I don’t think a day goes by where I don’t catch myself saying “Listen to your body!” But what does it actually mean? And what’s it saying?
As women, we tend to place a large amount of our focus on our bodies. How we look on the outside usually determines how happy and confident we feel on the inside. In fact, it’s a common story that we attach our self-worth to our physical appearance.
One of the greatest lessons learnt from my personal growth adventure (Motherhood) is that change happens from within. To achieve physical strength, body confidence and that healthy glow on the outside, we must first nourish, strengthen and balance, the body on the inside. Health and happiness happens from inside out!
This approach requires us to first LISTEN TO THE NEEDS OF OUR BODIES. Once we are clear on what we NEED now, at this moment, we can start to build in the appropriate action into our daily routine so that we can show up as our happiest, healthiest and more confident self.
The common challenge being is that Motherhood is a rollercoaster of magic and madness! Unfortunately, our modern ways have led us down a path to destination ‘expectation’ – where we feel the need to do all the things all the time. Not only is this not possible but it puts our bodies and minds under an unusual amount of stress and overwhelm.
When we are under stress our brain tells our body we’re under attack from the now ‘hypothetical tiger’. It’s then that our greatest defence mechanism kicks in – our immune system. When we are under threat, whether that’s perceived or happening, the immune system triggers INFLAMMATION via the inflammatory cascade to, in the words of Metallica, seek and destroy!
In fact, a lot of the symptoms we experience are actually symptoms of INFLAMMATION. This is the language the body uses to communicate its needs.
This could be obvious such as a sickness bug, flu, virus, or healing from an injury. However, more often than not ‘low grade’, chronic inflammation manifests as the following symptoms:
- Weight gain or stubborn weight loss
- Brain fog, poor cognition and memory
- Digestive complaints
- Hormone imbalances
- Achy joints
- Hair thinning
- Skin breakouts
- Headaches and migraines
- And overwhelm itself!
INFLAMMATION is an essential part of our immune function. It’s necessary to help keep us safe and help us heal. It only becomes a problem when it is CHRONICALLY activated without being turned off.
This is what I’ve personally experienced and what I see time and time again in my clients. The way I like to describe it is: ‘OVER-CHALLENGED v UNDER-RESOLVED’.
For example, This is a hypothetical scenario – Say as a child, you had recurrent infections and were given numerous courses of antibiotics, your adolescence was full of change and was challenging or at times stressful. Your university years were full-on and a little on the unhealthy side (work hard, play hard). You went travelling in your 20’s and picked up a bug or got food poisoning and your digestion hasn’t been the same since, you were later diagnosed with ‘IBS’ (irritable bowel syndrome). When you became pregnant you suffered from constipation, when you gave birth you had an emergency c-section and you were given more antibiotics and little time to properly recover considering you had a newborn baby to look after. Now you’re into your motherhood journey you find your symptoms are at their worse. You suffer from chronic digestive discomfort, fatigue, brain fog and find it takes longer to recover from bugs, exercise, and the rare occurrence you get a night out.
Ok, so this is a hypothetical story, however, it describes a common pattern of how an over-challenged life load and under-resolved imbalances within our bodies can progress into more chronic health states if not addressed, nourished and restored. A lot of the symptoms I see mums struggling with are not symptoms of motherhood, yes the ‘Motherload’ is a trigger, but more often or not these are symptoms of your immune and nervous system dealing with life’s challenges which have accumulated over time.
Unfortunately, as Mum’s we get caught up in the motherhood/life juggling act, that we either fail to listen to these symptoms of inflammation and the body’s communication of stress, or we take something to suppress the symptoms such as painkillers, proton pump inhibitors, alcohol, sleeping pills, contraceptives to manage a hormone imbalance or turn to highly refined carbohydrate foods and sugary snacks, in a bid to ‘power on through’ and keep going.
SO WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT I HEAR YOU ASK?
This is a huge part of the work I do with mums. Yes, I love the science of understanding how the body works, but if we’re constantly on the go with little time for ourselves, just to stop and be, it’s really difficult not just to tune in to our needs but to adopt the appropriate action to address them. To achieve our goal, whether that’s more energy, a strong, healthy body, a calmer mind or greater confidence, we need to get clear on where we’re at now and what we need to enable that transformation – To Achieve Something New, We Must Become Someone New.
THIS IS A LITTLE MODEL I LOVE TO USE TO HELP YOU TUNE IN TO YOU:
Awareness: this is the first step, just being aware that this is how the body is responding to a posed threat.
Action: Create some space within your day to slow down and tune in. We’re less likely to notice the messages from our body when we’re going at 100 miles an hour spinning all the plates. I love journaling, just simply write down how you’re feeling. I also recommend keeping food and mood diary. Commit to 3 days and write down, what you’ve eaten and drank and when. How you’re feeling and any symptoms you experience. Also, record any stress and how well you slept. I love using a moon calendar to track symptoms considering the moon phases have a profound effect on our health, emotions and menstrual cycle. I use the Astro Moon Calendar from Amazon.
Acceptance: Accepting that if nothing changes, nothing changes. Tap back into your goal, how do you want to feel? What will this give you?
Action: I actually believe acceptance is incredibly liberating. It’s not about accepting that this is your life now and you have to live with it. It’s quite the opposite. Once we accept we are clear on our baseline, where we’re changing from, our starting point if you like. Ask yourself these 3 questions: 1. Can I change it? 2. If I can’t change it, can I change my perception? 3. If I can’t change it, or change my perception can accept it and make peace with it, and let it go? When it comes to our health, we can always make some changes. Remember change happens from within, tune in!
Self-discovery: Identifying the root cause, what’s triggering the inflammation? Could it be an emotional stressor? How we think and feel, our relationships, our parenting? Our Nervous system responds to a stressor whether it’s perceived or actually happening. If our thoughts indicate a posed threat, the nervous system will prompt the immune system to seek and destroy! This could also be psychological stress – What we believe about ourselves? Our self talk?. Or maybe it’s a physical stressor? An injury, surgery, over-exercising, excess weight, lack of sleep, a gut infection? Or perhaps something in your environment, such as a food or toxin?
Action: Journalling and keeping a food diary can be really helpful. Look to remove more pro-inflammatory foods and replace with anti-inflammatory nutrients. Think food first. Self-discovery happens on many levels, in the mind, body, heart and spirit. I do believe this is where we need a little extra support. Working with someone who can look at you and your health through the functional medicine lens. Considering you as a whole person, you’re whole health storybook and your individuality.
Self-care: This is key. When we know the WHY and WHAT, the HOW becomes a little easier and clearer.
Action: Taking steps to adopt an anti-inflammatory diet can be a great start. Once we are clearer on what’s switching inflammation on, you can consciously work at the cause whether that’s working on stress, improving sleep, adopting more restorative practises into your week, spending more time in nature, more frequent movement and or slowing down. Just commit to something and do it consistently. Self-care is self-esteem in action. You don’t have to change everything all at once, be conscious, be intentional, be consistent and be kind to yourself.
Self-love: When we have greater awareness, we can accept ourselves a little more and part of this is accepting the need for change. When we’re open to change, we become curious and discover and learn more about ourselves. The more we learn, the more connected we are to ourselves and are more likely we are to nourish ourselves with self-care for the mind, body, heart and spirit. And ultimately this deep care and understanding leads to greater self-love. (P.S. we need a little of that to get the ball rolling in the first place.)
Having a strategy is hugely important in guiding us as we change and grow, but it’s not where the magic happens. That comes from you. If you want to CONNECT back to you so you can transform your health from the inside, be the agent in your own health and create more of what makes you shine with confidence, please click below to find out more about my Be You Mum Activation Programme. I would love to be part of your personal growth adventure!