Nutrition for every area of your life.
Do you want to know a little secret to how so many women are able to lose weight and keep it off? It's quite simple, really. They don't focus on the food that goes into their mouths. I know. It's shocking. Probably even unbelievable.
Let's look at the twelve areas of primary food that are proven to support a healthy weight, strong mental energy, and a socially robust lifestyle.
This is the Circle of Life (courtesy of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition) that represents the 12 most important areas of our lives. Each piece of the pie is an area of importance to our overall health and wellness. If I were to ask you to place a dot on each line, with the center being on point and the outer edges being the furthest from your focus at the moment, what would your circle look like?
This is one of the first questions I ask clients to do. It is extremely revealing to see in real time what we are focusing on, and what we are ignoring. Often, what we ignore or let go of is the elephant in the room. The root cause of our stress, anxiety, lack of energy, hormonal imbalance, and weight gain.
Go ahead. Try it out. Then come back and read about each section and how you can use this tool as a method for identifying which areas of your life may be out of alignment. Let's look at the first six areas in more detail.
Joy is an internal emotion that is not dependent on external conditions. We can be happy one moment, and crying the next. Especially when we are hormonally imbalanced. Joy, on the other hand, is not dependent on how we feel, per se. It is an overall feeling of abundance, light, and positivity. It is what allows us to face the world each day, knowing that something could go wrong at any minute, but that there is a purpous for everything. So, how is your joy? Is it an area you need to spend time focusing on improving?
Spirituality is the relationship you have to God or higher power. It is the connection you feel to your creator, the inner guidance you trust and listen to for both the little things and the big things in life. Having a regular spiritual practice, whether it's prayer, meditation, church, or other method, is what supports inner balance. Knowing you have a direct connection to God through prayer, meditating on the Bible, and gathering with others gives you purpose and joy. Do you currently have a spiritual practice? Is it something you have connected with or would you like more information and guidance?
I remember coloring as a child. For hours and hours I would trace images and color them. Before I knew how to spell, I would copy words from books on paper and "read" my own version of the story to my parents or anyone who would listen. I loved to sing and dance, to paint and to work on carpentry with my dad. Creativity is a vital part of our life as a child. It engages a part of our brain that allows us to imagine, dream, and process difficult information. When was the last time you were creative? What is your favorite way to practice creativity?
Most of us would agree that financial stress is a common if not prominant concern that affects our decision making. In a culture where even social media is bombarding us with ads and everyone is social selling, we have normalized purchasing before thinking. It's late at night, you're tired, stressed, and feeling vulnerable, and then an ad pops up on Instagram promising you a way out, so you click the button and fall down the rabbit hole. Unconscious buying leads to financial distess. What if you set boundaries, goals, and a reward system around your money? How would that affect your overall mental health?
Currently 60% of the population reports being unhappy in their workplace. That's a staggering number. Granted, we can be happy one day and unhappy the next, so I don't place too much value on those statistics. Still, many of us continue to go to a job that we don't love, to do work that we are not appreciated for, and work with people we don't align with. Why? Because it pays the bills. While we can't all up and quit our jobs and go find a new one, something to consider is how it is affecting your overall health. Ask yourself, what is within my circle of control? How can I show up each day and find joy? Is it possible that a new career path is what I might need?
Physical activity is one of the most influential pieces of a healthy lifestyle, and yet many of us forfeit movement when our schedules are busy, our stress levels are elevated, or our bodies don't seem to change as quickly as we would like. Intentional physical activity is something we all need, and in fact our bodies crave. It's why your leg jiggles under your desk after you've sat for too long. Watch kids after they wake up in the mornings, or after they eat. They have a burst of energy and start to run around. Why? Because it's natural and intuitive. They don't wear watches to track goals or set a timer. Try taking a little walk around the office after lunch, and again after dinner. What kind of activity have you enjoyed in the past? Could you start again?
When I began my health journey, and the first time I saw this wheel, my heart literally skipped a beat. It made so much sense. Somewhere along my journey to adulthood, I had subconsciously learned that to be a good worker, wife, mom, meant I had to sacrifice my time, energy, and personal desires to make sure that the "needs" were met before the "wants".
This couldn't be further from the truth. The result was burnout, shame and blame, and I became the sacrificial lamb at the alter of misery. My weight was out of control, I felt tired and wired most of the time, and yet I kept telling myself that someday I would have the time to work on myself if I just kept pushing a little harder right now.
I couldn't have been more wrong. It's still a struggle, to be honest. Years of self-deprication and sacrifice don't just disappear overnight because "I have seen the light". In fact, I have to make a conscious choice every time I see laundry piled up and kids want snacks to say, "I don't have to jump up right now and meet those needs." My children are old enough to get their own snacks. The laundry will still be there when I finish my Bible study.
Another point I would like to mention is that I didn't choose to try and tackle each area all at once. I've done that before. It doesn't stick. Choosing one or two areas that were lowest, I made a list of ways my life would improve if I started making changes. Then, I listed the ways I could start working on my lowest areas of primary food. We are more motivated when we can see what the impact of our efforts will look like. Don't skip that step.
My goal is never perfection. It is simply being present enough with myself to make progress. To identify the moments when I am overwhelmed and then return to the wheel to see where I may be out of alignement. Prayerfully considering how I might find a better balance has always been effective for me. My clients are always amazed when they do this exercise. The stories we tell ourselves do not always align with what we see on paper.
Which areas are most in need of your attention? Do you have the resources and knowledge to guide yourself through the transition? Or, would you benefit from coaching for a few months to have accountability and personalized resources?
My desire is to help women find themselves waking up each day with confidence that they can be who they are meant to be with the resources and skills to make it a reality. Reach out for a free discovery call when you are ready to begin.