While outside, sipping a matcha latté, enjoying the calm of the morning, I am like a conduit of inspiration. As part of my A.M. ritual (another topic for another time), I like to just sit in stillness. As opposed to my meditation practice where I witness thoughts and then let them go, I purposely tune in. I travel down their meandering trail, making notes in a journal of insights I pick up along the way. Today’s prominent thought was:
When an experiment has gone too long, I call that a mistake.
As a devoted integrative health coach and therapeutic chef, I have tried hundreds of health experiments. Many have been purely out of necessity––to heal myself of acute illness, chronic pain, gut disorders, anxiety, and depression. I have also experimented to gain understanding so that I can be effective in helping others live healthier lives.
Knowledge and Wisdom and Experimentation have been indispensable––not only in my personal life, but in my profession.
Testing a variety of diet theories, exercise modalities, ways of thinking, holistic body treatments, Eastern medicine and philosophies, and lifestyle practices has helped me develop greater empathy, relatability, and quantifying of results, which are as varied as we are unique, by the way.
Before recommending treatments, nutrition programs, and healthy lifestyle guidance to any client, family member, or friend, I conduct a personal trial run. No matter what I am researching, I ensure I am my own client first.
Having experimented so much, I have made many “mistakes” by way of conviction. I have let some experiments go too long. Like that time when I stubbornly adhered to a high-raw diet far longer than my body was comfortable with. Despite intutively knowing my gut was not processing uncooked foods very well, I continued to eat sprouted grains, dehydrated seed crackers, raw vegetables, and sprouted legumes. It was painful…literally. My digestive system hated me. I consider that a mistake. Now, if the use of this word gets under your skin, perhaps replace it with lesson. To me, they are one in the same, and should not be thought of as negative. We are here to try new things, and to learn as we grow.
One might say I made another mistake when I took up running and stuck with it longer than I should have. During the first few years of putting in between five and seven miles every day, my body loved the adrenalin rush. My knees and ankles held strong despite the routine pounding of pavement. Yet, after about five years, pain began to alert me that something was wrong. Rather than quit, I would push through the discomfort––I would “run off” the piercing sensations that traveled through my heels, up the backs of my legs, glutes, and into my low back.
Somewhere along the way, (unrelated to the act of running), I developed gout, and yet I still found a way to run by throwing back loads of anti-inflammatory drugs. Perhaps this is an extreme example of the point I am trying to make, but hopefully you are following me.
I cannot tell you how many clients I have worked with who, like me, have let health experiments extend past their expiry. It is a very human thing to do. This seems to happen with respect to diets more than anything else. Those who decide to “go” vegan, paleo, raw, pescatarian, macrobiotic, follow the blood type diet, or adhere to any other way of eating tend to “stick with it” beyond what is good for them. They stop listening to their inner sensibilities, just as I shut out the cries from my overly dry and fiber filled belly.
This theory of experiments having gone too long can be applied to nearly all activities of our lives be it movement, relationships, work engagements, and habits.
This isn’t to say that experimentation is a bad thing. It is most certainly valuable if what we committed to doesn’t begin to have negative effects.
If you have been moving your body in the same way for months or years, or following a strict diet despite feeling (or looking) anything less than vital and healthy, I invite you to experiment with different methods of exercise, eating routines, and therapeutic body treatments.
In doing so you may discover:
1. Most have merit and there is a season for incorporating aspects of each into your life experience, and they can be useful at different times.
2. No one diet is the right diet. In fact, your approach to eating should be changing often to support your biologically unique and ever-evolving body, the environment you live in, the climate, and time of year. The same goes for fitness and emotional development…there is no one size fits all method of physical and emotional wellbeing.
3. What worked yesterday may not work today. The key is to test without allowing your experiment to go too long.
4. Cataloging your results is helpful. All great experiments were recorded, and yours should be too. This way, you can track progress, examine the pros and cons, adjust as needed, or discontinue all together.
5. If you experiment with a modality or lifestyle approach and it begins to feels “off” it probably is. At these times, it is so important to tune in, and not ignore signs and signals. It also helps to engage others who can witness your progress. Having a coach, friend or family member see your results and apply feedback is enormously beneficial.