Natural health is easier than you think
Sometimes, people are weirded out over working with an herbalist. They figure they’ll have to start drinking tea (when they’re devoted coffee drinkers) or taking some icky-tasting herbal concoction or licking plants from the backyard.
They’re afraid people will think they’ve finally lost it and fallen for this alternative-woo health scene.
But, there’s a little curiosity in the back of their mind, so they investigate a little. They go and look at all the herbal remedies at Whole Foods and get even more scared. How much of this stuff do you really have to take and how much does it cost???
Sometimes, they’ve heard me talk about diet changes and they’re worried that they’ll have to give up their favorite foods. They’re convinced they’ve been doing it all wrong and working with me will be a two hour scolding.
So today, I’m pulling back the curtain. I’m going to tell you about the absolute hardest thing I ask my clients to do. You’ll probably be disappointed.
For my Healing Strategy clients, I start out with a health history review. This is a multi-page form that asks about their health history from childhood until the present. You’d be surprised the impacts childhood habits can have on your long term health. We’ll explore the information on the form and start creating a healing strategy for them.
This is exciting, because they see hope on the horizon - that they really can get healthy again.
Then, I send them a link to my Healthy Living Tracking Log. [get your copy in my Free Resources Library] (This is where it starts getting hard).
I ask them to track their diet, symptoms, and digestive health for 30 days. Yep, 30 days. Sometimes longer if we’re still seeing shifts.
I can hear you rolling your eyes. (I’m a mom to a teenager - that sense is finely honed).
This is much harder in practice than it is in theory. In theory, you open up your little notebook and write down what you ate, how you felt, and what your poop looked like. Simple, right?
How can that be the hardest thing, when some people have to turn their entire life upside down to get healthy again? How can writing down the color of your poop be harder than giving up pizza?
Research shows that only 3% of health journal users commit to the practice for more than a week. And there are virtually none that stick it out for the long term. That’s about the same rate of people who successfully quit smoking after deciding to stop.
Let’s break down how this gets to be so hard. Imagine for a moment that you’ve decided to start logging your health indicators.
You do great with logging for about 5 days. Then the weekend hits and you miss a few days. Or, you decide that this new diet shift isn’t for you and you indulge anyway - but you don’t want to write that down because you feel guilty. Maybe you aren’t having bowel movements that are ideal, and well, all this poop talk is making you uncomfortable. Perhaps you’re embarrassed to be logging all this info around your friends and family. Or, when you start looking at the food you’re eating, you have a startling revelation and realize that you’ve been doing this all wrong and decide it’s too hard to change.
Then, you lose track of your progress. You can’t remember what you ate or how you really felt (our memories of pain intensity are horribly unreliable). You can’t see how things are changing, so you assume nothing has changed.
Remember, it takes about 40 days for you to see noticeable changes in your health
Here’s what happened because you struggled with your health indicator logging:
- You’ve missed out on the supporting evidence that shows just how much better you really are.
- You’ve missed out on the encouragement that comes from seeing the shift in your well-being.
- You’ve missed out on the subtle changes that point out how much more resilient and robust your health has become.
That’s why tracking your health is so hard.
Yes, making a change in diet, sleep, or exercise is hard, too. To make these changes easier, I always encourage clients to implement in stages. Making small adjustments by adding in desired behaviors rather than taking out undesired behaviors can make these changes stick more easily. It’s also easier to put together a plan for compliance when you feel tempted...I’ll carry a bottle of iced tea for when I feel like having a soda or I’ll keep healthy snacks in my bag or desk for when I’m craving something to eat.
And often, healthy lifestyle changes are more likely to garner support from your friends and family. They’ll applaud your efforts to get more sleep, whereas asking them to wait while you capture the contents of your meal feels more awkward. Shifts toward healthy choices feel good because you anticipate the reward of less pain and more energy.
Logging your diet and symptoms feels like a constant reminder that you aren’t there yet.
But I still ask my clients to track this data daily. It seems like a pointless and boring thing, and oh so hard to keep up. I get more requests to stop logging diet and health data than I get from people who are taking admittedly yucky herbal concoctions.
Here’s where I smile.
When those same clients look back on a month’s worth of their diet, their symptoms, and their digestive health, they see how their healthy choices have made a difference. They see how their pain is less, how their sleep is more restorative, how their diet has shifted, and how their digestion is improved. This little notebook becomes not only a log of the journey, but a boost of encouragement to continue on this path toward greater health and wellness.