I just saw a magazine cover that said “The Best Ways to be Healthy.” I quickly glanced at the subjects under the heading, and they all had to do with exercise, eating, and physical health. Quick dinners, kitchen hacks, easy exercises to do at home, skin care (my personal favorite), the best vegetables to eat, on and on…
I totally support physical health. Exercise is important. Eating nutritious foods is important. Maintaining and supporting your body is important. I definitely feel better when I eat more vegetables, and notice how much more energy I have when I move my body a bit more. I know that feeling good and physically being able to do what you want to do is essential to living your best life.
But...it’s not everything.
We have become so focused on the physical that we have forgotten how important the other aspects of health are. In fact, I see time and time again that people who are overly focused on their physical bodies are really struggling mentally and emotionally.
All the aspects of your being are equally important. You cannot have physical health without mental and spiritual health as well.
I remember when I was in therapy for Binge Eating Disorder, and my therapist asked me: “Who is your higher power?”
At the time, I found it so annoying. I was there to talk about eating and she wanted to talk about God?! I remember being literally speechless and muttering something about being very spiritual but not religious.
The truth of the matter is that I hadn’t been honoring my spiritual life at all. I hadn’t been praying and I hadn’t been thinking about my place in the Universe and it had been months since I had even thought about how to connect with others and improve the world.
A huge aspect of my being was totally ignored. And only when I recognized the importance of balance did I really start to experience true healing.
If you’re struggling, you’re out of balance somewhere. We can sit and talk about your eating habits and honoring your body and how to slow down and recognize fullness and what foods make you feel best and how to pack a satisfying lunch as long as you want. That stuff is important, and it’s part of the practical improvement in daily habits that I help people with as a coach.
It’s one part of healing.
At some point, though, you must also give attention to your mental health. And you must also explore your spirituality and how you fit in this world. You can’t just focus on one part and expect total transformation. Well, you can...but you’ll continue to struggle.
It’s so easy for me to see now the lack of spiritual connection and attention to my mental health plunged me into an eating disorder. I was so focused on my body that my perspective had become very limited. Nothing was more important than looking the way I wanted to look or receiving approval from others. Expanding my focus to include all aspects of my health, and my relationships, and my purpose here on this earth, and how I can help others is how I lifted myself out of despair and the shackles of food-obsession.
People often say, “Well, I just need to lose some weight and then I’ll be able to focus on my other problems,” or “If my body was healthy, it would be so much easier to get all these other things in my life resolved.” That’s not really how it works. You can’t cherry pick aspects of yourself that you want to improve, and leave others unattended. You are a complete, whole, balanced being and all parts of your existence are equally important.
We receive messages from so many sources that our bodies are the most important parts of us, and if we just eat a certain way, or look a certain way, or do certain exercises, we will finally be healthy and happy. Your physical health is ⅓ of your overall health and happiness. If you’re giving it 100% of your attention, that’s why you’re still unhappy.
True health and happiness comes from balance. And lack of balance with your mind and spirit manifest physically in your body. I feel strongly that the mental and spiritual work is the foundation of physical health, and should be the top priority in your life.
If you’re unhappy, stressed, overwhelmed, dissatisfied, unfulfilled, angry, resentful, judgmental, bitter, sad, or depressed, there is not enough kale in the world to make you healthy.
Explore your spirit, connect with others, be compassionate with yourself, find someone to talk to, take a deep breath, be more accepting, help other people. Improve all aspects of your life, and watch your body respond. I promise you that once you find balance with spirit, mind, and body, everything will be so much easier and you will understand what true health feels like.