Spring Into Health:
Nourishing Movement and Food
Is spring your thing? It is mine! Though I love each season, spring is something special. The courting calls of the birds begin early, beckoning the bright green shoots to reach out of the earth and ‘become’. I see it as an open door to unlimited possibilities. Buds swell, opening to a myriad of blossoms, pungent with fragrance, inviting to early harvesting by the bees. Fresh beauty, fresh earthy smell. My favorite spring flowering bulbs, daffodils, stand tall and proud in their brilliant golden capes! And then FROST. WIND. Or, like today, beating rain. Petals droop and flutter to the ground en masse. Setting blossoms harden, fruitless and frozen. The fluffy daffodil petals are pulled and blown (wiser tulip petals tightly close to bad weather), bent to the ground or broken (casualties rescued to an indoor vase). Sometimes unpredictable or short-lived, we can still enjoy the gifts of spring, and know the losses are temporary, the plants having yet another chance, a do-over, next year.
Did you ever find yourself wanting a do-over? To re-visit those choices that got you where you are right now? Catching yourself BEFORE you had that weight gain, or developed that chronic illness you just can’t seem to shake that you’re now told you have to LIVE WITH. Is it over? Too late? Not at all! As you’ll notice in the quote on the sidebar by Steven Hall, you are a new person, down to each cell, every seven years. While we’re only gifted with one body and mind in a lifetime, like the resilient plants of early spring, the amazing healing and transformative ability of our bodies and minds await our support. Far sooner than seven years, by aligning those ‘right’ conditions, in only a handful of days we can already feel our do-over taking shape.
What does that take? NOT a diet, for sure! Whoever coined the term diet did so appropriately, it has the word DIE in it – that’s definitely no way to LIVE, right? There are so many ways we can experience renewal in our lives (check out my ‘testimonials’ for some of them). Let’s take a look at our health in terms of NOURISHING MOVEMENT AND FOODS as we open our hearts and minds to the spirit of seasonal growth and renewal:
We’ve evolved to move. Yet today’s lifestyle (unless you’re a trainer or a mail carrier!), much less labor intensive and filled with sedentary tasks, has nearly eliminated opportunity for movement. A double whammy is having then to make TIME to ADD in what used to simply be part of an everyday thing. Less movement. Less time. Yet our bodies require movement for the circulation and oxygenation of our cells and many of our body’s processes. Our bones, organs, and lymphatic systems require muscle movement to maintain full function. Without movement, chronic diseases begin to develop, stiff inflexible joints become painful, and we lose our vibrant energy and creativity as the brain dulls. Weight creeps up, another double whammy, taxing our joints, circulation in our systems, and ability to haul the extra around.
WHAT TO DO?
The good news is, there’s something for everyone – choose what you’ll use.
The bad news is, there’s something for everyone – too much to choose from!
The idea is mainly twofold –
- Choose something that fits into a regular routine that works for you, and
- Choose something you ENJOY spending time doing
My personal favorites are walking and yoga. The intensity is up to me and my abilities, and each offers whole body and brain support. I’ve been walking for, well, my whole life, and so have you. But for the past 30+ years, I’ve included a (mostly) regular 25-30 miles of walking into each week. For me, it’s social, and my success depends on having that relationship and accountability for those early cold mornings I just do not want to leave the bed. In that though, there is companionship and support (we often joke that it’s our ‘therapy time’) blended right in with the sometimes spectacular sunrises, fresh oxygenated scents of nature, and team spirit muscling up hills. Aerobic and revitalizing, I always finish feeling accomplished, awake, and alive. And, depending on the route, a celebratory stop at the coffee shop on occasion! Walking is something most of us can accomplish in some capacity, starting right where we are, and working up from there, it’s all good as long as you’re moving. Get creative in your day if you have to – park far away if you drive somewhere. Use the stairs. Add steps to what you need to access in the day. One client puts her busy printer on the other side of the office so she needs to get up and walk each time she prints – smart!. I witness another client with early Alzheimer’s utilizes a fast walk AND a bike ride daily to kick start immediate results in her brain function, it’s pretty incredible witnessing how much clearer her thinking is in just a short time!
YOGA has a multitude of benefits, from circulation to flexibility. For me personally, it keeps me flexible and including it twice in my week has virtually eliminated lower back tightness, old shoulder injury ‘glitches’, and most importantly for me, debilitating sciatica. I’ve also benefited from the meditative and stress relieving aspects. These are all in keeping with yoga’s reputation as a whole body and mind support. Even such passive poses as shavasana and child’s pose open up the circulation of blood and energy in the body. From my experience, the key to success with yoga is to find a fit with a location, time, instructor, and style that works to support you. Check around and try a few classes until you find one that feels like a good fit. If you have particular issues or health concerns you’d like to address, ask the studio or instructor specifically about how they could best support you, as individual approaches, specialties, and training vary widely. Or alternatively, a dvd, video, or similar method of delivery that fits your personal needs best.
THEN THE HOW:
1) Choose your ‘weapon’.
What calls to you? What are you even a little bit curious about trying? Do it! Whether its kickboxing, running, walking, yoga, the challenge of a triathlon, or something completely off the grid or out of the norm (yes, sex IS a legit physical activity, but best kept a bit ‘under cover’ so to speak!).
2) Second, make a light commitment.
Make it attainable in time and energy to ensure you WILL see it through, even if it’s only three times per week or ten minutes per day (regarding that last mention above, totally your discretion, not a judgement on frequency).
3) Invite a partner.
Make a plan, a commitment together. This is your external accountability. Even when you don’t feel like it (common, especially in the beginning of building a routine), you’ll help each other show up, if only because they’re expecting you! (note: that last activity is a FAR more effective physical activity when you have a partner…. as well as a bonus stress reducer… just sayin’!).
Dietary nutrition. You knew this was where we were going, didn’t you?
NO DIETS! Truly, diets are self sabotage, limiting your mind and body in your attempts at change and growth. Diets are right there with those inner voices, working against your positive long term change (ok, I can do it ‘for now’ because eventually I’ll meet my goal and I can stop and go right back to what I was and loved). Instead, look at sustainability by building an intention for new foods you love even better than the old ones that didn’t serve you.
QUALITY AND QUANTITY of your foods are really important to your success, ensuring enjoyment as well as satisfaction for your brain and body. If you have a weight issue or chronic disease symptoms making your body function less than optimal, a light cleanse or detox may be a good choice to help clear out toxins and waste (these are indeed short term temporary). Like a ‘re-boot’ for your computer or phone, it opens up better networks of function in your body and brain and gives a ‘cease and desist’ if your body has triggered an emergency mode. There are many options out there, and one of my favorite sources I recommend is the book “Juicing For Life”, by Cherie Calbom. Curious? Learn more in my two part Juicing blog, http://paularoelands.com/2015/02/06/juicing-part-one/ my first personal experience with a cleanse and detox. I now do this a couple times each year, and yes, it’s satisfying and energizing. The idea is to create a sense of ABUNDANCE (focusing on what you CAN include and enjoy), not lack (denying or witholding), to ensure sustainable success. Where you place your focus is what you live and become. Make it positive!
Choose whole foods instead of processed, in as natural of a state as possible. Foods great grandma used to serve and cook. When shopping, this looks like fruits and vegetables from the produce section; nuts, seeds, coconut/olive oils, legumes, and whole grains from the ‘dry goods’ aisle; organic pasture raised meats, fermented foods (yogurt, kefir, veggies) and dairy from the refrigerated perimeter. My coaching clients get a shopping trip with me to explore how to find the best stuff available at the best prices, and I love getting texts with photos of “this…or this?” while they’re in the midst of learning to shop to fill their larder. What fun!
Oh yeah, and there are SO many simple and quick ways to prepare, we make it tough to justify pre-prepared or fast food that’s less healthy. Planning is also key, and easy to set in place a little at a time. A sustainable process CAN be had, and CAN be delicious. Start with one simple dish and build from there, a step at a time. Keep it easy, 5 ingredients or less, at least until you get a good rhythm going. Building a happy healthy relationship with your kitchen and your body takes time, but is worth every tasty minute! Search for simple ideas online or in cookbooks using key words for a food you know you like (tomato) (asparagus) and see what comes up that looks interesting, tasty, or just fun to make. So…what would that look like exactly? More good stuff than can fit in a blog post that would get you happily moving forward, but start here and follow my facebook page for recipes and other inspiration to keep you on track.
Want more specifics to what really fits YOU? Absolutely possible! I’d LOVE to help you craft your path. Contact me for a Strategy Session to hone in on what will work best to get you that renewal you yearn to live.