The mind and body are truly amazing. Whatever we throw at ourselves we generally adapt to or put up with.
The beauty and nightmare of this, is that as our bodies change according to our lifestyle, things that may be unhealthy, abnormal or even dangerous to our health, become the norm, and we fail to recognise their lack of benefit to us before it is too late and the health limitations set in.
18 years ago, that was my situation. I was 20 kilos overweight from enjoying too much junk food and partying and utterly miserable about how I felt. What was alarming however, wasn't just the fact that I couldn't fit into my jeans or a wear a bathing suit. It was the slaughtering of my self esteem, sluggish digestive system, pale complexion and frequent insomnia. I just accepted that easy me. The reality was I was letting myself go and I was getting comfortable and complacent with it. I was only 23.
It took me 6 months to overhaul my diet and reset my body to how it was meant to be, and despite a few lapses I consistently review my health and fitness in the hope I never get like that again.
So how does this relate to this blog post you may ask?
I want to illustrate that it is easy to become comfortable and complacent with our current health. We all do it at some point and sometime we get so deep into our "unhealthy" and sometimes "unhappy" lifestyle that we begin to think that is how life is, that is just who we are. I disagree. But to test this I have listed a checklist of ailments that you may be getting a little too comfortable with and accepting as "normal" but it couldn't be further from the truth.
Take a close look at your health and identify any health issues you may be experiencing that you have began to accept as "just who you are" or are you simply just kidding yourself and letting complacency and stagnancy set in at the cost of your quality of life.
1. FATIGUE / SLUGGISHNESS
Many of us confuse the feeling of sluggishness and fatigue with being tired. As similar as they are, there is a clear distinction. For most of us, tiredness can often be remedied by solid and quality sleep, (kids permitting of course). Chronic fatigue or sluggishness can still present itself despite our getting quality sleep.
Think of it like getting up the stairs. If you are tired, it is difficult, a bit of a struggle perhaps. But if you are sluggish, those stairs can sometimes face you with the enormity of a mountain, and getting up them is literally scary. This comes down to fatigue and in laymans terms, sluggishness.
The bad news, is that this kind of fatigue can be just as debilitating as sleep deprivation. The good news is that, in many cases it can be cured by significant improvements to your diet and fitness routines. A few examples are below. These can be fixed by weaning and possibly eliminating the stressor foods. It may sound like hard work, but it is simply a matter of choice. Is the pain worth it, if not, you know it is time to change.
POSSIBLE LIFESTYLE CA-- USES
Excess processed food
Dehydration from not drinking enough and excessive processed food consumption
Not enough exercise
Medical Causes can also be at play
such as thyroid dysfunction and iron deficiency
2. LOWER BACK PAIN
But what happens when you can't explain why you are feeling the pain when your pain becomes severe and unexplainable it can seriously interfere with your quality of life. Before you spend your well earned dollars, consider some of the possible causes below.
POSSIBLE LIFESTYLE CA-- USES
The core is involved in everything, yet many of us neglect taking care of it till it's too late. The group of muscles that make up your core basically act as a corset, holding you your body and enabling you to do simple, every day exercises. If you allow these muscles to become weak with lack of exercise or compromised due to poor posture, lifting and exercise techniques, it can lead to excruciation back pain.
Poor choice of shoes is responsible for a great deal of back pain yet it can be remedied easily. Shoes should support both your ankle and the bridge of your foot and you should not have to work hard to keep them on your feet or in place. If shoes are not correctly fitted (or indeed are loose, like thongs) it will cause your foot to grip the shoe to prevent it from falling off. Use of this gripping action can cause referred pain in many lower body joints, but particularly your lower back.
The hip flexors are a group of muscles running from your lower back to your legs. These, like all muscles become tight and shorten in the event of not being used correctly. This shortening results in pulling your back in front of you, creating the famous stoop that some people develop as they age.
Muscle imbalance in our bodies causes other muscles to over compensate. Many of us carry on our daily life despite injuries, think knee pain, sore feet. This causes our body to
Although there are many lifestyle factors that cause back pain some more serious than others, core is very central to most pains. Setting a goal and ritual to strengthen your core daily is essential, particularly in women. Strengthening our core can sometimes sound a little intimidating, but believe me when i tell you it really doesn't have to be. In fact if going to pilates or the gym or yoga is not something you can achieve then doing it in your home is perfect.
3. CONSTANT HUNGER
I am sure I am not alone in saying this, but we all have these days where we constantly seem to be famished. Sometimes of course they are totally normal, your body is craving a vitamin or mineral that you are missing, or you may have your period and need the extra energy. However when this becomes an everyday occurrence, you need to step back and look if something else is going on.
POSSIBLE LIFESTYLE CA-- USES
REFINED / PROCESSED FOODS
Foods that are heavily processed (commercially) or refined can play havoc with our blood sugar levels. As the foods are already so broken down (or processed) our own body has little work to do to actually access the energy, i.e. sugar and fat. This results in a sometimes surge in our blood sugar levels (sometimes so much as to cause a euphoria) followed by a massive crash causing an increase in hunger again and the cycle continues. By eating whole foods that are in their natural state, your body can process them at a more gradual level, providing you with energy to sustain the day rather than a 30 minute window.
Most of us are eating too much simply because we are confusing our thirst with hunger. Be honest and ask yourself are you really drinking enough water on a daily basis. Guidelines vary from 1.5litres upwards, but that should be the minimum. The next time the urge to eat presents itself, drink 2 glasses of water first, then wait 10 - 15 minutes before you consider if you are hungry again.
INSUFFICIENT PROTEIN /CALORIES
Are you eating enough of the right stuff? Protein primarily is a huge factor in monitoring our hunger. Aim to have 1gram of protein per kilo of body weight per day. For example, if you weigh 60 kilos have at least 60 grams of protein to efficiently fuel your body.
4. SORE JOINTS
Joint pain can be merciless, wearing down not only your joints but your temper too. The frustrating pain can impact everything around you, from your patience with your kids to being on top of your projects at work.
Whilst sore joints can be a red flag for many serious health issues such as arthritis and diabetes, for the most part we are lucky enough to be able to manage them though simple changes to our lifestyle and health.
When you walk the weight on your joints is approximately 1 and a half times your body weight. A healthy weight should not pose too many problems, but as your weight increases of course so does the pressure on your joints. For example a 100 kilos woman will be equivalent to 150 kilos, further if you add an incline such as a hill or a flight of stairs that force can increase further by 2 or 3 times your weight, add in a squat to tie your pick up the kiddies toys from the floor and the pressure your weight exerts on your joints can increase by unto 4 times your body weight!!
Reducing your weight can have a massive impact on joint pain, even by a few kilos due to the behaviour of the pressure on your joints. If you are on the heavier side give it a try.
Fish oil has long had a history of helping prevent (and some say treat) arthritis. I am in the latter. I have suffered with it for about 20 years but take good quality fish oil daily and I absolutely swear it helps. Ideally take them in the morning and wash them down with some warm water to trigger the melting of the capsule. Don’t be impatient, it will take some time, at least 2 weeks to notice a difference. This is not something to be taken for a short time. Personally I will take fish oil capsules for the rest of my life.
A lack of water is a prime contender for causing headaches, one of the reason I drink so much.
Water is essential to flush out toxins in your body. It makes sense therefore that without it toxins can build up and can cause an array of complaints.
Heavily processed food, excess caffein and soft drinks such as coke can also contribute to a throbbing head. Keep a journal of your food and drink and monitor when and if certain foods or drinks trigger headaches. But bear in mind, a build up of toxins is not due to just what has been immediately ingested, it could be from a couple of days ago, so ensure you keep a food diary or record for a good 2 weeks to get an idea.
These ailments may seem trivial, But if they are something that you experience regularly then you need to make a change now.
A smart place to start is to keep a lifestyle journal or even a simple notebook.
Everyday be sure to note how you feel. (I suggest ranking your feelings out of 10) along everything that goes into your mouth, food, drink, cigarettes, medicines, chewing gum and all the exercise you partake in if any.
Keeping the journal for at least 7 days will give you a great foresight into where you are going wrong, if you are indeed. It is also a great way to actually realise what you are eating and drinking. Many of us judge ourselves a little too lightly on the calorie and processed food counter. Use the journal to see what you are actually eating, rather than just what you are telling yourself you are eating. You may be very surprised.
Although many of these symptoms can be remedied by paying attention to our health and fitness, should you suspect something more serious, visit your health professional immediately.