Why The One-Dimensional Approach To Body Care Doesn’t Work

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*This is a portion of one of the chapters in my new book. As such, what is published here has not gone through final edits or design. Your feedback is welcome! In order to have a singular place to organize that, you are welcome to post thoughts, questions, and feedback, on this post in the Fit For Real Life fb group.*

The living, dynamic, lens of being an excellent caretaker of your body gives you perspective you can never get if you stick with the one-dimensional process of body care that has existed in the mainstream for some time.

I want to share with you an experience I had that illustrates the differences between the two lenses perfectly…

I went to visit my friends, Robb and Nicki, out at their new house. They warned me that we’d likely be having conversations while doing yard work because there was much to be done at new place. I love yard work (seriously, I do) so this warning didn’t deter me at all. Sure enough, we spent part of the weekend working outside while we spent time together. And one of my jobs was to destroy any of the roots I could get to of the goat’s head plants that had proliferated on the property.

If you don’t know what the goat’s head plant is, it’s an invasive species of plant that also goes by the name ‘puncturevine’. It produces seeds that have thorns on them that hurt tremendously if you step on them. I know this from experience. Goat’s head easily outcompetes other native plant species, smothering them and thus making dense monocultures and a reduction in native plant diversity very important to wildlife and pollinators

Unfortunately, goat’s head seeds can remain dormant for years in soil so just pulling out roots often isn’t enough to rid the soil of them. Nonetheless, pulling out roots was a start – albeit a one-dimensional one.

While I was pulling roots, a man arrived to the house. He was a soil expert and my friends had invited him out to get his help making a long-term care plan for soil as they had plans for gardening and such. I stopped pulling roots and came to listen to him talk with my friends and what he shared blew my mind. The soil expert told us that the ideal way to get rid of the goat’s head was to make the soil such that it was inhospitable for the goat’s head to grow. Not herbicides, not chopping them out.

Of course! That makes so much sense and is such a well-rounded approach to take. The herbicides and chopping of roots would create an outcome faster but wouldn’t actually solve the root problem, that the soil tolerated the goat’s head. If the soil health changed such that goat’s head couldn’t tolerate it, the plant wouldn’t proliferate anymore.

Chopping out the roots or using an herbicide was the one-dimensional approach. Going to the root of the issue and changing the health of the soil so the natural effect was that goat’s head couldn’t proliferate was the multi-dimensional, dynamic, approach.

In addition, improving the health of the soil provided an effect for the overall health of the land – it wasn’t an isolated solution exclusively for the goat’s head. Isolated actions provide isolated solutions. When it comes to the natural world of which you are included, the more holistic approach that looks at the larger picture is going to be more fruitful than stringing together lots of isolated actions.

If you want to feel great and move well, you can make it so this is the natural effect of how you live your life and care for your body.

But it means shifting your approach – from seeking patches for whatever area of your body seems to be aching or breaking down on you, to taking on the role of creating a body you love to live in – a job that has no retirement date, that will teach you more about yourself than you ever imagined, and that will always be interesting (provided you’re willing to use your Explorer’s Mindset).

Remember Susan, the triathlete, from the last chapter? I told you she had been having low back pain that was disruptive and annoying, and that we resolved the low back pain together and she went on to have better and better performances each year she participated in triathlons.

The one-dimensional, “put a patch on it” way to approach low back pain might look something like this:

Stop doing whatever causes pain (even if that means stopping the very activities Susan loved most).

Be more cautious lifting things and bending over (which would definitely influence how she went about her daily life).

Spend a lot of time passively stretching the low back region.

Do some abdominal work to ‘strengthen the area’.

All four of these action steps are a patch on a problem, not things that get to the actual root of the issue. They are one-dimensional, and in some cases, may be the opposite of helpful when it comes to long-term success for Susan and her low back.

The more holistic, dynamic, multi-dimensional approach takes a very different approach.

It does not take away activities permanently as a ‘solution’ to a problem. It does not encourage feeling fragile or like being cautious is required for moving safely. It does not use passive inputs to try and make active change. It does not isolate the ‘problem area’ from the rest of the body…

Owl

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