“Pain is weakness leaving the body”
I have seen this quotation more than once, but it didn’t really hit me until the other day that I really, really dislike this quote.
Why don’t I like this quotation? Maybe it’s just personal; maybe it’s my inability to stop and take care of myself when I need to. But I think it’s bigger than that. I love The Paleo Mom; I think she’s amazing. On her site today (www.thepaleomom.com), she wrote about her own journey and the personal stress she has experienced along the way. I flashed back to the quotation, and I realized the reason I dislike it is because it supports the common perception that we live in a culture where we don’t take care of ourselves; where pain is considered to be simply a weakness; where we are expected to push through the pain instead of recognizing that it may signal a failure to love and honor ourselves.
I truly enjoy yoga. One of its fundamental principles is that you just do what you can. It’s a practice, and there should be no expectations beyond that. It is not about being “perfect” or becoming dissatisfied if progress seems too slow. In today’s world, we believe people are naturally lazy, and we all just need to push ourselves harder. What if we lived in a society that was exactly opposite? What if we understood that forcing ourselves to go to the gym on some days was far more detrimental than going home and taking a nap? Too many of us never stop even to take care of ourselves.
During the last six months, I have experienced pretty severe stress on my own personal journey. A lot of things hit me all at once, and I have been so thankful that I do eat a healthful diet. Who knows what my health would be like right now if I hadn’t improved my nutrition? But this leads to another very important question. Is it possible to just “out eat” the stress? Given the tremendous stress load most people consider to be normal, I think the answer has to be “No.” At some point our bodies just say enough is enough?
I asked myself, “When have I gone to bed in peace at the end of the day and had nothing else on my mind?” I didn’t like the answer. It seems each night I lay down with a million things I should have done or need to do flooding my mind. Wouldn’t it be so much better if we just accepted that we are good enough instead of pushing ourselves even harder? We spend so much time worrying about the outcome that we forget to simply enjoy the path that gets us there. If the goal eludes us, we see ourselves as complete failures.
What if stress is so much more powerful than anything I can do as a nutritionist to help you with food?
Food and diet are important elements in our lives, but what if nutrition cannot overcome the twin obstacles of relentless self-criticism and the constant need to push harder. What if the first step for any positive lifestyle change is to recognize the importance of loving yourself and easing up on your “go-go-go” attitude? Do you even have an idea how to take that first step? Can you slow down and appreciate the happiness on the road to your life’s goals? How much more fulfilling would the end goal be if you did?
My fear for myself, as well as for many of my clients, is what impact the stress in my life is having on my health, and can I really help you if you aren't willing to help yourself in the most basic way? In this respect, I share a concern similar to that found in The Paleo Mom’s blog: will people believe in my nutrition advice if I have allowed stress to cripple me? It’s a matter of practicing what I preach and a thought for all of you who are you actually caring for yourself. You won’t ever reach your end goal if your body gives out along the way!
Consider these simple steps to focus on the care of your Self:
- Stop, breathe, eat and relax
- Take a break rather than pushing yourself harder
- Sleep when your body says it’s tired
- Enjoy the path that is taking you to your dreams!