Change Isn't Always Easy...
In fact, making a conscious decision to alter the course of your life can be downright scary – no matter whether that change is taking on a new career, becoming a parent, moving to a new town, choosing to end a relationship…or even taking the necessary steps to improve your health.
And I completely understand that at times, it can seem all too hard – particularly when you are not feeling anywhere near at your best to begin with. The road ahead can seem insurmountable, the direction uncertain. The future self that you want to bring into reality seems shrouded in mystery.
I completely understand how this feels. The path to change hasn’t been a simple one in my own life, and at first I wasn’t even aware that solutions were available, or change possible. When I was in my mid-20’s, I was diagnosed with severe endometriosis, which saw me live a significant proportion of my life in pain, bone-numbing fatigue and pure misery. I certainly was not told that anything I did could possibly make any difference to my experience. I thought I was doomed to be stuck in an endless circle of painkillers and repeated surgeries - like I’d simply been unlucky enough to have drawn the proverbial short straw in life.
But what I have witnessed – both in my own life, and that of my patients over the past decade as a natural healthcare practitioner – is that we have so much more control over our health than we realise. The decision whether we step up take it, is in our own hands.
The World We Know
Advancements in medical care are among the greatest benefits of living in the 21st century, and whilst I (obviously) have a passion for natural health, I also am grateful for the incredible knowledge we have available to us in this day and age. I remember being amazed at all the technology and expertise that played a central role in saving my twins’ lives when they were born 10 weeks prematurely – and that was more than 2 decades ago! Things have only gone ahead in leaps and bounds since.
But the trouble is this – the conventional approach that we rely on as our primary system of healthcare simply wasn’t set up to deal with the chronic conditions that are so prevalent in our society today. Yes, we have the longest life expectancy in history and infant survival rates are extremely high compared to years gone by. We have clean drinking water readily available, an (over)abundance of food, and assistance at the touch of a few buttons in life-threatening situations.
The catch is, that on the whole (global pandemics excluded) we’ve exchanged acute, life-threatening illnesses for chronic ones. We're living longer, but we're not living healthier. Our illnesses may not be immediately life-threatening – but make no mistake, they are sorely impacting our quality of life. Instead, now we experience chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, hormonal imbalances, unexplained fatigue, sleep disturbances, depression/anxiety and thyroid problems. Not to mention the ever-increasing rates of Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol issues. And whilst there are a whole host of pharmaceutical medications available for these conditions, these are usually designed for the sole purpose of minimising symptoms - but do little to address the underlying cause. In fact, a study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that 38% of the most common diseases that create a burden on our health (such as cancer and heart disease) were preventable by a simple change in lifestyle. 38%!! That’s a lot of lives affected. And the most worrying thing is – according to this study, more people were having to live with a chronic disease than actually died from one. That’s a lot of people experiencing a sub-optimal quality of life.
Why It’s GOOD To Feel Challenged
Whilst addressing lifestyle makes a lot of sense, we know that the temptation to stay put in our comfort zone is strong. Taking the steps we know we really need to take to improve our health can be overwhelming. And if this sounds familiar, rest assured, you are not alone. In fact, we are actually hardwired to stay within the boundaries of what we know, and the familiar. When you are faced with a new situation, a very primitive part of your subconscious brain springs into action in your defence. You see, your subconscious does not like change – and it goes to great lengths to ensure that it keeps you safe from any perceived danger. It will whisper little pieces of self-sabotage such as ‘it’s all too hard’ or ‘I’m too busy for this right now’ or even ‘I don’t want to miss out on ice-cream!’.
But the question you need to ask is – what is the cost of staying in that safe comfort zone?
The Physical Cost
Probably the most obvious cost is the impact on your daily life. Perhaps you struggle with fatigue and getting through your day is really hard. Are you suffering from continual aches & pains that stop you from participating in activities you enjoy? Do you have to plan your day around where the closest toilets are, or are kept awake at night with burning reflux?
Do you ignore these signals your body keeps sending you? How much of your quality of life are you trading when you continue to put up with these issues?
The Emotional Cost
As I work predominantly with women who are wanting to lose weight and find their old selves again, I see the emotional toll that not feeling comfortable within one’s own skin takes. Heck, I even know what this feels like myself, having struggled with my weight for many years (despite being a qualified nutritionist with the world’s top research at my fingertips and eating plenty of healthy food! It wasn't until I discovered Metabolic Balance that things started to change for me...).
Staying stuck in a pattern of continual weight gain, constant deprivation, feeling like you MUST exercise to the point of exhaustion and being on the lookout for the newest diet that may just be the miracle solution - is just draining. And worse – none of these tactics work in the long run anyway.
What would it take for you to step out of self-destructive patterns and into your own power?
The Cost To Relationships
It’s no secret that relationships take work. Whether they be with a spouse, family members, friends or colleagues. And healthy social connection is a key factor in our overall wellbeing. We are tribal beings with an inherent need for human contact. But it’s very difficult to maintain a great relationship with your special people when you aren’t feeling at your best.
What’s the cost to your family if you feel irritable and cranky all the time, when what you really want is to have fun and make memories? Does your relationship suffer from lack of intimacy because you’ve lost your mojo somewhere along the way? How would your life be different if you were feeling on top of your game and able to show up as your best self?
The Financial/Career Cost
A good part of my work involves supporting entrepreneurs maintain their stamina and energy so they can keep up with their busy, often very stressful, professional lives. But you don’t need to be running a business to want to maximise your mental clarity and physical skills - feeling focused and full of vitality will help you in all aspects of your life.
How would you feel if you weren’t wading through the oh-so-common ‘brain fog’ and endless cups of coffee needed to just stay halfway functional - imagine what could be achieved in a day! Maybe you’ll get that promotion or start that dream career, as your self-confidence naturally improves. And how much better would your working life be if your sick days are kept to a minimum?
The Future Cost
Ultimately, by finding the right approach to our own health – one that works with our body – we have the potential to create a different path to the future. This is incredibly powerful, and what I wish for each and every one of you.
The technical term for this concept is known as ‘compression of morbidity’. Morbidity means ill health, so our goal is to ‘compress’ this into as short a period as possible! Staying active and vital for as long as we can, rather than starting down the road of ill health decades too early. With the majority of chronic health conditions greatly improvable (if not preventable) with the right food and a better lifestyle, we really do have a lot more power over the trajectory of our life than we are led to believe.
And On That Note...
Earlier in this article, I mentioned my own experience with endometriosis. It actually frightens me now to think where I would be if I hadn’t taken charge of my own health. I was stuck in a cycle of pain, fatigue and depression, and I do wonder if I would have ended up hooked on painkillers too. Luckily, I decided to do what I could to address the underlying drivers of my condition by taking a good hard look at my nutrition and lifestyle. And I got some professional guidance from my own naturopath, who was worth her weight in gold as she provided me with something that was more important than anything – hope that things could be better than they were. A thought that I wasn’t stuck, that I did have power over my own destiny, and that there were things that I could proactively do to help improve my condition.
No, change isn’t always easy. But I promise you – it is worth it.