We have come to a place in life where we no longer have a daily body dialogue and I think it’s killing us. What I mean by this is we no longer recognize the ways our bodies are trying to communicate with us, and trust me, if your body is like mine it’s trying to get your attention all the time. Heres an example: You wake up one morning with puffy eyes and a runny nose. Your first thought is usually not, “ I wonder what my body is trying to communicate to me, let me think and listen”. We take an anti-histamine, blame nature, and go on with our day. But why do we do this? And more importantly why is this less than ideal for our long term health? Well, after taking a few years to get off daily dependency of asthma medication I have learned a few things with body dialogue that I’d like to share in hopes it helps you also.
After talking with many healthcare practitioners there seems to be a common theme: people using up hospital resources while wasting time with “non-doctor” related sicknesses. You know who I’m talking about, the people that, once get a runny nose, run to the doctor to have it checked out. This is a growing trend and is weighing heavily on the healthcare system, particularly here in Canada where we offer free public healthcare. I think the reason for this is because people have become so disconnected with their bodies, in terms of how they function, that we no longer have an understanding of sickness and disease so we fear it.
Having 4 kids I’m well aware of the course a common cold takes in our bodies and just how capable we are of handling it. The problem, it seems, is that anytime I google our kids symptoms the end result of whatever they have is death or some other life-threatening situation. I wonder why the default seems to be the absolute worst case, and most often statistically lower, the scenario. I don’t understand why it needs to be communicated this way. Why is the worst-case scenario the standard default now?
All this is stemming from the same root cause. We are disconnected from understanding our bodies and because of this we are uneducated and ignorant. And what do we do when we don’t understand something? We fear it. Case in point: rap music in the 80’s, Y2K, and AI.
Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing the ‘structures’ that underlie complex situations, and for discerning high from low leverage change. That is, by seeing wholes we learn how to foster health. To do so, systems thinking offers a language that begins by restructuring how we think.- Peter Senge
Let’s get down to the basics: Systems Thinking
I think the shift started somewhere during the industrial revolution. We moved from rural populations where we had systems of self-sufficiency to urban communities where we had systems of mutual-support. Don’t get me wrong, this was great, and a lot of great things happened regarding health. Look at the lower death rates in childbirth and other serious sickness and disease. But unfortunately, the side effect of this happening was the loss of many basic relationships.
When we look at our bodies we have to think in terms of pieces making up the whole. Systems thinking allows us to see how everything within our body is connected, even down to the very foods we eat. I had the fortunate experience of putting diesel into a gasoline vehicle (great learning tool for this, highly recommend it). We all get it right. We can see how this is going to create a bad outcome. But when we think of putting highly processed foods and refined sugars that are not meant for our bodies, for some reason we don’t get it, nor do we expect the same bad outcome. Why? Because fortunately, our bodies take time to destroy. On the same note, they also take time to restore and heal. But we don’t see either of these relationships because healthcare has become too convenient and instant. No, I’m not talking about the actual experience of going to the hospital, waiting in line like a cow going to the slaughter, then seeing a nurse while your constantly being coughed on from all the other sick people, then get some hospital band around your arm like a handcuff, then go sit for another 8 hours just to weed out the really sick ones from the rest, only to get to see a doctor on a prehistoric bed made of plastic and foam so uncomfortable it doubled as a life raft from the Titanic , and only for the doctor to tell you what you already knew so you could get the coveted prescription that YOU CANNOT FILL at the hospital, and only to have to then go drive to a pharmacy to yet wait in another line. OK, I’ll stop.
What I mean by healthcare becoming convenient is that there is a drug for almost any symptom out there. Please note the word symptom. And please note the fact that I owe my life to drugs, without them I would have died at 2 with my first asthma attack so not poopooing on drugs. BUT, let me say they clearly are not ideal. And as an asthmatic, or former, or maybe just one who now “avoids” creating an environment in my body that promotes asthma, I can say that the long term effects of daily dependency on medications is not ideal. But here is the thing, for 30 years I took those medications because they gave me immediate results, they were convenient. So what, you’re telling us to stop taking medications and your anti-healthcare and you probably think the Corona Virus was created because of evil big pharma companies? No, of course not. The point I’m trying to communicate is that perhaps we have gone down the road of symptom management because of the low hanging fruit it provides, rather than taking the longer more difficult approach of looking at the deep roots of sickness and disease and looking at lifestyle choices surrounding them.
So what did I do with asthma?
Well, the best way to stop having difficulties with your lungs is to have no lungs at all. I got them surgically removed and now enjoy a great life of rainbows and butterflies in fields of poppies. Ok, maybe not. Well, I started where any self-empowered person starts: google. And I found others who have done things like what I have done. I got inspired, realized I’ m not alone and went to see a naturopathic doctor who educated me on how my body works and why it was causing asthma. With this understanding, I could build a lifestyle that promoted health, not asthma. I found out what worked best for ME and my body by starting a food journal. I won’t tell you the exact things I did because it’s not about my “5 Step program” or something. What worked for me doesn’t necessarily work for you. The overall broad strokes for me was JERF: Just Eat Real Foods.
Insert Functional Medicine here
I have to do a shout out to Dr. Mark Hyman for leading the charge in bringing exposure to functional medicine. this is a systemic approach to health that I believe is the driving force to the future in clinical healthcare. Dr. Hyman and his team take a holistic approach to health. They have tapped into understanding that all the pieces of what makes up an individual (even beyond the physical body) is what makes up the whole individual and they approach sickness with this in mind. Another great thing they do is take time to educate people to understand and know how their body interacts with external factors like pollution, exercise, fresh air, food, etc.They are equipping people so that even outside the clinic they are still being care for, in the form of knowledge and understanding.
Health is not valued until sickness comes- Thomas Fuller
Its not about the diet
We need to get out of this diet culture and back to an individualized approach to listening and understanding our bodies. For me, it was understanding how my body was communicating to me that something was wrong (asthma and allergies) and all it took was being empowered to make changes. This is what we see happening within our startup, Enabled You. As you probably have read in previous articles, our purpose is to create a world where anyone can be empowered.
At one time in my life, I was empowered to take control of my health and therefore my life. This is a major reason why, at Enabled You, we are working alongside functional medicine practitioners. Together, want to empower you to create a lifestyle that promotes health and well-being. We strongly see the need for this as the rise of lifestyle-related sickness and disease increases in alarmingly high rates across the world.
So I would like to leave you with this challenge: are you creating a lifestyle that promotes health and well-being? If not I encourage you to ask yourself this question: What would it take for that to happen?
Thanks for reading!
To read more about eY check out this post: eY- Creating a business model that celebrates you