Most of my life, I was a slave to my mind, and if you'd asked me I would have said straight-faced that the whole useful world was inside it; a straight-up victim of stockholm syndrome of the brain. Held and tortured and unable to even think of another reality.
Here's what I've learned: The body is a violin that responds exquisitely to everything that touches it — including the mind. Like a violin, you can listen to the sounds it makes and hear the results of what's touching it expressed in amazing detail. The mind can lie to you, intentionally (ego, fear, etc) or otherwise (bad training, illness); and it's so so hard to tell what's true and what isn't. But if you listen to the notes of your body, you'll know almost instantly — especially once you're used to just listening — whether something is good for you or not.
And your body is YOUR BODY; it's had YOUR precise experiences for all those years; don't be scared if it responds in ways that the magazines say are wrong. Eat steak: Does it feel good, over the next day or so? No? Then probably it's too heavy for your digestive system; or something else about it disagrees with you. (I love describing food etc as "agreeing or disagreeing" with my body.) Or yes? Then maybe you're shy on iron or protein. I tried to stop eating meat for years, because I thought it was making me fat (no, lack of exercise was), and later found out that I have really high blood-iron requirements, and would need supplements if it weren't for my meaty diet. LISTEN to your body. How much sleep FEELS good, and when? Whose energy makes you relax and smile? Try getting WAY more exercise than you're used to, and see how it feels. When I started lifting weights, I thought I must be insane and going to hurt myself — I was thirty, and not in that great of shape — but even while the muscle-soreness screamed, I felt like a fucking timpani at the climax of a symphony; and thereafter I learned that my body, MY body, for whatever reasons, needs a LOT more exercise than most people take as baseline. (And lo, my brain is *much* happier and easier when I get it, too.)
Listen, listen, listen, and TRUST. Breathe. Let it surprise you — and it will. Mine *loves* a shot of whisky sometimes. I no longer care in the slightest what anyone says about this, health-wise. I know it's healthy because I can feel it. I get a full check-up with blood-work and oh, my liver is perfect, as is my cholesterol etc.? My doctor is surprised — "at my age", she says, most people have *something* that needs adjusting — but I am not. If I told her about the beer-and-a-whiskey I have most days, she'd probably be even *more* surprised. But my body likes beer, especially after a workout. ESPECIALLY don't worry about anything your body wants that isn't too often — your system is strong (especially if you're usually kind to it, which means listening to it), and if you make a mistake (*three* whiskeys probably isn't the best idea), it'll recover. One mistake is no big deal. Every day mistakes, like getting no exercise, eating crap food or the wrong food, etc., ARE a big deal.
Last thing: Stress is SO BAD FOR YOU. Western culture has very specific habits built-in that encourage us to ignore this particular thing — and for reasons that are pretty obvious with a minute's thought — but it's vitally (!) important. LISTEN to your BODY and when it's making that horrible keening noise because your shoulders are tight and you've had no fresh air and no meditation and no naps, TAKE ACTION. It doesn't take much to reduce stress, and your body will tell you instantly what's working. Nice music. A rest with your feet up. A run. A scream. Don't ignore those things and let it build up. Stress is playing your violin with a saw, and over time it will destroy you.
I'm so grateful for my health, and so cognizant of how weird and lucky I am to have found so much of it in my adult years, when I had way way less through those typically-automatically-healthy childhood ones. I'm extra lucky to be able to share some of the really cool parts of it via teaching taiji sometimes, but for you guys, if I can give you one thing, it's this order: You are playing an instrument, right now, by living in and piloting your body. It is a crazy complex instrument, but you were born with the skills to work the bow, so don't stress that part. DO, however, PAY ATTENTION to it, and above all LISTEN, and trust what you hear.
Marie out. :)