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Apologising for yourself

Something I’ve experienced a lot, both as the practitioner and as a patient, is people feeling the need to apologise for themselves. People apologise for their bodies, the size, the shape, the smell, whether it is shaved or not, whether there is acne or eczema. People apologise for the things they eat, saying they don’t have enough vegetables or that they consume too much sugar or alcohol or caffeine. People apologise for their habits, for not having what they would consider an active enough lifestyle, or they smoke, or don’t take any supplements.

It can be daunting to look at intake forms that put a spotlight on things like your diet and exercise. While the intention of intake forms is never to shame people for their lifestyle, when people are asked to reflect on these areas of their life it often brings those feelings forward. Afterall, we live in a society that exposes us to constant, ever-changing ideals of what “health should look like”, whether that means shaving your legs, having a daily yoga routine, being a certain weight, or eating certain foods. While a lot of media that pushes those ideals wishes to capitalise off of our insecurities, going for acupuncture (or many other forms of holistic health) is not about shaming patients for their present lifestyle, but simply meeting them where they’re at.

As a patient, I know that I have apologised for not having shaved my legs before the appointment, or apologised for my diet that I perceived to contain too much sugar or gluten. I apologised not because I was sorry for it, but because I was embarrassed and ashamed. This isn’t because of anything my practitioner had done or said; they hadn’t given any indication that I had anything to be ashamed of. Instead, it was my internalised insecurities that had been projected onto me by our society.

The point of this post is simply to offer this reassurance: you do not owe anyone an apology or explanation for your body, what you do with it, or what you put into it. Health does not have any one appearance or diet or exercise routine. Health means different things to different people. And that’s okay! Our bodies are amazing and have different unique needs.

As a holistic health practitioner, my intention with asking questions about diet and lifestyle are just a way for me to get a glimpse of your day to day, so I can meet you where you’re at and help you achieve whatever health goals you have.