Getting healthy is a challenge. It can seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re earlier on in your health journey. No matter where you are or how far along you’ve gone — dealing with health conditions, losing weight, or cruising quickly towards better health — there are a few things I wish I had known at the earliest point in my health journey.
Here are 10 things I wish I had known when I first started getting healthy.
1. It takes time.
It takes time. You didn’t do all the damage to your body and health overnight, so you can’t fix it overnight either. It may take months or even years. Be wary of anyone who promises quick fixes.
2. You’re not going to get it all right the first time (or fifth time!).
You’re not going to get it all right the first time. Or the fifth time. Or even the tenth time. There is always more to learn and more science being done to guide us down the path to our best health. If you learn that something you thought was healthy isn’t, don’t beat yourself up. Just correct course.
3. Family is the hardest to talk to about health.
Family is the hardest to talk to about health. Seriously. You’ll have better luck with strangers on the internet (a-hem…) than converting your own family to a healthy diet. People are very sensitive when it comes to food, and unless they express interest, don’t expect them to change.
4. What other people think doesn’t matter.
What other people think doesn’t matter. Your body and your health comes first. Even if that means asking a dozen questions at a restaurant or in the grocery store. Even if that means approaching a stranger with a shopping cart fully of organic vegetables how they like to cook daikon. Whatever it takes, put your health first. More than likely, other people will be inspired instead of judging.
5. Your body is not punishing you.
Your body is not punishing you. It’s actually talking to you. If you’re experiencing a symptom or health problem, listen to those signals. Work with your body instead of fighting it.
6. Cheat meals/days aren’t worth it.
Cheat meals and cheat days aren’t worth it. Unhealthy or “cheat” food puts your body in a miserable cycle of inflammation that can be super damaging. Your best bet is to just break all of those additions to unhealthy food and never looking back.
7. Rest is important.
You don’t have to go hard all the time. Rest is important. Your body needs recovery time to heal and rebuild. If it doesn’t get that time, it will start to break down, toxins build up, and you get sick. Get plenty of sleep and make time to unplug.
8. Your mental health impacts your physical health.
Your mental health impacts your physical health. Thoughts matter. Thoughts become physical manifestations in the body. If you are depressed, anxious, negative, or otherwise mentally unhealthy (full disclosure: stress was my vice), then your body will experience the repercussions of that is ways like fatigue, inflammation, and disease.
9. The food industry has corrupted science.
The food industry has corrupted science. It hurts to even say — I am a scientist, after all. But it’s the truth. The research and studies that the government and big food companies are using to push their food products are not based in good, unbiased science. There is a lot of money passing hands to make sure you hear only what is best for the bottom line: money.
10. Men and women have very different needs to be healthy.
Men and women have very different needs to be healthy. If you’re about to start your period and need full-on rest, don’t feel like you have to go to the gym with your man for a super intense workout. Men respond differently to fasting, have different nutritional needs, different exercise needs, different sleep needs. All of it. Not to mention we have totally different hormonal patterns. Learn what is right for your body.