By Nancy Smorch
Tony Robbins has such an amazing way of communicating ideas so I thought I'd share this video of his as an overview of what I'm about to say.
Although most of what I talk about here is food-related, I’m feeling a strong pull to share some thoughts, insights, and resources for other areas of “food” in our lives.
We nourish our bodies with what we traditionally think of as food - the nutrition we actually put in our bodies.
But there are other kinds of “food” that I am passionate about as well. These are:
- How we nourish our bodies with physical activity and exercise
- How we nourish ourselves through our relationships
- How we nourish ourselves through our “work” (whether that is going to school, staying at home with the kids, working at a company, or working at your own business - our life’s work)
- How we nourish ourselves through spirituality (whether that’s through traditional organized religion, nature, meditation, yoga, etc.)
I’m going to include these areas for discussion as they come up, because I think you’ll find that they play a rather huge part in your overall health - just as much as physical food does.
Think about it. Has there ever been a time in your life when you were eating healthily - avoiding excess sugar, eating good fruits and vegetables, getting a variety of nutrients, drinking lots of water, basically doing all the right things in terms of food, yet you weren’t feeling very vibrant, or you still had cravings, or you still ended up getting sick, or you just didn’t feel all that great?
Well, chances are you were lacking some “nutrients” from the other “food groups" in your life, like exercise, relationships, work, or spirituality.
Sometimes someone can buy all the right foods, and come home and cook a nice meal... but they are angry or frustrated because they are in a job that they hate, or they are frustrated because they aren’t doing what they really love to do, and feel trapped by their current job.
The energy of those feelings, first of all, is going to be transmitted to the food they are preparing. And the stress of having to spend at least 8 hours a day in a place they don’t like, spending time with people they probably don't enjoy being around, can easily put the body into a fight or flight state (sympathetic mode).
The unfortunate thing, is that this fight or flight state doesn’t go away when they leave their work. It stays and basically short circuits their nervous system. The stressed individual gets essentially stuck in this sympathetic nervous system state.
In normal circumstances requiring a fight-or-flight response, the body will switch from sympathetic mode (fight or flight) into parasympathetic mode (healing mode) when the stress goes away.
But when the stress is constantly there - like being in an unhappy job (or an unhealthy relationship, or feeling disconnected spiritually) - the body is still reacting as if it is in a fight-or-flight situation, so it’s unable to heal. The mind is unable to be creative. If the stress is not dealt with properly, there will be some sort of an imbalance.
It may show up physically or it may show up emotionally, but it will definitely show up!
All this to say that it is so important to look at all of the areas of your life. It can be difficult to have things in perfect balance, but the mere act of being aware of areas that need some attention, and then focusing on creating more balance in those areas will pay huge dividends!
Things will get out of balance - that’s just life. I look at it as continuing education. Whenever some area of my life gets out of balance, it means that I need to learn something in that particular area. I’ll focus some attention on it and come up with a plan to regain better balance and then start taking some sort of action in that direction.
As an example, when I don’t exercise or move my body enough, my back and shoulders get really tense and sore. This happened recently when I took a little break from doing P90X. I tried to switch my routine around a bit to make time for all of the reading and listening to lectures from the Integrative Nutrition program I started. In the process, the exercise didn’t come as easily and automatically.
Plus, I was spending more time on the computer and that posture wasn’t helping my back and shoulders either. Fortunately, I realized this and put extra focus on creating a new workout habit. So now, I do P90X a couple of times a week, and another couple of days I do yoga at Satya Yoga Studio here in town (thank you Gary Edwards for the nudge!), and I’m loving it. The yoga is actually not only nourishing my body’s need for exercise and movement, but it’s also connecting me with friends and other people in the community (relationship nourishment).
There have also been times in my life where I just haven’t felt that energized and happy. Then I realize that I’m not doing anything to “grow." For me, growth is one of my top needs - I have to be learning something, or feel like I’m moving toward something, or I get cranky. And, without fail, when this happens and I focus on making sure I dive into learning more about food or healing, or I start taking consistent action toward a goal or something I want to do, my energy level skyrockets and my vitality returns.
Simple ideas, but not always so simple to consistently put into practice. However I promise that the more you do, the happier and healthier you will be.
Give it a try the next time you are feeling a little off!
Look for ideas and inspiration about other amazing “foods” in future posts!