If you have things you want to do in your life, your mind and body are what will get you there. If you’re doing lots of work to manifest your dreams, but you aren’t factoring in your physical health, you’re missing a big piece of the puzzle. Looking after yourself by eating good food and moving your body will not only give you more energy to chase after your goals, but will also transform you, if you let it.
Yoga historians now understand that the purpose of postural yoga, i.e. the poses that we do in yoga, have been to open and tone the body for meditation. So all the stretching, the moving, the sweating, is intended to make it more comfortable for you to sit so you can do the big work of finding enlightenment. Because it all goes together. Doing work in one area opens the door to another area.
Here are some of the ways that becoming healthier can make you more successful:
Being healthy boosts energy
Most people think of healthy eating and living as being inconvenient. It takes a lot of discipline and work to source out good ingredients, stick to a workout schedule, and ignore cravings for cookies. But if you’ve ever lived with (or loved) a chronically ill person, of if you’ve been ill yourself, you’ll know that it’s also really hard to be sick.
When you eat and live better, you have more energy to do the things that matter. You’re not eating foods that weigh you down or make you feel badly. When you commit to moving your body, you are rewarded with more energy and strength. Exercise tones your body, energizes you and releases feel good chemicals called endorphins. In fact, Richard Branson says that the key to being more productive is to simply exercise!
Being healthy improves mood
If you want to boost your mood, eat good food. A study found that eating poorly can make you up to 60% more likely to suffer from depression. The amino acids that make up protein are required to build neurotransmitters – your brain’s chemical messengers. Healthy fats help to lower inflammation throughout the body, including the brain (a study conducted by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health found that depression and brain inflammation are indeed linked). Probiotics nurture a healthy gut. This is where 90% of the body’s “feel good” neurotransmitter, called serotonin, is made.
Eating quality food gives your body fuel vs. calories
Everything that you eat literally becomes you, through the process of digestion and assimilation. And the food that you eat can either do good or evil. The food that you eat can reduce inflammation or it can cause it. Food can support your overall health or it can make your health worse. Food can disarm or boost your immune system.
And if you think it’s all about calories, it’s not – because not all calories are created equal – there’s a difference between eating for calories and eating to fuel your body. For 100 calories, you could have a fat free granola bar. The granola bar will give you energy in the form of calories, mostly in the form of sugar and fillers. Or you could have a handful of nuts, which will provide you with high quality, usable protein and essential fatty acids that your body will use to repair and create new tissues and boost mood and memory (your brain is 60% fat, so eating good fats will help to support brain function). You’ve got to eat anyway, so may as well eat something good.
Being healthy raises your self esteem and awareness
Taking care of your body gives you more body awareness, clarity, self esteem, and a realization of what’s important to you. You’ll feel better in your body. You’ll be more confident (dopamine, a neurotransmitter that gets released after exercise, is associated with self-confidence and decisiveness).
The food that you eat can also reflect your attitude about life – do you believe that things should come easily and quickly, or are you willing to wait for quality? When you pay attention to the food that you put in your body, you quickly learn which foods make you feel great and which ones make you want to sleep under your desk. The more good food you eat and the more you move your body, the more positive feelings you have, which will translate to other areas in your life. The more you see yourself as a whole, the more you see yourself as a small part of a greater whole. The more compassion you’ll have and the more you’ll be able to care for others around you. The more work you’ll do to support the greater whole. The more your life will open up in front of you. Yoga teacher Eoin Finn calls this an upward spiral.
Start with eating clean, whole foods, like plenty of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats. Count colours in your food, not calories. Move your body daily. Get good quality sleep. Spend time with your people and community.
Wishing you the fulfillment of your wildest dreams. xo Andrea