Relationships, Uncategorized

2019: The Year of the Relationship

If you’ve been following for a while, you’ve heard me talk about That #PrimaryFoodThing on the blog before. Primary Food is one the the main health premises taught at IIN (where I went to school for nutrition coaching). This premise is: you could eat all the kale in the world, or any other extra healthy diet, but if your relationships are awful or abusive, your job is something that you dread going back to on Monday, or you’re completely out of touch with yourself and your spirituality, you will not be able to thrive. And if you are mired in all these things, you won’t be healthy overall.

Primary Food is divided into 4 main categories: Career, Relationships, Spirituality, and Physical Activity. Every now and then, it’s a good idea to pause and think about how you would rate each of these areas in your life, so you can adjust where you would like to spend your focus to keep everything balanced. (If you’re interested in assessing your own Primary Food needs, you can use this tool.) I’ve been working on the Career area for the last year and a half, so when I took a moment to think about where I was with my own Primary Food at the end of last year, I realized that it was time to shift my focus to building (and maintaining) stronger relationships in my life. And voila! 2019: The Year of the Relationship was born.

One of the first things I wanted to do in this area was to build a stronger relationship with the hubs. I’m sure many of you can relate to the ships-passing-in-the-night feeling that we get when our kids, toddlers, and babies are young. At first, we’re in survival mode. After that, it morphs into juggling 2 full-time jobs, kids extra curricular activities, the groceries, the errands, household chores, and all of that. If we don’t intentionally create the time to reconnect as a couple without all that noise, we can go months with out really knowing how our other half is doing.

I always see the suggestion to schedule a date night once a month. Great idea! BUT when like us, you don’t have grandparents or other family and friends who can help out with the kids, a once a month date night can be cost prohibitive. The next suggestion is “ok, schedule your date night at home after the kids are asleep.” Also a great idea! We went with this route, but then found that sitting together on the couch in front of a movie wasn’t exactly giving us the opportunity to reconnect. And we found that we often skipped these dates due to being flat-out exhausted.

This year, my word is intention, and that is exactly how we needed to be with these monthly dates, more intentional. In December, I began to work on planning out 12 dates for us to do each month of 2019. And of course, work and life got in the way and I wasn’t making much progress, especially since I wanted these to be really fun but also be AT HOME as much as possible (and you can only play board games so many times, amirite?) Then I stumbled across Date Night In, a monthly subscription box to create dates for us at home. You mean, I didn’t have to plan it all myself? I could be just as surprised as hubs when we went on our date? Perfect.‬

I bought a subscription for Christmas, and we got our first box in the mail Friday. Each moth has a theme for the date and I nearly died laughing because the theme for this month was engineering, and hubs and I are both engineers. This made the box a perfect “ice breaker” for us since the topic wasn’t too far out of our comfort zone. We had our Date Night In date last night. The short story is that it was actually really fun!

The booklet gives you recipes for a nice dinner, activities, and talking points to go over. We made the mixed drink (which is one we would have never tried but both ended up liking a lot) and the appetizer since we already ate a light dinner with the kids earlier.

The relationship questions and talking points provided were actually really great as well (I was worried they would be cheesy). They were the kind of deeper questions that you may not normally ask or discuss with your partner, especially when you are caught up in the business of day-to-day life with young kids. They led us to some good conversation tangents, working out a few issues (WOW), and laughing.

The activities were all fun to do, especially for us as engineers. We built a candle holder/lantern out of popsicle sticks, a truss/platform out of toothpicks and jelly beans, and the “tallest tower possible” out of straws (really, we didn’t go as high as we could because it was late by then and we were like – meh, we know we could make this higher but we wanna go to bed). Each of the activities had discussion that related back to the intro questions we had talked about at the beginning. So it kept our focus on the date theme: Why having a strong foundation is important, which was great.

Overall, it was fun and a great way to spend time together actually doing something to make our relationship stronger. I’m looking forward to the box coming next month! If you are thinking about working on the relationship area of your Primary Food, I highly recommend you try it out. It seems like the perfect fit for us in this stage of life.

Health & Wellness, Uncategorized

That #primaryfood Thing

I’ve talked a bit before about the reason why I chose to go to IIN for my nutrition education. The school taught two concepts that really resonated with me, and based the rest of their nutrition education program on these ideas. The first one is bioindividuality: the theory that there is no “one right” diet for every human on the planet and that we should work to find what foods nourish our individual body best so we can thrive.

The second concept is the subject of this post: Primary Food. This idea is that the nutrition you consume through food and drink is actually second to the Primary Food of life when it comes to your overall health. This Primary Food is divided into 4 main categories: Career/Meaningful Work, Relationships, Physical Health, and Spirituality. When one or more of these Primary Food areas are out of balance, you could be eating all the kale in the world, but you won’t be healthy or happy. You can’t thrive without Primary Food.

What. The. Heck? When I first learned about Primary Food, it sounded unscientific, wishy-washy, and a bit Woo to me. I’ll admit there was a strong internal eye-roll associated with it. But at the same time there was this tiny voice in my head that knew the idea of Primary Food was spot on. And the worst part about it was that all 4 areas for me were totally in the ditch.

Fast forward nearly 2 years and you get to me today. Someone who has been working on improving each of these areas and made huge gains. Someone who has now been to school and studied exactly how these Primary Food areas interact with your life and your relationship with nutritional food. It’s been an eye-opening journey, but it is completely worth the work it has taken.

I’m lucky to have found Meaningful Work through Nutrition Coaching. I continue to work in this area to help make The Nutrition Doula a thriving practice, so that I can do help as many people as possible to find the food that works for them and their families. My Physical Health recovered relatively quickly after I gave birth to our second daughter, but knowing how important it is for me to be able to stay this way, I make sure to carve out the time needed to maintain it. I still have plenty of work to do in these areas, as well as in the Relationships and Spirituality areas, but the improvement from where I was before learning about Primary Food is significant.

The thing about shifting your perspective to look at your life through a Primary Food lens is that it begins to help you prioritize in a different way. You may have heard the quote about nutritional food that says “Every bite you eat is either helping your health or feeding disease. Choose wisely.” Once you begin to look at life through a Primary Food lens, it becomes everything you do is either nurturing a Primary Food or starving it.

Thinking like this is what allows me to say yes to the right things and no to the things that don’t help me, without the typical guilt that is often associated with making these decisions. It’s what will allows me to sit down and play with the kids when they ask without cleaning the kitchen first (because I’m nurturing the Relationship area, the dirty dishes guilt melts away). It’s what lets me go run a race, then sit down with amazing friends for brunch and acknowledge and appreciate how much these activities recharge my soul. It’s what gives me the ability to get out of bed at 4:30am to go for a swim before work, or the drive to continue my work as a Nutrition Coach even on days when I’m already exhausted from the day-job.

Ultimately, when the Primary Food areas in your life are going well, then it becomes much easier to make good and healthy choices when it comes to nutritional foods. It becomes easier to thrive in this life. So it pays off to assess the Primary Food in your life and to work on improving it.

Take a minute to consider the four Primary Food areas: Career/Meaningful Work, Relationships, Physical Health, and Spirituality. Give yourself a rating number in each area between 1 and 10 (with 1 being there is nothing right at all about this and 10 being everything couldn’t be more perfect). Once you have your ratings, look for the lowest number. That is where making changes can help your overall health and happiness the most. If you’ve rated an area with a low number, don’t worry! Knowing the problem is there is the first step to fixing it.

So what do you think? Were you surprised by your Primary Food Exercise results? Did you discover something that needs work? Let me know in the comments or send me a message. I’d love to talk about it with you!