“The most widespread affliction that people suffer from is a lack of belief in their own power.”
I can remember almost a decade ago, standing in a shoe store asking the poor sap who worked there “what’s the best running shoe for me?”. I stood there hunched over, ripped up menisci in each knee, and a diagnosis of chronic exertional compartment syndrome (condition in the lower legs that causes pain and numbness during physical activity (read: running)). He did a “running analysis” and souped me up with some pretty rad, cloud-like boats for my feet to “correct” all of my funk. I, of course, continued to run in the same way, with new shoes for years only to add to my list of pains through out my body; my knees, back, you name it. Ignoring all of that ultimately led me to more severe injuries down the road including but not limited to a herniate a disc in my lumbar spine (you can learn that story, on another day, here). Little did I know back then that today I would be running miles, pain free, in minimal footwear. All of it after skipping the surgeries, injections, and whatever other fix was suggested. I now take long walks for fun.
Somewhere along those same years I designate as “the past”, I remember sitting in a doctor’s office hearing a man tell me they must remove my gallbladder and that I’d “live a perfectly normal life after”. I have been sick as long as I can remember. That’s just who I was in the definition of myself; sick. Well the young me listened to that doctor, and went with it, only to (after the funeral of said precious organ) become sicker. Then down the line listen to another say my appendix must go, and then another doctor tell me that my only option was to remove my colon. Then, at another time, from another doctor, I heard my left ovary was toast. When I look back I see a lot of “Oh it hurts? Let’s just cut it off” mentality. No one really knew how to help me. It seemed that I had a stomach problem, an intestinal problem, an ovary problem, etc. and none of these things had to do with the other. I was taking 2 or 3 prescribed medications, and was quite sick. My body was rejecting the food I ate, the medications I was told to take, and my own body itself. I was a mess, and only adding on to my already long list of un-improvements. What the hell is a kid to do?
I could no longer be the kid who was always sick. I’d had enough of “just going with it”.
I quit my medications, cold turkey. I changed my diet (read: lifestyle), shedding grains and dairy to start then discontinuing foods I had learned created an inflammatory response in my body. To my surprise I began to feel better. By age 25 I had 2 organs removed, 6 colonoscopies, ripped up knees, liver damage and a broken spirit. It could have been a lot worse, I know, but it also could have been prevented. Never did I know back then that today I would experience (on most days) no symptoms of autoimmune disease without the use of western medications.
Don’t get me wrong, this was a long, long journey. Years were spent researching my own conditions and experimenting with everything… everything people. I sought guidance from many professionals who helped shape a healing mindset (which has evolved a thousand times over and counting). They helped me cultivate a healing lifestyle. This was an uncomfortable journey, some would even say painful. And anyone who was close to me during these times knows this well. I can’t say it’s over, but I can say that (most days) I wake up feeling better than ever before, and I don’t take medication (over the counter or otherwise). I don’t need them, either. More importantly, I still have the rest of my working organs, and a body that moves well, to show for it. I live a perfectly normal life, although somee may argue this one ;). I’ve never looked back.
Guys, what I’m talking about here is r e s p o n s i b i l i t y.
So. many. times. I see over and over injured or ill humans just waiting around for something to change. We feel helpless and defeated by a “battle” with these problems. Mark Manson talks about the responsibility/fault fallacy. We as humans in this culture have a hard time taking responsibility. We associate it with blame and fault. We feel that taking responsibility means we’re to blame for something bad. This is not always the case. Taking responsibility doesn’t mean assigning fault, it means taking care of something. It means putting the power in your own hands, and creating actionable steps to solve a problem. This point resonated with me, and he’s right.
My point is, we live in a culture that tells us there’s an invention to fix a problem we have. That we have this problem is not because we hadn’t yet been prescribed statin drugs, or because our 1 hour of exercise cancels out our 23 hours of stagnation, etc… you get the idea. If you strained your hamstring, chances are that the advil you just tossed back isn’t going to mend your muscle fibers. It certainly isn’t going to correct the biomechanical problems that caused your hamstring to strain. Just saying.
Why are you experiencing pain?
Why are you expressing these symptoms that you now just categorize as “normal for me now”?
These principles apply to orthotics, steroid injections, braces, medications of any kind,
junk food diets, maybe even herbal remedies and supplements etc. Of course I’m not saying there isn’t a place for medical interventions; not everyone falls in this category. But listen, most of the time they are not the solution, they are Band Aids. Band Aids get gross
and fall off (or ride tour buses across the country to follow their favorite musicians).
The human body is incredible. Taking responsibility means listening to it, and caring for it. If you’re body doesn’t feel good after you eat a certain thing, to continue to eat that thing and depend on some pill to feel better when you eat it, is not the answer. This is not a normal response to eating. Taking a couple of Advil to get through a workout is not a normal thing, either. Doing a workout and waking up the next day with a back spasm is not normal. Doing that work out after spending the previous 8 or more hours sedentary, and waking up the next day with a back spasm, however, IS a normal response from your body. Do you see the difference? Your body is telling you that you were not ready for that movement you asked of it and you were moving outside of your capabilities. What do we do about these inconveniences we experience? The. same. things. we. did. before.
Why do we continue to ignore these signals, and search for orthotics to “fix” the problem only to create more? Why do we wait around hopeless and tired of fighting the problem?
I’m not saying your injury or your illness is your fault. But you must take responsibility. I am not going to list a bunch of action items here like: “Sit in a squat for half of your day” or “Eat 4 bunches of kale a day”. Although these might benefit your health, they are not the root of your problems.
Chances are there is something about your you that created the problem you are currently experiencing. I challenge you to learn about your body, take some time to care for it and listen. Establishing a good relationship with the problems you face and paying attention to them will take you down a wild road. Accept and learn to work with your injury or illness. These things do not define you, they are lessons. I promise that fighting or trying to “fix it” is not the answer.
Take responsibility over your body, because it’s yours, and only you can know what you’re feeling. Ultimately only YOU can heal from your situation, whatever it may be.
References to Consider & people who have personally helped me along the way.
- Jessica Flannigan , clinical nutritionist of Aiplifestyle.com
- Women’s Strength School- Steph Gaudreau, of StupidEasyPaleo
- Harder To Kill Challenge (and Radio)- Steph Gaudreau
- Movement Matters– Katy Bowman
- Move Your DNA– Katy Bowman
- The Loving Diet– Jessica Flannigan
- Wired To Eat– Robb Wolf
- Warrior– Theresa Larson
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck- Mark Manson
- Extreme Ownership: How US Navy SEALs Lead and Win– Jocko Willink & Leif Babin
- The MovNatMovNat Community