If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that eight years ago I got what I thought was the flu, only it didn’t go away, and I had chronic fatigue symptoms, among others, for the next two years before getting a probable diagnosis of chronic Lyme disease. It was about another year after that before I felt like myself again.
During this time, I began to really care for my body and my energy in new ways, just in an effort to live a normal life. It was also during this time that I started seeking out alternative treatments and healing, including intuitive readings.
When it comes to living the truest, fullest expression of ourselves, just about everything comes back to our energy. Sometimes I’m talking about your actual physical body and nurturing it in a way that will maximize your energy, and sometimes I’m talking more about how something makes you feel (energized versus drained) as decision-making tool.
I realized recently that one area where there is a lot of overlap for me in terms of physical and energetic health has to do with my body itself: my relationship to food, my relationship to my body, and the energy that I feel overall.
We can all know the basics by now of healthy eating habits and exercise, and yet they are still really hard to master in a culture of “more is better” and “convenience is king.” We are a driving culture, a culture that wants the cheapest possible items in the highest volume. We waffle between sedentary lives and over-exercising, starving ourselves or overeating. And the messages that we tell ourselves about our bodies are probably most damaging of all.
Something big happened for me on the day I found out I was having a daughter. A not-so-little voice inside me perked up and said “Enough now.” I realized that in order to teach the habits that I want for my children around food and body image, I would have to be their model. And I don’t want to do it in an inauthentic way. I really want them to learn by example what it means to respect and value your body through food, movement, and positive body image.
Of course starting this whole process off with pregnancy is difficult. I have gained and lost and gained and lost a whole lot of weight since my first pregnancy. Lots of things are—shall we say—rearranged—and it’s hard to find clothes that feel flattering. Add in a whole lot of sleep deprivation that leads to a steady diet of carbs, chocolate, and caffeine just to make it through the day, and I’m not exactly the picture of health right now.
What to I want for my kids? I want them to genuinely enjoy their food—to remember the celebrations and traditions as well as the everyday breakfasts and weeknight dinners. I want them to enjoy the process of making food and of knowing where it came from—whether our garden, the farm share, or the neighborhood grocery store. I want them to take pleasure in eating but to also know when they are full, and to eat mindfully rather than numbingly. I want them to truly enjoy spending time being active outdoors in every season and to appreciate their strong and capable bodies.
I don’t want them to think negatively about their bodies or shame others for theirs, or ever feel like they don’t have the “right” kind of body for certain types of clothing or activities. I want them to be in touch with their bodies—what foods make them feel good? Gross? Same with types of exercise. When is their body sending them a signal to slow down? And how do they respond to that signal?
My two main projects for the summer revolve around food and being active outside. We’re getting a CSA for 18 weeks through a local farm and I want to focus on eating simply but flavorfully. I want us to be active outside for as many days as possible, for as much of the day as possible.
I have a lot to learn when it comes to cooking, but one story that I have in my head that is not necessarily true is that I’m not a good cook or that I don’t enjoy cooking. I have cooked up some pretty disastrous meals in my day, for sure. And yep, when dinnertime rolls around each day I am well past the end of my rope with my children and have pretty much zero brain cells left to conjure up a plan for dinner. This will be a challenge in planning and prepping at time when I have more energy and enthusiasm.
But I maintain that what we put in our bodies, how we move them, and the messages we send to our bodies all have an enormous impact on how we feel everyday. If the goal is to feel GREAT, then we’ve got to spend our time on maximizing our energy. Let’s do this!
Photo credit: Julia Soplop