As humans, I think we like to “diagnose” ourselves into categories or labels (aka look at the division in our country these days based on “identification” personally, politically, etc.).

I also think that this is so popular in the realm of health and wellness as we love to join groups or movements and feel apart of something or like we’re working towards something…here are some examples:

  • Nutrition-wise:
    • I’m Keto
    • I’m pro-metabolic
    • I’m into macro counting
    • I’m vegan/vegetarian
    • I’m carnivore
    • I’m an intermittent faster
  • Exercise-wise: 
    • I’m a runner
    • I’m a yogi (namaste)
    • I’m a power lifter
    • I do CrossFit
    • I’m a couch potato
  • Health-wise:
    • I’m a pre-diabetic
    • I’m hypothyroid
    • I’m PCOS
    • I’m autoimmune
    • I’m likely to inherit X because my family has it

None of these are bad or wrong, but if we ONLY believe we are these things, we can fall into extremes and also not see the bigger picture of everything that is impacting our health.

Your Health Isn’t Black + White

It’s so easy to ONLY see in black and white when it comes to our health. I think our brains are more receptive to the “this or that” mentality and don’t love to accept the gray space where our health ACTUALLY resides. We all love to try and find the ONE REASON why X is happening in our lives when in reality it comes down to 1000 things over time that slowly chipped away at our health.

  • Running won’t be the only answer to weight loss or getting in shape; you likely need a balanced fitness program PLUS good nutrition, recovery, etc. 
  • Going keto will work until you can’t sustain it anymore or your body fights back; over time this style of eating depletes beneficial gut bacteria, leading to gut and digestive issues, but also the extreme-ness of it can cause you to “fail” over time. 
  • Accepting a diagnosis without asking what got you there isn’t the right outlook; if you simply jump on a medication instead of investigating your lifestyle, you are falling victim to the diagnosis trap.

The Answer is…WHY?

Instead of trying to find an identity or diagnosis in these categories, what if you started seeking out a more balanced approach and most importantly, begin to ask WHY. 

  • “Why” is empowering; it puts you in the driver seat of your own health instead of outsourcing to another program, diet, or doctor.
  • “Why” makes you GET REAL with yourself and your actions and what may need some shifting in your life
  • “Why” isn’t just one category; it makes you examine everything to see how so much is interconnected in both your health and your life

The easiest relation to this is that of a toddler with their endless questions (“mom, but WHHHY?”). When did we lose that zest for questioning and begin just accepting what others told us was true or right?

My Personal Journey with “WHY”

Though I’m writing this from a place of a much more balanced approach, I think I’m most equipped for this as I was the queen of extremes over the past 15 years:

  • In high school through college I struggled with several eating disorders thinking that extreme restriction would bring about good health. 

  • After that I stepped into extreme exercise going over the top with long-distance running, HIIT, spin classes and yoga trying to be the best in each activity I did thinking that was the answer

  • In the meantime I was always experimenting with the diet of the moment- plant-based, keto, macro counting, etc. which was always extreme and on/off again as it never seemed sustainable 

  • In my mid-twenties, I started to feel like crap and began seeking out different practitioners and doctors to try and give me the label as to why my health felt like it was “off.”

After probably seeing 10 different types of practitioners in the health space, I realized that no one medication or supplement or diet or workout was going to fix me. I instead had to take a hard look at my life and WHAT GOT ME THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE. This is still an ongoing battle as old habits die hard, but here are some of the things I had to come to terms with that were likely the “whys” behind my declining health:

  • I was overbooked, over-scheduled and over-working. I have always worked at least 1-2 jobs (and at my peak for 5-6 places) and thrived on a full calendar and helping others. Whether it was health coaching, teaching fitness classes or waitressing, I thrived on others seeing me be productive. But this wasn’t sustainable and was a big reason for my issues with fatigue, hormone issues, weight gain and a need for practically an IV drip of caffeine.

  • I was undereating, over-drinking and under-sleeping. All of the years of battling with food led me to do a lot of restriction with food but then total blowout on the weekends going out and drinking/eating afterwards. These busy weekends paired with crazy working hours led to hardly any sleep and definitely low quality sleep at that. I would leave at 5am and not get home until 8-9pm most days and that was just “normal.”

  • I was ignoring toxic exposures in my life and how they contributed to my health. I was drinking unfiltered water, lighting up Bath + Body Works candles daily, coating myself in perfume and using a ton of scented products. I was also eating/drinking a ton of artificial sweeteners and colors/dyes in all the “health” foods with protein bars, diet sodas, etc. 

I personally came to the realization it was the sum of all parts– it wasn’t just food or exercise or toxicity or sleep that was hurting my health….it was all of those choices combined. Nothing is inherently going to cause sickness/disease, but too much of anything is likely too much. 

Your Health is the Sum of All Parts

The next time you are tempted to jump on a bandwagon or just accept a diagnosis from your doctor, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and ask WHY. I see this often with long-term medication or supplement prescriptions that have no end in sight and also don’t challenge you to clean up your lifestyle.

  • What is that medication/supplement going to cover up? 

  • What symptoms will it suppress so you can go on living the way you have been?

  • What is the recurrence or frequency of the same symptoms/pain, etc. trying to tell you?

  • What needs to shift in your life that is contributing to the issue?

It’s time to unlearn your approach to health and wellness. Be a rebel and go “uncategorized” and “undiagnosed” and become a seeker of the why instead of the “one” thing.