A Healthy Life Vs A Nourished Life

I hate the word healthy.

You’ve probably heard me talk a lot about how I hate the word healthy and much prefer the term “nourishing”. The difference between the two concepts really is huge. I mean, life-altering, you will never diet again or do exercise you hate kinda huge.

Photo of happy family running down the beach on summer

A nourished life isn’t found in an extreme diet, pill or a shake. It is found in a lifestyle.

A nourished life is a combination of nourishing choices made on a regular basis that lead to a state of harmony in how you look, feel and behave. A person can live a “healthy” life but not be nourished, but it is impossible for a person to live a nourished life and not be “healthy”. For example, think of a person you know who is trying to be healthy– odds are they are on some crazy crash diet, drinking shakes or taking pills, having a cheat day when they eat large amounts of junk and generally feel bad about themselves because they just can’t seem to get the results they want–or if they do get results they need to do even crazier things to maintain them.

Let me compare the two lifestyles as I see them:

A person trying to live a “healthy” life:

The alarm goes off at 6am. She is groggy, grumpy and hungry. She heads to the kitchen to make a pot of coffee and to drink the first of two meal replacement shakes that day. Still somewhat hungry, she gets dressed and head to a job she hates, but heck, it pays the bills. She drops the kids off at school and then heads to the office. Lunchtime comes and she has a microwave meal in a box, a diet coke and some low fat cookies. After work she heads to the gym to go to a workout class they hate, but hey it burns a lot of calories, after all they gotta do what it takes right? After leaving the gym she picks up the kids, heads home, turns on the TV, kicks back and enjoy her meal replacement shake while the kids eat hot dogs and mac and cheese because mom is just too tired to make anything else. Everyone is zoned out on TV and the family only somewhat talks to each other during commercials. After about 3 hours it’s time for bed, only to get up tomorrow and do it all again.

I’d like to say that example is extreme, but it’s not. It’s what I see time and time again, and it really saddens me. She may be doing some things that fall into the zip code of healthy (working on losing excess weight and getting exercise), but her other choices are by no stretch leading to a nourishing life.

Get off the roller coaster. Life shouldn’t be this way, and a nourished life isn’t this way.

An example of a person living a nourished life:

Imagine instead, that same mom wakes up and eats a breakfast that she feels nourishes her (perhaps an omelette loaded with fresh veggies and eggs she got at the farmer’s market over the weekend or maybe it’s even a tofu scramble). She gets ready for her day and looks forward to going to work at a place that nourishes her, where she likes what she does. She drop her kids off at school and listens to some of her favorite music on the way to work. Lunchtime comes and she has a meal that she feels will really nourish her (perhaps it is some sushi and a bowl of fruit for dessert). She takes time to not only eat but maybe to relax a little and work on that book she’s been writing. She heads back to work, enjoys time with her coworkers and gets her tasks done. She leaves for the day, heading to the gym to climb the rock wall and take a yoga class with friends. She has a great time and then heads home where she prepares a meal that she feels will nourish her family (perhaps grilled chicken, broccoli and a side salad that the kids helped prepare.) They all sit down at the table to eat dinner and discuss their how their day went. Bedtime rolls around mom has the energy to read to the kids a bit before she heads off to bed to read for herself.

See the difference?

There is no trying to live a nourished life–you just live it. When people “try to get healthy” they associate that with doing something they don’t enjoy and therefore it’s unfulfilling and unenjoyable (and more often than not unlasting.) I want to make one quick point about living a nourishing life that is very, very important. There is no one size fits all for a nourished life. You and only you can determine what that looks like. There are a lot of variations on what it means to live a nourished life. To find yours, you will need to sit down and really think about what is important to you. Some variations on a nourished life might be: eating meat, not eating red meat, only eating farm raised/hormone free meat, not eating any meat, eating vegan (to name a few). It could mean that you completely cut out refined sugar or perhaps it means that you just cut back on it. You could also go gluten free, organic, wheat free, dairy free, or take up fasting one day a month. You could spend hours at the gym each day or never set foot inside a gym again. The point is that there are thousands of different types of combinations of ways to live a nourished life–you job in this lifetime is to figure out what nourishes you. Designing and living a nourished life is so much more than low fat eating and spending time doing exercise you hate.

Sounds so basic doesn’t it? But yet thousands if not tens of thousands of people will start diets January 1st, only to be disappointed, frustrated and depressed at their lack of (lasting) results. Don’t get sucked into the hype of “healthy”! Take 20 minutes and make a list of what you like. Get clear on what jazzes you, and then steer into those things. The funny thing is that once you start living a nourished life, you will find yourself making more and more nourished choices on a more regular basis. There is an undeniable snowball effect, and once you get going you will be at a very different (and nourished) place in the very near future. So what does a nourished life look like to you? What kinds of hobbies would you like to have? Or friends? Or a job? Really think about this, and remember that life is not about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself. Carpe Diem.

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