I know this might sound crazy from someone who worked as a professional chef for 11 years, but food isn’t everything! In terms of truly nourishing your entire being – mind, body and spirit – it takes more than a big bowl of quinoa or a green juice to achieve lifelong health and vitality. Nourishment comes in many forms: the food you eat, the thoughts you think, your belief systems, your level of fitness and your emotional state of being. That being said, if you want to stay strong, joyful, nourished and content for the long haul, you’ve got to make time to focus on the big three in your life: food, fitness and mindfulness.
One of my favorite quotes about food is, “The subtle energies of the food you eat become who you are.” Or, if we want to get old-school, “You are what you eat.” So the question becomes: what do you want to be? And how do your food choices reflect your level of self-worth and self-regard? I strongly believe that our food choices reflect our level of consciousness, love and worth. As we heal our emotional wounds and become more aware of what’s in our food (and how it affects us) we can begin to make more loving, conscious nourishing choices with our food. At its most basic, fundamental function, food is fuel for your body. Not an emotional crutch, not a best friend, but fuel to nourish you on a cellular level. So, as you value and love yourself more, you naturally start to seek out more nourishing foods for your body.
I’m going way back for this one, because I think Socrates was onto something when he said, “No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” Now, let’s make this applicable for the ladies, too, because we all need to start moving our bodies more. Living a sedentary lifestyle can lead to mobility issues, obesity and a variety of mood disorders. By incorporating daily movement and exercise (even 15-20 minutes) can release a host of feel-good endorphins in your body, regulate your hormones, increase your base metabolic rate and make you feel like a badass. I’m a big fan of weight training, swimming, yoga and pilates because these forms of resistance training challenge your muscles to grow and can increase your bone density. No matter what physical shape you’re in, it’s important to focus on your individual fitness goals and experiment with different kinds of workouts until you find what works for your body. Be relentless in experimenting until you find a good combination that delivers the results you want. Honor your individual body, constitution and metabolism. Oh, and start slow. One of the biggest reasons people fall off their fitness regimen is because they go really hard right out of the gate. You’ll burn yourself out and fall off the wagon quickly this way. Pace yourself and start gradually.
This is probably the most important of the three factors for lifelong health. If your mind isn’t right, you can’t have a healthy perspective on life. You can be eating the healthiest food on earth and have the most rockin’ bod imaginable… but if you don’t appreciate what you have and aren’t grateful for the blessings in your life, well, then what’s the point? Taking time to learn how to quiet your mind with some form of daily meditation is crucial for your health. Daily meditation and mindfulness practices like gratitude journaling and affirmations have been shown to reduce stress, mitigate the effects of anxiety and create feelings of emotional wellness. Meditation actually changes your brain chemistry and can make you a more resilient, calm and contented person. Meditation doesn’t have to be an intimidating experience. You don’t need fancy crystals or pictures of a guru – you can simply sit in a chair or cross-legged on the floor and close your eyes. Focus on your breath and see if you can allow your thoughts to pass through your mind as if they were little clouds floating across the vast sky. Try to allow all of the thoughts just to be – to release them and allow them to pass. What you may find is this: that YOU are not your thoughts, or beliefs, or attitudes. You can give all of those things power – or – realize that your soul, your eternal presence is beyond those passing mental constructs. Meditation can be a very powerful practice to help you take life less seriously and release all the bullshit. And the less bullshit you have clouding your mind, the more open, receptive and free you’re going to feel!