The benefits of a healthy lifestyle can seem superficial or self-serving. Living a healthy lifestyle helps you look great, feel stronger, and be more resilient. But it turns out that cultivating healthy habits and a healthy lifestyle is beneficial physically, emotionally, and is important for your interpersonal relationships.
When I first learned about this link between body and mind, I was completely shocked. At the time, I was working as a barista. Most customers were completely lovely, and I enjoyed our daily interactions. However, there were the inevitable negative customers, who at best could be described as cranky. No amount of smiling, customer service, or delicious coffee was ever going to please them. I found that when customers were mean to me, I would then turn around and be less kind to the next customer in line. My negative attitude would follow me back home and infiltrate relationships with friends and family, and it created a chain reaction of negativity!
But then I realized I would sometimes be rude to others for no discernible reason. I found that I was blaming my outbursts on my internal state (like hunger or tiredness), and I got sick of making excuses for why I wasn’t treating others in a kind and generous manner.
After I learned that feeling physically unwell was having the same detrimental effects on my body and relationships as feeling emotionally hurt, I started to take responsibility for how I was feeling emotionally and physically. I began to feed myself right, to get enough sleep, and to diffuse stressful situations.
Because while I may not be able to control how the customer across the counter treats me (or the traffic, the weather, etc etc), I sure as heck can make sure I treat myself well.
If I can stop that chain reaction of negativity just by being kind to my body, it’s my duty to do so!
And from there, my philosophy of “feel good first” was born:
Take care of yourself. Honor your body, listen to it, and do what helps you to grow and shine. And from that place of goodness and strength, nourish others as well. Help them to feel their best and to be happy that they crossed paths with you. It is your gift to others.
As you venture into your work week, how can you elevate your good feelings, so you can bring goodness to others as well? I’d love to hear if you have experienced negative emotions because of physical issues — how do you treat others when you’re not feeling your best?
I love traveling. Experiencing the food, culture, and people in a new place always leaves me refreshed, excited, and with tons of new ideas and perspectives swimming through my head.
But, traveling is also tough on my body. A lot of this can be attributed to sleep deprivation and jet lag, but the changes to my diet and activity levels also play a huge role. After a few trips where I found myself sick, tired, and not my usual contented self, I realized that it was time to take matters into my own hands. I had to be prepared when I travel, because “calories don’t count on vacation” simply is not a mantra I can live by.
On a recent trip to South America, I really hit the sweet spot of taking care of my body and mind while on vacation. As I always do when I travel, I worked in some time for morning coffee and yoga to keep me grounded to my usual daily habits. But, I also packed a “healthy travel pack” of food, supplements, and gear to prepare for the inevitable germs, crazy plans, and long flights we would be facing. I was so happy with how the healthy travel pack helped me out during my trip that I wanted to share its contents with you!
What I loved most about my healthy travel pack is that by keeping me feeling good physically, I was able to be present for all of the amazing experiences, sites, and sounds in a foreign country.
What do your travel routines look like? Please share any “must haves” for your travel pack in the comments below! I’m always looking for ways to travel healthier and smarter.
As I shared recently, I have been dabbling in meditation for many years, and am currently trying once again to build a consistent practice. Over the last few days, this poem by Marianne Williamson has been popping up in my head again and again:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
The part of this poem I love the most:
We are all meant to shine
I love this quote because it is empowering for yourself, but I find it’s also an amazing reminder of how to treat others. We are all meant to shine. We are all equal. We all are worthy of respect and love.
For me, “we are all meant to shine” also means that we are all worthy of feeling happy and healthy.
We should exercise, and eat well, and rest, because we all have the capacity to be strong and feel awesome. “We are all meant to shine” is why we take care and honor our bodies. I have been using this idea of “shining” in my yoga teaching – there has been a lot of heart opening, lotus mudra, and empowering poses like Warrior 2.
But I wanted a more consistent reminder of this quote and the sentiment behind it. When I saw Austin Kleon’s custom lock screen, I thought it would be a great idea to make a wallpaper for this great quote! So, I created this little custom lock screen wallpaper for iPhone 5. Hopefully it will also resize nicely for other iPhone 4 or Android phones, but I am not a developer, so apologies if it’s a little crude!
To get the wallpaper on your phone:
Simply download this picture and save the image to the camera roll on your phone. Then, open your camera roll, select the photo and choose “set as wallpaper”. Note that you’ll need to resize the photo (zoom all the way out) to make it display correctly.
I am loving this makeover for my lock screen and homescreen, and I hope you like it too!
Also note – I am new at this custom wallpaper thing, so please let me know how the downloading goes!
I have a lot of things to occupy my time. Between school work, coaching, my personal yoga practice, and yoga teacher training…not to mention quality time with my boyfriend, friends, and family…my day fills up pretty quickly.
I have been struggling with building a meditation practice for years. I have jumped on and fallen off many times. I try 10 minutes a day. Eyes open. Eyes closed. Guided. Silent. I have a repertoire of strategies I use to try to stick to a consistent practice, but as of yet I haven’t been successful.
As I was pondering my newest strategy to trick myself into maintaining a meditation practice, I suddenly realized “Aha!! I’ll meditate during my commute!” I have a 15-20 minute bus ride to work each day, and I could spend this time in quiet meditation. I have seen this concept touted many times…meditation is one of those things like sodoku, learning a language, or catching up on emails that is supposed to take the wasted time of commuting and make it useful to us (funny how obsessed we are of making everyone moment useful…). But as I was imagining what my commute meditation practice would look like, I realized that meditating during my commute wouldn’t work. Continue reading…
I realized this week that living healthy is about more than just protecting your bones or looking good in a swimsuit. Living healthy also leaves you more resilient and ready for anything that life throws at you. Continue reading…
I admit – I love making my to-do lists. I tend to write my to-do list in the evening, so I can wake up the next day refreshed and ready to get to work. The best part about writing my list at night is that I can go to bed with an empty head and without fear that I’m going to forget something. This system is much preferable to the days where I lived without a to-do list, and at night I would lie in bed, planning my day…especially because even with all of that disruption to my sleep, I would still find myself without clear direction the next day.
Recently, I discovered another great way for my to-do list to help my life run a little smoother:
I created a “15 minute tasks” section on my to-do list!
The 15 minute section of my to-do list is a catch all for tasks that take 15 minutes or less. This list includes emails I need to reply to, forms I need to fill out or bills I need to pay, or daily habits I like to keep up on, like meditating or practicing Italian. Continue reading…
Did you know that I share bonus content, recipes, health tips, and songs in my weekly newsletter? I send it out every Sunday morning, and it includes interesting news and links from across the web that you won’t find on the blog, or via twitter.
Food brings people together. It is used celebrate and share in cultures around the world, and the social aspects of food are a major reason why I got into the nutrition field. However, when I first embarked on my journey of eating and living healthier, I came up against a problem: the only thing I did with my friends was eat.
Building relationships around food is universal – we meet first dates over coffee or a drink. We have friends we regularly meet for ice cream, a glass of wine, or dinner. We are creatures of habit, and it is apparent in where and when we meet with our friends and family.
Having habits or activities you always do with certain friends is not a bad thing! But for me, these habits became an issue once I wanted to stop my weekly ice cream habit, or consume just a little less wine. I realized that if I wanted to keep up my relationships with friends, while still transforming my health routines, I needed to find other activities to do with my friends! Wanting to improve my health was the nudge I needed to get out of my old habits and explore some different options.
So I did! I went to dance and yoga classes, formed a book club, and started making dinner for friends, rather than eating out. A weekly walk with a friend through the neighborhoods of my town became a great way to connect more deeply and to get moving on lazy Sunday mornings. And what did I find?
Making these changes actually improved my relationships with those around me. It seems surprising at first, but by getting out of our comfort zones and doing new things, me and my friends talked about different things, shared new experiences, and laughed quite a lot (particularly in our hip-hop dance class…).
It can be scary to shake up our routines or try something new. But the benefits can be huge. Particularly because you don’t have to choose between meeting your health goals and meeting with your friends. For me, my relationships and health began to support each other, bringing more ease and enjoyment to my daily life. It is really cool.
But what activities do you choose? Here are some ideas of ways you can get some quality time in with your friends without worrying about straying from your health goals.
Activities with Friends:
Go to an exercise class together.
Who else is better to sweat it out with you in yoga, spin, or dance class than your friends? Having a friend in class will make it more fun, and you’ll have lots to talk about afterwards. Find a class that either you or your friend have been wanting to try, or something totally new for both of you!
Are you a city dweller? How about setting up a date to window shop down the nearest stretch of stores? Browsing, rather than having a dedicated shopping trip, allows you to spend more time together and to keep moving.
Join a team.
Kickball, soccer, dodgeball, ultimate frisbee…adult leagues are popping up all over the country, and is a great activity that can keep you and your good friend seeing each other on the regular. Plus, you get to meet lots of other fun people who like to exercise! (Just watch out for too many post-win beers!)
Hit the trails.
There are bound to be beautiful woods, trails, and parks nearby that you have yet to explore. Get your dose of nature on a beautiful day with a friend.
The key to changing up your routines, as is always the case, is flexibility. It is about expanding your horizons and getting to experience new things with your friends, so you don’t have to choose between following your health plan and spending time with those you love. Of course you are going to still get an iced cream or a beer, or have a date for burgers, and that is great! But by adding in some different activities, it keeps your relationships fresh, and keeps you both healthier.
What are your favorite ways to get active with friends?
Looking to jumpstart a daily flossing habit? On the first day, get out your floss, and only floss one tooth. On the second day, you can floss two teeth. The third day – floss three. After a month or so, you are used to getting your floss out every evening, and are getting your entire mouth the good treatment. When I learned about this strategy a few days ago, it reminded me a lot of my own strategy for starting a new healthy habit: I identify an actionable first step and build my health goal around that process. For the example of flossing, this works because for many of us, the issue is getting the floss out in the first place. Once we floss one tooth, it’s a lot easier to take care of all of them.
There’s another reason why this strategy works so well for ingraining your flossing habit: