- Kellie Blake RDN, LD
All Growth Requires Challenge
I can't remember where I heard that title, but it struck me as perfect when thinking about lifestyle change. We humans are very set in our ways. We tend to create a lifestyle and stick with what we know, especially as we get older. Often times though, our lifestyle choices lead us down the path to chronic disease, mental health issues, and decreased quality of life.
It may be difficult to believe, but our genetics are only responsible for about 25% of what happens to us, the other 75% is dependent on how we live our lives. Dr. Jeffrey Bland reminds us that "inherited does not mean inevitable". This is great news! It means we each have the power to create a healthy future. For some reason though we keep moving on our original path despite seeing the warning signs ahead. Why is it so difficult to make lifestyle changes?
It's no secret that nutrition, exercise, stress management, healthy sleep, and social connection are the foundations for overall health. There is definitely no lack of information on any of these subjects. So, why can't we change? Why do we wait for some catastrophic life event to happen before we think about changing? Other than thinking that our genes have determined our destiny, there seems to be this misconception that lifestyle change is too hard.
I suffered for years with autoimmune disease. When I finally learned how to recover, the lifestyle changes were easy. After making the necessary changes for healing, the hard part: taking medication to control symptoms that would inevitably lead to devastating side effects, daily pain, fatigue, swollen joints, headaches, sinus problems, and gastrointestinal distress was behind me. The hard thing would have been to continue on my original path.
I don't want to discredit myself; the changes I've made have been challenging at times, but all growth requires challenge! Luckily, there is a learning process and no one ever told me I had to be perfect every day. My goal when I wake up every morning is to improve my quality of life with the choices I make. Anything less is intolerable to me. So, for example, I no longer feel the need to eat sugary foods because I feel bad physically when eating sugar. I don't drink even diet soda because I know it's toxic to my brain and my gut microbiome. I practice meditation almost daily to help keep my stress level in check. These are just simple things I do on a daily basis that make me feel great in the moment and help insure a healthy tomorrow. I don't think of them as hard or difficult, it's just how I choose to live if I want to continue to heal my autoimmune disease. Going back to the way I felt before is just not an option at this point.
Every person is unique and what works for me may not be the right path for you. Working with a qualified functional nutrition or medicine provider can really help get you on your own path to healing and an awesome quality of life. There's no need to put pressure on yourself to be perfect or get it all right on the first try. Lifestyle changes take time, but even small changes can produce immediate results, which make other changes more easy. While the initial changes may seem hard, the status quo will most certainly lead to the really hard stuff like diabetes, heart disease, dementia, depression, cancer, obesity, and on and on and on.
If you want to improve your health and quality of life, you must challenge yourself. Nothing is too difficult to overcome. We aren't even at the mercy of our own genetics! How powerful is that? With a great plan, we each have the power to change our own trajectory! So, think in terms of what you can gain instead of what you may have to give up. Healing from this autoimmune disease has required a lot of change, especially with regard to my nutrition, but ultimately, I have lost nothing and gained EVERYTHING!
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