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Monday
Feb212011

Recipe for a Nourished Life

I didn’t do a Valentine’s post. I don’t have any fun, pink-colored recipes to share with you, and I’m embarrassed to say that most of the treats I brought to Elliott and his family were purchased. Shameful!

But I’ve forgiven myself, because Valentine’s day is about more than chocolate and flowers. For those of you who pretend to hate this designated day of love, stop it this instant, and listen up! You don’t need a sweetheart to practice the art of affection. In fact, you don’t even need a designated day. Today is the day. Tomorrow is the day. It’s always a good time to tell yourself how great you are. 

My recipe for a nourished life has to do with more than just what I feed myself. It can help us make our meals healthier, but we also have ingredients for a balanced existence. Wellness and health are states of being, and we don’t become healthy just by eating a certain way or dragging ourselves through gruesome workouts. We’ve got to show ourselves some love.

That said, I’m going to share with you my own recipe for balance: A series of questions that I ask myself periodically, to check in and see how things are going with the girl in my head. This blog is an exploration for the balance between health and indulgence, which for me is a daily preoccupation. It’s always changing, so what’s written here could be different a month from now. As I try and discover new things, my recipe evolves. That, if you ask me, is the best part about cooking.

Sarah’s Ingredients :: Serves 1

1. How many servings of veggies have I had today? This number never, ever dips below 6 or 7. My favorite breakfast of late is a nice green smoothie, with plenty of spinach or kale, half an avocado, and some berries or other fruit. If I start the day this way, my veggie count is higher. If I have at least two servings at every meal, I’m feeling pretty darn great. 

2. Have I moved my body today?  Lately, I haven’t been running. My favorite time to run is in the wee hours of the morning, around 6:30 am, and the winter has been way too dark and cold. My level of motivation reads zero. But, I love swimming, walking and hiking, yoga, strength training, taking classes, chasing my dog… anything. I do something every day, and even on designated days off I stretch for at least 15 minutes in the morning to help circulation.

3. How much have I listened today?  No, sitting in class does not count. This one I’m always working on… I’m not very good at it. Really hearing what people say and acknowledging their point of view is not only enlightening, but at the other end, being heard makes people feel pretty good. I make more friends when I listen.

4. How many deep, full breaths have I taken?  My New Year’s resolution this year was to breathe more. Often on my commute, I catch myself holding my breath and tensing up, especially at the end of the day. Breathing helps (obviously), since every cell in our bodies needs ample oxygen to thrive. I’ve also been making sure that my iPod is charged and loaded with upbeat tunes, so I can let out the day’s stresses vocally. And probably to the amusement of other drivers.

5. How much water have I consumed?  An important one that’s been beaten into us with the clubs of every health-focused article there ever was, but still, it’s worth repeating. I have a huge stainless-steel canteen that I try to refill at least twice. Yes, it doesn’t stay in the body for long, but no, that’s not reason enough to quit.

6. Did I make my bed this morning?  Allow me to explain. I once saw a quote in Real Simple magazine that said, “The state of your bed is the state of your head.” It stuck with me because I used to always make my bed, and it left me feeling strangely organized and prepared. At the time I read the quote, though, I wasn’t feeling well and had been battling some weird anxiety. And this morning ritual had been neglected. So I started making an effort again to make my bed every day, and guess what? It helped. Perhaps this is my obsessive Type-A-ness flaunting itself, but what can I say? There’s just something about climbing under a taught, fresh, and soft layer of covers every night. Call me crazy.

7. How do I feel This is something deeply personal, subjective, and not easily explainable to people other than myself. But I know how I feel when I’m feeling great, and I know what happens to me when something’s off. It’s just that– a feeling. Plain and simple. If I’ve got it, I’m good. If not, something needs to change. Your feeling will be different from mine, in every way.

{Like a best friend, ask that little voice in your head how she’s doing from time to time. I bet she’ll appreciate it. And then tell me: What’s your recipe?}