“Charlie” came in the other day with a sour look on his face. When I asked what was wrong, he explained that his cardiologist was changing his medications and his diet again because his blood pressure, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol were all up. He couldn’t believe it. He had thought he was making so much progress.
When I asked him about it, he confessed that he had been having chest pains, shortness of breath, and severe indigestion. I wanted to grab his collar and shake him, but I bit my tongue instead.
His body was screaming at him and he wasn’t listening.
Are You Listening To Your Body?
I see people all the time with FitBits, smart watches, and health apps on their phones, who are clueless about the signals their bodies have been sending them since the day they were born.
When you need to eat, your body lets you know it…without the assistance of an electronic device. Most people can hear that message pretty clearly (although, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been known to ignore that message myself). In fact, some of us hear that message more than their bodies send it, and that’s a different problem.
But what about the other messages?
Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong inside. If you can’t bend over to tie your shoes because the pain is too great, that’s an indicator that something is not working the way it is supposed to. Most Americans have been conditioned to grab an aspirin or an ibuprofen when that pain comes, but that’s just like covering up the “Check Engine” light on your car’s dashboard. Your body is trying to warn you about an injury, and you need to fix it soon.
Are You Hearing These Signals?
If you can’t seem to lose the spare tire around your waist, it’s a signal that you are either eating the wrong kinds of foods or you are too stressed out. You need to heed that warning.
Lack of mobility means your muscles are not properly conditioned to do their jobs. If you can’t do any of the Move Right Monday exercises without pain or without losing your balance, that’s a warning sign to you.
Lower back pain when you stand up from a sitting position is a warning sign that your leg muscles or your abdominal muscles are over-tightened and need to be brought back into balance with the opposite muscles. Your body is built like a suspension bridge, and the opposing tensions have to be balanced or they will pull your skeleton out of alignment. Your posture will tell me within seconds which muscles are over-tightened and which are under-tightened.
I’m always surprised at how many people come in with serious chronic pain and don’t know why. Or the ones who fall asleep after eating a big bowl of pasta and don’t think there is anything wrong with that. Then there are the ones with migraine headaches and constipation who argue that there is nothing wrong with their diet.
If your body is sending you a message…LISTEN!
Misunderstanding The Message
Now, I understand if you don’t know what to do about the messages you are receiving. There is so much wrong health messaging in our culture that it’s no wonder why people have a hard time connecting the dots between lifestyle choices and pain. But that’s the time you need to seek out clear answers. Here are a couple of messages and what they mean:
- You’re thirsty: you are dehydrated and need to drink clean, filtered water as soon as possible. If you answer that signal with a soft drink, you will make it worse.
- Your muscles are sore after a workout or hard work: you didn’t stretch those muscles properly before or after the exertion, and they are putting pressure on the nerves.
- You can’t focus on your work after lunch: you might have combined your food wrong at lunch. I don’t mean you got your salad mixed up with your spaghetti. I mean there are certain combinations of food that don’t go well together. I’m going to touch on that next week.
- You have a headache every time you read for more than a few minutes: it might be time to look into getting glasses, selecting a larger type font, or investing in some better lights in your reading area. Also, if you frequently go back and forth from extreme near objects to extreme far objects (like from your cellphone to the other end of Walmart and back), you might be fatiguing the ocular muscles around your eyes.
We know how to respond when our bodies signal that the temperature of your environment is uncomfortable, but we don’t always know how to respond to persistent joint pain and stiffness. This is where a little sleuthing comes into play.
Digging Deeper for Answers
A quick glance around the internet will tell you that chronic joint pain is often associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Now, dig a little deeper (or do a quick search on my website) and you will find that Rheumatoid Arthritis is a symptom of inflammation. Dig a little deeper and you will see that inflammation is an autoimmune response to several issues, including eating certain kinds of foods, overindulging in antibiotics, and other activities that deplete your gut microbiome.
At this point, you have a couple of options: you can visit your doctor and ask him for a prescription painkiller and hope that does the trick, or you can make some simple changes to your diet that promote a healthy gut microbiome.
Of course, a healthy diet is only one part of a complete treatment package, but that’s the point for another article. My point here is that you need to listen to the messages your body is sending and learn the best way to respond. Sometimes, it’s common sense and sometimes it takes a little research. That’s what I’m here for. I want to help you achieve optimal wellness so that you can move authentically, eat abundantly, think clearly, and live without pain. Whatever signals your body is sending you, chances are we’ve addressed it here on the blog at least once.
Next week, I want to talk about a source of discomfort that most of us don’t recognize at all. You may be shocked, appalled, even offended by what I’m going to suggest next week, but I believe if you will take it to heart, you will see a marked increase in your productivity, a decrease in your pain, and general improvement in your wellness – physically, mentally, and emotionally.
In the meantime, if you live in the Naples area, I would love to get to know you. Stop by my office behind the YMCA on Pine Ridge Road and let’s talk about your health goals.
“At the end of your feelings is NOTHING. At the end of your PRINCIPLES is a PROMISE.” — Eric Thomas