During this time, there weren’t tens of thousands of food and health bloggers or celebrity nutritionists. There weren’t podcasts and Facebook groups and Telegram and all of the alternate media sources you could pop into to ask your burning questions.
Mostly what we had were books. Big, fat books and those we knew in real life who were also interested in nutrition.
As I began nutrition school, having read my textbooks in advance (because I’m like that), I thought I knew a lot. And a year later, when I graduated, I thought I knew it all.
I was only getting started.
In May of 2009, I offered my very first paid online product. It was a 3-day Green Smoothie Cleanse. This was before green drinks were available at every yoga studio, and way before you could order a kale apple juice at a regular restaurant. In 2009, a Green Smoothie eBook was novel.
I have gone through many phases in the last 15 years. If you’ve been reading my blog for that long, you may have watched them come and go.
Alongside the nutrition exploration, I incorporated a wide range of holistic health practices and habits. Because it’s never just about one thing – diet is only part of the picture.
Practices That Are Just As Important as What You Eat
- Sleep hygiene
- Moderating cell phone use and your relationship with technology
- The cleaning products you clean your home with
- Purchasing non-toxic personal care products
- Finding time for creativity and living in the present moment
- Buying less – and focusing on what you need
- Supporting your mental health and wellbeing
- Training your brain for positivity
- Doing work that’s meaningful to you
- Supporting local farmers and businesses
- Breathing – such as a coherence practice
- Learning, growing and evolving, whether personally or in your work
I could go on. This is only scratching the surface of all of the things that come into play when looking at our overall health.
Confronting Confirmation Bias
Over the last 15 years, I have continued learning, reading and writing. I continue teaching at the edge of my knowledge and stay open to new research, new ideas and the evolving needs of my body.
In responding to your questions and attempting to answer them, I deepen my understanding of the needs and the confusion that surrounded this field that had chosen me.
I learned to understand the biases and hypocrisies that we all bring with us when it comes to our dietary and lifestyle choices and how we find research and ‘experts’ that support what we already believe to be true. It was really humbling when I started to recognize my own confirmation biases – how we tend to listen to and follow those that support our existing beliefs and then began to actively challenge them and encourage my students to do the same.
I have written two books and thousands of blog posts and articles. I continue to do the research every single day and have for a solid 5,000 or so days in a row. The learning never stops.
And so, as I continue to learn, this is what I know for sure.
I am still only just beginning.
Is There a ‘Right’ Way to Eat and Live?
There are 7.9 billion different diets for 7.9 billion humans that live on this planet.
What I think is the best diet and lifestyle for me today may not be the best one for me in five years, and certainly not in ten, and I remain open to changing as needed to ensure my own optimal balance. I can only serve others to my fullest potential when I am well.
Oh, and you know the diet you think is working for you right now? That’s awesome and I am so happy to know it’s working. But it may not be the best way to live and eat for your children, your partner or your parents. And it likely won’t serve you in five or ten years either, so don’t hang on to it too tightly.
We need to brave our own understanding of our body. Our intuition and instinct, when not clouded by fear, will likely lead us to the answers we’ve been seeking.
Your Health Is Your Responsibility
We live in a time right now where normalizing disorders of the mind and body are common. The thing is, there is nothing ‘normal’ about chronic imbalances that result in symptoms – this isn’t the natural state of the whole human.
This isn’t to stigmatize the reality of what is happening or create shame around asking for help. Asking for help is exactly what we need to do.
What we all ultimately want, I think, is to feel well and happy and healthy. The thing is though, it takes work. It takes effort in nearly every moment to move us more in balance. But to move into balance from being out of balance in the moment feels like the path of greatest resistance.
We resist accepting that we need to make changes. We resist asking for help for what can feel like weakness or defeat (I am 100% guilty of this), and we try and just cope. The result too often, however, is that we move further and further out of balance.
But if we accept that health is our personal responsibility and ours alone, does it change anything? Does it change anything if we accept as a fact that we can’t control or have a say in how the rest of the world chooses to live, but have complete control over our choices? Do we want to become stronger physically, emotionally and spiritually, or move in the other direction? That is up to us.
Of course, you need to also have compassion for yourself and others.
the need for compassion and empathy
This is also what I know.
The world desperately needs more compassion and empathy.
When we feel calm and peaceful, we are then better able to make mindful decisions, allowing for critical, creative and solution-oriented thinking to dominate. This is not the state most of us are in as we go about our day.
Most of us, most of the time, are operating in a place of stress, overwhelm, anxiety, uncertainty and fear. When we are in this state, our ability to think clearly, be compassionate, kind and caring is impaired. We are not remotely at our best.
So whether you are in the midst of handling an energy vampire or a friend, coworker or loved one who is constantly criticizing your health choices, try to remember that there is more than one way to eat and live. Others don’t need a lecture, and I encourage us all to take some deep breaths and try to practice compassion and see where everyone else is coming from.
If you’d like to learn how to practice this, you can watch my 20-minute free class here.
listening to the warning signs
And so, as my attempts at understanding nutrition, physical health, the body, spiritual development, teaching, learning and sharing are forever evolving, the words I wrote in my first book, UnDiet, ring truer than ever:
“The message we are supposed to be heeding, for the most part, is so flipping clear that we fail to notice it. The old saying – hindsight is 20/20 – is a bit of an annoying truth. It is so easy to see afterwards, what we were supposed to see or do, but often in the moment, our heads are buried so deep in the land of analyzing the past and fretting about the future that we don’t notice the present until we are literally knocked over. We fail to look up until we are brought down to our knees.
We fail to look up until we are brought down to our knees.
In those moments, when we fail to take note of the writing blasted across the neon signs of our life, which can take the shape of physical pain, recurring illness, recurring overly-dramatic-ball-your-eyes-out relationships, poor choice career moves – we may slowly start to wake up. Often, though, the wake-up comes from the least likely source or sign. It is in these moments that we have to learn to harness the power to clearly read the writing on that wall, with clean spectacles, and free of the fear that kept our heads down in the first place.
This is one of the greatest times to start UnDieting your life to a higher place. There is no need to give this power away to a leader, a guru, a doctor, or your mother/lover/brother/sister/best-friend. Trying to follow what someone else says or dictates may seem like the easy way as it frees us from taking responsibility. And it may just be the easy way… for a time. But it won’t work long term. This is the time to stop looking for answers to healing outside ourselves. It is time to focus on the exhale, look within and goodness me almighty, we will find the answers right on in there. We just have to be brave enough to stop and take a look at what’s really going on – and to listen.”
As we enter this bright and shiny new year, I am here for you.
I am committed to continue diving deep into the tough subjects, offer some encouragement, inspiration and hopefully some deep belly laughter. But please remember, I am in it with you and I always will be.
You, my dear friend, will always know what’s best for your health. Trust this. You are wise. Sometimes you just need a little shimmy and shake up to see exactly how deep your knowledge is, and be brave and committed enough to implement it.