AM I ENOUGH?

What would you say if I asked you to name one thing you do better than anyone else? This was a question a friend asked me a few weeks ago and it left me rather stumped. I could easily compile a long list of things that I excel at, but “better than anyone else?”

Crickets.

At 24, I am beginning to enter the “quarter life crisis” that plagues my generation. Am I working for the right company? Am I making enough money? Have I traveled enough? Have I lived enough? Do I have enough friends? Do I have the right friends? Do I live in the right city? Is my youth running out? Am I enough?

I am constantly working to deepen my self-awareness. Thus, for the last few weeks I have begun studying myself in various situations. It is so important to get to know yourself. I know my strengths and weaknesses. I know that my life is only just beginning. And yet, like the rest of my generation, I am suffocated by the notion that I must have it all figured out. Right now. Today.

The truth is that while I still cannot tell you what I do better than anyone else, I am getting there. I am very much lost in the right direction. I know what exhilarates me. I know who and what is toxic to my life and have begun making adjustments accordingly. Do not be afraid to ask yourself what you want and use tunnel vision to get there.

“The more you let go, the higher you rise.” -Yasmin Mogahed  

HOW WELL DO YOU DO YOU? 

We are told over and over gain how important it is to become a person comfortable in our own skin. The reality is however, that we live in a society that makes this extremely difficult. Social media facilitates feelings of inadequacy and lowered self-esteem.  i.e. If Tom can afford to take his family to an all inclusive in the Caribbean, then I am not making enough. I’m not a good husband. I’m failing as a Dad. I’m not enough. These are real thoughts that cross our minds as we click through our friends most recent posts. But what if Tom and his wife sleep in separate rooms and barely speak? What if Tom is away on business more than he is home? In that case, are their children really happier?

Similarly, clients are constantly telling me they want to lose weight but when I ask them why-superficial reasons aside- they can’t always tell me. They’re going to a high school reunion or a wedding and so and so will be there. Who says there is something wrong with the way we look now? Side note: Americans are sick, and they are often sick because they are overweight. I wouldn’t be in the career I was if this was not the case. However, most of our concerns have very little to do with health until our health is compromised. We are consumed by this need to be enough. We constantly compare ourselves to others and guess what, people who appear to “have it all” usually do not.

Instead of focusing on looking like someone else, working a job you hate, or staying in a toxic relationship, get to know your body (what nourishes it, what doesn’t), take a painting class (if you like to paint), and if someone isn’t a contemporary mirror of yourself, let them go.

How well do you know YOU? Even more importantly, how well do you DO you? I work at this every single day. My career is not typical, neither are my priorities. This means that my life is going to look A LOT different from most of my generation’s. I have to constantly remind myself of this. However…over the last few years, I have gotten to know myself enough to know what my ambitions are and that if I am not pursuing them, I’m not truly happy. Stop looking to other people to make you feel whole and look within.

ALTERED PERCEPTION: Primary foods and Flexible Dieting

Over the last two months, my perception of nutrition has altered in two ways.  The first being that while food certainly is necessary to thrive, it is not the only thing that nourishes us. In fact, through the foundations of the Institute for Integrated Nutrition I have disocvered the term primary food, coined by Joshua Rosenthal. Primary food is composed of four things: Relationships, Career, Physical Activity, and Spirituality. The example Rosenthal gives is that as a child, we are constantly reminded that it is time to eat. We find ourselves so engaged in play, that we forget to eat. At 24, this seems quite foreign to me as I pretty much plan my entire day around the foods I am eating. Partly because I am health foodie, but also because society encourages us to “live to eat.” However, it is significant to understand that when we are engaged and fulfilled in these 4 areas, we eat to live. We eat because we know that if we don’t we cannot fully participate in our primary food. Thus, the actual act of consuming energy (calories) is considered secondary food.

The second alternation comes from a nutritional concept called Flexible Dieting. I became intrigued by FD in January, however I remained skeptical. I spent about a month reading articles that both supported and opposed FD and looking at FD athletes and their stories. While the concepts has a bad rep, I have found it to be extremely beneficial for me both physically and mentally. The assumption is that Flexible Dieters eat whatever they want as long as it fits within their macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fats). However, athletes know that when they consume a diet rich in whole foods they feel better and they perform better. The exception is that Flexible Dieters are given the freedom to incorporate foods that a “clean eater” has deemed off-limits. I consumed a clean diet for the last two years. However, I definitely developed binging habits. I would eat perfectly all week and then would consume an entire small pizza, a row of Oreos, and a plate of nachos on my “cheat day.” My body would be so caught off guard that I would not only be depressed the next day, but physically ill…and the cycle continued. This is something that is very common for our extremist society. We do not know how to do things in moderation. Over the last month, I have lost 7 pounds while consuming 200-300 more calories a day, doing less cardio, and incorporating foods like poptarts and Oreos along with whole foods. I know that immediately before and after my workout, my body benefits from consuming simple carbohydrates like a Poptart. However, I also know that I feel fuller and have more prolonged energy after consuming a meal that consists of sweet potato, chicken, and asparagus.

The human body is an amazing organism. When we are sick, our bodies purge the toxins and create antibodies to defend against the illnesses’ return. When we lift weights and tear apart our muscles, our bodies repair them and adapt them so that they are stronger for the next workout. On a daily basis our bodies heal themselve. 

Until we learn to nourish them physically, emotionally, and mentally instead of punish them, we will never  discover our full potential. Eat to live. Do not live to eat.