For some time now I’ve felt like some sort of “in the closet” crunchy-granola, green-livin’, real-food-believin’ hippie. Sure, the people who really know me know that I believe in health. And if someone asked I’d be more than happy to share a DIY cleaning product recipe, or talk about why I love raw milk. But far too often I try to keep the things I do quiet. I don’t like making too much noise when it comes to how I live my life. Because, sometimes, I feel like a complete wacko.
Most days I think I live a pretty normal life. My house is nice and clean (just toxic free). My food is nice and clean (just toxic free). My body is nice and clean (just tox… you get the point.) I don’t have long unwashed hair that’s parted down the side with twigs or flowers in it. I don’t bob my head around like I’m in some sort of crazy daze. The truth is I just feel more grounded, relaxed, healthy, and energized by the very things other people think are “weird.” And if you are comparing my day-to-day living to that of a “normal” person… well, I am weird. Or at least different.
I’m okay with that. In fact, I feel pretty darn good about it.
Of course, I didn’t start this way. I grew up in a “normal” home with good parents and lots of processed foods. It’s not that we had a lot of “junk food” in our house. My mom was pretty diligent in doing her best. She followed society’s wishy-washy, back-and-forth ideals of what was healthy. In fact, I still remember the day as a young child when my mom switched to skim milk because, you know, “fat will make you fat.” (sigh.)
Even though I didn’t grow up in some sort of hippie community farm, I have always been interested in health. In my youth I would set goals to eat less candy, exercise more, and reach an “ideal” weight. I believed what society told me and purchased only the products that were “healthy,” “low fat,” and “made with whole grains.” (sigh, again.)
Despite my attempts at being healthy, I struggled with acne, digestive issues, and weight problems. Even during my college days when I was dancing 8+ hours a day plus working out, I continued to feel trapped in someone else’s “not quite right” body. I wasn’t sick, but I sure didn’t feel at my peak.
During those years I had also experienced severe dry skin on my hands. Seriously, I felt like a leper. I would pour piles of lotion and frown as it just pooled in my palms, useless. This condition continued to come and go for four years. FOUR. YEARS. I finally went to a doctor to see what was wrong.
His diagnosis: Dry Skin.
His recommendation: Put some lotion on it.
(Head against wall.) *big sigh*
Frustrated, I went home and started researching. I spent hours online, reading chat forums, nutrition journals, and other people’s experiences. After a lot of consideration I determined I had an omega-3 deficiency. (Keep in mind this was several years before omega-3’s would be a “buzz” word. Nobody I knew had ever heard of omega-3 anything.)
I bought some flaxseed oil supplements and began my self-prescribed plan. Within a week or two my hands were back to normal. I soon traded the supplements for omega-3 foods (look at that, fat can be good!). It has been 8 years and I haven’t had a problem since. What I’ve learned over the years (and through countless hours of research) is that we must take control of our own health.
A shift in perspective: What is health care?
Let me be clear: Our health is our responsibility.
What does that mean to me? Does it mean never trusting my doctor or always going against modern medicine? No, not necessarily. But it does mean not necessarily putting my whole trust in them without trying to learn, research, and considering all my options. It means using common sense, seeing a bigger picture of health, trusting my gut, listening to all sides, and doing what feels best.
Any journey toward real health must start with the realization that our health is our own. Instead of waiting for answers from those who too often only cover up symptoms, we need to take the steps necessary to get back to basics. We need to see that health care is not the same as sick care. Health care is an ongoing and vibrant process, a personal journey.
(top featured image by nicolette clara, Flickr)