Marc and I took a long walk in Fernbank Park today. It is a beautiful day, with an incandescent sky; the kind of day you just want to soak in through your pores. Fernbank has a paved trail that meanders along the Ohio River, so we stopped from time to time to watch the barge traffic.
The playground and all the picnic tables and shelters were cordoned off, but people found plenty of ways to be together while keeping their distance. There were walkers, runners and bikers; lots of people with dogs; and even a circle of teenagers playing a riff on volleyball.
This. This is what I’ve been yearning for. Seeing people out, soaking in the light of the day; feeling the crispness of the breeze as it played with my hair. Talking when we felt like it and being comfortable with the quiet when we just wanted to breathe it all in. The tranquility of it, the verdant richness of it simply filled me.
Finding that peace for ourselves, finding ways to nourish our souls is not just a vital part of living a healthy lifestyle—it is the foundation of one. When we take the time to replenish our spirits, it nurtures and restores us. And, when I feel nurtured and restored, I am happy to eat carefully and well. It thrills me that the exercise regime I started over three years ago lets me fully participate in the business of living, without pain or compromise. I am that much more motivated to keep up my regime, to stay strong.
It wasn’t just the exercise regime that allowed me to get so much out of today. My emotional obesity dragged at me every day of my life until I finally did the work to overcome it. I would have enjoyed a much shorter, slower walk—perhaps—but it wouldn’t have been able to uplift me, to take me someplace new in my spirit.
Emotional, spiritual and physical well-being are so closely intertwined that they simply cannot be separated from one another. I absolutely believe that is why efforts to lose weight or exercise frequently result in failure. Any path to better health needs to encompass all of your well-being—yet how frequently are the emotional and spiritual aspects ignored?
A path to a healthy lifestyle needs to address your whole being; it can’t be a rigid set of rules. A holistic approach fills you up, opens up new possibilities and joys for you, instead of setting up stop signs or detours you are forced to take. It is so much easier to cut back on portion sizes or learn how to exercise when that is balanced by giving yourself time for self-reflection, for relaxation, for sheer pleasure. Because of my physical disability and my food addiction, I actually had to learn that pleasure could come from many sources other than what I was putting in my mouth.
I think it is even more important to remember to be holistic with ourselves now, when we are so confined. Acknowledge that confinement and find ways to break its hold on you—whether that is through meditation or prayer or working in your garden or listening to music. We all need this, regardless of what our weight or physical ability is.