Do you ever feel as if you’re constantly fighting with your body? If so, you’re not alone. Whether we’re trying to manage a chronic health condition, lose weight, or just improve our overall wellness, sometimes it can feel like we’re beating our heads against the wall. Often it’s because rather than working with our bodies, we’re fighting them.
How does that happen?
Well, let’s think about what happens on January 1st almost every year. We make resolutions to ‘do better’ when it comes to our health and fitness. As part of those resolutions, we start the latest diet and head to the gym to take part in the new “guaranteed results” exercise craze.
So what’s wrong with improving our diets and exercising? Absolutely nothing.
But what if we’re following the wrong eating plans for our bodies, and/or exercising in ways that can make us more prone to injury or illness?
Each of us is unique, and what works for one person doesn’t always work for another.
We may jump in head first without giving enough thought to our individual needs. This can be true whether we’re talking about our physical wellness or one of the other dimensions.
When we do that, we run the risk of fighting our bodies instead of working with them. This can make things much more difficult than they have to be.
Why Do We End Up Fighting Ourselves?
Sometimes people lose touch with their bodies. This sounds odd, because our bodies are always with us, but you’d be surprised how many people have to re-learn how to actually listen to their bodies.
For others, it may be an issue of being in a different stage or season of their lives. For example, I’ve been doing a lot of research on metabolism lately, specifically women’s metabolism. As a somewhat *ahem* older woman, my metabolism doesn’t work the same way it did when I was younger. That means I can’t expect to get the same results from the things I used to do. I’ve had to learn new ways to work with the body I have now.
For some of us, it’s simply a matter of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. What do I mean by that? Sometimes we try to make ourselves follow a certain diet plan or participate in a certain type of exercise because it worked for other people. Or it could be trying to keep a food journal when we would rather poke a stick in our eye than write down every single bite we eat. Knowing ourselves and our preferences can help us find the things that will actually work for us.
How Do We Learn to Work With Our Bodies?
So how do we turn the page from working against our bodies to working with them? By doing some homework. This can be a little frustrating for some people, because they may just want to get started. It may cost us a little time initially, but spending that time learning about our bodies and our preferences can save us a lot of time and heartache in the long run.
1. Do some research if you need to.
If you’re in one of those different stages or seasons of life we talked about above, or you live with a chronic condition, you may need to do some research. For instance, did you know that women who are in menopause are more carb-sensitive? Or that you can actually regain bone density by doing strength training? How about the fact that as people age, they most likely need more protein in their diets?
A little research can go a long way in helping us know what our bodies need and what we can do to provide it.
2. Get reacquainted with your body and your preferences.
Learning to listen to our bodies is vital. It lets us know what’s ‘normal’ and what’s not for us. We have to be attuned to how we feel and learn the difference between something that hurts and something that is just uncomfortable.
We may also have to relearn what real hunger feels like. You’d be surprised how many people have lost touch with their hunger and satiety cues. They can’t tell if they’re really hungry or when they’re full.
Learning how our bodies feel and react is critical. This means paying attention to them.
It may also mean asking ourselves some questions. Here are a few that can help us discover what we really want and get back in touch with our bodies and our preferences.
- What do I really want? Is it better overall health? Stronger bones? A healthier heart? Improved mental health? Financial wellness? Or do you just want to stay mobile so you can get on the floor and play with your grandkids? This becomes our why. Knowing why we’re really making changes can keep us going when it gets hard and we want to give up. Remember, our why needs to be something meaningful – keep asking the question “why” you want to do something until to get to the bottom of it.
- Do I really believe I can be successful? I’ve always told people most of us have at least some idea of the things we need to be doing, but getting our minds right is the real key to being successful. It really does all start in the mind.
- What are my limitations? As much as we’d like to believe we could do anything we put our minds to, sometimes that’s just not the case. There may be things we simply cannot do, or things we need to work around when we’re setting our goals and making our action plan. This can become especially important when we’re talking about things like strength training, as we need to address any musculoskeletal dysfunctions before we start to put resistance on those bones and muscles that could be susceptible to injury.
- What am I willing to do? When we’re making changes, things can get uncomfortable. We may have to do things we haven’t done before, learn new techniques, or find a way to work our new habits into our already-packed schedule. We have to make sure we know the ‘cost’ of making the changes and whether we’re willing to pay the price.
These are only a few of the questions we can ask ourselves to get to know ourselves better, but they’re a good starting point.
When we stop fighting our bodies and learn to work with them, we’re well on our way to success!
Do you ever feel you’re fighting with your body? How do you handle it? Please share!