Step 4: Challenge & Adapt.
A prolonged state of comfort leads to weakness.
That's just true.
Why? Because constant comfort means no adaptation. When you fail to challenge your body to adapt to variation, it stagnates. Any high-performance athlete or body builder will tell you that. The thing is, everything in your environment is against you. Think about it. All the noise from the moment you wake up to the moment your head hits the pillow is pushing you toward instant gratification. It's the only language our society speaks. So unless you fight it hard and intentionally, it usually wins. And you? You remain weak.
In the last post we learned how to achieve healing by getting back to the very basics and cutting out everything else. This takes time, trial and error, and focus. So if you're still on the mend, stick with Step 3 and continue to eliminate and test until your body has healed and overcome. Once you're ready--it's time to gain some muscle, so to speak.
First, some reflection.
Think about the average day in your life and relive it in your mind. You wake up to your favorite song. You scroll through the latest news articles as you wait for your coffee to finish brewing. You take a warm shower and layer up in the most comfortable clothes possible for whatever the day holds. You get in car, adjust the heat or air conditioning to however you like, and drive to work listening to the latest on ESPN, stopping on the way for your favorite breakfast burrito. All day, more of this. Food easily accessible, temperature constant. You come home and do a jog around the block a few times to check off that box and then you zone out in front of the television before climbing into your comfortable bed, ready to do it all again tomorrow.
Sounds like a dream, right? It is. Especially from the perspective of generations past. How did they live? Not like that, I can assure you. They worked hard. Fingers to the bone. Often up before the break of daylight, grandpa was already out tending to his crops, feeding his animals, or off on the next hunt. Forget temperature control. Solid protection from the elements was a luxury, and figuring out how to feed himself and his family was the agenda on his mind. You had to know how to sustain and protect yourself. Nobody was going to do it for you.
Oh, how far we've come. In the right or wrong direction is yet to be determined.
The point is that grandpa didn't always know what was around the bend. His body was sometimes shocked by how cold it was outside or how hot it got in the noon day sun as he worked. He had very distinct times of incredibly hard, intense physical labor contrasted with quiet, still, reflective rest. His body had to switch fuel sources depending on what was available that season.
But you and I don't have to live that way if we don't want to. And most of us don't want to. Why would we? We actually work really hard to maintain happiness at all times. One might even call us... spoiled.
Spoiled: adjective 1. harmed in character by being treated too leniently or indulgently. 2. having become unfit...
Yikes. So again, in case you didn't get it the first time--when you take risks and push yourself to the next level, you build strength and the ability to bounce back from difficulty.
Let's talk biology.
Here's the deal. We have been brainwashed to believe that our bodies are stupid and delicate. But the truth is that your body is like a smartphone on steroids. It has very specific jobs to do and outcomes to maintain. Everything within the body is tightly regulated. Your temperature, your blood pressure, your cell count, your glucose levels, your hormone levels. Everything. In optimal health, your body does a magnificent job of maintaining these processes even when the circumstances around you change. One obvious example of this is how your body works hard to maintain its ideal temperature when your surroundings change. And there are so many more of which we'll discuss later (especially regarding hormone regulation.)
However, when you allow your body to get oh-so-comfortable, you might be feeling pretty sorry when you're forced to adapt quickly. If you're the kind of person who tends to eat exactly the same things every day or week, you know what I'm talking about. Maybe it was while you were traveling and you had to eat totally different food than you normally do... You probably spent a crap ton of time in the bathroom. Pun intended. Now, that's one way to shock your digestive system, but I don't recommend it. Instead, get your body used to eating a variety of real, whole, nutrient-dense food. And do it naturally. How, you ask?
Now before we get into that, a word of caution. When you push yourself into new physical territory, be prepared for your body to shout some expletives at you. It likes to get comfortable, just like your mind. But here's the kicker. You have to learn to speak the same language as your body in order to hold it accountable properly. A whining message sent about discomfort is very different than an alarm being sounded due to true danger of harm. And that all goes back to learning to pay attention.
One of the easiest ways to shake things up in your diet of real food is to eat what your land provides, when it provides it. This means you eat locally, because believe it or not, there are hard-working farmers and ranchers near you who are actually tilling the ground and raising their animals in accordance with the laws of nature. Eating what the land provides for you in your climate, specific to the season you're in is beneficial on levels we probably don't even fully understand. Here is a little tidbit that will blow your mind...
Did you know that fructose (the natural sugar that comes from fruit and honey) is only metabolized in the liver, and excess amounts of it can raise your vLDL and triglyceride levels, and cause fatty liver disease? BUT, were you aware that sunlight exposure converts vLDL and triglycerides into vitamin D for you? (That is SO cool.)
Here's an interesting thought... Could it be that eating large amounts of fruit in the sunniest months when they grow in abundance is perfectly fine for the body? Yet consuming the same level of fructose in the winter months, when the sun hides its face, may actually increase your risk of metabolic syndrome and the calcification of arteries? Hmm... someone should study that. Could the food grown in your area be designed to aid your body in making the transition from one season to another? A novel idea, I'm sure.
What a glimpse of how nature works in perfect harmony and tandem with our bodies. Allow that to sink in and then ask yourself, why would we ditch that system?
So now let's consider what we'd do if we didn't have a grocery store full of avocados from Mexico in December or blueberries from Chile in February. It's a striking thought, I know. Especially if you're the type who tends to eat the exact same things every day regardless of what time of year it is. Maybe you don't know what real food is in season where you are. You thought "seasonal food" meant that you eat hot dogs and potato chips during baseball season and buffalo wings during football. Yeah... not so much. To find out though, you can search the internet for local food co-ops and farmer's markets in your area. You can also use sites like this to help narrow it down. It might take some digging depending on where you're at. (Oh, and don't be surprised if there isn't an array of vegetables and fruit available the further north of the equator you live... #thankgodformeat)
Eating locally as a rule of thumb means:
-you end up eating seasonally without even trying
-you save money by not paying shipping premiums
-you eat food that's fresher and more nutrient-dense
-you support your local economy
Ultimately, you're allowing your body to be fueled with a natural variety that will make you strong and resilient.
When I was a young girl, my parents used to encourage me to consider this question, "What can you live without?" It's a good one. A perspective-giving question that can pull us out of our cushy, first-world life of luxury and allow us to imagine what we'd do if all we ever desired wasn't available so easily anymore. Keep it in mind and apply it in regard to all areas of your life--not just food. You never know when things as you know it will cease to exist. The goal is to prepare your mind and body beforehand so you're ready for such a time.
I'll leave you with this fabulous quote.
"Delay your gratification. Give up the good. Go for the great."
So now you know the four basic steps toward getting in touch with your biological intuition.
Step 1: Pay Attention.
Step 2: Eat Real Food.
Step 3. Eliminate, Test & Heal.
Step 4: Challenge & Adapt.
One last thing. What are you going to do when your actions disobey the newfound wisdom of your mind? Well, you're going to have to lay the smack down. But before you can do that, you need to know who is truly at fault. Tune in for that big reveal next, my friend.