Finding the ever coveted ‘balance’ in your life is overwhelming, and can feel impossible. Workout four or five days a week. Meal prep to eat three meals full of whole foods every day. Drink enough water. Practice self care. Detox your home.
At the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where I studied, one of the key concepts is the idea of Primary Food. I believe that no matter how much kale you eat or how many spin classes you take, you won’t be truly happy and healthy until you find fulfillment in your relationships, physical activity, career and spirituality, whatever that means for you.
That idea is what Primary Food is all about – the idea that you are fed by all elements of your life, not just the food on your plate. But how do you uncover the areas where you can grow, the areas to build the life of your dreams? The Integrative Nutrition Circle of Life is an incredibly simple – and powerful – tool for getting a clear picture of where your life is thriving, and what areas could use a little more work.
The Circle of Life goes beyond the four key areas of Primary Food, covering all areas of life that nourish the body, mind and soul. This tool covers:
- Spirituality – Spirituality can mean a variety of things, but science has backed that a connection to something outside of yourself leads to greater happiness.
- Creativity – Whether its generating a new way to organize the kitchen, writing in a journal, enjoying a DIY craft night or sketching a sunset, creativity is shown to help open the mind, and has even been linked to decreasing depression.
- Finances – Money is one of the biggest stressors in life, so of course balance in this area is a sure fire way to increase happiness. Creating a grateful sense of abundance is a great first step toward financial fulfillment – be sure to keep an eye out for my guided meditations for cultivating a sense of abundance.
- Career – 70% of American workers hate their jobs, and when most of us spend more time at work than almost anywhere else, it’s easy to see why unhappiness in your career would make happiness in your life a challenge.
- Education – Continuing to learn throughout life keep the mind sharp and agile, and brings new excitement and ideas into your world. Whether its in a traditional school, by reading a book or embarking on a new journey, education is a key component to your Circle of Life.
- Health – Such a large umbrella, because so many things play into your health.
- Physical Activity – Whatever your favorite way to sweat is, we all know we’re better off when we get regular exercise. In the words of Elle Woods, “exercise give you endorphins, endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.”
- Home Cooking – With a billion dollar food industry filling grocery shelves with marketing ploys disguised as health claims, it’s tremendously challenging to make good nutrition choices without relying on whole foods. By taking cooking into your own hands you eliminate so much of the guesswork, and ensure that your body has the nourishment it needs.
- Home Environment – Hopefully, you get to spend as much – or close to as much – time at home as you do working. No matter how much time you spend at home, it’s important to make the best of it.
- Relationship – A stable, committed relationship with a partner provides a foundation for so many of life’s hurdles, as well as better health choices. You’re much less likely to come home and be tempted into an ice cream binge if you’re coming home to a loving partner to cook dinner and talk about your day.
- Social Life – We all need intimate relationships, and friendship is the other side of that coin. Keeping up with friends – new or old – helps build the support network everyone needs to make it through life’s ups and downs.
- Joy – This may seem confusing, as part of the end game of the Circle of Life is to create balance and – in turn – happiness with one’s life. But joy goes beyond happiness. Joy is the unbridled smile you can’t hold back, the laughing so hard until your belly aches. When the other areas of your life come into balance, joy will naturally follow.
You can download your own Circle Of Life here. To explore which Primary Foods you’re missing, place a dot on the line in each category to indicate how satisfied you area in each area. Place a dot at the center of the circle to note dissatisfaction or close to the outside of the circle in areas you full fulfilled. Join the dots (as seen in the example) and look at how balanced your circle is. Your Health Coach can help you discuss how to create balance in the circle.