TMI, Learning, and Squirrels
Friday, April 06, 2012
My SparkFriend PixieWixie made a good point when she commented on my last blog:
"Our bodies ultimately DO know best but I think there is also a lot to be said for learning how to listen to them.
There have been times in my life when my desire was to have chocolate cake for breakfast. Now, whether that was a message from a sick body or a scrambled interpretation by an unhealthy mind, I don't know, but I think that getting to a point where we can have faith in our natural instincts takes time and effort and patience. This is where trackers have their use."
I do believe she is right.
I, too, have desired chocolate cake for breakfast in the past. As I learned to listen to my body (not my whims or addictions) I learned that about an hour after I eat chocolate cake, I feel horribly bloated and after two hours, I feel sleepy.
Believe it or not, I never really put the food and those feelings together. They were an hour apart after all, and my attention span is such that I have to type and talk fast just so I can finish a sentence before I forget what it is that I was wanting to say.
My brain is powered by a tiny squirrel. He spends all his time asleep or in over-drive and there isn't anything in between. When I woke up stiff and achy, I never would have blamed the pizza I ate the night before - the squirrel was either still asleep or was already planning what he wanted to do on the 19th Thursday in 2054 and wasn't thinking about that pizza. When I had a headache, I would never have blamed the pasta dish I ate hours prior.
I only noticed things that took place immediately, like after just 3 bites of a soft pretzel, it became hard to swallow. It would feel like it was stuck in my throat and wasn't going down. Apparently if two events were more than 30 seconds apart, the link was beyond my squirrel's comprehensional capacity.
The Body Language Log changed this. The Body Language log appeared in Sean Croxton's book, The Dark Side of Fat Loss. He adapted it from William Wolcott's Diet Check Record Sheets. This log has easy to follow pictures that didn't confuse my squirrel and bright colors that kept his attention.
The idea behind the log is to write down what you eat and then write your emotional and physical reactions so that you can look for patterns. It also has built in troubleshooting info - such as craving sweets right after a meal that was predominantly fats / protein, means that your body may think it didn't get enough carbs during that meal. Feeling physically full but still wanting to eat may mean excessive fat during that meal. Feeling some brain fog an hour after eating may mean excessive carbs.
After adjusting to a Primal eating style, I used the logs and I found amazing patterns that began to teach my squirrel that what I eat can affect me immediately, or hours later, or even the next day. Friday morning stiffness can actually be caused by Thursday's lunch (some foods cause systemic inflammation). Feeling run down in the afternoon may have more to do with what I ate for breakfast than what time I went to bed last night.
I used the logs for two weeks then I expanded on the idea of the log, taking notes for over two weeks more about every detail I could notice about my body. I learned so many things about myself in doing that.
I've been fighting those allergies for years, keeping my environment dust free, bathing my dog until she thinks I'm trying to drown her, changing my pillow case each night, etc. My squirrel finally caught on that my sinus allergies are connected to constipation, which I hadn't even been aware I had! Now I'm detoxing my liver and both problems are going away. I would never have thought that my sinuses might back up due to liver function. My squirrel screamed when he figured that one out...then he passed out completely and fell right off his branch.
Constipation isn't just about feeling as though you need to go but can't. It's about slow transit time - the time it takes from the point where food enters your mouth until it exits the other end. We can have slow transit time and not even know it. Sometimes, the first symptom of slow transit time that is noticed is a full blown disease.
To test transit time, eat some beets and note the time. Wait until you have a reddish looking bowel movement. If it took more than 24 hours, that's too slow and carries an increased risk of disease. Less than 12 hours is too fast and may lead to nutrient deficiency.
Slow transit time means that your food is putrefying in your colon. Toxins that should have exited already are reabsorbed into your blood stream. This can cause a wide variety of physical symptoms - including sinus allergies.
That's that darned squirrel for you, he let me get way off topic.
When I reread the beginning of this blog, I see that I was apparently writing about listening to your body. It's worth the time and effort to get to really know yourself. When you really know yourself, inside and out, you can trust your body (not your emotions, whims, or addictions) to tell you what it needs.
Listening to your body goes well beyond thinking about how good a doughnut might taste. It tells you how you will feel an hour - and even a day or two - after eating that doughnut. It tells you how to take genuinely proper care of the amazing miracle that is your body. It leads you to love yourself in a way that motivates that proper care. It can remove negative emotional bonds we have with our food and negative emotions we have toward ourselves. It can allow us to heal, throw out our pills, and fire our doctors. I believe it is the most profound and important relationship we can ever have - the one with our own selves.
Yes, it takes time and effort, as all relationships do. However, if you are going to take the time to try to lose weight or get healthy, why not take the time to do it properly and make it easier on yourself? It's a safe bet that you'll still be here in a month and you'll still want to look and feel good, so make the most of that month. Make it really count. You could be just a month away from an amazing, life changing event.
Take one month - spend time writing what you eat or tracking it here at Spark. Two or three times a day just close your eyes, be quiet, and feel your body and mind. Write down what you notice. Every single bodily process we will ever have can be influenced or directly caused by nutrients or the lack thereof. Take notes. Look for patterns. Look at it as empirical data - no emotional attachment to what you have written (don't be embarrassed to note that you have gas or ashamed because you ate cookies). Use a scientific mindset and view it as an experiment of sorts.
It was when I did this that I realized that after a bowel movement, my sinuses drained and my allergies disappeared for the day. I thought this must be some crazy coincidence, but it was an observation, so I wrote it down - and that observation led me to study. That study is leading to a real cure. That cure may be saving me from a much worse disease later in life. Bottom line: If you notice it, write it down. It could lead to something big.
Well, the squirrel tells me that I've written more than enough about my bowels for one day! I can assure you I wish that I'd had a different problem (or no problem) but sharing information that can help others is one of the reasons we are here, right?
Take care of yourself,
...really, really good care of yourself,