The one thing you need to do to be healthy (it’s not what you think)

The one thing I would suggest you do to be healthy, is stop reading articles like ‘the one thing you need to do is…’ and trying to apply them to your own life.

 

We are living in this somewhat crazy world full of social media and online marketing, and click bait is where it’s at. It’s also all about random people who have gained social-celebrity status by being attractive and flexible telling the masses how they should change their lives in order to be more healthy (skinny, happy etc). This could be by going vegan, working out in accordance to a particular guide which will whip your flabby body into a bikini-ready state (just look at all the before and after photos!) or drinking a particular bum-flavoured tea.

Can you tell this culture doesn’t sit well with me?

I was walking on the beach recently, first thing in the morning after waking up while on a solo camping trip (an aside – this is a great kind of trip for pondering life). As I strolled I was considering my own health and what I need at the moment. I came up with a few things that I’d like to change in my current lifestyle. I’m not going to tell you the nitty-gritty of the particular things I settled on, because you know what? They won’t be the same for you.

(Well, given that we’re all humans and many of us are suffering from similar afflictions of too much stress and not enough sleep etc, some of them might overlap, but you know what I mean – my prescription is not your prescription.)

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I really believe that people are their own experts.

I did some training recently in Recovery philosophy, which is a framework used in mental health. The philosophy is that everyone is on their own journey; that people already have what they need in order to be well; and that their recovery/wellbeing is up to them and what they want it to be, not what a mental health clinician or psychiatrist tells them it should be. I think the same philosophy should apply in the whole of health care. What you need to be healthy is best known by you, because you know yourself from the inside out. So much of the time people know what it is they need (more sleep, less stressful work, healthier eating, less drinking, the list could go on) and they don’t need someone to tell them that, they need someone to support them to make those changes. But when the decision comes from you, where you say ‘this is what I need’ the motivation is so much stronger to actually create the change.

This is not discounting the role of doctors or health professionals: what you most need, at time, might be to seek the expert opinion from a specialist or doctor or naturopath or exercise physiologist – but on your terms. Going at a time when you’re ready, when you’ve decided this is the best course of action for your own wellbeing.

What do you need to be healthy? Let me know in the comments or drop me an email instead!

Why I’m writing my own prescription (and why you can too)

I often prefer to call myself a coach when I’m working one-on-one with people who want to make positive changes to become healthier.

Rather than being a health professional who tells someone what to do, I’m allowing people to tap into their own intuitive wisdom about what they really need to be healthy. Because while I know what works for me personally (or at least, I’m learning!) and I know what the Australian healthy guidelines are for topics such as eating and exercise, every human is an individual with unique needs, and they know themselves best. A football coach doesn’t think he could play the game better than the players themselves right? In the same way, I don’t think I know your health better than you do.

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 They already know what they need

Most of the people I work with have received at least somewhat of an education and have usually done their own reading and research into various topics, so they already know what it is they need, they are just having trouble doing it. Think about it. Is there an area of your life (moving your body, eating, work/vocation, finances, sexual health, spirituality) where you know intuitively that there is something that if you went about it differently, you’d have better health? I’m sure there is. So, it’s not a lack of knowledge that is missing. It’s a lack of motivation, understanding, action or knowing how to change that holds people back.

And that’s where I come in.

Often, people are looking for someone to be accountable to, someone to celebrate wins with and talk though challenges, rather than someone to tell them what to do. Of course, in my role as a health professional, if someone is really stuck, or asks me for advice on a specific topic, I am able to offer suggestions and ideas that they might want to try. But I don’t go in shouting ‘here’s an eight week plan I’ve made for you, off you go!’. It’s about sitting with people, helping them uncover their own desires, intuitive wisdom, and facilitate a deeper understanding of and communication with themselves. It’s quite a humbling experience for me, and one I’m grateful to be able to practice.

 I do this as well.

I’ve also been writing my own plan for living a meaningful life alongside depression. Writing this sort of plan for yourself requires some experience, knowledge and understanding of yourself. It’s necessary to spend time – days, weeks, months (years!) observing yourself and your habits. It also does take some discipline – sometimes the things we know are good for us are hard to do (stop watching TV, anyone?). However, the beauty of writing your own prescription is that you get to say what’s best for you. Because really, you’ve been around for your whole life – who else knows you better? Certainly not a health professional you’ve just met.

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 Doctors are still good, too!

There is no doubt that modern medicine has offered us many life improvements and saved many thousands of lives. Only last week I ended up with tonsillitis and was pretty happy about the existence of antibiotics. I’m not AT ALL saying that you should stop seeing health practitioners. If you have a complex or acute illness or injury, you need to get yo’self to a health professional, stat. What I am saying, is that you can start to take responsibility for your own health, and making movements towards changing it. You don’t need a doctor to tell you that you should exercise more before you start moving your body. You don’t need to wait until you are in the early stages of diabetes before you start making changes to your dietary habits. You can tune in to yourself now, and let your intuition guide to as to what you really need to be well. And if your intuition tells you that part of your prescription involves working with a health professional, whether a supportive coach or someone that offers specific treatment, then that’s awesome. Because that’s you, feeling empowered to do what feels right for your health and your body.

Do you ever have a hunch that you know just what you need to be well, but have trouble actually taking the action or making the change? Let me know in the comments.