By Jennifer Butler
When you hear the word health, what do you think about?
Most often, we equate health to diet and exercise. It can be largely assumed that creating healthier habits in these areas will improve our health. This is true, AND there is much more to it than that. There are actually other areas in your life that are just as important as diet and exercise and must be considered in our understanding of health. If we truly want to be healthy, it is imperative that we look at the whole picture, make appropriate changes, and create balance in our lives.
There came a time in my life when I decided that I wanted to feel as good as some other people were feeling around me. I started observing their boundless energy, internal glow, and consistent health. And so, I set out on a mission to discover their secret. I cut out things like gluten, processed foods, and lowered my sugar intake. I started eating more vegetables and making sure my meals were consistent throughout the day. I began exercising on a daily basis and committed to getting enough rest. Needless to say, my health greatly improved, yet I still wasn’t experiencing those qualities I was witnessing in others.
READ MORE: How to Eat Healthy When You’re Broke AF!
Being the type of person that never does things half way, I decided to enter the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN), to earn a health coaching certification. Within the first week of the course, I learned about something that changed my life. I began to understand why improving my eating and exercise habits had helped, but not gotten me all the way to where I desired to be. I not only understood the why, I also learned how I could actually reach my goal. This was extremely exciting for me and I am thrilled to share it with you because I imagine it will change many of your lives as well.
When we think about feeding ourselves, we need to consider more than the food that is crossing our lips into our stomachs. There are other ways we feed ourselves that are equally as important and therefore, need to be attended to in the same way you would attend to the nutrients you eat. Let’s put it this way, you can eat all the broccoli in the world, but if you are in a soul sucking job or in a toxic relationship, all that broccoli will not matter one bit. We can pretend, attempt to ignore, or compartmentalize our lives, blindly thinking it won’t affect us, but eventually we learn that living a healthy lifestyle means attending to our minds, bodies, and spirit as a whole.
The 4 Primary Foods that must be considered to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle:
Our relationships are a huge part of our lives and the way we feel. Think for one moment about how awful you can feel when you are fighting with someone you love, when you think you may have lost a friendship or disappointed a lover. It’s enough to make you feel sick to your stomach. This is because our relationships are essential parts of our lives. As human beings, we thrive when we connect with others and are at our best when we are able to give and receive love.
READ MORE: The Truth About Friendships After Divorce
The relationships in our lives have the power to fuel and energize us or to deplete and exhaust us. Take some time to think about each relationship in your life and how that connection makes you feel. Is it a source of health for you, or is it possible that a certain friendship or love relationship may be toxic? When there are toxic unions in your life, your health and overall well-being are affected in many ways. Perhaps you have relationships that need some attention and renegotiating, or maybe you even have some relationships you must walk away from.
2. Physical Activity
I think we have reached a time in our understanding of the human body where we can all agree that movement is a necessary component of health. It is not only good for us physically, but it also has an effect on our mood and spiritual well-being. Many of us are working jobs that require long hours of sitting and don’t allow for much movement. No matter how we try to look at it, this is just not good for us on any level.
I am the type of person that exercises every day, and mostly because it is food for my soul. When we exercise, happy hormones are released into our bodies, which will greatly affect our mood and the way we show up in the world. Throughout the day, think about how much movement you are getting. Perhaps it is time to take a dance class or join a gym. Or maybe, you can commit to standing up and pacing while on phone calls or purchasing a desk that allows you to stand. It may feel a little overwhelming to get started, but the cool thing about motion is that once you begin it, you actually want more and more of it.
Work is such an important piece of the human experience. It is the realm of your life that provides opportunity for you to be consistently learning, facing challenges, building confidence, and excelling in something you love and feel passion for. Now I know, many of you would not describe your jobs in this way. For many of us, work is simply a place to go in order to bring home a paycheck. We dread Mondays and rejoice on Fridays, basically tuning out the entire time in between. Think about this, how can we feel and be healthy if we are miserable in the place we pretty much spend the most time in throughout the week?
We all have passions, and I believe that these passions are communications from whatever your version of God is, guiding you toward what you are meant to be doing. Now I know that we are not all in positions that allow us to quit the job that provides the paycheck in order to discover our purpose, but we can make drastic changes in our daily routine and set our intentions on living in our purpose over time. Look around right now and take an honest assessment of your career. Are you happy and fulfilled? If not, are there changes you can make within your current position to make things better and feel more fulfilling? Remember, sometimes it isn’t about needing something new, rather more about seeing what is in front of us in a different way. Or maybe you have known for a long time that you need to take a risk and have been afraid to take it. Perhaps your moment is now!
I think sometimes people get so caught up in religion or their aversion to religion, that they forget that spirituality is a completely separate thing from whether you are Catholic, Muslim or Jewish. And, it is essential to your health and well-being. Spirituality is your own relationship and connection to something that is bigger than you, it is intimate, deep, and personal. It is how you fill up when you are feeling empty and how you continue to have faith in the moments when life knocks you down.
Take some time to explore your own relationship to your spirituality and tune in to what this means specifically for you. Perhaps your spirit is calling you to spend more time in nature, or maybe you are being pulled toward meditation, or there is a church that you have felt curious about. Whatever it is, be willing to listen to what is calling out to you and to take the time to find out what fills your soul with peace and joy.
When I think about life, I think about the fullness of the experience and how to live in a way that is abundant. Creating this type of life can only be done by attending to the multiple areas in our lives and working to make each one of them as aligned as possible. When I began tuning into these areas of my life, along with healthy eating and exercise, I was finally able to reach my goals and live in this energized and healthy way. Go ahead and try it, even little changes in each area will make a huge difference!
About the Author
Jennifer Butler is an MSW, certified love and relationship coach, and writer who is dedicated to helping people awaken their own internal power to create the love and freedom they desire in their lives. Beyond an extensive education, Jennifer has also gone through a powerful life transformation after overcoming obstacles and challenges in her own life. If you are ready to expand your own capacity to love and be loved, you can connect with Jennifer at JennJoyCoaching and on Instagram.