Wow what a difference four years of healthy living makes! To the left is me stressed out, eating poorly and living a sedentary lifestyle. The picture was taken in the afternoon. To the left is me at 7:00 am ready to climb the CN Tower. I haven’t even had a cup of coffee here. When I talk about healthy living, I speak from direct experience. And it’s not about the shapes of our bodies, which is why I didn’t include full body “before and after” shots. It’s about being healthy and beautiful on the inside and out.
We are physical, spiritual and emotional beings. Neglect one and the delicate balance in our lives is thrown off and we aren’t fulfilling our potential. We can function with a number of deficits in our lives. If we aren’t eating nutritious foods, our bodies will still be alive. If we are anxious and not sleeping well, we’ll still be able to go to work tomorrow.
But – we won’t have the same vitality and good health that bring joy and ease to everything we do. I’m convinced that if a person cultivates good physical, emotional and spiritual health, then their likelihood of developing dis-ease in the body or mental illnesses is dramatically reduced.
Let’s start with your body. Eating well provides the most accessible and easily absorbable nutrients. You aren’t using resources to process food that is hardly digestible. Eating whole foods prevents gas and bloating – a reality for many people. Eating minimal sugars eliminates the highs and lows of the day – both physical and emotional. Essentially, if you don’t have the time and money for massages and spa treatments, eat whole foods and you’ll create that feeling of well-being every day.
Exercising releases toxins in your body – through the skin as sweat and through the breath when you are breathing hard. It increases your circulation, makes you physically stronger and faster. When you do vigorous exercise, you are releasing your serotonin which gives that post-workout high. When you strength train, you build resilience in your body and the mental discipline to stay focused and to persevere even though it’s hard.
All of these things spill into your emotional life. When you exercise, you break your muscles down and they later build up, making you stronger. In life, when you face challenges, they too break you down and you grow from the experience and get stronger. Enjoying the feeling of well-being from movement is also valuable to your emotional health. People who go for a walk or run when they are experiencing stress find that they are better able to cope because they are using the physical activity to burn off their excess energy which the body is producing when stressed to help us to run from danger. Yoga and stretching releases tension from the muscles and creates space in the joints. I provides that down-time we all need.
Which in turn affects our spirit. Meditating or doing mind/body exercise brings us closer to our source. It takes us out of the hustle and bustle of life and gives us a chance to pause. And when we’ve nurtured our body and our emotions, we are better able to access our deeper selves because we have less distractions.
This is turn has a positive impact on our emotional and physical health. When we feel good and feel connected to our values and our inner resources, we are more likely to make choices that nourish us. Look at anyone undergoing a stressful time or an emotionally draining period in their lives. Most of them are not reaching for raw vegetables. They are gravitating towards refined sugar, trans-fats and processed foods. Unfortunately, these comfort foods are not providing any comfort beyond the mouth.
If we want to thrive, we need to build systems to allow us to cultivate each aspect of our lives. We need to be exercising daily, reducing the sugary, salty and boxed foods from our lives and meditating or connecting with our deeper selves.
I can live without the taste of fast food. I cannot live without my good health.