It's been a week since I laid out the plan for my Month of Healing for all of you. If you haven't read it yet, then you can find it here. I embarked on this mission because I desperately wanted to take control of my health. It was an educated shot in the dark; one I wasn't sure of the results.
Seven days later I can already see cracks--but that was kind of the point: to explore what lessons I could learn from facing my physical and mental health conditions straight on; lessons that I could hopefully apply in a more long-term solution to handling my problems.
Here is the first bit of wisdom from my endeavor: Balance is more important that health.
This is why:
1. You Can’t Change Everything At Once
I’ve seen endless articles in the health blogosphere about trying to change too much at once. Alongside the many memes joking about the pitfalls of the ‘New Year, New Me' mindset, this gave me a sneaking suspicion from early on that I may be taking on too much.
Habits are hard to break and, particularly if you suffer from health conditions; the shock of too many significant changes can be pretty severe. By severely altering my life in one day I caused flare-ups of every single problem with which I suffer. It was all just too much for my body to cope.
2. Willpower Is Not Infinite
On a similar note, there is such a thing as overestimating your willpower. When I made my initial plan, I was so enthusiastic about becoming the healthiest person in the world that I forgot one key fact: I’m not superwoman. I have actual physical and mental problems, and the symptoms are hard to manage.
It wasn't until my doctor summarized the situation that I realized how ridiculous it was. I was trying to manage my multitude of problems via sheer willpower. Slipping up didn't mean failure; it just meant I was a human being with genuine limitations.
3. Comfort Is Important
I think one of the biggest pitfalls of ‘getting healthy' is trying too hard. Believing that by forcing yourself into the most extremes of diet and exercise, you can somehow create this state of ultimate wellbeing.
While this may be true in some instances, pushing your body into an extreme routine that it's not used to can be stressful and, ultimately, detrimental to your health. In recent years, talks around Orthorexia--a disorder around an obsession with clean eating--have significantly increased. So have stories of addictions to exercise that turned sour. Getting healthy is a great thing; nearly killing yourself in the process is not so good.
Which brings me on to my next point:
4. You Have To Give Yourself A Break
Simply due to how events unfolded, it ended up that for the first week of my healing plan I took the weekend off. Purely because my illnesses and anxiety had gotten too intense, and I couldn't handle the discomfort anymore, I indulged in comfort foods and smoking.
However, where usually I’d beat myself up for deviating from the plan, this time was different. Instead, I saw the slip for what it was: a respite to the serious strain I was putting on myself mentally and physically. On Monday, the plan continued as usual.
Time to sit back and rest is essential to your health --whatever form that may take. Don't disregard its power.
5. Moderation Is Key
In short, what I learned from week one was moderation; the ability to find the line between making improvements and setting yourself up for failure. By creating a balance between your indulgent, self-comforting side and your motivated, progressive side, your chances of success are significantly higher.
By choosing to tackle any health challenge with this in mind--be it healing, weight loss or even quitting an addiction--you learn to create equilibrium. This stability becomes the inner balance that is so essential to overall wellbeing. By establishing yourself in that mindset, you can then develop the power to make better decisions indefinitely.
So many parts of life talk about balance: the yin-yang of Taoism, Buddha’s middle way; even when creating fitness routines! It's an obvious thought, but one sometimes requires passing through the extremes to appreciate it truly. Stay tuned to find out what other fascinating ditties of wisdom I've acquired after week two of my Month of Healing!