“What are you really hungry for? And I’m not talking about food,” is what Geneen Roth, an expert in eating disorders, asked the Beacon Theater audience in New York City. This question really puzzled me at first. No one had ever inquired nor prompted me to answer such a question intrinsically laced with connotations of food and life. Turning to my designated partner, I blurted out a list of items peppered with notions of far off travel and exotic adventure only to realize that all the food I was binging on for the last five months in the morning and more so at 11 PM every night was a sad attempt on my subconsciousness’ part to incorporate what I was lacking into my life. Cacao, inca berries, coconut milk ice cream, vegan gluten-free brownies, and other expensive, exotic and seemingly random items from Whole Foods were making appearances much too often and especially late in the day, thus masking a lack of energy in the AM and then ruining my sleep and throwing off my ability to recover after training.
You see,“The way that you eat is an exact reflection of how you live,” according to Roth. Meaning that whatever governing ideas we hold true will be translated into our diets, both healthy and dysfunctional. Thus, the key is to determine what you really want to have in your life and then move toward it. By rewriting the ideas by which you are currently living, training and eating, you can become your own picture of success.
What’s Your Vision?
In order to truly train and eat properly, it’s important to understand where you are going. The vision isn’t about winning a race or some other tangible goal, rather it’s about what you want to embody. It can take some effort and time to clarify, just as focusing a camera does before taking the photograph. To begin, here are some questions to ask yourself:
• What does success look like to you?
• If you’ve had a moment where you felt your best, what was it and how did it feel?
• What sentiments and ideas would you like to embody? (ie. Strong, fast, light, effortlessness)
• What did you dream about and/or love as a child? (ie. I dreamed I could fly. I loved to go fast down hills.)
I encourage you to write these things down. Physically noting ideas somewhere helps to establish a sense of reality and commitment that is not quite present when ideas remain a jumble of thoughts in your mind. Remember, this is your perfect world with your perfect vision of success. This isn’t about playing small or being considerate of what others will think. Your vision is solely about you becoming your own hero and what it is that you would stand for.
Another great way to do this is to create a vision board. Get a poster or cork board (or even a wall if you like), and begin pasting up pictures of what exemplify that vision. Include things such as words, photos and items that help you to stay connected to your vision. This is an exciting process, so be bold and have fun with it! Keep it someplace that you’ll see often and know that things can be added or removed as you go along. There are no wrong answers here.
Letting the Limits Go
Just like a computer, our brain is littered with error messages, or limiting thoughts, that keep us from being and feeling successful. Again, I would encourage you to find some other place, preferably a journal, to write them down. It is important to acknowledge these thoughts and begin to retrain your belief system from which you operate to be more in-line with
Some are simple thoughts that exemplify a lack of self-worth, respect, or love. For example,“I’m not good enough” or “I never finish anything”. Other thoughts create an environment of constant internal struggle, such as punishment and reward, which is lived out in our training and eating habits. For the record, training should not be punishment. If it is, then you need to find something else to do that you enjoy more in-line with your vision. Yet it’s quite common for people to run off to eat pizza, hoagies, and other random unhealthy items that they know are loaded with excess sugar and salt, bad fats and processed carbohydrates. Training isn’t about balancing a junk-filled American diet with burning calories. It’s about building toward a long-term sustainable position in life that goes beyond the mundane. Understand that when you train toward a clear vision, it’s no longer about tearing yourself down each time, rather it’s about building yourself up with each step and bite you take toward the vision. Thus, each action has a purpose in line with who you are.
Once you’ve got that cohesive vision, begin to implement a vision-guided goal system to revamp your nutrition. Keep in mind that your diet will always be in a state of evolution changing with you throughout your training. Think about what you want to accomplish during the next week, month, 3-month, and 6-month time frames. This process helps to stretch out a goal over a longer period of time so that it doesn’t seem like a huge forced change overnight.
Start with larger goals in the 6-month time frame and then work backwards. I recommend picking two or three main goals to effectively stay on track. The following questions can help narrow down where to begin.
What are the pressing issues keeping you from your vision? (ie. Low energy, lack of variety, digestive problems, lack of time, cramping)
What do you need to accomplish between now and 6-months to help you make your vision a reality? (ie. Incorporate more greens into my diet, improve mineral intake, try a healthy new food every week, seek out a support system)
Write out your plan and know that it’s okay to make changes and adjustments along the way. If you find yourself veering off track, come back to the vision (your starting point). With an open, yet critical mind, spend time researching topics and talking with people who have a variety of perspectives and experience. Remember that each day is a chance to start anew making better choices that, with time, will make it hard to remember what your diet was like beforehand. With the completion of each goal, acknowledge your hard work and what it is that you’ve accomplished!
Live the Dream
“I’m living my dream,” is something often said by successful and inspirational people. It is possible for us all to live a unique life that we truly value. Understanding your vision and working toward it will have tremendous reverberations throughout your life as you begin to use facets such as nutrition to make the vision real. Your goal system is your map to get you where you want to be so that each day you become your vision a bit more.
The process of vision and goal creation is a powerful way to make lasting proactive changes to your diet that will impact your life and training. If you take your time and make mindful decisions, you’ll find the bigger goal to be very easy to accomplish. The internal struggle about how to eat and train will quiet as your actions align with your vision. Each step you take will feel exhilarating because you’ll be closer to where you want to be. And before you know it, you’ll be utilizing nutrition as a means to live out your own personal dream with complete awareness that you rightfully own every ounce of your success.
Jennifer Fugo is a certified holistic health counselor at Evolving Well, LLC working with athletes to make lasting dietary and lifestyle changes to improve performance. Jennifer has extensive experience with adrenal fatigue, whole food diets, food intolerances, digestive problems, and elimination diets. Jennifer is also a certified yoga teacher and avid road cyclist. Visit www.evolvingwell.com to find teleseminar, workshop and yoga class dates and her blog.