A healthy body is a body in balance: rested, fit, well-fed, stress-free, and spiritually conscious.
When you saw the headline of this post, you may have thought that I was going to suggest that you sign up for the gym, give up coffee, or start living on lettuce; while some of those are not bad ideas, the physical aspect of our body’s health just a fraction of the whole picture when it comes to a healthy body and happy life.
That said, even if you add just one small act of self-care - for example, a daily walk or switching to organic - amazing things will start to happen for your mindset, your self-image, and your spirit, as well as your body.
Whether you’re a Health Nut, a Gym Bunny, a Sedentary Sally, or a Balanced Beauty somewhere in between, you can always add beneficial habits and soul-gifts that will elevate your physical well-being and lift your holistic health to a whole new level.
A truly healthy lifestyle is a holistic one; body, mind, and spirit.
Among other things, holistically healthy living means:
- A nutritious diet and regular exercise to support your physical wellbeing
- Being mindful
- Meditation or prayer- or both
- An optimistic outlook on life
- An attitude of gratitude
- A positive self-image
- Love and connection to others
- A heart-opening spiritual connection with nature, humanity, the Universe, Collective Conscience, God, or whatever existential proposition that gives you the sense and awareness that you are a part of something bigger than yourself
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of supporting the creation of a healthy body, mind, and spirit, I want to address the question of Why?
Why should we spend our days focusing on health and wellness? Why should we worry about eating right, exercising, or spiritual connection?
In a candid article by Today.com, one of the eight lessons we can learn from our elders is how important it is to take care of yourself.
Perhaps surprisingly, the reason usually isn’t that the fear of mortality is ever-present. The reason why seniors regret not taking care of their holistic health is that modern medicine ingeniously keeps us alive for much longer than we ever anticipated – which is wonderful – and, those extra years aren’t much fun if we are cognitively or physically impaired, or have regrets.
Not only is it about your future well-being, but it’s also about your holistic health and quality of life today.
Healthy eating means adding, not deleting foods.
Now, without sounding too much like the proverbial parent who wants you to eat your spinach, I want you to know how life-changing the smallest upgrade to your diet can be.
Believe me, I’m fully aware of the echo chamber that we are all in when it comes to nutrition: one year, it’s all about avoiding trans fats, then the next it’s all about saturated fats, then suddenly you have to avoid carbs.
As I’ve often shared, I’ve done every diet in the book and then a few after that.
What I know about diets is that no matter what you do, they don’t work if you haven’t addressed your self-image first.
But I digress. Back to the logistics of healthy eating.
The reason why eating well is so difficult for most of us is because diet culture has “outlawed” so many delicious foods and nutritional categories.
The eye-opening truth here is that there is no “bad” food! Food, my lovely friends, is just food.
If we can change our mindset around food, our self-image (How do you see your body? Your weight? Your relationship with food?) and focus more on adding and not deleting foods from our daily routines, we can change our relationship to eating and nutrition, in general.
So, yes, you certainly can enjoy ice cream, chips, and soda on occasion. But, before you start jumping for joy as you head straight to the corner store for Funyuns or Ben & Jerry’s, I want you to answer this one question: How hungry would you really be for chips and ice cream if you had spent all day eating fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and drinking loads of water?
This is precisely how you can help your taste buds and your body start loving and craving healthy foods.
Begin adding nutritious, high-fiber, and high-protein meals without removing the ice cream, and watch how quickly your metabolism and taste buds will change. I think you’ll be very pleasantly surprised!
For those of us who are foodies, food is as much about pleasure as it is about sustenance. It's simply about updating our connection to food.
A healthy body also means moving every day.
If you’re already a gym enthusiast, this one may be a bit easier for you. Your self-image already says, “I am a woman who goes to the gym. I am strong and fit.”
If you’re not, and the gym feels too hard, too scary, too exposed, or too (fill in the blank), there are many other ways to get your body moving and stay fit, toned, and strong.
And, no, I’m not saying that you don’t have to walk 10,000 steps a day to make your health dreams into a reality. In fact, a recent article by WebMd.com reports that only “4,400 steps (a day) reduced the risk of premature mortality in women by 41%.” This study, done by Harvard professor I-Min Lee, is an astonishing revelation for many since we’ve been persuaded by the health industry that 10,000 steps a day is and should be the goal.
Moving every day, however, is absolutely doable and can look different for everyone. Here are a few ideas:
- Download an app that encourages and guides exercise
- Take the dog out for a 20-minute walk or enjoy a stroll with your partner or alone
- Invest in a home exercise bike, treadmill, or elliptical trainer
- Throw a ball around with the kids
- Clean house
- Dance or do yoga in the living room
- Do squats while you wait for your morning coffee to brew
Again, one small step for you equals one giant step for your overall health and well-being. So, ask yourself, what can your movement routine look like? And how can you integrate it for the long-term?
A healthy spirit feeds a healthy body.
For some reason, when we talk about health, many people shy away from the spiritual side of things. It could be because spirituality is often a private matter.
However, regardless of how you feel about spirituality, religion, or theology, your internal energy is a force that you cannot ignore.
When we ignore this third facet of ourselves, our overall health – even physical – is affected.
One of my favorite mottos that I adopted from the Dalai Lama is: love is my religion. You can even take it a step further and claim that self-love is my religion.
Whatever resonates with you, is what your soul is vying for. Here are few ways to connect with your soul:
- Prayer or meditation
- Spending time in nature
- Laughter, lighthearted connection, and intimacy with loved ones
- Gratitude practices
- Daily affirmations
- Attending church, synagogue, or temple
- Reading your favorite spiritual texts
- Alone time to commune with your own thoughts and feelings
- Creating art
Cultivating a happy life is all about employing the Pyramid of Holistic Wellness: healthy body, healthy mind, and healthy spirit.
To truly thrive, all three of these categories must be attended to.
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