A long-time close friend would often ask, after patiently listening to a litany of drama in a person’s life, “are you ready for some tough love?” And either the individual braced for it and cautiously replied, “sure” or, in a rare case, would demur.
Sometimes we aren’t willing or ready to hear the hard truths of a situation. Our health is no exception.
According to the Center for Disease Control’s 2016 data, the top causes of death in the United States include: heart disease, cancer, accidents (unintentional injuries), chronic lower respiratory diseases, and stroke (cerebrovascular diseases). With the majority of these causes of mortality being preventable by abstaining from smoking, eating well, and engaging in regular physical activity, we don’t really have much of a real excuse.
A lot of us outsource our responsibility to doctors and the pills and surgeries recommended, without asking how we can take ownership of the only house we’ll live in for the rest of our lives.
It’s like going to a mechanic when something is wrong with your automobile and finding out the problems you’re paying for now exist because you had neglected to do the proper maintenance for years. You had the best of intentions, but it just never got done. So the mechanic does the repairs and you pay for them, but if you keep essentially mistreating the car by ‘feeding’ it incorrectly and neglecting the early signs and symptoms of an issue, problems will re-appear and persist. Now who is at fault, and with whom does the responsibility lie – the mechanic or the car’s owner?
It’s not a pretty truth. Humans are all so very good at being able give advice to others. We all can parrot off a small list of ideas on how others can improve their health, and we are quick to share parenting tips with other parents, to ‘fix’ our friends’ issues with their relationships…but do we even take our own advice? What is the disconnect between us KNOWING what we need to do to have good health and then us DOING it? It is often do to us rationalizing the problem and blaming it on external circumstances. “I should eat dinner at home…that healthy recipe I planned, but I got out of work late and there’s a pizza place right here….”
Unlike replaceable cars, our bodies are the only vehicle we have to take us through our entire lives and many of us skip over the boring, daily maintenance including eating nourishing meals, getting exercise, and flossing.
Once you allow the reality of the above statement to sink in, you may find yourself a bit unsettled, even angry. Many people feel stuck, unsure of where to start in trying to make health improvements. The enormity of the problem hangs before us and the temptation is to ‘numb out’ with some ice cream. “We’ll figure it out tomorrow”, we say to ourselves, “let’s just have a bit of distraction and calm down”. We want to avoid the truth because the truth would require us to change.
We don’t know what steps to take, or how to do it…we’re afraid of failing. The fear, combined with our lack of know-how, often combine and we start to shut down and seek a comfortably numb existence…through denial and/or through a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Some of us retreat to a fantasy world where WE will never have a heart attack (despite indications in our lab values or family history telling us otherwise). Our secret wish is that ‘modern medicine’ will save us from our decades of poor food choices and sedentary lives.
One way or another, reality catches us. We gain 10, 20, 30 pounds or more; we receive a diabetes or another unsettling diagnosis from the doctor. Often times, we’ve seen the train coming, but it was far off enough that we continued playing on the tracks.
An example of this is a client who came in with diabetes type II; the client acknowledged years of blood sugar issues (and a family history), but since they didn’t have diabetes YET, they continued to eat the sweets as they pleased.
There is a silver lining: your empowerment begins when you face the reality of your situation. It involves admitting that you’ve gained an extra 25lbs and that it’s negatively affecting your health and your life. Change begins when you acknowledge the truth first.
What’s a health issue you are tolerating right now? What area of your wellness are you reluctant to shine a light on? Is it extra weight around your mid-section, poor sleep, high lab values, loneliness?
Step 1. Leave denial and step into reality; have courage in telling the truth (whether it’s admitting it to yourself or a trusted friend) and let the healing begin.
Step 2. Gather support. It’s easy to let yourself become overwhelmed with worry or how you’ll need to improve your situation. Gather emotional and practical support as you process your feelings; enlist the knowledgeable assistance you need. This could be a call to your doctor, therapist and meeting with an expert registered dietitian-nutritionist.
You cannot outsource your health, but you can find people to assist you and guide you on your journey. The sage advice of a compassionate healthcare provider can help you turn things around so you can confidently move forward.
Start with a complimentary 20-minute Discovery Call to share your health concerns, goals, and learn how we’ll work together to achieve a higher level of wellness.