At the end of our yoga session my client asked, “Can’t I just eat a pint of chocolate ice cream for dinner? Does it really matter?” I laughed a bit to myself and even, to my surprise, paused for a second to consider the question. This client ate a healthful breakfast and lunch, played some golf, enjoyed a movie with friends in the afternoon, and worked hard during our session. For all intents and purposes, her day was a stellar example of physical and mental well-being. So why not a pint of ice cream for dinner? Does it really matter? But then I caught myself, because there is more to the story.
A few months back, my client and I worked together to define what I like to call her “life code” to keep her physically and emotionally in shape while she navigated some difficult life circumstances. Her code has been designed to keep her mind and body working optimally so she can tackle whatever challenges lie ahead. And quite simply, a pint of chocolate ice cream doesn’t fit into her code for dozens of reasons. The primary answer was simple, though—she knew it and I knew it—and before I could even explain my reasoning, she shrugged it off with “I know.” We both knew why chocolate ice cream was not the best answer here, and between the code we had established and a quick check-in with each other, my client was able to get past this impulse unscathed by the wrath of the looming pint container. As for me, this simple decision-making process made me think more about my own life code and how I can guide others in defining and sticking to their own.
The idea of a personalized code may sound a little abstract, but once you define it, it can make almost every life decision much easier. To start developing your own code, take into consideration—you guessed it—food and exercise. Finding the right balance of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to keep your energy up and weight stable is the first step. The second is to take out whatever doesn’t work for your health, be that sugar, gluten, dairy, red meat, or any other element you think may hold you back. Next, figure out how much fiber you need to keep your digestion consistent. The average woman needs at least 25 grams a day and the average man needs at least 35 grams a day. Finally, move! Moving is critical to both physical and mental health. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 200 minutes of exercise a week or about 30 minutes a day, and it can be any activity that gets you moving in some direction.
But food and movement are just one aspect of your code. Emotional well-being is the other necessary piece of the wellness puzzle. Ask yourself what you need to feel at your best—how much sleep, time with friends, time alone, time reading or watching TV you need. Maybe your code includes getting a manicure, going to a movie, or hiking weekly—yes, your code should include simple pleasures! And it should be highly specific to you. Once you follow it and feel at your best, you know you’ve hit the right formula. And once you’ve defined it, you’ll know when and why to say no. No to a night on the town when your code guides you to spend some time alone. And even no to ice cream when you know the sugar will keep you up and that sleep is critical for you to function at your best.
Next week I fly off for an adventure in China. As I started to pack, I assessed how to translate my life code into a traveling code. Just a few of the things in my suitcase include fiber and protein-rich foods to keep me going if the local food doesn’t agree with me, sunscreen and a big hat to keep my skin protected, comfortable shoes and a ball to massage my feet after long days of walking, my journal, a good book, movies downloaded onto my iPad, and an entire traveling pharmacy of just-in-case medicine. My food, physical health, comfort, and unwinding activities are all a part of my life code and are now thoughtfully addressed in my travel code.
As part of my travel code, I’ll also be taking a break from writing for the new few weeks to really focus on everything China has to offer in real time. I’m sure there will be plenty of reflection on my trip in my letters to you in the future! As for my client and her request for a pint of chocolate ice cream, we settled on a healthful dinner and two scoops for dessert, because simple pleasures are still important. So start defining your health code by browsing the categories on Yoffie Life—Satisfy, Simmer, Simplify, Spark, Soul, and Sweat. Choose one or two articles in each section and commit to the challenge steps to add more of each into your life. A good place to start? Define your character type with the challenge, Personality Types: How to Leverage Yours.
Make A Change Today,