Spirituality Can Improve Your Health

For the last couple of weeks, I have been blogging about the different types of Primary Food- that which feeds us that is NOT the food that we eat.

We talked about Physical Activity, Career and Relationships.  Today, we talk about the last component, which is Spirituality. 

I must confess that I was a little nervous about writing about this last Primary Food of Spirituality because it tends to be a sensitive topic for some people. 

It is a very vulnerable topic.  I believe when it comes to spiritual things, no two person is at the same exact point on their path in life.  We all have so many different experiences in life that have led us to our spiritual beliefs.  

That said, let me first clarify what spirituality is NOT.  It is not following a rigid set of rules- i.e- religion.   Depending on how you grew up, you may have a negative view of religion.  Maybe you felt forced to perform certain duties or to be someone you are not.  Maybe it turned you off from anything remotely religious.  You may have a negative view of God.  Maybe you believe that God doesn’t love you or that you are not good enough.  This negative view can greatly affect a person’s outlook on life. If they do not find any kind of meaning to their life, outside of performing strict religious rules, or pleasing God, they may give up on themselves and on life.  

Here is a challenge:  google the meaning of spirituality.  You will come up with a thousand different answers. Why is this?  Because we are all so different, spirituality can mean different things to different people.  Here are some key definitions that I found.

According to Wiki-pedia:

1.Spirituality is the concept of an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being; or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.

And here is another definition:
2.“The definition of spirituality is that which relates to or affects the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.”

The word spirituality comes from the word “spirit.”  In it’s most basic sense, the term means anything that we cannot see or feel with our senses, or anything that is outside the physical and material realm.  

Joshua Rosenthal, the director of my school, IIN, likes to say: “We are spiritual beings in a material world.”


So how does being spiritual relate to health and wellness?  

1. It creates meaning in our life.  
We are all here for a purpose.  Weather or not you believe that our purpose has already  been set in stone, we instinctively know that there is more to this life than eating, sleeping and playing.  We are more than just people who drag ourselves to work every day, or moms who spend most of the time chauffeuring our children.  When we have meaning to our life, we naturally want to live the best life possible.  We will begin to look outside of ourselves, to how we can help others.  As we focus on others, we naturally reduce stress, increase happiness and feel more grateful. 

2.  It helps to reduce vanity.  
So many women are obsessed with their body size and shape.  Eating disorders are everywhere.  I should know– I struggled with anorexia and bulimia in college and have struggled with body image issues for as long as I can remember.  However, what really brought me through this journey was knowing my value and my worth.  Knowing that I was worth more than a number on the scale, opened my eyes to the fact that being healthy was better than being skinny. I rarely admit this to anyone, but here goes– I was *this close* to getting a tummy tuck.  I was obsessed with my stomach (all the loose skin from having babies).   However, after a series of events happened (including being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia), it really opened my eyes to the fact that I am a spiritual being and should not be focusing so much on my selfish desires. (by the way, instead I used the money to enroll at the Institute For Integrative Nutrition which was one of the best decisions I have made!)  I started thinking about how God created us perfectly in His eyes and our job is to take care of His creation.  

Eventually, I found a good, healthy balance where I actually desired to eat a good amount of healthy foods. (don’t get me wrong- I still eat too many gluten free pretzels!)  I want to look and feel my best– but not to be a perfect size zero, or to gain acceptance— but so that I can truly thrive and enjoy  the life that I have been given. It also helps me to look outside of myself and focus on  how my health affects others.  Being truly nourished in mind, body, and soul, helps me to be the best mom and wife I can be. When I am  feeling great, and at peace,  I am able to operate out of a place of joy as opposed to a place of lack and guilt. 

3.  It helps to reduce stress and pain.
Studies show that  patients who are spiritual have a better outlook on life, reduced stress, and reduced chronic pain.  This is in large part, due to the many spiritual practices that they engage in, weather it be prayer, meditation (in all forms), or just spending time with others who are positive and supportive.  I know, I have found meditation to be very beneficial. Studies show that 10-20 minutes of meditation twice a day leads to decreased metabolism, decreased heart rate, decreased respiratory rate, and slower brain waves.  
Stress is naturally connected to our health and how we feel, physically.  I rarely suffer from Fibromyalgia pain anymore (largely due to eliminating gluten) but when I do, it is normally related to some kind of stress.  However, if I focus on relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, prayer, or meditation, it helps take my mind off the pain and slowly helps to reduce it. 
When we realize that everything is connected, we naturally tend to focus on our thoughts as well.  Every action starts with a thought.  If we focus on how much we hate ourselves and hate life, our actions will reflect that.  We will sabotage our weight loss with binging on foods to numb us, or we will go the opposite direction and become obsessed with diets and exercise, which can also be a form of punishment. Knowing that we are spiritual beings enables us to look outside of ourselves and focus our thoughts on positive things such as our blessings in life and we find contentment. 


Now, let’s bring this all around to what I do as a health coach. 

 I support women to find a loving relationship with the food on their plates and the bodies they live in.  

Do you think it would be easy for someone to lose weight if they hate life and feel unfulfilled? 

How about if they are stressed and inward focused?

What if they don’t think they have any purpose in life?  Do you think that person would see the point in enjoying their food and their body? 

These are just a few reasons why I think it is soo important to start a conversation around Spirituality. Don’t worry – I don’t beat people over the head with the Bible.  🙂  But, I do help you sort through your life and help you find what gives you true meaning in life.  You are sooo worth it.

Repeat that.  “I am SO WORTH IT!”


Letting Go Of Toxic Relationships

If you have been reading my other blog posts, you know that we are talking about the importance of Primary Foods— the areas that feed us that are not food.  To read about the Primary Foods of Physical Activity, and Career, click  HERE and HERE. 

The next area is on Relationship. 

What does a good relationship mean to you? Acceptance, unconditional love, encouragement and support?  How is your marriage?  Your dating relationship? How are your friendships?

I know none of us are perfect, so we all naturally will come across some rocky relationships.  I have yet to find the perfect marriage, the perfect boyfriend/girlfriend or the perfect friendship.  Yet, when you look at those relationships, what one thing sticks out? What is the key ingredient that makes it last?

I know for me, in my relationship with my husband, an unwavering commitment to love each other and support each other no matter what is really what keeps our bond strong.  We have been through so much in our past 12 years of marriage.  I have been critical more times than I care to count.  His laid back, easy going style sometimes clashes with my more urgent, task oriented, obsessive tendencies (although ironically, he is always on time, and I am always late which makes me more laid back in that respect!) However, we accept each other unconditionally and no matter how angry we make each other, we still have a deep love and respect for one another.  I feel more alive with my husband and he makes me want to be a better person.

(this was taken soon after we were married)

Compare that to some other past relationships in my life.  In the workplace and elsewhere, there have always been others who love to dwell on the negative.  They can be judgmental; they may even judge me for being too positive or for focusing on wanting to take better care of my health.  If I stayed in those relationships, it would not serve me in the long run.  These are what I could call “toxic” relationships.

Sometimes these toxic relationships have been so stressful that they drive me to over eat.  In those moments, I have to take a step back and ask myself what I am feeling in the moment.  “Do I really need to eat half a bag of chips right now?”

Sometimes it becomes necessary to remove ourselves from these relationships. I know that can be easier said than done. But if it is possible, then we need to focus on the fact that if we ever want to lose those last 10 pounds…… or reduce our chronic pain…. or heal ourselves from chronic sickness…. we may need to look at the stressors in our life, which may mean that we need to let go of certain people.

If it is someone from your past who hurt you badly, and  you no longer have contact with that person, then I would suggest this:

1. write a letter to that person outlining how the situation made you feel.  End it with a positive affirmation such as “I am bigger than this pain.  I am strong.  I am worth it.”
2. Rip the letter up and throw it away.

If it is someone who you are currently in contact with and you know he/she is triggering bad health habits such as over eating, then first see if there is a way to communicate directly with that person.  Use “I” statements such as stating how you feel.  If that doesn’t work and you can let go of the person, then do that.  If it is a marriage, then I always recommend going to some type of counseling.  Many marriages have improved with good quality counseling and there is always hope.  If it is someone who has hurt you, then try the letter exercise.

Some other good ways to let go:

1. Journal your emotions
2. Meditate for 10 minutes a day
3. Pray

Remember…. it’s not just about the food itself!  When talking about Primary Foods, can you see how everything is connected?  This is part of what I do as a Health Coach… I will work with you to find out what is out of balance in your life and how you can learn to deal with your stressors.

Please check out my website at www.nourishedandnew.com!

Stay tuned for the last area of Primary Food, and probably the most important area, which is Spirituality!


p.s- there is a way to follow me by email!  Please enter your email address at the top and my blog posts will come straight to your inbox, about twice a week!
UPDATE:  it seems the follow by email feature isn’t working as those who signed up are not getting the emails.  sorry about that!  I will look into that and hopefully resolve the issue soon!

Career: Recipe for Burnout?

We have been talking about Primary Foods- career, physical activity, relationships and spirituality… those areas that feed us that are not food. 
Today’s Primary Food Topic is on “career”. 

How do you feel about your career?  Is it just a J.O.B that you dread going to?  Do you feel stuck… bored…stressed?

You are not alone. Check out some of these statistics:

  • The American worker has the least vacation time of any modern, developed society.


  • One-half of workers reported they feel a great deal of stress on the job.


  • Thirty-seven percent of all working dads said they would consider the option of taking a new job with less pay if it offered a better work/life balance.


  • Nineteen percent of working moms reported they often or always work weekends. *
As a mom, combine this with having to balance a family and a social life and it could be a recipe for burn out!
As a result of the stress, many women may resort to food to cope with the stress.  Over eating out of stress, boredom or burn out is very common.  The result is a busy mom who is stressed, over weight, lacking energy and has lost her passion and purpose for life. 
My story is a bit different…. I graduated with an Elementary Education degree, but I had an intuition early on that I would be too burnt out from teaching.  I did not want it to become my life.  So instead I worked odd jobs here and there before I had my first child.  Since then, I had the privilege of staying home with my kids and now LOVE  my job of supporting women towards having a peaceful relationship with food and with the bodies.  It brings me so much joy and I really feel like I am using my passion.  I did not want to go back to a 9-5 job.  
I know many of you need to work outside of the home.  The important thing is to either find a way to love the job you have, or to get out of your comfort zone and finally step into the job you have been dreaming about.
Ask yourself these questions:
1. What is my passion? (what really lights me up and gets me going in the morning?)
2. Is my job creating so much stress that it negatively effects how I function as a wife and mother? Is it negatively effecting my health?
3. What is one positive thing that I can appreciate about my job?  If there is one, then focus on that.  If there is none at all, either find a way to change it, or think of a job that you can work towards envisioning in your life.  
For example, I know of many health coaches who were used to the corporate world but really wanted to focus on health coaching.  It can be hard to step out of your comfort zone, and especially when there would be a drop in income at first.  So what is the compromise?  Maybe work a part time job while working on your dream business on the side?  Maybe find a way to attend some kind of online training to help you toward fulfilling your passion? 
Maybe you really would like to stay in your current job and  you know you are where you are meant to be.  However, you do have other passions and talents as well.  Find a way to make that happen!  Perhaps it is quilting, or maybe photography.  Even if you don’t plan on using it as a career, it is important to find something that really lights you up!!  This, in  turn, can help you toward improving your health and wellness and you naturally find your confidence and the willingness to take care of your body to the best of  your ability.  
So, in the comments below, don’t be shy… I would love to find out..w hat is YOUR passion?  share below!

Enjoyable Movement: what exercise do you enjoy?

In my last blog post, I had introduced the concept of Primary Foods– the areas of life that feed us that are not food.  One area is Physical Activity (or exercise, for the purpose of this article).

I know you have all heard this saying before: “The best exercise is the one that you will do.”  How many of you know that is true?

Let me share a little bit about my journey with exercise.  In first grade, my class was playing softball and I got  hit–hard– in the forehead with a softball.  I stood there- frozen — as it hit me ( no pun intended) that a ball just flew into my head.  Ever since then, I have been a little afraid of the ball.  In P.E., when we would play volleyball, I would always duck when the ball came toward me, like it was about to attack me. In high school, we had to run a mile in P.E.  I hated to run– absolutely hated it. But I did it because I had to.  Not to mention, I was living in Flagstaff at the time, and running in cold weather made my chest hurt.  I got to college and started being obsessed with exercise– I was starving myself and exercise was just one other way to find the “perfect” body and feel in control at the same time.  I began to be obsessed with the very thing I hated– I would run every day- and not just once– twice a day.  In a way, I felt like I was punishing myself.

The irony of it all is, as I recovered from the eating disorder, I gradually began to really enjoy running.  Especially as I started running more for toning and strength, versus weight loss.  Also, I really liked the feeling I got afterward.  When my kids were young– really young (Briana was only 6 weeks old)- I began an exercise program for moms called Stroller Strides– we would jog with our strollers and then stop to do interval strength training.  I really loved it and got so much stronger because of it.

Once my kids got older, my exercise routine waxed and waned…and then the problems began… I started getting pain in my hip which lasted several months.. I eventually was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia once the pain had spread throughout my body.  That was the end of running and I felt very sorry for myself.  I remember feeling like I could never do intense exercise again.  I had turned to a friend who also had chronic pain , who had told me she wanted to try Zumba, and I thought she was crazy.

Well, now my Fibromyalgia pain is GONE (that is a story in itself), and I am really enjoying exercise again! This time, I am NOT running– but I am doing the very thing I thought would be crazy– Zumba!   I also really enjoy doing yoga!  What keeps me going? The feeling I get afterward!
Why do I exercise?  Not for weight loss, because I don’t really need to lose weight.  Not because I think I should.  I exercise because it feels good, it helps me feel stronger, and I know that diet is only half the equation when it comes to getting healthy.

I don’t even like to think of it as exercise… I like to think of it as Enjoyable Movement.  I feel more alive when I do zumba or yoga.  I feel more empowered.

Physical Activity is one of the Primary Foods… one of the “foods” in life that feed us.  How are you doing with this area? I challenge you to try one new form of “Enjoyable Movement” this week!

Certified Health Coach

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The Missing Puzzle: Ways To Feed Our Soul

Dear friends…What if I were to tell you that the food you are eating isn’t your true source of nourishment?  What if I were to sit down with you and your plate of beans and broccoli and say “I see  your food is healthy, but let me ask you something….are YOU healthy?”

You see, we can eat all the healthy foods in the world…. we can pay close attention to getting the right kinds of nutrients and in the right amounts.  We can choose to purchase only organic and nothing with artificial flavors.  We can avoid fast food and choose to eat home ade black brean brownies for our birthday.  These are all well and good;  we can do all these things, AND STILL NOT BE FEEDING OUR SOUL.

Now you might be asking me, “But you are a health coach, don’t you only talk about food?”  If I only talked about food, it would be like having puzzle pieces and only putting together the frame.  Food alone isn’t the whole picture.  There are other things in life that drive us and make us into the healthy, confident, sexy people we long to be.

Imagine you watch every bite you eat and are always trying out the latest diet, yet you hate your life.  Your marriage is on the rocks, you have no close friends, you dread going to work every day, and you are stressed out because you have no money.  Do you think you would be happy?  How much happiness would your plate of beans and broccoli bring you?  I”m guessing not that much.

Good health is not just about the food!  To me, health means being balanced in ALL areas of life.  The Institute For Integrative Nutrition talks about what is called “Primary Foods”… which are the areas of our life that feed us that are not food, such as Relationships, Career, Physical Activity and Spirituality.

How are you doing with these areas in your life?  Are you out of  balance?

Over the next 4 blog posts, I will be talking briefly about these different areas, and sharing tidbits from my journey as well.  

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