This segment is Rosie’s chapter that will appear in Step Forward and Shine, compiled as an Anthology by Rebecca Hall Gruyter. Be sure to check https://www.facebook.com/rosie.bank for updates and publication announcements.
There is a message that lives deep inside me. I think about this for a portion of every waking hour. I will tell you what it is and I will tell you why I long to share this with you. Perhaps you are meant to hear this or maybe you need to. Or you know someone who can benefit. I think my message is up there with peace on earth. Who doesn’t resonate with that?
This book has been assembled to encourage you to step forward and shine in all areas of your life. My message is this: Do everything you can to create vibrant good health. A body that supports you will be your most valuable asset, and your shine will come from deep within your core.
Busy, purpose-driven, success-minded people are smart to treat their bodies and their health as precious gifts.
If you are one of these people, you will recognize yourself right away:
- You want a lot from life.
- You are willing to work hard to influence others.
- Living a life of meaning is part of your narrative.
- You think about things like “playing bigger” and stretching yourself to be distinguished in your field.
And even if you aren’t Oprah or Elon Musk, still, your work and your footprint are significant. The words leaving a legacy may be in your vocabulary.
I’d like to suggest that there are two subsets of this group of high achievers. I’ll call them Group A and Group B.
Group A: Health is a Priority
Members of Group A make time for healthy meals. They keep their weight moderate, they get plenty of restorative sleep, and they avoid processed foods and alcohol in excess. They would no sooner knock themselves out with copious amounts of junky non-nutritive food than they would do drugs or smoke cigarettes. They also have excellent social connections. They have peace and harmony in their lives as these are part of their core values.
This group is blessed. Members will be statistically less likely to encounter lifestyle-induced diseases such as diabetes, stroke, and various forms of cardiovascular complications. They will also be more able to enjoy the financial fruits of their labor. They know (and you might, too) that it pays to be healthy.
Another distinction about this group is that they don’t abuse food or struggle with debilitating cravings. As a result, they don’t struggle with brain fog or have energy crashes in the afternoon; they can do their best work throughout the day. They are creative, productive, and focused. If this is you, then you will know exactly what I mean when I write that you and your body are on the same page.
Group B: Health is less of a Priority
I need some courage here to tell it like it is because I used to be a member of this group. Please know that this sharing comes from a place of deep caring, love, and my having walked this path. This is the group that I used to be a member of. Heck, I used to be the president of this group. Back in my 20s, 30s, and early 40s, I was already in the health business providing hands-on body therapy and teaching yoga. However, I was sick and out of control. I abused food and lived a secret life with bulimia. The binging and purging were so devastating to my body that I might be dead by now if I hadn’t found a way to make a change. Looking back, it was as if I was standing on a train track, with the Death-by-Lifestyle train barreling toward me. Had I not jumped off that track … I shudder thinking about how close I was to miss out on what eventually became the best years of my life.
When I look back to these shameful years, I vividly recall how overwhelmed I was by these atrocious habits. Abusing my body with insane amounts of sugary, junky food left me feeling depleted, afraid, and overwrought with stress. This lifestyle is neither academic nor hypothetical to me. It was a brutal reality.
It is ironic thinking about how much yoga I did, but remembering how completely out of balance my life was. Although there was a name to this affliction (bulimia), the consequences extended beyond how I abused food. The layers of self-loathing, fear of success, and a crushing sense of loneliness stood between me and living my best life. Looking back, I see now that having my energy crash on a daily basis, feeling helpless to overcome cravings, and not being able to focus during some of the peak professional and educational opportunities of my life were a great loss. Sure, I have since resolved and gotten beyond these tragic limitations and it took a lot of ongoing work on my-self. But that loss lives in my past and I see now how much I missed out on life.
So now you know why I do what I do, namely to connect with busy people whose lives, businesses, and finances depend on their getting their bodies to work for them rather than against them. Can I relate to them? You bet!
I’d like to say more to you if you can relate to being in Group B. I have a spiritual longing, even a craving in my soul, to show you that there is a reason for hope … even to feel optimistic. This is not a contest, but if I can get my body, my life, and my health on track, so can you. I hauled myself back from the brink of near-death because I could not do the work that was my calling and live the life I dreamed of if had I continued to destroy my body. It was is to this day the most difficult and significant personal work I have ever done in my life and by far the most consequential. Everything else in my life that was well hinged on me completing this transformation.
The stage has been set. You are reading this if you are ambitious and want to play on the field called life. You are not the “second string” nor are you meant to sit on the bench. John Maxwell, a leadership guru, discovered this powerful truth in his life. In fact, it was Maxwell who, after his near-fatal heart attack, revealed that if he could change something about himself, it would be that he would have done a better job guarding his health when he had it, rather than trying to buy it back after he almost squandered it. He describes his own transformation as the pain of change. Because you already know about hard work, you are a perfect candidate for working hard on yourself. One thing successful people know about is that progress is not always easy, and usually worth it. We often push forward in our work and with our families. We are used to overcoming challenges. How about with our bodies?
Here are three benchmarks to help you recognize the signs of reliable good health. This is a tricky list, but it is useful to simplify what is a vast topic with many moving parts. In fact, your good health will always be the result of a variety of ways you intervene on your own behalf. It will never be just one thing or just one practice that defines your state of wellness. (That can be a bonus benchmark – that people who are on top of their health game practice a variety of pro-health disciplines.)
- Your relationship with food
You use food for nourishment and you have a healthy relationship with food. Because you are a steward of your own health, you simply do not repeatedly put your body at risk with poor health choices. Instead of succumbing to habits such as binge-eating, mindless snacking, over-stuffing yourself, and eating copious amounts of nutrient-void food, you eat food that is healthy for your body. Depending on your dietary preference, this may or may not include meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy. Regardless, you eat your veggies, and do what Michael Pollan writes in his book, In Defense of Food, “Eat food, mostly plants.” (You also realize that perfection is overrated.)
As business women and men, we need to be as intentional with our health and our food as we are about our business and revenue goals. Pardon my bluntness, but I told you that we need to be honest about this. Successful people who are mindful about their health do not eat food the way an alcoholic drinks alcohol. It is fairly easy for us to equate in our minds how being a practicing alcoholic does not correlate with being an unswerving entrepreneur.
What about food addiction? I learned in my own experience (not in any of the hundreds of books I’ve read nor the thousands of hours of training I have received in nutrition) the following sobering fact: If you are addicted to food or if you suffer with an eating disorder, you will still need to figure out how to navigate through eating. Unlike gambling or alcohol, you cannot go cold turkey with food. You can go cold turkey with sugar and caffeine, but you can’t stop eating. This is one of the reasons why this is hard work and why you might consider working with a Health Coach who specializes in this arena. If you resonate with this as an opportunity to improve your life, you are not alone.
2. Have Personal Motivators
Women and men who consistently engage in wellness practices know their reasons for doing this. I call these your Personal Motivators. These reasons are compelling, emotional, urgent, and involve other people. For many of us this is our family and our clients. I work with people who must develop self-esteem in order to achieve their personal and professional goals. Their relationship with food needs to be addressed. I met a man at a health fair recently who has a prestigious position at a local junior college. He said to me regarding his body, “I don’t even think about it.” I asked him if there was any consequence of not thinking about his body. His answer: “I feel like I am falling apart.” He had his first coaching session this week. My pre-session Health History form includes this question: What is the most compelling, significant, personal reason why improving your health is important to you? Why now? You might want to answer this question for yourself.
In The One Thing, Gary Keller endorses boiling down our work and our reasons for why we do what we do to one overarching, compelling purpose with one primary objective or outcome. For example, my one thing regarding staying well is because I love to do sports and have travel adventures. I loved Keller’s book, but in this arena, we can have more than one personal motivator for honoring our bodies and guarding our health. Getting sick is the single most costly cause of financial difficulties, according to researchers at Harvard. They even gave it a name: Medical Bankruptcy. I mention this to point out that saving your hard-earned money ought to be up there in your personal motivators for getting and staying well. Thank you, John Maxwell.
3. The mind-body connection
You value peace and harmony. You complement hard work with resting, relaxing, finding ways to soothe your body, and ways to refresh your mind. You know it can’t all be about work and productivity.
I learned something that has shaped my health coaching practice. None of my high achieving clients who needed my help to unwind from stress ever said that they wanted to become more spiritual. However, among this same group, each individual described something that sure sounded like becoming more spiritual to my trained ear. They said things like, “I learned how to listen to my body.” “I feel more connected with myself.” “I can tell when it’s time to breathe and relax.” Please don’t get hung up on the word “spiritual”, because it means something different to each of us. The point is that when you are connected to creating a healthy body, you know how to take care of you, the being living inside of that body.
What now? How will you step forward and shine as an embodied, health conscious person? What does it mean to take your body with you? Here are three practical steps you can take on your journey of creating a healthy, vitality-filled relationship with your body. By extension, your life will be blessed in a variety of meaningful arenas, as I have mentioned throughout this chapter.
1. Remember to use food as nourishment.
Your choices about what to eat and what to avoid have nothing whatsoever to do with dieting. Make it about providing your body quality fuel to help you perform at your best and to feel fantastic.
2. Remember your purpose.
There is a great scene in the epic television drama, “This is Us,” when the father, William, visualizes the judge’s face to remind himself to abstain from drugs. What thoughts, images, and desires can you use as anchors to inspire you to remain true to making your health a priority?
3. Remember to soothe yourself.
Anything you can do to increase relaxation, create a sense of living comfortably in your body, and connect with yourself on a soul level will positively spill out over into the rest of your life.
On a personal note, dear reader, if you do resonate with this and feel compelled to reach out for help, it would be my honor to discuss this with you further. If you send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject SHINE, I will make it a priority to contact you right away.
Whether you are standing in front of an audience, serving your clients, running a household, or working on an important project, showing up with your body in a state of vitality will inform everything you do. As you look ahead to your dreams and ambitions, remember to look down as well.
Thank your body. Remember, your health matters.
Rosie Bank is Board Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and the founder of Health Matters Coaching. She is the author of four books on health, including her newest, Health Matters. Rosie is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and 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’s partner in nutrition since 1999 is USANA Health Sciences.
Rosie has been working to help her clients live more successfully in their bodies since the mid-1970s. Rosie teaches her clients to love themselves first. This is what makes her brand unique. She leads her clients to fall in love with food that is good for them and to honor their bodies through good nutrition, refreshing movement, and increasing peace and harmony in their lives. Her commitment is to help others transform their lives through Health Matters Coaching.
Rosie has earned Advanced Communicator Gold through Toastmasters International. She graduated from the Klemmer and Associates Leadership seminar series and is certified through the Arvee Robinson Master Speakers Academy. She is a graduate of the Rolf Institute and the Iyengar Yoga Institute and practiced as an Advanced Certified Rolfer, Rolf Movement Teacher, and Iyengar Yoga Instructor for over thirty years.
Rosie loves to do a variety of exercises – swim, bike, hike, kayak, jump on her trampoline and take long walks with her husband and their beautiful dogs, Dolly and Gus. Rosie enjoys meditation and yoga, veggie gardening, and astonishingly good health and vitality.
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