Happy January, my amazing readers! As many of you who have been following me for some time, you know that I spent years trying to overcome fatigue! I was essentially raised in the “ology” model of medicine from the age of 14 – in other words, with segmental treatment protocols. It wasn’t until I began to study Functional Medicine that I began to unlearn old paradigms and realize that we need to heal holistically – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. (See last week’s blog for more details.)
As we step into a fresh year, I suggest that we embark on a journey together – one that delves into the intricate dance of balancing our minds, nourishing our bodies, and nurturing our spirits. Buckle up for an exploration into the realms of “YOUR FUTURE SELF,” where we’ll blend personal insights, a sprinkle of research wisdom, and a dash of real-life anecdotes. Personally, finally addressing healing on all levels has me enjoying a life of vitality I could not have imagined 22 years ago. I hope this little acronym will help you remember when we focus on holistic vitality, then we have greater access to the true abundance that life has to offer. Ready? Let’s dive in.
Y-Yearn for Balance
Balance is not something you find; it’s something you create.” – Jana Kingsford
In the grand orchestra of life, seeking balance is like conducting a symphony. Balancing work, relationships, and personal time is an ongoing pursuit that lays the groundwork for overall well-being. It’s not about finding the perfect equilibrium but creating it. As someone who was a workaholic in my 30s, suffered significant adrenal dysfunction as a result and danced the fine line between work and personal life, I’ve learned that a balanced life is a journey, not a destination. For me, visualizing what my future self wants to create is the first place to start in creating my New Year.
O-Optimize Physical Health
I love this quoted truth from Jim Rohn – “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” I can testify that it’s not until you are ill that we realize the gift of great health. Now, anything I have to do to care for my body, heart, and soul is worth it. Imagine your body as a marvel, capable of incredible feats. It is!
Everything we do, EVERY.SINGLE. DAY. is compounded and impacts our vitality and longevity whether we choose well, or not. Only 5-10% of chronic diseases are caused by bad genes, so please remember that as you start your New Year. You have way more power than you think.
U-Unplug for Mental Wellness
“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” – Ram Dass
I knew that meditation and mindfulness were “important,” but I didn’t get it until I actually started meditation on a consistent basis. In a world buzzing with constant connectivity, mental wellness demands intentional moments of silence. Unplug from technology to give your mind the breather it deserves. Dive into mindfulness and meditation, creating pockets of calm in the chaos. As someone who’s juggled the demands of a digital world, I can attest – the mind craves stillness. I have a morning and evening “digital detox,” if you will, where all devices are on silent “do not disturb” or “focus” mode. Our devices are to serve us, not the other way around. Unplug and enjoy the fruits of the peace and serenity!
R-Recharge Your Spirit
Whether it’s a hobby, a cause you believe in, or simply relishing moments of joy, these activities recharge your spirit. Cultivate a sense of purpose, connecting to something greater than yourself. I love Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words – “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” In my journey, while I love play and hobbies that refuel me, it’s the day-to-day purpose and fulfillment in my cause of empowering others that recharges me every day. Spend time doing things this year that recharge you to the core!
F- Fuel Your Body Mindfully
“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food” has most often been attributed to Hippocrates. But I can tell you, growing up in Western medicine, that while they take the Hippocratic oath, food being seen as medicine is not part of the curriculum. I’ve had to learn the hard way (with a leaky gut) the power of food to create our vitality or lack thereof.
Food is more than fuel; it’s a source of healing. Choose your fuel wisely, remembering that food can either be medicine or toxins. Make conscious choices, opting for nourishing, whole organic foods. Hydration and mindful portion sizes are the unsung heroes in supporting optimal health. As someone who’s transformed their relationship with food, I can vouch for the ripple effect it has on well-being.
U- Uplift Your Spirit
Engage in activities that light up your soul. “Men (and women) are that they might have joy” – God (2nd Nephi 2:25). How often do we just become slaves to our “to-do” list? I admit that last year I worked too much. I have made a solemn oath to myself to take more time for joy and play this year! So, yesterday, when the sun was shining and the temps 72 glorious degrees (yes, that’s why Floridians endure hurricane season), I took the afternoon off and went to the beach. Ah… the joy!!
Infuse your days with activities that uplift your spirit. Seek out moments that bring joy and connection with others. Remember, happiness is not ready-made; it comes from your actions. As someone who’s taken intentional steps to incorporate joy, it’s like adding vibrant colors to the canvas of life.
T- Transform Your Habits
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
Our habits shape our lives. Even if we only improve 1% a day, by the end of the year, we will have improved by 37x! That’s significant!! Thus, establish positive habits that contribute to your overall well-being. Identify and work on breaking any negative or self-sabotaging habits. As someone who’s navigated the maze of habit formation, it’s a journey of progress, not perfection. I have found that “habit stacking” from “triggers” has been a huge game changer for me. You can read more about how these tips, along with the creation powers, have transformed my vitality in my upcoming book- Create the Vitality You Crave – Unlock Your Healing Powers Though Optimizing Your DNA (1st quarter 2024).
U- Understand and Accept Your Emotions
As one who has endured abuse and PTSD, I understand the power of our emotions and how, indeed, “The Body Keeps the Score,” as Dr. van der Kolk teaches. We must learn to be with and then release our emotions. Robert Frost said it so well, “The best way out is always through.” Trust me, stuffing emotions only backfires, on multiple levels.
Emotional intelligence is the compass guiding us through life’s twists and turns. Understand and accept your emotions, developing resilience to face challenges with a positive mindset. Cultivate healthy relationships that support emotional well-being. In my journey, embracing emotions has been akin to unlocking a superpower – really!
R- Reflect and Evaluate
Regularly reflect on your goals, progress, and areas for improvement, as “the unexamined life is not worth living” (Socrates). Evaluate your priorities to ensure alignment with your values and long-term vision. It’s like a GPS for “YOUR FUTURE SELF.” I have a list of what my future self believes that keeps me grounded for these times of reflection. In my experience, these moments of reflection have been the compass recalibrating my path.
E- Explore Personal Growth
I’ve been enthralled with personal growth since I was a young teen. I believe that growth is an eternal journey, and I’m all in! Life is a canvas; personal growth paints its colors. Embrace opportunities for learning and development. Be open to new experiences and challenges that contribute to your growth. It’s a journey of becoming your best self. Right now, my new hero in my personal growth journey is the renowned brain coach Jim Kwik. He says, “If an egg is broken by an outside source, life ends. If broken by an inside force, life begins. Great things always begin from the inside”.
My favorite book as a teen, and even one of my FAV’s still today is Jonathan Livingston Seagull. As someone who’s welcomed the winds of change, personal growth is the wind beneath your wings. Keep exploring and embracing!
S- Sleep and Self-Care as a Priority
Sleep, the unsung hero of well-being, is the underappreciated secret weapon in promoting physical recovery and overall vitality. The Dalai Lama said that “sleep is the best meditation.” Make sleep and self-care non-negotiable parts of your routine. Attend to your physical and emotional needs with the care and attention you deserve. In my life, embracing sleep and self-care has been the cornerstone of resilience.
E – Exercise to Rejevenate
“Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do. Not a punishment for what you ate.” – Women’s Health
Find activities you enjoy and make fitness a lifelong commitment. Whether it is dance, tennis, the gym, hiking, Pilates, yoga, boxing, or biking, adapt your routine to accommodate your changing needs and interests over time. It’s like dancing through life, one joyful step at a time. The physical, mental, and emotional benefits of exercise are so abundantly documented.
When you consider the amazing privilege it is to move your body, regular exercise becomes a celebration of this marvel – strengthening your body, boosting cardiovascular health, ramping up brain function, and adding zest to your everyday life.
L- Live in the Present Moment
I don’t know about you, but I spent years running on the hamster wheel of living, doing, doing, doing and not have a clue about “being”. I did not quite get Thich Nhat Hanh’s message, “The present moment is the only moment available to us, and it is the door to all moments.” I have had to learn to practice mindfulness to appreciate and fully experience each moment. It’s time to let go of past regrets and future anxieties to enhance your overall sense of well-being. In my journey, “Letting Go” and living in the present moment has been the anchor in the ebb and flow of life.
F- Foster Emotional Resilience
Personally, I feel we build resilience as we navigate the tough things in life. It’s like lifting weights, after you have torn the muscle as part of the lifting, it grows bigger and stronger, and, I’d say, more resilient to the next session at the gym. We build resilience by facing challenges with a positive mindset. We can cultivate coping mechanisms to navigate stress and setbacks effectively, sometimes with the support of others we trust or a coach or therapist. In my life, fostering emotional resilience has been the silver lining to the challenges and adversity that I have endured. I am now grateful for the woman I’ve grown into, as a result of the stretching and ‘tearing’. You can do this!!
So, as we wrap up this exploration into the realms of “YOUR FUTURE SELF,” remember, this isn’t a destination; it’s a journey of rediscovery. Tailor these insights to your unique life, making gradual, sustainable changes to enhance your overall well-being in the New Year. Embrace the holistic approach. And, if needed, consult your personal health provider before you begin a new exercise regimen. Use 2024 to create a beautiful, extraordinary life. Start being the person you want your future self to become today, even if it’s one baby step at a time. You go this! Your Future Self will thank you!