I posted the above picture on instagram a few weeks ago, and immediately felt weird about it. I was feeling so amazing and telling Andy that I thought it translated to how I look. I wanted to share the incredible physical results because I hadn’t planned for them. I was just trying to feel good. I was extremely surprised and grateful for all the comments/support/motivation/inspiration I received from my friends. What I thought could be interpreted as bragging or showing off turned into a reflection of what I was feeling – healthy, strong, and happy inside AND out. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what health means to me and have decided to post a series of articles about the fundamentals of health and wellness that I’ve developed through my own experiences over the past several years. Through teaching yoga and meditation in a corporate setting over the past year, I’ve seen a huge improvement in my students’ mental and physical well being. It’s led me to make sure this topic of wellness becomes tablestakes in the corporate world and beyond. Let’s make this a conversation!
For me, “healthy” means being well in mind, body, and spirit. This stems from what we eat, how we take care of our bodies, what we think, and most importantly, how we act. “Healthy” is not washboard abs, being flexible, or eating rabbit food. Healthy is loving yourself, respecting your body, and sustaining a way of life that the best version of YOU. However, oftentimes these actions produce physical outcomes in your body that you don’t expect (like a flat stomach!). The key thing I want to communicate is that being healthy is a possibility for anyone right at this moment and that it doesn’t look the same way for everyone.
It comes down to this: right attitude + strong work ethic – attachment to outcomes = healthy you
If you’re with me, read on!
My philosophy on food: I used to be all about exercise. I had this motto that I’d work out to eat, and if I worked out, I could just eat anything I wanted. For the last few years, it was normal for me to work out 5-7 days a week. I did everything from running to swimming to spin class to yoga, etc. It was great and made me think that I was super fit. But it wasn’t until I made a change in my diet that I really began to notice significant changes in my body and energy. I was seeing a nutritionist for awhile and complained to her that I was feeling tired and my digestion wasn’t that great. She made me keep a food log of that week, and sure enough, it stemmed from what I was eating. Now, whenever I’m feeling slow or lethargic, I quickly scan my mind for what I have been eating that week, and the answer is always clear – overdose of sugars, complex carbs, dairy, and gluten oh my! Andy and I have been following a basic food philosophy for this past 8-9 months that we call “clean eating”: eat whole and wholesome foods that are easy to digest and pure (meaning you can see where it comes from). We feel great, work out more effectively, and save money! In the next series of posts, I’ll detail out specific foods we eat, ingredients we use to cook, and thoughts on healthy snacking!
My philosophy on exercise: Once you are set with a nutritious diet, the exercise comes in. The reason for this is all the exercise in the world won’t help if you’re eating poorly; they go hand in hand. Andy and I have two mantras in our home: 20 minutes is better than nothing, and do it now. There are days where one of us is being lazy on the couch or napping, or I come home at 8:30pm from teaching yoga. We still motivate each other to exercise and move our bodies right then and there. Each week, he tries to hit up the gym, and I try to get to a yoga studio about 3 times. Other days when it seems there is no other option, we do anything we can at home. The goal is to sweat, get our heart rates up, or stretch and release tension; and you can achieve all of this without equipment and in 20 minutes. We do have some basic necessities like a jump rope, ab roller, and pull up bar, and of course lots of yoga mats! But honestly, there are some days where I’ll do burpees, mountain climbers, push ups, and sit ups in my living room and sweat up a storm. Andy turns on EDM music full blast and emerges from his office room drenched from jumping rope. Some days, I’ll just do pigeon pose and foam roll my legs for a good 20 minutes. Do what feels right, but the key is to DO! In the next series of posts, I’ll share a few workouts to try and provide some resources for things you can do at home in 20 minutes with little to no equipment.
My philosophy on self reflection: If you have your diet in check, and you are exercising, you are well on your way to living a very whole life. But there’s one more thing that is critical – your mind. If you have stress on the brain, it will show in your body. You’ll feel tight, achy, and unmotivated. If you have negative thoughts, unfinished discussions, sadness, etc. your internal self is not healthy or balanced. Our thoughts play a physical role on our well being, so we must pay attention to them and cultivate them positively. I try to spend each day doing something to reflect – reading a quote, meditating, reading a fun book, writing, talking to a friend, or even giving myself a pep talk. Take time to nurture your mind and spirit; take time to get present to the obstacles preventing you from living your fullest expression; take time to note poisonous thoughts or unrealistic expectations and actively choose let them go. It’s not going to be easy, but it has to happen for you to really feel free in your life. It comes back to the quote above: be positive in your outlook, work really hard, let go of the need to look good or lose X number of pounds and just be happy that you’re on the path! Get out of your head and tap into your heart. I’ll talk more about this in an upcoming post too.
For now, here are my basic Keys to Well Being:
- Get Smart – educate yourself! Read up on foods and understand their function on your body. Take a personal training class to get a few basic exercise principles under your belt. Stay curious and ask yourself (and others!) lots of questions, not just for answers but to keep challenging yourself to think and grow.
- Make a Lifestyle Change – commit to making a real change in your life, not just in some areas or on certain days. I don’t believe in “cheat days” and I don’t believe in saying No to anything. This is your life, make it one you love! Find healthy foods you love, and put them in your body daily. If you want some ice cream, by all means eat it! But don’t eat lettuce all week and then spend Friday, Saturday, and Sunday gorging on P Terry’s, cookies, and milkshakes or envying what everyone is eating around you. This just inspires guilt and shame, and that game doesn’t achieve sustainable results.
- Don’t Set Goals – true wellness and being happy doesn’t mean losing 5 lbs. Because then what’s next? 10 lbs? 15? When do you ever just get to be happy? Instead focus on the intrinsic – when your mind, body, and spirit are in alignment, do you feel good? If so, keep it up! If not, make a change! And be open to asking that question and acting upon it daily.
- Be Accountable – post aspects of your lifestyle on instagram, share it with your friends and family, get people to join you! There is a community aspect to this that helps you stay accountable; we’re all in it together. At our core, we are all humans that want to be happy. Let’s keep each other motivated and empowered to do so.
- Pay it Forward – the best thing that comes out of this lifestyle is the fact that you can touch others. By including people on our journey, you not only live your highest calling, but you inspire others to do so as well. This doesn’t become a conversation or a movement with only one person – it stops there. So let’s keep this going. Share your ideas/thoughts/recipes/workouts/inspiration and get everyone talking!
Stay tuned for the following posts that break down each topic. Share your tips and tricks with me, and I’ll post them here too! All humans want to be happy and free from suffering. In this way, we are one. Let’s walk (or run!) down this path hand in hand. Namaste!