Taking control of your own health can be a real challenge in today’s landscape of experts convinced of what is right for you. After my own journey of exploration and experimentation, I came to truly believe in the importance of becoming your own health advocate, and just how empowering and effective this can be.
If the term: biochemical individuality is new to you, please take just a moment to consider this foundational concept. At its core, it means that the right diet and lifestyle choices that work perfectly for me may very well not work well for you. Every human body is a beautiful, complex and diverse system that has individual requirements. These requirements refer to types of foods, amounts of foods, timing of foods, exercise, supplements and more.
And this only touches on the physical realm. Emotionally, mentally and spiritually each of us has varying needs, wants and desires that weave together to make us a healthy, whole person.
Thankfully, we live in a day and age where there are many remarkable health experts to learn from, and there is nothing wrong with heeding their advice and trying out different systems of diet and lifestyle for yourself. But at the end of the day, you really are your own health advocate, because only you know what feels natural and right for your body.
Here are the top four ways to become your own health advocate and take your health back into your own hands:
1. Listen to Your Body and Don’t Compare
Your body has the incredible, innate wisdom to communicate to you when things are or are not working. This could manifest in a thousand different ways, but let’s consider a few common examples.
Perhaps you and your best friend started my 15-day program from Glow15. She feels amazing but after two months, you feel crummy, tired and not getting results. This is your body telling you that something is wrong. Maybe you have an underlying hormonal imbalance that needs to be addressed first before implementing intermittent fasting and protein cycling. Perhaps you implemented my principle outing a fat first, carbs last approach and you loved all the tasty good fats, so you unconsciously slipped into a ketogenic diet. An extremely low-carb model might be too stressful for you at this time, and trying again down the road will perhaps yield different results.
On the flip side, you might notice that while your partner can have a cup of sweet potato or other starchy food at night and feel perfectly fine, it launches you into a day’s worth of sugar and carb cravings. This is also your body probably communicating that your carb tolerance is lower. Or maybe you’ve tried calorie counting and it makes you absolutely crazy, while others find it a helpful tool.
I could go on for pages with examples of biochemical individuality, but the point is that you are the master of understanding and knowing what works for you, and what doesn’t. This rule applies to food, exercise, supplements, and medications. You should never feel bullied or pressured into following a program that doesn’t make you the best version of yourself. That’s why one of the guiding principles of Glow15 is to personalize your program.
Each day is a new day. What feels wonderful today might feel wrong tomorrow. Your hormones, metabolism, genetics, stress levels and more change your needs all of the time. Treat each day as a new beginning and an opportunity to get to know your body on yet another level. This is the heart and soul of personalized medicine.
2. Do Your Own Research
It’s perfectly fine to be interested in the latest health trend or the diet model that your friend just fell in love with. However, I highly encourage you to do your own research. The internet is a tool at your fingertips to really dig and search through the hype if you use it correctly.
While you can gather some interesting insight from many kinds of studies, the most rigorous are randomized controlled clinical trials and systematic reviews, which look to answer a specific question by reviewing extensive literature and studies with sound methodology. Less reliable studies include cohort studies, case-control studies and studies using only animal research. Information can be gleaned from these studies, but should not lead you to draw definitive conclusions.
3. Find a Doctor Aligned With Your Goals
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to find a doctor who respects and takes the time to understand your views and goals. Continuing to work with a practitioner who either dismisses your questions and opinions or simply is not on the same page as you can be frustrating, if not detrimental, to both parties (you especially).
Spending some time searching for an integrative doctor or functional medicine practitioner who practices personalized medicine and you feel chemistry with can make a world of difference. Feeling supported by a knowledgeable professional is fundamental, especially if you suffer from a health condition and haven’t found the support you need, or conventional approaches haven’t worked. These professionals could be MDs that take a more integrative approach, NDs (Naturopathic Doctors) or other health practitioners (RDs, Nutritionists, Acupuncturists and more) with proper training. If you haven’t already, listen to the wide array of medical professionals I interviewed in my docuseries called The Real Skinny On Fat.
4. Start with the Basics: Stress and Digestion
Conventional medicine is more often than not a symptoms-based approach to medicine, which often misses the foundation of health. Both stress and digestion are hugely important for not only digestive health but immune, cognitive and metabolic health. Being your own health guru by focusing first and foremost on stress management and healthy digestion is key.
If you find yourself in a period of heightened stress or know you suffer from some degree of adrenal fatigue, exploring methods of stress management like meditation, yoga, tai chi or a myriad of other approaches can make sweeping improvements to your health. Consider some adaptogenic herbs that support healthy cortisol levels, for example. If you suspect leaky gut or have any sort of autoimmune or chronic health condition, working with the kind of health practitioner mentioned above can be monumental on your path to healing.
My point is this: only you can become your own health guru.
The more you believe this the more empowered you will become. The more motivated and effective you will be at connecting with your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual realm and learning what makes you the healthiest version of you. I am here only to offer guidance, respect and to deeply admire your journey.