One of the things that I always talk to my team about is the value of having a sound, mindful relationship with one’s own body and well-being. Our work is exciting and fast-paced, and as is the case with every fulfilling career, it can be stressful at times. When the going gets tough, I tell my team:
“Breathe a lot, and don’t forget to eat mindfully.”
Simple words, but come to think of it, all good advice stems from the idea that lies at the core of this sentence: taking care of oneself by listening to one’s own body.
Mindful, Not Restrictive
A lot of people seem to equate mindful eating with restriction. I, for one, used to think of tasty food as being automatically unhealthy! The more I read about the topic, however, the more I realized that the truth is not as black-and-white as I thought.
While consistency should always be the goal when it comes to healthy eating, some studies have actually shown that what some might call “cheat days” can actually help with long-term discipline. While the default should always be delicious and nutritious, I’m not here to tell you how frequently you should allow yourself a treat. That’s your prerogative, and yours alone because no one knows your body as you do. The key is in knowing how to listen closely to what it’s telling you.
Your relationship with healthy eating shouldn’t feel like having a friend who did you a favour once and won’t shut up about it. It shouldn’t feel overwhelming. Food should always feel like a conscious celebration — of life, of nature, of yourself. What you eat, and when, should be guided by the amount of respect and appreciation that you have for your mind and body, and what it can do.
The Art of Breathing
Breathe in. Now breathe out.
It’s strange how we never even have to think about breathing unless someone, or something, reminds us to. However, there have been studies that confirmed a direct link between emotions and breathing. The way that we breathe affects how we feel, think, and ultimately, act.
Over the course of a day, how many times do you pause and focus on your breathing? When did you last sit still and just marveled at your body’s capability to take in life energy, and send it back into the world? Try it. As you focus on your breaths, notice as all the noise just fades away. When you breathe mindfully, you stop “having to” — you just are.
When things get too tough, I always remind my team to take a minute, close their eyes, and focus on their breathing. Everything is going to be alright. However, when the pressure’s too high, the mind sometimes forgets that. And so we must breathe, and breathe intentionally.
Creating a Healthy Feedback Loop
Now ask yourself: what does your body need now? What gives your body energy now, and in the long term? The answers to that are very personal. Only you know what you need to do, or not do to fuel your body not only now, but in the long run.
Things that might work well for other people might not be what you need. Just because people harp incessantly about the benefits of a brand-new diet, a guaranteed high-power workout, the brand new cleanse that so-and-so celebrity swears by, or a brand-new spa on the block doesn’t mean that you have to buy into it, too.
Our society’s view on our relationship with our bodies has always been outward-focused. It’s always been about how others perceive our bodies, or how we want to present it to others. This society has always tied success to beauty, health, and wealth.
And so, in the name of success, we suffer.
The thing is, if you listen to your body, you will know exactly which things fuel you, inspire you, and energize you long-term. And when you start doing so, you will realize that you are too smart to be successful, at least successful in this world’s narrow sense of the word.
You are not simply successful. You are so much more. You are enough.