This week is Wellness Week at our wee girl's school and I'll be going into her class to get them excited about eating the rainbow. Sadly, most of the food kids (and adults) eat these days are 50 shades of beige and come out of a box. I truly believe - actually scratch that - I KNOW in my blood pumping heart, that we need to change this, and kids may just be the ones to lead the way. Sure, kids can be super picky but they'll eat what we provide for them.... eventually. If we offer sugary sodas, cereals and processed meals, that is what they'll eat. Kids love processed food, heck, we all do. It was designed in a lab to ensure that we will love it. But here's the thing: processed food doesn't love us back. It loves our loyalty and our money but it doesn't love our bodies, our minds, our personalities, our hearts, our livers, our skin, or our energy levels. Like a bad relationship - processed foods use us and then leave us broken hearted, literally.
So what do we do? How can we break up with processed food and change our habits for good?
The good news is that it's actually very easy, but that doesn't mean it will be easy. The payoffs however, are exponential and will have a positive ripple effect through all aspects of your life and the lives of those around you.
First off, relax. I do not believe in an all-or-nothing mentality. In fact, I believe that when we starve or deprive ourselves of things we want, it can actually create a bigger monster later on. My approach to health and wellness is the meaning behind my business name: Basking in Goodness.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines Basking (verb) as:
- To lie exposed to warmth and light, typically from the sun, for relaxation and pleasure.
- Revel in and make the most of (something pleasing)
And Goodness (noun) as:
- The quality of being morally good or virtuous.
- The beneficial or nourishing element of food.
So in short - to be Basking in Goodness is to be virtuously nourished for relaxation and pleasure. Sounds good, right?? Now, if the image you just conjured up in your mind was laying on a lounger, being fanned by beautiful people and fed donuts - I'd say wishful thinking! The image I get is being out and about with friends and loved ones, enjoying what life has to offer, eating great, fresh and lovingly prepared food, laughing, having great conversation, playing, being totally present and enjoying each moment to the fullest.
In the big picture of life this also includes doing work that truly satisfies you - not just monetarily but actually feeds and fuels you. Having a community around you that is supportive to you and supported by you. I'm not a religious person but I believe that having connection to something greater than ourselves can be hugely beneficial. Meditation, yoga, church, surfing, chanting, prayer - whatever works for you and whatever it is may change and evolve throughout your life. And finally, movement. This doesn't need to mean hitting the gym 9 days a week but every person on the planet could benefit from moving more. Start with a 10 minute walk, every morning upon rising stretch for 5 minutes, get up from your desk every hour and move for 5 minutes. We tend to be an all-or-nothing society and I believe that it is exactly that mentality that gets us into a lot of trouble.
What we really need in this world is more balance.
So, wait... what about the food? What do I eat to be healthy? What tips and tricks are you going give to me to help me make better food choices? If you have access to the internet you can find a million voices telling you a million ways of how to be fit and thin. How to get a body like so-and-so. How to go Paleo, Vegan, Raw etc. How to shed and shred. But, a million voices equate to a shit ton of noise and until you silence the noise and look within, real change is but a pipe dream. Diets don't work, get-fit-quick schemes don't work, 1 week juice cleanses don't work. Sure, all of these things can be amazing kickstarts but if you simply go back to your old ways afterwards, that hard work / suffering will have been for nought. Food is vital to our wellbeing but good eating habits don't equal a happy life. A great body doesn't equal a happy marriage. Amazing abs don't equal satisfaction in our work. If we want true, lasting health & wellness, we must take a holistic approach to all aspects of our life.
Below is an amazing tool created by the Institute of Integrative Nutrition which is where I received my Health Coach Certification. It is a tool I constantly go back to, as it is such a simple and quick check in. IIN teaches an ethos that believes that the foods we eat are secondary to the primary foods of life, which actually infuse true joy and and deep satisfaction into our lives. When we have joy and satisfaction in our lives, we make better choices all round. When we have joy and satisfaction in our lives, we find time to do the things we really want to do. When we have joy and satisfaction in our lives, we have true potential for health and wellness.
Take the wheel and place a dot on the line in each category to indicate your level of satisfaction. If you feel fully satisfied in a category, the dot will be towards the outer red ring. If dissatisfied, the dot will be closer to the center. If moderately satisfied, the dot may be somewhere in the middle. Once all 12 dots have been placed - connect them in order around the circle. You will very quickly have a clear visual indicator of the areas of your life that are currently deficient. Once you truly acknowledge these, then real change can begin.
So yes, instead of putting out a plate of cookies when your kid comes home from school, put out a plate of veggies and hummus. Instead of a milkshake, make a fruit and veggie smoothie. Instead of juice or soda, give your kid a glass of water and put a few pieces of citrus in it. Instead of take out, get your kid in the kitchen and have them help you chop, stir, plate - whatever their fine motor skills allow. Instead of your kid sitting alone in front of a screen, get the whole family together and watch FedUp or any other documentary that appeals to you. Instead of grabbing a burger, grab your friends and have a potluck out in nature. Instead of watching another show, go for a walk. Instead of complaining, start making changes. 5-10 minutes a day. One thing at a time. Breathe. Smile. Repeat.
I said at the beginning that kids may just be the way to lead us all forward and I truly believe that. Kids come into this world knowing nothing and being inquisitive about everything. There are no tastes they crave, no goals they believe are unattainable, no limits they inflict upon themselves, no responsibilities, no body issues, no social pressures. These are all learned practices - most of which are effected by unfounded, internal (bs) beliefs and if we're not careful, transfer to our kids. So, sit on the floor with you kid (or your inner kid), put the phone down, be present and remember for a minute what is was like to be a kid and start to make small changes to get your mind back to that place.
It's not all or nothing. It's a little bit of all the good stuff, as often as you can. Don't focus on what you're removing, focus on what you're adding in. If you keep moving in that direction, before you know it, that which brings you down will be so far behind you, you'll have no choice but to charge forward and dive into the Sea of Goodness!!