A healthy life vs. a nourished life
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A healthy life vs. a nourished life

I hate the word healthy.

You’ve probably heard me talk a lot about how I hate the word healthy and prefer the term “nutritious.” The difference between the two concepts is really huge. I mean, life changing, you’ll never go back to dieting or exercising that you kinda hate.

A nourished life is not found in an extreme diet, pill or shake. It is in a lifestyle.

A nurturing life is a combination of regularly made nurturing decisions that lead to a state of harmony in the way you look, feel and behave. A person can live a “healthy” life but not be nourished, but it is impossible for a person to live a nourished life and not be “healthy.” For example, think of a person you know who is trying to get healthy; chances are you’re going on a crazy diet, drinking shakes or taking pills, having a cheat day when you eat large amounts of junk food, and generally feeling bad about yourself because you can’t seem to get the results you want, or if you do get them, you need to do even crazier things to maintain them.

Let me compare the two lifestyles as I see them:

A person trying to live a “healthy” life:

The alarm rings at 6 am. She is groggy, grumpy and hungry. She heads to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee and drink the first of two meal replacement shakes for that day. Still a little hungry, she gets dressed and heads off to a job she hates, but heck, she pays the bills. She drops the kids off at school and then heads to the office. Lunchtime rolls around, and she has a microwaveable meal in a box, a diet Coke, and low-fat crackers. After work, she heads to the gym for an exercise class they hate, but hey, she burns a lot of calories, after all, they have to do whatever it takes, right? After leaving the gym, she picks up the kids, heads home, turns on the TV, relaxes, and enjoys her meal replacement shake while the kids eat hot dogs and mac and cheese because mom is too tired to do anything else. Everyone is tuned out on TV and the family only talks to each other for a bit during commercials. After about 3 hours it’s time for bed, only to get up tomorrow and do it all over again.

I’d like to say that example is extreme, but it’s not. It’s what I see over and over again, and it really saddens me. She may be doing some things that fall into the healthy zip code (working to lose excess weight and exercising), but her other choices are not conducive to a nutritious life.

Get off the roller coaster. Life shouldn’t be like this, and a nourished life isn’t like that.

An example of a person living a nourished life:

Imagine instead that mom herself wakes up and eats a breakfast that she feels nourishes her (perhaps an omelette filled with fresh vegetables and eggs that she bought at the farmer’s market over the weekend, or maybe even a scrambled tofu). She prepares for her day and looks forward to going to work in a place that nurtures her, where she likes what she does. She drops her children off at school and listens to her favorite music on the way to work. Lunchtime rolls around and she has a meal that she feels will really nourish her (maybe it’s some sushi and a fruit plate for dessert). She takes the time not only to eat, but also to relax a bit and work on that book she’s been writing. She returns to work, enjoying time with her coworkers, and getting her chores done. She leaves for the day and heads to the gym to climb the rock wall and take a yoga class with friends. She has a great time and then she heads home where she cooks a meal that she thinks will nourish her family (maybe grilled chicken, broccoli, and a salad the kids helped make). Everyone sits down at the dinner table and talks about how their day went. It’s time for bed, her mom has the energy to read to the kids a bit before she goes to bed to read to herself.

See the difference?

It’s not about living a nourished life, just live it. When people “try to get healthy,” they associate it with doing something they don’t enjoy and is therefore unsatisfying and unpleasant (and most of the time not lasting). I want to make a quick point about living a nutritious life which is very, very important. There is no one size fits all for a nourished life. You and only you can determine how it looks. There are many variations on what it means to live a nourished life. To find yours, you’re going to have to sit down and really think about what’s important to you. Some variations of a nourished life could be: eat meat, eat no red meat, eat only farm-raised/hormone-free meat, eat no meat, eat vegan (to name a few). It could mean you cut out refined sugar entirely or maybe it means you just cut back. You can also go gluten-free, organic, wheat-free, dairy-free, or fast one day a month. You could spend hours in the gym every day or never set foot inside a gym again. The point is that there are thousands of different kinds of combinations of ways to live a nourished life: your job in this life is to find out what nourishes you. Designing and living a nourished life is about much more than eating low fat and spending time exercising that you hate.

Sounds so basic right? But yet thousands if not tens of thousands of people will start dieting on January 1st, only to be left disappointed, frustrated and depressed by the lack of (lasting) results. Don’t get sucked into the “healthy” hype! Take 20 minutes and make a list of what you like. Get clear on what you like and then go for those things. The funny thing is that once you start living a nurtured life, you will find yourself making more and more nurturing decisions on a more regular basis. There’s an undeniable snowball effect, and once you get going, you’ll be in a very different (and nurtured) place for the very near future. So what does a nourished life look like for you? What kind of hobbies would you like to have? Or friends? Or a job? Really think about this, and remember that life is not about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself. Carpe Diem.

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