The Cycle of Unawareness: There’s a Better Way

1. Ignore your body’s signals.

2. Wait until your body is in distress.

3. React unconsciously.

Hungry, thirsty, tired, bloated. You ignore the signals. More intense distress signals such as ravenous, low-blood-sugar hunger or extreme fatigue. You overeat… or lie down.

Or, instead of ignoring the signals, you react every time, putting a band-aid on your body.

Being Unaware costs you. The price? Being overweight, out of shape, tired, bloated, or unhealthy. Or all of these.

Unaware and Suffering

Body awareness didn’t come to me easily. I spent years allowing myself to get too hungry every day. I reacted by jamming anything I could find into my mouth to alleviate the horrible feeling – chips, fast food, candy, you name it. It wasn’t overweight, but I had terrible digestive problems that made me have to lie down after eating. I was also tired all the time.

I took OTC drugs for my stomach pain. I lay down when I was tired and wasn’t productive. The quality of my life was low. These were my band-aids, my reactions.

I decided to try a big change in my diet. Exercise had completely erased my energy problems. Was it possible I could live a life without constant digestive complaints?

I started journaling what I ate and drank and how it made me feel. I was able to pinpoint patterns: fat, sugar, dairy, and high-fiber foods caused my stomach to hurt and blow up. I started to eat clean. I became aware that what I was eating was hurting me. I became aware that I needed to eat more often to avoid going into starvation mode. When I was starving, I ate the wrong things.

I rarely have digestive upset now, and believe me, that is a life-transforming event in my life. If I eat something high in fat or sugar, I’m making a conscious choice and I know the likely consequences.

Unaware and Overweight

Overeating is a similar unconscious reaction to the world. Your body’s signals are emotions, low blood sugar, boredom, and hunger. Are you reacting to these signals by overeating?

When someone tells me they used to be overweight, I always ask them how they lost the weight. They usually say the turning point was simply becoming aware: They ate for the wrong reasons or ate the wrong foods. They didn’t like their bodies. They felt uncomfortable or unhealthy. And aware that there was another way.

Unaware and Sluggish

Food is only one area where we live like zombies. You may not get enough exercise – maybe you don’t get any. You feel sluggish, tired, sapped by mid day. You might think you have some kind of underlying disease because you’re so tired all the time. You don’t like your body. You can’t rely on your body to get your through strenuous activities.

You know, somewhere in your consciousness, that this isn’t how you’d like to be. But it’s just a distant thought you push down whenever it tries to come up.

It’s not really easier to keep going down this path, and you probably already know that it’s time to make a change. You just need to listen to your body. It’s a matter of health; it’s a matter of life.

We let ourselves get so out of touch with our bodies that we become unhealthy, overweight, and uncomfortable. We spend our lives reacting to the outside world instead of looking within ourselves.

Having body awareness means paying attention. Then doing something differently.

Are you conscious of your body? Do you notice how your body feels, or do you dismiss its signals and react unconsciously? You have a body. Start listening. It could change your life.

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  1. Thank you so much for this post – the three different categories are a simple and effective explanation of such an important issue. Sometimes I feel in touch with my body and other times I know that I have let myself become unaware. It’s certainly a reality check when my stomach hurts or my energy is dragging.

    • Thanks for writing Jackie. I also am not always in touch with my body. If I’m driving and feel my neck tense up, I know I’m stressed and need to chill out. I can’t always prevent that from happening, but at least I can recognize when it has and I can take action. I’ve been told having awareness makes you live longer, and I can see why!

  2. Great post! I can totally relate – we have similar histories actually. I’m not sure when I became so disconnected with my body… I’m guessing it was a slow process, but it is something that I have become really aware of recently. “Life” gets so busy, healthy habits take a back burner, and my body was so whacked I wouldn’t even get hungry or thirsty. I am not a fitness saint, by any means, but for the last year, I have been taking baby steps towards making healthier choices. Lately I have been listening to my body re: sleep, water, food, and workouts. I even told Sonjia I wanted to take it easy for a training – I just KNEW my body needed a break. The other surprising tool for me has been music & walking — so unexpected, but so beneficial in terms of clearing my head and relaxing my body — it frees me up from the “nonsense” which lets me “listen” a bit better. Thanks again Suzanne!
    Kris @Krazy_Kris recently posted..Syncope – My Little Wake Up CallMy Profile

    • Kris: Very intuitive that you knew your body needed a break and then you actually took one. This is still another aspect of self awareness – it’s almost impossible to even cover all the different ways we need to be self aware. Self awareness ties in closely with balance as well, which you found with music and walking. Thanks so much for adding to the insight!

      Roy: Agreed, we all think too much, and living consciously means thinking about our bodies. I think there has to be a way to cut down on the “noise” we all have in our lives versus ignoring our what our body is telling us. Living by sleep walking? The cost is too high. Btw… you’re an introspective guy – if you find a way to cut down on that noise, I’d love to hear it :).

      Marsha: It sure does say something about our times, doesn’t it? Like Roy said in his comment, we all have too much noise in our lives. Maybe it’s just easier (in the short term) to ignore our bodies when we have so many other voices to listen to. In the long term? Our obesity rate speaks for itself.

  3. “It’s not really easier to keep going down this path…”

    True, ultimately it is not easier. However, it requires a lot less thought, and not to be trite, but I think modernity, especially in America, has us thinking too much, thus we look to non-thinking paths as a simple release to keep the thinking pathways unclogged. Stay with me here; choosing not to think about it, coupled with choosing not to move, or choosing to eat that pleasurable thing, is an irresistible synapse chain reaction. It’s why we are where we are.

    I don’t know, maybe I’m over thinking…..

    This was a very good post.
    Emergefit recently posted..The Art Of The Ordeal…My Profile

  4. Love your post. So sad that so many of us have to get to the place you describe to understand we need to be aware. Says something about the times in which we live, I think.

  5. Yes, yes, yes. I completely agree. people need to be more aware, mindful, conscious of what their body is telling them– in eating, and also in exercising, too (otherwise, some people overtrain and then get injured!). the only way to be at equilibrium & peace with your body is to trust it and listen to it. 🙂
    sui recently posted..25 ways losing weight will not change your lifeMy Profile

    • So true. And I love your blog and the things you have to say about this as well, Sui. Mindfulness – it’s a “buzz word” but it says it so well.

  6. This is a completely underrated topic, thanks for bringing it out for discussion (in spite of my late response, still catching up!).

    How would one continue to inspire body consciousness in people? For a person to read your post above one time and exercise it once is great, but being able to do it repeatedly is best, no? I feel like body awareness starts with mental self-awareness….but still doesn’t answer how to urge people to really think before doing. I’d be interested to find out more about this…

    • That’s a good point, Garick. Awareness is the first step. I’ve seen this in myself repeatedly – once I become aware of something I’m doing/not doing, I slowly begin a process of change. That’s why it’s so important for people to just stop and look at what’s really going on with their bodies once in awhile. Stop going through the motions! It’s a tall order, but we know it’s possible.

  7. My Blog Fabulous post! I’m actually searching for information about proper dog training but came upon this post and discovered it really interesting and helpful. Keep up the excellent work you are doing here.

    • So cool that you made your way here! Not too much about dog training but glad you liked this one. Thanks so much for your kinds words and hope to see you again sometime :).

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