Quality of Life
How do your daily lifestyle choices impact your quality of life?
In the activity for CARE Step 1, new CARE members are asked to define your ‘Health Destination’. An exercise to help you visualize what true health means for you – the reason you want to adhere to a therapeutic lifestyle. The reason you want to consistently make healthy choices. And to be effective, we want to go deeper than the “should wants” – like “I should want to eat better because I know I would reduce my blood sugar” or “I know, I know, my doctor told me I should get out and walk more to better control my blood pressure” or “I know I should lose weight, I know the health risks”. Ignore all that just for this moment. Instead, take a deep breath and just listen to yourself for this moment. Why do you want to make different choices. What do you feel disconnected from or what internal conflict results in needing a distraction through excess food, alcohol, or technology like social media? Ambiguity with work? Aging parents? Uncertainty about a child’s behavior or performance at school? Take another deep breath. Now think about what you feel like when you’ve eaten fresh foods, had an active day, and went to bed feeling like “it was a good day”. How did those lifestyle choices that day help increase the quality of your life? Each time you are able to directly connect your immediate quality of life to specific lifestyle choices you made, your motivation to make healthy changes will increase.
Values over Vanity
As for me, my reason for adhering to a healthy lifestyle is really pretty simple: I know I am a “better” person when I do. I’m more open, less anxious, more tolerant, less irritable. I stay intentional with my lifestyle choices to ensure that I take the best care possible of the instrument (my body) that I have been entrusted with, because at the end of the day that is the only tool I have to get through life with. I adore the human body/spirit and its potential. It has intelligence beyond what I will ever comprehend. The human body/spirit has the potential to manifest creativity and beauty that can take our breath away and make us speechless. It also has the potential to manifest trust, serenity, and an ‘everything really is OK’ assurance, no matter how seemingly insignificant what we are doing feels. This awareness nurtures the huge desire I have to allow this intelligence to work through me to uncover my own individual creative potential.
I know lifestyle choice alone don’t control this intelligence and my ability to hear it in its entirety, but I do know with complete certainty that I mute it, silence it, when I make indulgent choices.
Overeating makes me feel sluggish and withdrawn, excess caffeine increases my anxiety diminishing my creativity, reaching for wine as stress management makes me linger below my thoughts with irritation rather than rising above them, and most crushing is the tumbleweed formed from the totality of my unhealthy choices that makes me feel untethered from this source of everything good, true, and beautiful. This is why I do this. This is why I want to do this. And it’s because I want to (really want to)… that I can. I want the responsibility of caring for my body and spirit to see what it will create. I want to be able to hear those soft nudges of assurance deep within when I’m making daily decisions. I want to be accountable to my family and my community. I want to engage and find life interesting instead of fearful. I want flexible thinking that allows me to see other perspectives instead of being rigid and defending storylines that no longer serve me. This is how I define quality of life.
A healthy lifestyle doesn’t take away the stress of life. Eating healthy will never solely take away previous pain, feelings of rejection, or insecurity about income. But nourishing your body could help you feel well enough at night to meditate vs self-medicate. Meditation and activity could help you sit with those feelings long enough to understand what you really need. And having the courage to navigate that – life – sounds much more motivating than doing it because your “doctor said it would reduce your blood pressure.”
How about you? What is your true reason for wanting to adhere to a therapeutic lifestyle? What part of you becomes muted from indulgent choices? And how do you experience a higher quality of life when you consistently make healthy choices? Warmly, Teri Rose, CARE Nutritionist