When you ask the most people why they take a specific supplement they can’t tell you. We all read “expert” blogs, see Facebook or Twitter posts about the next big supplement that will transform you.
The claims always seem too good to be true, thats because most of them are. I’m not against supplements in general and there are supplements that have proven benefits, but when we search for the magic bullet or try to “hack” something we are often left short changed, I know I was.
While in my nutritional therapy practitioner program a year ago I became determined to solve my lifelong digestive problems.
Adopting the paleo diet and lifestyle helped me become healthier and happier person, but my digestive problems would come and go on a weekly basis. My digestive problems were the source of a lot of stress and anxiety for me.The NTP program I was in allowed me access to professional supplements at wholesale prices .
As I learned more about the digestive system I also learned about the specific nutrients and supplements that could help. I often found myself symptom chasing with supplements trying to "solve" my digestion, it was a slippery slope.
Thinking that supplements would be the magic bullet for my digestion left me reaching for a solution in a pill or capsule. Things would work for a period of time , but never lasted for more two weeks.
When a protocol worked I would get excited, when it eventually stopped working I felt frustrated and disappointed. If I went out somewhere and didn’t remember my pocket full of supplements, it would stress me out.
I now realize how ridiculous this was, and a waste of time and energy. The weird looks I got when throwing back a fist full of pills when out with people should have been a sign.
I began taking a lot of supplements for many different reasons beyond digestion, and was a full blown supplement junkie.
I remember the exact moment I decided to change my relationship with supplements. I was speaking with a friend about my daily supplement regime at my house. He said “You take all those in one day? “ Ya of course” I replied.
His next question was “ How can you tell which of them makes a difference when you take them all ?” I didn’t have a good answer for him and, realized he had a valid point.
It lead me to think about all the supplements I had been taking, not always with a specific intention or any noticed benefit.
I had fallen into the habit of looking for the shortcut in my health which misses the point of enjoying the journey.
I was my own worst client, and it was time to hit the reset button. I took a month and decided to get back to whole foods and only one supplement; Vitamin D3. What follows are the lessons I learned during this month, and continue learning today:
Less Is More
Getting back to focusing on the basics allowed me to be more consistent with a select few things rather than spreading my energy thin.
Instead of chasing the next fat loss or metabolism boosting supplement that probably don't work instead we need to make sure we are doing what works: managing stress, eating whole foods, sleeping at least eight hours a night and exercising a few times per week.
Bruce Lee said it best “ It is not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”
Progress, Not Perfection
We’ve all heard the saying two steps forward, one step backwards. If everyday you continue to put one foot in front of the other and move forward you end the week, month or year making significant progress.
Daily small steps lead to miles traveled in our health journey, it takes time. Every day is not going to be a big step in the right direction, and not every supplement, hack or new habit will make a difference right away.
Stay on the right path and trust in the process, learn from your mistakes and keep moving towards your goal. Consistency is essential in all things that we have to work at.
Meditation Is Not Just For Yogis:
Stress is a killer, the more we learn about it the more we realize how it negatively impacts health if we let it. Every book, podcast and conference of the past year I've experienced has discussed a daily meditation practice to reduce stress and increase productivity .
I decided to give daily meditation a try and noticed results within the first week. When I started my day with a short session of meditation my head was clearer, I was more focused and in less of a reactive state. I now meditate as part of my morning routine everyday.
Some Supplements Do Provide Benefits:
I am not against supplements, but when too much emphasis is put on them it is easy to lose sight of the basics that we know work and have proven benefits.
I now regularly go for periods of time without any supplements, and take notice of any changes, if there are any.
The supplements I do notice a benefit from are : Vitamin D3, Cod Liver Oil/Fish Oil , Digestive Enzymes and Probiotics. The only one of these that I do take daily is Vitamin D3, I’m a lifelong oregonian and know my D3 levels are sub human.
Water Is A Nectar Of The Gods, And I Needed To Drink More Of It:
Water is the most common nutrient deficiency among the american population and I was dehydrated without realizing it.
During my supplement sabbatical I started to track my water intake, and how much better I felt when drinking adequate amounts. Digestion was smoother, my joints didn’t ever pop or click and much more.
One of the biggest changes was deciding to squeeze half a lemon into 24 ounces of water and put it next to my bed the night before so when I woke the next morning I could sip on it while starting my day. It helps to kickstart digestion and allows me to rehydrate after a long slumber. I let my morning coffee be the reward for my new hydration habit.
Giving The Digestive System A Break Can Be Important
A few times a week I would (and still do) an intermittent fast. Intermittent Fasting is when you don’t consume any calories for a certain period of time, usually between 16-24 hours.
Intermittent fasting is viewed by some as controversial , and could be an entire blog post on its own.The topic of intermittent fasting and the health benefits are brilliantly explained by Brad Pilon in his book “Eat. Stop. Eat” grab yourself a copy.
From an evolutionary perspective we are built for cycles of feast and famine. We have evolved the famine out of society and feast constantly which places a burden on the digestive system.
The main goal of experimenting with intermittent fasting was to let my digestive system rest and repair itself rather than constantly working to break food down.
Using IF also allows me to be flexible with my eating. When I am in a good flow at work I can wait until I am done to eat. I don’t experience the same intensity of hunger as before because I am able to mobilize fat as stored energy instead of needing sugar from food.
On the other side when I do eat I dedicate my full attention to enjoying my food, and don’t feel rushed or multi task while eating.
I am a big believer in Intermittent fasting and have had success with it, but it is not for everyone. Those with adrenal or thyroid problems should probably avoid IF and discuss it with a health professional.
I thought this blog post was important for me to write because even as a health professional I allowed myself to get caught up in the supplement hype, I am not perfect.
I would like to note that there are supplements out that have been game changers for people and helped them restore their health.
What I want to share in this post is that the mind set of finding the magic bullet in a pill, capsule or powder can do more harm to our health than good and cause anxiety, stress and frustration.
I added a lot of new chapters to my personal health journey during my supplement sabbatical .The lessons I learned along the way helped me make great progress with my digestive issues and work on the basics of my health.
I think in anything worth while when we search for the tough answers we always find ourselves back where we started, the basics.
It will cost you a lot of money and unnecessary disappointment to learn these same lessons from an empty supplement bottle like I did.
If you’re tired of working hard, and not getting the results you want, I can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health or fat loss goals.
These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained. I’ll be there every step of the way to support and keep you accountable.
Get on a Strategy Call with me to Discover how to achieve your health or fat loss goals, and make them yours to keep this time around.
Whether you decide to work with me or not I can guarantee you will leave this call with more knowledge on how to achieve your goals.
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