How to Listen to Your Body. Practical tips for making the right wellness decisions for your body.
If you’re familiar with the online healthy living space, you may be noticing a shift that is happening. A decreased focus on “clean eating,” and broader discussions on balance, living life beyond our phones, and whether or not healthy living influencers are doing more harm than good.
While things are moving in a more positive direction, I have struggled to find ways to truly help those who need to take a more relaxed, intuitive approach to wellness. The most common phrase used by myself and many others in this space is “listen to your body.” I find myself constantly telling readers, my personal training clients, and pretty much anyone who asks for wellness advice to listen to their body because there is no one-size-fits-all approach to wellness.
Although this is solid advice, I was recently asked a glaringly obvious question that needs to be addressed – “What does ‘listening to my body’ mean? And how do I do it?”
Oof. That, my friends, is not as simple.
For the context of this post, when I say “listen to your body,” I’m referring to knowing when to listen to your body to take a step back from having an obsessive relationship with wellness. I’m referring to understanding what your body needs in order to truly feel good, not just to look a certain way or to fit someone else’s definition of “healthy.”
Here are three practical tips to help you listen to your body.
Trust Your Body
This one is the hardest, because we are hardwired to believe that we can’t be trusted when it comes to knowing what’s best for our bodies. However, I’ve found the opposite to be true. When it comes to your own health, you have to be your own biggest advocate to know what’s best for you. Your body is incredibly smart and powerful, and just because you haven’t been listening to signals your body hasn’t been giving you, doesn’t mean those signals aren’t there. Having a strong mind-body connection is key. Trust that your body knows what it needs, because it really, truly does.
Understand Your Body’s Signals
When was the last time you finished a meal and felt completely satisfied? Like you ate enough food, not too much, and like the ingredients you consumed gave you the energy you needed to fuel your day?
How about fitness?
When was the last time you woke up the day after a tough workout feeling sore, stiff, and completely exhausted? What did you do? Did you clock in another HIIT session because you were “supposed to? Did you do nothing? Did you stretch your achy muscles to prepare them for next time?
I know I just threw a lot of questions at you, but these are important points to consider. Are you asking yourself questions like this? And more importantly, are you listening to what your body is trying to tell you?
After your next meal or workout, check in with your body to see how you feel. Writing it down helps too. Don’t just look for negative side effects, look for good ones too. Whether you feel satisfied, stuffed, still hungry, energized, achy, sore or ready for your next workout, take note of how you feel and what you did to feel that way. Understanding these factors can help you build a wellness plan that works for you, based off of what your body responds well to.
Stop Treating Online Content as Absolute Fact
Not everything we see on the internet is absolute fact – especially when it comes to wellness. Online influencers shape how many of us receive wellness information. The problem is, many influencers are sharing their own personal experiences and perspectives when it comes to wellness – they aren’t prescribing or advising their readers on what to do.
When we take another person’s “What I Ate Wednesday” as “this is what and how much I should eat,” we experience a mind/body disconnection that puts us out of touch with our bodies’ own natural hunger cues and satiation levels. When we mimic every “fitspo” Instagram account’s workout routine because we want to look like the people we see online, we can lose our ability to understand when our bodies need rest, and when our bodies can be challenged a bit more. Unless you are working with a licensed professional who has assessed your needs, has full context of your situation and is working with you directly, take any and all wellness content you read online as subjective information – not absolute fact.
If you want to be able to effectively listen to your body but find social media sometimes gets in the way, repeat one of these phrases the next time you scroll through the ‘gram:
I will not make wellness decisions based off of others’ content.
I will not take wellness recommendations from someone online based off of how they look.
Good for her, not for me.
Ok fine, I borrowed that last phrase from Amy Poehler. But you have to admit, it does apply to just about everything.
What do you do to check in with your body? Share any tips you have in the comments below!