When it comes to improving health and wellness, the first thing most people think to change is diet. Eating clean, whole, nutrient dense foods is essential to a healthy body, however, it is not the only thing to consider. Primary food goes beyond the plate, nurturing us on a deeper level. These include things like relationships, career, physical activity, spirituality, etc. These are the elements or activities that bring fulfillment, wholeness, and balance to a person’s life. You can eat all the broccoli on the farm, but if you are unfulfilled, over worked, and stressed beyond belief, you are not on track to live a long and healthy life. To understand primary foods is to understand that all aspects of an individual’s needs including psychological, physical and social are to be taken into account and seen as a whole.
More Than Food– As children, we were too busy playing outside with friends, or riding our bike to bother with food. We were bummed when we heard our parents calling us in for dinner. How about that feeling when you first fall in love? New couples are far more interested in each other than in eating. Consider the successful entrepreneurs who are fueled by their work. They are pursuing their dreams, doing the things they are passionate about, and often forget to break for lunch. The excitement and rapture of daily life can feed us differently and more holistically than any food.
Fill or Deflate– We all have certain things in life that give us energy and gusto. Conversely, there are things or activities that suck the life out of us. For example, an extrovert will come home from a cocktail party, or professional business mixer feeling energized. He or she will be too wired to go straight to bed. An introvert will come home from that same event exhausted and depleted. It is helpful if we discover what fuels us, and what drains us. I think of it kind of like a cup. The stresses of life, challenging relationships, difficult bosses or customers can drain our cup. Even fun parties or public speaking will zap our strength. If we are completely depleted, we have nothing left to give to loved ones. We find ourselves quick to anger, sporting a bit of a short fuse. We feel out of balance which can look or feel different for each individual. It could feel like any of the following: anxiety, depression or melancholy, frustration , joylessness, overwhelm, boredom, over-tired, uninspired, exasperated, or even anger.
When this happens, chances are our cup is dangerously low, and needs filling. Fill it with some of these primary foods that may be lacking in your life. The ones that make you feel more alive. The stuff that makes your heart sing, gives you a sense of peace and tranquility, restores your soul or inner being. Here are some examples.
- Physical activity– Maybe you’re a runner or cyclist. Maybe you love nature walks and hikes. Yes, it’s true a runners’ high is addicting, but even when your working up a vigorous sweat, exorcise can be calming. It relieves stress, and even sparks creativity. I do my best work on the trails. This is where I come up with great ideas for my business. Perhaps you have a love for sailing, racquetball, tennis, horse back riding, you fill in the blank. Schedule time for it. Recognize it as a priority for your health. And not just physical health. I’m a much more patient and peaceful wife and mom if I’d had my run. I stopped here to take a pic of this trail I like to run. The scenery is so beautiful and peaceful. It’s the best medicine for stress, boredom, anxiety, or even sadness. I feel so invigorated and accomplished when I’m done.
- Career- Do what you love. If you work full-time and take let’s say a 2 week vacation per year, you are spending 2000 hours/year at work. Over 50 years that’s 100,000 hours. I will never understand why people are willing to waste so much of their precious time on earth in a job that makes them miserable. The money isn’t worth it in the long run. You know the saying: “if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” If its not possible to follow your dreams to do something you are truly passionate about at this specific moment in your life, what steps can you take to make that a reality down the road? What can you do to make the most out of your present work environment? What are your options? Is it a transfer to another department, office, or region? Could you ask for special projects utilizing your gifts and talents, allowing you to feel successful, creative, fulfilled? Can you create a work space environment that makes you feel comfortable, creative, happy, and productive with the use of candles, pictures, essential oils, music, nice office furniture, etc. Maybe it comes down to just being organized. If my home office is in disarray, I am not only distracted and unproductive, but I feel a bit anxious. I prefer to be organized and free of clutter.
- Spirituality- Everyone at some time in their life ask the age old question. What’s the meaning of life? Or what’s my purpose in life? We all have the capacity for a spiritual connection. I think we are instinctively born with the desire to worship, but don’t always know how or where to direct that worship. We have an innate desire for intimacy and connectivity to something much bigger than ourselves. Many people ponder the question, are we all here by chance? Was it some sudden bang and all intelligent life began? Was it by intelligent design? To quote Frances Chan, “How is it that we are all standing on this giant ball spinning at 1000 miles an hour, and think that’s normal?” To me, there is nothing normal about that. Was it just an accident? Having a spiritual practice, and a belief system is said to add years to your life. There was a study done on longevity where they identified 4 or 5 blue zones around the world. These are where people are thriving and living to 100 and older with strength and vigor. They identified 9 diet and lifestyle practices, one of them is having a spiritual practice. For more info you can google Dan Buettner blue zones. So what is YOUR source of hope and strength? What’s the meaning of YOUR life? If you are searching for truth, I highly recommend this powerful video: https://www.juststopandthink.com/francis-chan-video-just-stop-think-the-movie/
- Relationships- Whether intimate or not, relationships have a deep impact on our health & happiness. They can make or break us in a sense. Family, friends, coworkers, spouses/lovers. We are wired for relationships. We were not meant to do this life alone. Are your loved ones building you up, or tearing you down? Do they support you, or do they chastise you? Do you have someone in your life that you can experience true uncensored intimacy with? Do you have special relationships with people you fully trust? Do you have special relationships with people you can share your triumphs and tragedies with? If so, do you value them, building into them, making time for them, or do you take them for granted? Did you know it’s been said that the act of hugging releases certain hormones that actually benefit your health? Maybe you can add a hug to that apple a day.
- Creativity- I always thought I wasn’t creative because I can’t draw. I always stunk at arts and crafts. I am no Martha Stewart. I’d go broke as an interior designer very quickly. Later I realized that I love to cook. It is so much fun creating new and different things in the kitchen. It’s art you get to eat. There are many different creative outlets for people to explore. For some of my clients, having the time and opportunity to do the things they love like quilting, painting, or writing is key for them to maintain a sense of wholeness. It’s healthy…like laughter, or a hug. Think about some of the ways you like to be creative. Do you make time for those things?
- Finances- Do you feel that your finances are in order? Do you have a long term financial goal, and are you on track to meet that goal? Have you taken a close look at your budget, and your monthly spending? Do you need to bring in additional income somehow? Do you need to cut back somewhere? Do you need to redefine some of your wants vs. needs? I believe that the number one stressor in marriage is finances. And we all know how stress affects our bodies and our health. It’s absolute poison. Consult with a financial advisor if necessary. Do it for your health!
Conclusion: The life we lead is led by a series of choices. Good or bad. Choices every day, and ones we have to life with, until we choose to make another choice to change it. The great success of my program is when clients understand that they are empowered. Empowered to choose. Whether it’s in their personal life, professional life, or how they will treat their body, they have the power to take their lives and their health into their own hands.
I am currently reading a fascinating book entitled, Switch on Your Brain, by Dr. Caroline Leaf. I want to quote this section for you called “You Have the Power to Change.”
“Your patterns of genetic experience don’t determine what you are; you do. How you live, the cultural environment you live in, whatever you immerse yourself in, your beliefs and the beliefs of those around you, how you interact with those people, your faith and how you grow it, what you expose yourself to-all of these lead to differences in the way you focus your attention and have a direct effect on how your proteins are synthesized, how your enzymes act, and how your neurochemicals work together. If you don’t believe you have the power to change your thoughts and control your choices, you are not going to do it.”
So all this to say- you have the power to choose how you will live your life, what you will stand up for, and what or who you will make time for.
For more support, contact me for a free health consultation.
My Thrive Program is designed to support busy moms and professionals that struggle to find the time to nurture their mind, body and spirit, let alone prepare nutritious and delicious meals for themselves and their family. As a Health Coach, my mission is to help my clients make incremental lifestyle changes that will last. I help them to not simply survive, but to thrive!
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach & A.C.E. Certified Personal Trainer