If today is the first time you've taken a gander at one of these Monday Health Basics posts, then you're in luck. It's the perfect place to start. It is, perhaps, where I should have started back in January earlier this year. See, this series of ideas I have been posting to the blog every Monday in '16 is meant to serve as a jumping off point for anyone looking to improve their own health, one building block at a time. And today's spot is the perfect place to begin. Write this down.
Whenever I meet with a new client, I always start with the same questions: What brought you here. What are your current health complaints, regardless if you think it's associated to nutrition and digestion or not. What are your questions. What are your observations. What are you feeling. And I play the part of stenographer, tapping away and entering this information to help build a map of where we started, and where we hope to go. I ask some more questions as the meeting progresses, making note of important information that may serve as a signpost along the way, or points of interest we'd like to revisit.
We are building a map, you see? Truly, they have been building a map for a long time, and I see myself as merely the cartographer. But the more I do my work as a Holistic Nutrition Practitioner and as a human, the more I see the value in empowering the person in the chair across from me to make their own informed choices on the daily, and to take charge and actively chart their own course from this point on.
Before you begin any kind of program, class or course of treatment, it is good to know where you are when you start. It is good to note what you have noticed, what you are thinking about and your outlook on the whole process before you take your first step, in order to be able to look back when times get tough. This will serve a purpose when you come to those days where you think nothing has changed! Or why am I even doing this? And those days will come, we all experience them. Writing things down at the get-go gives you that mile 0 marker, a chance to take stock and articulate things you perhaps haven't yet been able to put words to.
My favourite part about writing it down means that it can change your perspective when you really need it the most. Looking back and noticing how things have changed, seeing that certain aches may have disappeared, or maybe your migraines are a lot less frequent than they used to be; referring back to your journal invites you to see how far you've come, instead of getting stuck in the rut of how much farther do I have to go. Which, let's be honest, can sometimes feel incredibly overwhelming. Goodness knows, I'm all about the tools.
I am a big proponent in small changes over a long time. I truly believe that if you have certain chronic ailments or health complaints that have taken years to creep up on you, they aren't going to be dealt with in the span of two weeks, nor is it reasonable to think that we can do away with health issues that quickly without swinging the pendulum in the complete opposite direction. I see the human body as always aiming to steer towards centre, towards balance. As our body works to handle what is sent our way via toxins in our environment, or our diet, or emotional situations we have to process, we slowly start to veer off course and the body works hard to try steering us back towards the centre. It can't help but start to fall to one side.
When a client comes in to meet with me, I explain that through the next few months of work, we will be aiming to, at the very least, stop the progression from veering further off course, and hopefully start to reverse the body's direction in order to send it gently back towards centre. If it took years to get to where you are now, it will take a long time to get your body back towards centre. It is worth it though! It is only through slow and methodical ways that we can steer that body safely back towards the middle, so that we don't create a new wave of momentum that would keep swinging you past centre and in the opposite direction!
A soft landing is what we are after.
And in so doing, I have found that a good marker to demonstrate we are on the right path is if my client's memory starts to be selective. I have now witnessed quite a few times how people have forgotten earlier aches and pains that were a part of the initial intake forms, small booboos they may not have remembered were a part of their every day when they first stepped in to my office. It amazes me! I can only see this as a positive sign that if we have erased even their memory of these health complaints, then we have successfully changed the impact they originally had, and have charted a new course. And the lightbulb moment when they realize how far they've come is one of my favourite things about being a Holistic Nutrition Practitioner.
This being human is work. This being alive is work. But it is good work.
And writing down and taking stock of where you are when this first new day begins can be one of the most empowering tools in your toolkit. As you start this next step in your health and wellness journey, may I recommend purchasing a blank journal of sorts, a book in which you can freely write with no judgment, no expectations, a blank slate on which to start mapping your road. It can be fancy or it can be a coil-bound thing, you get to choose.
Write today's date. Write down some simple things about where you're at, today. Write down your thoughts and observations on what brought you here. What are your current health woes, complaints or aches and pains, doesn't have to necessarily be categorized. What are your questions. What are your observations. What are you feeling. What do you need help with, and where do you want to go. Write down symptoms you've got going on currently, whether or not you think they are associated to your main health concern. You might want to jot down some examples of foods you love, foods you crave, cuisines you are wild about. Jot down your current interests and passions, and anything you're grateful for at this point in time. You can take the time to also write down what you'd like to track, things like sleep habits, mood, or how often you are visiting the loo. Energy levels are always a good indicator of things. How foggy your brain is, or how keenly you feel stress might be good things to note. Women might like to jot down a few things they have noted about their menses cycle, or observations around menopause. If you are currently working through a medical diagnosis, take note of your symptoms and the severity, or how they change from day to day. Take the time to write down any aches and pains even if you don't think they're associated at all. Rate things on a scale of 0-10, if you want a good measure of things along the way. This is meant to serve as a picture in time of you, at the beginning of this next leg of your journey.
This book you are penning will grow with time, and will change as you make your way through the work. There is no set way to do this; the way you decide to go at it is the way that will work best for you. You are, after all, the expert on you. You can write in it every day if you like, once a week if you're more laid back, or once a month if you're like me. Put an alarm in your phone's calendar to remind you to jot something down, anything.
And when, down the road, you feel like you've hit a dead end or the uphill climb seems impossibly daunting, you can flip back to those early days you started this journey, and realize that you really have come a long way. This perspective change will confirm to you that you are in fact on the right track, and may it spur you to keep going when things seem insurmountable. It's all about momentum dear one. May this tool serve to keep you moving on the road ahead.