Friday, 28 September 2007

Taking Control of Our Health

You've probably heard the now cliched 'Garbage In/Garbage Out' for so long that it's lost its impact.

What does that mean, anyway?

As it pertains to food, Garbage In means throwing anything into your body without concern of what is actually in the 'food'. Not reading labels, eating past the point of control, eating poor-quality foods because you've waited until you're just famished so anything will do. That's Garbage In.

Garbage Out means our body will react in a myriad of ways, showing us all kinds of signs that manifest our inner 'turmoil'. It's our body tapping us on the shoulder, trying to get our attention...from the lowly zit to headaches, joint pain, weight gain, high blood pressure, constipation, depression, lowered immunity...believe me, I could go on.

OK, if you insist...

Maybe you notice your skin is itchy after eating wheat, but you don't make the connection. I didn't'... "What ARE all those scratches on my arms?" I used to ask myself. I wasn't even conscious of scratching until I scratched on a scratch and it stung.

The only thing that gave me pause, was pain. Many of us wait for pain of some sort before cluing in, and think that health simply means the lack of pain.

If Garbage In is the party, Garbage Out is the hangover...either whispering or's talking to you.

People get soothed by Garbage In because Garbage Out isn't insistent enough, or serious enough to warrant our full attention. (You know, the wake-up call people half expect in their lifetime...when it gets bad enough that they'll have to do something. Or absurdly, wait for their doctor to tell them to stop or start something.)

Why do we do these things? Often, it's because we're ignoring our body's needs. Delaying eating past the point of reasonable creates a desperate environment inside you. You can ignore the discomfort of slight hunger - your body's signal that it needs fuel to keep working properly - by keeping your attention on other, more 'important' things.

This can go on all morning, until you say, "Geez, I haven't had anything to eat today!" When you get to that point, that's fertile ground for Garbage In...lessee, what's quick and dirty? How can I stop this feeling?....Hm...donut....We just take a shortcut, (who needs roads?) not caring that we've driven across a flower bed to get there.

But see, eating is our first line of defense against all the things that could go wrong!

I can't think of an area of life where people use magical thinking more than the area of eating and health. Just indiscriminate eating and somehow we'll dodge the bigger issues like serious chronic disease.

But all those 'irritations' I mentioned above are the conditions necessary for breeding just that. It isn't an accident and we're not victims. While most of us in our society are raised to expect that we eat junk, have regular doctor's appointments, take medication, get old, get sick, and eventually die of it, I don't believe it has to be like that at all.

Okay, so imagine the opposite of Garbage In/Garbage Out. Imagine everything you put into your body being something that optimally supports your body's functions and creates an environment of total health.

That kinda takes the accident out of it, doesn't it? Taking control of our health is just that. Being the one in control, not a victim of it, not a leaf in a windstorm.

Who's to blame us, though, when society is set up the way it is. Take TV commercials that just want to 'fix' everything...presenting poor quality fast foods like they're magical, while telling you to get your mammogram, and take your pills. Never mind that no one is addressing the first part of the equation, Garbage In. There's no money in that! Sticking a band aid over Garbage Out, that's where the big bucks are!

There's just so much of it out there, that we stop hearing it. Where do you even start? We all see this stuff and say to each other with smirks on our faces, "Everything gives you cancer, so what's the use...might as well enjoy life..." Hell, I've said it myself.

It's all very overwhelming and confusing until you realize that you don't have to do a lot to stop the train. You don't need super powers or Herculean effort. You don't have to give up or quit anything until you are the one telling yourself to.

If all you do is adjust one thing to do with Garbage In, Garbage Out will do the rest.

So how can you start today?

Right now, get up, go on, get up and get yourself a glass of water and drink it down. Then, tonight, at dinner, make yourself a little salad.

That's all... just start there. I recently read some wisdom that I'll paraphrase here: the best place from which to start a long journey is where you are right now.

Beginning to take control of our health is not about drastic anything. No quitting the way you've always known it, no starting a whole new way to be, and certainly not because I said so, or any other person said so. It's been a journey to this place for me, this raw place.

I'd like to mention that I am not speaking from a mountain top where all is holy and right with the world.

Even though I am years into researching nutrition and wellness, I'm only a little over 4 months into eating raw. And this isn't so much about raw as it is about awareness of health, whatever that looks like for you.

As I type these things, I can only hope with all my heart that I haven't already created disease in myself before I woke up and turned it around.

Yes, I believe that we can heal our body with nutrition, but I also know that these disease states take years to manifest. And I've been right in there with the beer drinkers and junk food junkies and the yo-yo dieters and the Big Macs and the lowered immunity for a lot longer than 4 months. But since nothing ruins the party more than the knowledge that the 'cops' are coming, I knew things had to change.

The signs are certainly there that I've turned my health around, but like a lot of people, I do still harbour 'niggly' thoughts that I've done permanent harm.

The best way to shut those thoughts out, though, is to keep on this path. (At least the thoughts are niggly and fleeting now...they used to scream at me!) It's not even a big leap to feeling better, starting exactly where you are at. The moment I started making choices to support my health, the thoughts that used to scream at me got very tiny and quiet.

It's like this: It's not the fact that you're not "THERE" yet (healthy, slender, whatever 'there' is for you) it's that you're on the 'wrong' road. Everyone has their own 'wrong' road, but we all pretty much recognize it the same's when you'll feel the most discomfort and give yourself the hardest time. The minute you turn down the right road, the 'screaming' will stop and the gentle guidance will kick in. The self-love will surprise you in that it doesn't wait until you're "THERE". It just all starts feeling better right away, because you're traveling down a path that will serve and support health and life rather than disease and death.

Ever gone to the gym and had a great first workout? You'll know that even though you look the same driving home that day, everything has changed.


Fiona Kernaghan said...

Hey again, Rawkin... just wanted to say I feel for you and the long, sad winter you've been through and could really relate. I had a winter like that that lasted for about 5 years! Aaahg! I, too, heard that voice that said "enough" and slowly turned things around and the right food and exercise were two huge factors in overcoming what had become completely debilitating depression. The other thing was looking at my songwriting in a different way and then finally singing again- giving myself a voice again. I'm sending you much, much happiness and health! F x.

Rawkin' said...

Thank you so much for dropping by my blog, Fiona, and for commenting :)

We love farmers markets too and I was laughing with my neighbour about how excited we get over gorgeous produce! haha

I just read your second comment and want you to come closer so I can give you a proper hug. Thank you, my friend. It is never lost on me, being heard and understood. I'm glad to hear you overcame your sad time as well... I mean, it's a long life, right... so things like this can come and go but I've come to think that by staying on track health-wise, if I do have a hard winter, it won't be as dark or as long. Wishing you all the best as well.

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