For many of us, our health and well-being would be in our top three key values in life. We are too limited in life without physical and emotional energy. And it would sure be nice to have an extra 10 healthy years!
Research in epigenetics says only about 30% of our health is determined by our genes; that means the choices we make can have a huge influence on our length and quality of life. It is up to us.
We recently got a new puppy. We asked the previous owner to give us some of her current food so we could switch her over gradually to our preferred brand. The same day we started to mix in some better-quality food the change really was stunning. It was like we had a different dog. She was SO much more energetic – and it’s not like she was lacking energy to begin with! It was such a stark reminder that eating the right nutrition is life-changing.
Health has always been a high priority for me. I grew up with parents who were very health-conscious and who often drove long distances to acquire alternative medicine that was not available in our own city. But that doesn’t mean I was always good at following my own heart’s desires.
Part of the challenge for me was finding the TIME to eat in a nutritious way. I love cooking and would try to prepare interesting and healthy meals every day but there were other life choices that also competed for my time.
And then there was the internal conflict. Have you ever had an argument with yourself about whether to eat a particular tempting treat or not? Say a piece of cake at a birthday party? I was driving along a boring stretch of highway a few years back and suddenly remembered I had a little square of chocolate in my handbag beside me. It started to call to me. One self in me said I really wanted it. But then my other self, what I call my true self, pointed out that I wasn’t hungry and didn’t need the calories as I was trying to manage my weight. The two went on like that for some time before my true self eventually got the upper hand by recognizing that what was really gnawing at me was boredom and that food wouldn’t solve that.
It didn’t always go that way. I had internal arguments like that for years – where I wanted to eat because I was bored, lonely or just trying to dodge an emotion I didn’t want to feel – but most of the time I didn’t recognize that and my true self usually lost the argument. As I got into my 40s, I started to gain unwanted weight, my mood and energy were going the wrong way and that just added to the avoidance eating. Over the years, I gained 25 pounds.
For me the solution appeared about 6 years ago. I find structure beats willpower any time. Creating some structure around what and when to eat gave my awareness a fighting chance to play a role in my decisions. For example, now every time I am about to eat I try to ask myself: “Is this going to add to my wellness or move me away from it?”
Now I am a vibrant 61-year-old and I have never felt better. I’ve lost the extra 25 pounds, I’m on no medication and I feel as fit and energetic as I ever have in my life – in fact better because my immune system is much stronger than it was in my 20s and 30s.
Best of all, I can eat whatever I want, with a clear conscience! And I am happily satisfied with much less food than I used to eat so I am saving on my grocery budget. Since agriculture is a big contributor to climate change, I feel good about what this means for the planet too.
I choose to balance the time I spend on my health with the time I spend pursuing my Purpose. I don’t want to spend a ton of time prepping food or exercising.
My three tips to feeling well:
1. I start my day with a win in the morning. I eat for energy I can actually feel and this reminds me right off the bat that I respect and value myself – to say nothing of giving a little nutrition cushion if my choices later in the day are less than perfect. I start my day with a meal that contains vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein – sufficient protein is very important especially as we get older.
2. Doing a periodic gentle cleanse that is not extreme on the body but helps reset a number of functions in my body. It is in doing these cleanse days, I have learned to recognize a very important signal to avoid overeating: to be able tell the difference between being “satisfied” and “full”. They are different.
3. Get out in nature. Go for walk. There’s no better time to start this year-round habit.
What would YOUR ideal health look like? How would you feel in your body? How much energy would you have? If you could make progress toward this, how would you feel about your power to create your own destiny? You CAN make changes that will move you toward that vision. It is not about willpower and ignoring cravings; I believe it is about setting up the right structure to support your journey. It IS possible, even if you are really busy, to take charge of your health.
I am a success story of someone who struggled and is now free. Freedom; it’s what we all want. You could be feeling lighter, physically, emotionally or both, by July 1 if you take decisive action now.
Susan Patterson, Health and Wellness
Cultivate a Healthy Mind by Building a Healthy Body