or hear someone’s gospel-like miracle healing story, and we expect that for ourselves too.
And sometimes that’s the case. We feel substantially better almost immediately.
But that’s not always the reality.
In fact, if you listen to nearly any respected academic researcher or health practitioner, or expert in their field, they often stray away from miracle stories and black and white health panacea protocols. And they instead use language more along the lines of “…it depends” and “not one thing that helps but a combination of [diet and lifestyle] factors.”
Healing Isn’t Linear
Rarely ever is healing, or improving in whatever goal we have for ourselves, linear. One finite example, is that it takes at least five days for the lining of the gut to repair itself after it’s been damaged, and a full three to five weeks for a food that triggered the inflammatory process to fully leave the system.
So as we already switch our calendars over from the first month of the new year into the second, this is my gentle reminder to you.
Go easy with yourself.
Expect less linear lines and gold stars at the top, and more nuance, (adventure!), overcoming fear, stepping into the unknown, and learning more about yourself and your needs.
And for something practical to guide you, here’s a little practice to try: Ask yourself what you need today by really stopping what you’re doing and resting a moment in complete not-doing-or-thinking-ness. And then ask yourself, what do I need today to feel better? How can I care for myself better today?
Our bodies are meant to heal themselves. Sometimes we have to mentally get out of our own way and give them care and time(!) to do so.
If nothing comes up for you in the reflective exercise above, or you’re ready for more nutritional guidance, I invite you to reach out to me for more personalized support on digestion, sports nutrition, or both.
I’ve been reminded lately of barriers we put in place that prevent us from healing chronic health challenges, or negative habits.
That barrier is how we attach ourselves to and start to own our struggles.
Here are a few example statements that illustrate this: – My typical GI struggles. – I’ve always hated vegetables. – I’ve always struggled with digestion. So have my parents. – I’ve had that ever since I was kid. I’ve always had it. – I never recover well during a (marathon) training cycle, and never get my nutrition and health to go right enough to be prepared for the race. – My anemia pattern.
Another example is identifying with our diagnosis or diet pattern as if it were a job title. This is often easily visible on social media. You might witness or use something like IBS Warrior or Ulcerative Colitis Warrior, or Celiac next to a name in a bio, as an example.
I’ll use my past self as another example. For a long time, I felt like whatever medical mystery that presented as something autoimmune meant I’d be in daily chronic pain forever. This began at age 27. I was in constant fear and anxiety about the pain, and I felt like I couldn’t get outside that experience, even temporarily. Fast forward seven years and my body and mind feel remarkably different. The cloud of bleakness hanging over me, the fear of pain, the internal anguish that I couldn’t understand is no longer part of my everyday.
Yes, when it comes to healing something that has been chronic, finding the right nutrition plan and lifestyle practices are incredibly important. But healing is also energetic. You have to believe it’s possible. And you have to change your mindset and the energy you put around the process.
You have to believe your body is meant to heal.
And we start to believe what we say about ourselves. By saying we always struggle with something, that means deep down that we probably believe we will always struggle with it.
This simple, though definitely not easy, nugget of first changing what we say (out loud and internally) is what catalyzes healing. We start to believe lasting healing is possible. We seek out and then are put into connection with individuals who further light the healing pathway from whatever we’re currently experiencing – an autoimmune condition, IBS, chronic fatigue, a lifetime of emotional and disordered eating and body hate, weight woes, medical diagnoses that are largely written off, etc.
And sometimes our catalyst for healing is just an example from another person.
For instance, we all operate within a community, whether that’s in person in our daily lives, or people we follow online who influence us. Often, we identify with individuals who have journeyed through similar experiences and challenges as us.
What often distinguishes individuals who are incredibly good at healing themselves for the long term, and those that have chronic set-backs, lies in what the first group don’t spend their time doing.
These “experts at healing” don’t hang out in forums or self-help groups with individuals discussing the woes of their symptoms or how bad it is. They get out of their negative head space as soon as they notice they’ve fallen into it. They change their language in how they talk about their health. Instead of statements like “I always struggle with….” or “My faulty digestion….”, they view a health challenge as a temporary setback. My digestion is currently less than ideal — That’s a less permanent way to state that.
Or I haven’t yet arrived at the end of a training cycle feeling like I’ve nailed my nutrition and recovery strategies, but I believe it’s possible and I’m committed to exploring what has prevented me in the past.
Or My doctor believes I have lupus that I’ve put into semi-remission enough to be below the threshold for clinical diagnosis. I am not a victim. And I’m committed to my nutrition and lifestyle practices to continue my journey towards complete healing. This statement was my personal example.
In my case, I refused to mentally identify with or use the word lupus. For one, I didn’t have an actual diagnosis. But for me, that choice was energetic. This is similar to (before then) never using the words celiac, IBS, or dysbiosis about myself–though they were all either likely or true. These words we attach ourselves to are incredibly powerful. And here I am a handful of years later, and I haven’t thought about the words “autoimmune” or “lupus,” “IBS,” or “dysbiosis” as it relates to myself in quite a while.
Think about how you can shift the statements you make about your health. Catch yourself when you say what “you’ve always” said about your situation. Restate it in a less attached, or less in ownership, way.
Let the way you speak be a catalyst for how you think about your health.
*Note on the book pictured above: I don’t remember the plot. But I do remember it was part of my finding joy and rewiring how I thought about my health process.
I’ve been reflecting lately on healing and health – how some of us are ‘gifted’ with easy and good health, and easy and quick recovery from running and workouts for most of our lives…and then for some of us, health is a multi-faceted journey, a ‘getting to’ figure out what the nugget(s) of wisdom are underneath the sometimes long periods of pain, struggle, fear, disease, injury…
I certainly don’t have all the answers. But I know that finding and immersing yourself in what brings you joy, eating more foods that still look like they came from the ground/earth, and learning to set aside some of your hurry and worry helps a whole lot in the process.
I could give more details about eating colorful and anti-inflammatory foods, specific nutrients, etc. for sustainable and lasting healing.
But today, I’ll offer encouragement that is a little more abstract. Because finding what makes you feel whole and healthy long-term, what brings you joy and makes you feel like your most authentic self will always be worth pursuing.
I shared this recipe in a virtual cook-along with a few of my local Oiselle Volée running teammates this week and it was a big hit. It brought so much joy to me, and hopefully them, to share and bake it in community. Everyone loved the little pop of lemon this contains. The addition of the slight hit of acid enhances all the other flavors. This is also a great sweet dessert for individuals who are following a gut-healing dietary pattern. It contains only a little added sugar, which is highly inflammatory and problematic for gut-healing, but lots of flavor. Hope you enjoy!
Crumble Topping: 1 cup / 100 g rolled oats ⅓ cup / 37 g almond flour or ⅓ cup raw sunflower seeds, ground into a meal ¼ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon ground ginger ½ teaspoon turmeric 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ¼ cup /55 g coconut oil, ghee, or butter 2-3 tablespoons / 36 g sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the berries in a 8 x 8-inch baking dish or similar, and toss with ½ tsp. vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest.
Prepare the crumble in a separate bowl. Start by mixing oats, almond or sunflower flour, salt, spices, and vanilla.
Then add the coconut oil and sugar. Use a spoon or your hands to mix until combined. With your fingers, crumble the filling evenly over the berries.
Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until the fruit juices are bubbling around the edges and the topping is golden brown.
Notes: Change up the berries depending on availability and season. Some berries might require 1-2 Tbs. of maple syrup or sugar added to the filling. If using frozen berries, thaw and drain the excess liquid before using.