In order to truly thrive, we must cultivate harmony and health in all aspects of our lives. I have identified four “bodies” that are non-negotiable when it comes to moving out of pain and frustration and into vitality and a greater sense of purpose in our lives.
The four bodies of health are:
- Physical body
- Mental body
- Emotional body
- Spiritual body
In a series of four posts I will review each of these bodies of health.
Here are a few suggestions on how to maintain health and harmony in the first body.
Nutritional health that is appropriate for our bodies
There is so much information at there telling us what is the right way to eat. It can be very confusing. It seems like the new “perfect diet” that everyone should be eating is constantly being discovered. Should I eat raw, vegan, vegetarian, fruitarian, Atkins, Mediterranean, zone, gluten-free, or paleo diet? Maybe I should just be a breathatarian and save myself the trouble of eating all together.
For 15 years I was a vegetarian because I felt it was the healthiest for my body and I had strong ethical concerns about the treatment of animals. But after my pregnancy, a challenging childbirth, and almost three years of breastfeeding, I found myself in a state of adrenal fatigue and severe hormonal imbalance. As hard as it was to give up my ideology and attachment to being a vegetarian, I had to accept it was no longer the right diet for my body’s needs. It has been a long journey, but I am finally learning to listen to my body’s cues for what types of foods are appropriate for my unique makeup.
There really is no one size fits all when it comes to nutrition. And what works for us at one point in our life may change as we move through different life cycles. I do encourage you to learn all you can about nutrition and how the body works. And then experiment and learn to trust your own body to be your guide.
Exercise and movement
Need I say more? But seriously, we really must make moving our bodies a priority. And it doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym for hours sweating through the latest trendy class, unless that’s what works for you.
An early morning or late afternoon walk around the block is a great way to get some exercise in each day.
Research has shown that the benefits of walking and moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day can help you:
- Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease
- Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels
- Maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity
- Enhance mental well being
- Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
- Reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer
There really are so many benefits for such a simple activity!
One of my favorite ways to get my exercise in each week while having a great time is to dance. Find a group that hosts a free-style dance each week and let yourself explore the ways that music moves your body. Or dance in the privacy of your own home to your favorite playlist. It’s a great way to lift your spirits while getting your groove on.
And of course these days there is every kind of yoga imaginable to fit your unique style and needs. Check out what the local studios and recreational centers in your area have to offer.
Find an exercise partner and commit to encouraging and motivating each other in developing and maintaining your physical health.
I know, so obvious, but it seems we need constant reminders on this one. A good rule of thumb is to drink half your weight in ounces. So if you weigh 120 lbs. you should quench the cells of your body with 60 ounces of high quality water each day.
Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of how much we have drank in a day. What I do is fill up quart size mason jars in the morning with my daily-required ounces of water and then replenish from there throughout the day. It helps me see how I am pacing my water consumption as the day progresses.
Instead of buying bottled water, invest in a good house water filter and non-toxic water bottles that you can fill up and take with you when you head out the door.
Herbal and Supplemental Support
This is a huge subject and really needs to be custom tailored to each individuals needs. In general, I think it is best if we can obtain the nutrients we need from the food we eat. But sometimes supplements can give us an edge on bringing our health into balance.
Vitamin D is one supplement that I think many people can benefit from, especially in the winter months. But to really assess what your body could benefit from in terms of vitamins, herbs and micronutrients, I recommend you work with your natural health care practitioner.
When taking any supplements remember they need to be high quality and in a form that is easily absorbable by the body.
Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old system of natural healing that has its origins in the Vedic culture of India.
Ayurveda means “the science of life” (Ayur = life,Veda = science or knowledge). It offers a body of wisdom designed to help us stay vital by providing guidelines on ideal daily and seasonal routines, diet, lifestyle and the proper use of our senses.
Ayurveda describes three fundamental energies that govern our entire being. Referred to as dosha in Sanskrit, these primary forces are known as Vata (Wind), Pitta (Fire), and Kapha (Earth). Each of us has a unique proportion of these three forces that shapes our nature.
Although I am trained as an Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant, I do not strictly adhere to the food recommendations given for my particular dosha, which is predominately Vata. I like to use the system as a guide and then experiment with what works best for my unique body.
To determine your own primary dosha you can take an online test.
Here are just a few recommended tips for keeping your dosha in balance as they pertain to the physical body. In coming posts we will look at each dosha in further detail.
Vata: Eat at regular times and don’t skip meals. Fats and oils are beneficial for the digestive system. Favor foods that are oily, warming, or heavy. The best tastes to pacify Vata are sweet, salty and sour. Minimize foods that are pungent, bitter, or astringent. Light exercise that enhances balance and flexibility is best for a Vata body type.
Pitta: Favor cool foods and liquids. Foods with sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes are best. Reduce foods that are pungent, salty, and sour. Olive, sunflower, and coconut oils are the best oils to pacify Pitta. Pitta’s excel in exercise which requires strength, speed and stamina. Just be careful not to over do it.
Kapha: Try a liquid fast one day per week, ingesting only fresh vegetables and fruit juices, and pureed vegetable soup. Drinking hot ginger tea with meals helps stimulate slow digestion and sharpen dull taste buds. All spices except salt are pacifying to Kapha. Use pungent spices like pepper, cayenne, mustard seed, and ginger freely in your diet. Focus on building endurance. Favor running, bicycling, swimming, aerobics, and competitive sports. Dance to energizing rhythmic music.
The body is your temple. Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in.
Remember that the physical body is just one of the four bodies of health that we need to care for in order to live a vibrant and energized life. Please check out these other posts to get tips on how to take care of your mental, emotional and spiritual bodies.
And now I would love to hear from you!
In the comments below list a few things you have found effective for maintaining physical health and harmony in your life.