Spread the Love
Copyright 2019 © Rosie Bank
This being the week of Valentine’s Day, let’s talk about love.
What does (self)love have to do with it?
That twist on an old refrain will lead you to enjoy an even better life. For example, if you are beleaguered by any of the indicators that point to an imbalance with your health, you may be experiencing a good life. But perhaps you are not enjoying your best life. I understand that challenges happen and I do not judge you, myself, or anyone else when dealing with a health-related issue. But even in a challenging situation—such as a serious medical diagnosis—we still, and perhaps even more, get to take good care of our bodies. Make that cherish which is another way to describe what we do when we treasure something. Folding love into our self-care and regard for our bodies makes sense when we want to live that best life to which I just referred.
First, a little science. All natural “feel good” chemicals from your brain are your body’s gift to you for taking good care of yourself. They have different biological names: endorphins, serotonin, GABA, oxytocin, and dopamine. When activated they provide you with:
Good feelings in your body, love, ample energy, a robust immune system, a healthy gut, feeling relaxed, mental acuity, calmness, happiness, ability to socially engage with others, and pleasure. Plus they help you to have an appreciation of food that makes you feel great, look great, and stay healthy.
Even biochemically, these processes are the antithesis of your body being in a stressed state. In the presence of excess stress-related chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline, we are more at risk for feeling unmotivated, depleted and lacking energy, gut distress, overwhelming cravings, isolation, anger and resentment, brain fog, and to getting sick. Excess stress hormones and a vigorous immune system are inversely correlated.
Regarding the first set of responses in our bodies, it is important that you understand that these natural occurrences are yours as a result of how you intervene on your own behalf. Remembering the names of the neurotransmitters is optional. Working with your body to light up these built-in systems is mandatory if you want to feel and look your best. For example, oxytocin is called the love hormone. To experience yourself as one who feels loved, able to give and receive, comes in part as a result of your practicing the self-honoring, pro-health activities described below on a regular basis. The options you have to encourage one set of responses versus the other are under your control to a very large extent.
“Oxytocin connects us to other people. Oxytocin makes us feel what other people feel. And it’s easy to cause people’s brains to release oxytocin. Come here. Give me a hug.” Paul J. Zak
Let’s talk about love. To keep things simple, for now, I will make a short list of practices that exercise our ability to love our bodies actively and consistently. I suspect that you are familiar with this list.
The question to ask yourself is: are you engaging in these practices on a regular basis?
- Consistent, refreshing exercise and movement
- Wholesome, fresh foods that are nutrient dense with a minimum of junk
- Time for rest and relaxation
- Ample hydration without the toxicity of sugary artificially sweetened sodas
- No or moderate alcohol (A glass or two increases dopamine and helps you feel good, but excess turns the stress on in your body)
- Harmonious relationships, giving and getting support. (Listening, sharing, connecting)
- No smoking
In the Health Matters system, there are five pillars. They are:
Love Yourself First
Eat Nutritious Food
Unwind from Stress
Heal Your Gut
Move Your Body
All of the pillars interact and are essentially connected with each of the others. Like our bodies’ parts and systems, they function synergistically. Did you notice what the first one is? Loving ourselves first is fundamental to manifesting the results and benefits from the other four pillars. Loving our bodies is core to our ability to make healthy practices an integral part of our lives. Loving our bodies speaks to a level of consciousness that begins with avoiding poisoning or putting our bodies at risk. And it leads to refined practices that develop throughout our lives for an indefinite period of time.
We don’t graduate from taking care of our precious bodies. We evolve toward doing this better and better. Refining our practices is a term I share with my clients who are finding their way to a more health-and-wellness-centric lifestyle. None of us is perfect. But we need to get started to get good at this. One of my clients recently remarked that he will never be as good at this healthy lifestyle as I am. I replied that it was not the point that he try to be like me. Our aim together was for him to become the best version of himself.
Back to love. ♥
Our self-loving, self-honoring, self-soothing, self-nurturing practices support those feel-good chemicals that are released from our brains. And yes, one of those good feelings is love. From my own practice and having worked with hundreds of clients and students over the years I have become enlightened to this fact: the more we take care of ourselves, the better we get at it. The better we get at it, the more our bodies reward us with joy, love, calm, and happiness. In those states, to borrow from a Tony Robbins word, we are more equipped to love ourselves again, which, as a result, leads to more self-loving, self-honoring, self-soothing, self-nurturing habits. This is a positive feedback loop. There is no end.
It’s exactly like when you love the person who was your Valentine this year. This can be yourself, a lover, spouse, friend, parent, offspring, or pet. Love is a noun. It is a gift, also a feeling. It is likewise a verb. When you love (the verb) you do certain things. Like buying your loved one, or yourself flowers. When you love yourself, you take yourself out in nature and you feed yourself wholesome nutritious food. You give yourself plenty of restorative sleep and you never poison your body with toxins. Feeling good becomes your motto, and you begin to build these activities into your life on a daily basis.
Happy Valentine’s Day this year. And just as importantly, here’s to an on-going love affair with yourself. According to Lee Kravitz, the author of Strange Contagion, emotions are contagious. I hope you get infected. And I hope you will spread this good feeling around not just on the most romantic day of the year. But for as long as you live.
Here is a Valentine’s offer for you to get some body-love coaching with a friend or spouse. Two-for-one Health Coaching during the month of March. Email support@HealthMattersCoaching.
Rosie Bank is Board Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and the founder of Health Matters Coaching. She is the author of the book, Health Matters. Rosie is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and is certified by The Center for Nutrition Studies (e-Cornell) in Plant Based Nutrition. Rosie is an international speaker, blogger, and the founder of Health Matters podcast. She is certified as a Nutrition and Wellness Consultant through the American Fitness Professional Association and as a Nutrition Advisor through Sanoviv Medical Institute. Rosie founded The Vitality Club in Brentwood, CA in 2018.
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