The “health” advice we aren’t hearing about often enough.
Have you ever felt like you were doing all of the right things to elevate your health, but feeling like you were sinking rather than rising?
I have. Several times.
In fact, I experienced “the sinking”, despite my efforts to rise, just this past summer.
This summer was emotionally very charged for me; I lost several people close to me and I was rumbling with a lot of things in my personal life.
I made a concerted effort to keep my training and my diet on point because having studied diet and exercise for nearly two decades, I know how important they are to helping balance my chemistry. I also made great strides to honor my body with enough sleep.
But the honest truth is…
It wasn’t enough.
I felt off kilter all summer and I was getting more frustrated by the day that I couldn’t resolve my discontent. I even asked my doctor to run a slew of blood tests to help me sort out my “misalignment”, but all of my blood profiles came back with flying colors. As far as western medicine was concerned, I was the picture of perfect health.
I knew better, though. I did not feel “well”.
By the end of August, I was emotionally spent, and kind of exhausted by my inability to return to my center. I felt lost and very frustrated.
Back in the spring, I had planned a solo trip to Portugal for the end of the summer to visit a dear friend of mine in the Azores and train with Ido Portal and his team for a week in Lisbon.
I am happy to report that I found many things I was missing on that trip and I wanted to share it with you because perhaps these are some of the missing elements of your own life that are contributing to a state of dis-ease within you?
Community Matters (a lot actually)
I talk to people all day every day for my work and anyone who knows me would call me a social creature. And yet… because I talk to so many people for work, I don’t make much time outside of work to BE with people other than my husband and son.
What struck me hard about the Azorean people is that they make A LOT of time to hang out with each other. Not necessarily for any purpose other than just to BE together. They talk, they argue, they celebrate TOGETHER. It is incredibly beautiful and so damn therapeutic.
The second half of my trip I was training with 130 athletes from all over the globe who had come together to share their passion for becoming better movers. And once again I found myself immersed in a community where we laughed, we cried, we learned and we grew TOGETHER.
Research is even now showing us that isolation may be a bigger health risk than smoking or obesity and being immersed in a culture that takes community VERY seriously made me hyper-aware of the value of it.
I was reminded what a potent nutrient community is, and that I need to be fostering more of it in my own life regardless of how tired I am at the end of the work week.
Invite Happiness To the Table and Allow Her To Stay Awhile
I did an entire podcast about the importance of allowing happiness into our lives because I, for one, know how easy it is to dismiss joy in light of work, busy schedules and “to do” lists 10 miles long.
We chase happiness, but it seems we only allow ourselves a small taste of it before we do something to rob ourselves of it.
I was really, really happy for the two blissful weeks I was in Portugal and, certainly, one could argue that is because I was on vacation; I was away from life’s responsibilities.
While that played a role…
I ALSO made a decision that I was going to allow as much happiness into my trip as possible. Regardless of flight delays, plans going amuck, or feeling like an utter failure in Ido’s classes, I was going to be happy that I was able to fly across the globe, experience a new country and train with someone I deeply respect.
Happiness is a choice and we need more reminders of that along the journey to better health.
Make dietary choices that honor your body’s needs and move a lot because that is what your body was designed to do AND build a “practice” of finding your happy and allowing her to stay awhile.
How good at you at doing nothing?
I don’t mean zoning out on Netflix or scrolling Facebook.
I mean how good are you at being with yourself, DOING absolutely NOTHING?
Well, it’s definitely not MY strength.
When I am quiet and still, I get faced with a lot of uncomfortable realities:
Emotions I don’t want to deal with
Thoughts I don’t want to be thinking
Awareness of how easily I get distracted
…and so much more.
I had started deepening my stillness practice before I left for Portugal, but the European Movement Meeting helped me to fortify it. Daily I was taken through a 2.5 hour practice of surrendering, releasing and finding stillness, which was probably some of the hardest training I have ever done. And some of the most gratifying.
Our sympathetic nervous systems are in a state of chronic hyper-drive mode (fight or flight) which creates a hormonal cascade of negative consequences that aggressive exercise and extreme dieting tactics only exacerbates.
I know it goes against the grain of what is largely being sold by the diet and fitness industries, but we must re-learn how to extend compassion to our mind, body and soul and stillness is a gateway to help us do just that.
I could write so much more about the insights I collected along my travels in regards to things that foster health WAY beyond diet and exercise, but it’s Monday and I’ve written enough for today.
I hope you go forward into your week with the intention of doing something that reminds you of the value of community, consciously choosing to do things that bring out your happy and finding pockets of time to do absolutely nothing.
IT IS TIME,
you incredible human.
Time to make MIDLIFE Magic.
Grab your MIDLIFE Magic Quickstart Guide, a handpicked collection of Grace & Grit Podcast episodes that will help you learn the tools to rock your second act.