When you look at a picture of food, what is your perception? I find the perception of food fascinating as there are many factors that contribute to one’s observation including:
-How we were raised
-What you eat
-What you crave
-Connection/Belief to marketing products
Everyone’s perception and palate varies based upon the above influences. But, I find that what we read, hear and see mostly affects our modern day diet decisions. For years, the thought of eating fat was negative due to doctors and the American Heart Association stating that a low-fat diet is beneficial for heart health and weight maintenance. With this perception being beaten into the brains of society most feared the most nutritious fat-based foods such as olive oil, avocado, nuts, beans and coconut. Due to some re-education and up to date research, these products (and Mediterranean-based lifestyle) are now part of a healthy lifestyle showing that a higher fat diet is healthy and essential to well-being. Funny, somehow the Greeks figured this stuff out thousands of years ago.
Many Americans are beginning to change their perception and have concerns regarding ingredients, GMO's and what's in their food. But yet, there is still a long way to go.
Marketing is one of the biggest influences on how we perceive food. We watch commercials or read magazine ads while ogling with a watering mouth.
One of the best methods is to test your perception is by looking at two images and writing down the first initial thoughts that enter your mind.
Are you ready? Look at the two images below and write what you think.
I did this test twice. The first round I perceived my mind as myself at twenty years old. During this time, I was highly concerned about my weight, what I ate and how much I exercised. I was obsessed with exercise and caloric output. And I tortured myself in the gym.
When looking at the burgers and fries I thought, “fat, weight gain and gross calories.” When I looked at the multi-colored salad I thought, “healthy, thin and low calories.”
The second round I Googled similar images. I looked at these images of my current mental state, a 30-year old spiritual being having a human experience who moves everyday but doesn’t obsess over calories (intake and expenditure). I move and do what makes me happy.
I looked at the burger and fries and thought, “brainwash and poison.”
I looked at the vibrant salad and thought, “powerful, energetic, uplifting.”
The way I lived my life at twenty drastically varies at thirty. But I find it interesting at how I perceive food with a deeper meaning. I look at burger and fries (from a traditional fast food place) as a tincture of poison and brainwash chemicals. The more these companies can control your mind and body, the more you become addicted to feeling like shit and wanting their products. I see this food as a form of mind control.
On the other hand, I perceive the food from nature as limitless power. It is the source of fuel that uplifts and energizes the body and soul and inspires your most creative thoughts.
Compared to when I was twenty, I was so worried about how the food affects my physical appearance without connecting the soul to the food. I feel most are still in this mindset and not realizing that food is information. What you eat does more than affect the physical body. Food imprints the mind, body and soul with its (lack of) energy. How many of you want to go on a bike ride or jog after consuming a heavy eggs, bacon, potato and toast breakfast?
With long-term poor eating, the body becomes addicted to either the chemicals or “high” from the food as well as connecting the emotions to the food. The deeper we dig ourselves into finding happiness or security with food the more our eating habits spiral out of control.
How the mind perceives food is a powerful tool. So, how do you perceive food?
To sign off, I leave you with this -
"In our fast-forward culture, we have lost the art of eating well. Food is often little more than fuel to pour down the hatch while doing other stuff - surfing the Web, driving, walking along the street. Dining al desko is now the norm in many workplaces. All of this speed takes a toll. Obesity, eating disorders and poor nutrition are rife."
Oh the outlier. The exception to every rule, concept and theory. But, what is an outlier? One definition is that an outlier is a “statistical observation that is markedly different in value from the others in the sample.”
How does this relate to humans? Outliers exist in every thought, theory and opinion about life. These are the people who can do something that you cannot and their baffling modalities perplex you. You question, “how do they do that and why can’t I?” If you are not completely confused yet, I will give you several examples.
An outlier is:
-The green-bean model-thin girl who can eat all the junk food in the world and not gain one pound.
-The man who smoked a pack of cigarettes everyday in his life and did not get lung cancer.
-The man who can roll out of bed and run an Ironman with only three months of training.
-The people that can read a 700 page book in less than a week.
-The person who has no formal education but is a millionaire.
We often associate outliers in health and fitness because it’s a more noticeable field. We’ve all heard and seen those stories, but somehow they are an outlier to the rule. We don’t know why nor can’t explain it. The answer comes from something that is beyond our understanding or from a greater power. But, we use outliers to observe our lives either excuse ourselves to something “because uncle Tom has done it for decades,” or compare ourselves (often negatively) “because she can do it and I can’t.”
For most, it would be God’s gift to man to devour junk food all day and maintain a 120-pound figure, but that is not the Utopia we live in. Somewhere in life you are an outlier. Do you know where?
I’ll share my example and another example I struggled with as young teenager.
At 30 years old, right now I am an outlier in the world of techno parties. Sounds weird, huh? Techno raves have a stereotype where “everyone” is on drugs in order to enjoy the music. Yes, drugs exist, but I have never done one drug. In fact, this type of music combined with dancing changed my life at twenty-years old. It helped me overcome issues and gave me confidence while experiencing a blissful and freeing experience.
One night in the Kiste Club in Hannover, Germany a popular German DJ played named, Alle Farben. I stood next to the DJ booth while standing next to two lurk-like German boys. They were about 20 years old and wore sweatshirts and Adidas shoes. All three of us were glued to the same position for near three hours straight. At times we danced a sidestepped and lifted our hands upwards (similar to a Christ stance). We rolled our wrists to the beat and all three of us were in sync with the music. With my eyes closed, I experienced what I call, “meditation in motion.” Visions of book covers and chapter titles came to my mind and then I went into Reiki healing mode where I started sending healing light to people and the planet. After 15-minutes, I opened my eyes to pry myself out of this deeper brain-wave state. We all kept moving and somehow I get a spiritual high off this music. It sounds weird and strange, but I am an outlier (although people who attend those events do love the music and dancing). Most people find a high and connection to the music with drugs, mainly ecstasy to elevate and enhance the experience. In fact, many people (mainly Europeans) are shocked that I can listen to this music and not do drugs. I associate electronic music and dancing as a spiritual experience. The music has and always will inspire my creativity. (Remember folks - drug free is the way to be. And remember not everyone who listens to EDM/techno does drugs!)
The time I struggled with an outlier was during my freshman year of high school. My sister was a senior and had the metabolism of the sun. She could eat anything and everything at any time of day and remain model-thin. In fact, she did model and I was an athletic somewhat "Tom-boy" girl. I entered puberty that year and blossomed from a size zero to five in one year. My hips got wider and I developed a frame similar to my mother’s. I constantly compared myself to my sister and wished my body type were different. Not accepting this, it eventually led to problems with eating. Later in high school I went through a phase where I would eat no fat. So I ate salads without any oil or dressing and became an even pickier eater. Luckily, that phase did not last long. But my point is that I can easily gain and easily lose weight. I am not an outlier in the weight management sector of life.
We have entered a stage of life where cancer and disease “rule” America. There are many causes of illness and disease. Throughout my years as a fitness trainer, I have heard every story about how the guy who eats fast food everyday has perfect heart health, but a healthy person had a heart attack at 45. There are many reasons to why this could be, and some of it could be related to stress and mindset. But, that pop-drinking guy is an outlier. Plus, you never know when the time will strike. That is the risk of life, and if he gets a heart attack, is his body strong enough to survive? The human body cannot sustain long-term damage without adverse health effects.
Understanding outliers’ helps us overcome ego and ignorance. Being an outlier usually relates to your strengths and special gifts in life. If you take one lesson from this it’s to embrace your gifts and stop comparing yourself to others.
To sign off I’ll leave you a message from Buddha.
“Health is the greatest gift, contentment is the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.” – Buddha
Today, people are bombarded with opportunities for personal development. Most of these classes or tools benefit the work force making people better leaders, more efficient employees and more creative marketers. For some, the more they give themselves into the business world the more their soul becomes lost. Why? Because most prioritize work and every ounce of sweat and energy goes into work. This leaves the soul “high and dry” waving its hand in the corner that says, “please pick me!”
For many the soul is the last kid chosen for a game of pickup basketball. When picked last long-term, the soul gets discouraged, fearful and weak. It no longer wants to play basketball because the soul may get one or two shots and shooting the entire game.
For those that are wrapped up in the work world and are unhappy (and needing more in life) it is your soul’s way of tapping you on the shoulder, or throwing a basketball at your head, depending on the severity. Find out if your soul is in need of some “TLC” below.
Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat – If the only thing you know in life is work, or you work to keep yourself busy, your soul is in dire need of a break. There are so many beautiful things in this world to keep your soul occupied other than work. This is also called a “hobby.” Nature walks, painting, yoga, writing, dancing, crafts, picnics – there is a laundry list of things you can do to fulfill your spirit.
You Can’t Sit Still – This ties along with people who work constantly. If your body and mind is restless – you need to calm down, take a breath of fresh air and do something for your soul.
Your Eyes Start Twitching – If your eyelids twitch, it means you are stressed. Stress overtakes the body in the most negative ways. Take this as a wake up call that you need a break before issues get worse.
You Always Think Negatively – If the first words out of your mouth is a negative thought or putdown you really need to focus and trust your soul. There is much good in life that thinking the worst things all the time is a slow poison killing your mind and body.
You Watch Too Much News – Watching the news everyday is the best way to make you fear life. Try to mix up your news source with NPR, BBC and Deutsche Welle Radio that reveals positive and worldly news. Good and bad things happen every minute of everyday. Many who watch too much news nest at home fearing every negative detail about life. This gives you a limited perspective about life.
You Have Limited Belief Systems – If your mind is stuck, so are your beliefs. If you believe “there are no good men out there” or “no one will hire me” than you are in need of soul development. When you embrace your soul, your mindset changes. The same is true in the opposite manner. When you ignore your soul and let fear and negative perceptions flood your mind, the mind will follow those beliefs.
You Are Depressed – My yoga guru from India said, “Depression is not a disease it’s a lack of knowledge.” What he meant was a lack of life knowledge because those (with non-clinical depression) do not see the light in life or are blinded with illusions (materialism). The best thing to do when depressed is to skip drug and alcohol use. Spend some quiet time in nature and let the environment do its work.
You Want to Hurt Yourself or Others – If you are thinking about suicide or hurting others, there is a gap between you and your soul that you need to “refill.” When you connect to your soul you overcome the anger, hatred, bitterness and revenge that you seek on the world.
You Feel Lost – Do you feel that you don’t belong? Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? If you feel lost, connect to your soul. It’s not a quick fix, but a long journey of discovering yourself and what makes you happy in life.
Those who find their soul know how to maintain long-term happiness. Life is a challenge of highs and lows and not everyday will be a perfect sunny day, but when you know your soul you are better equipped to handle life’s obstacles.
To sign off I leave you with this,
“You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.” -Swami Vivekananda
From the dawn of time, I have questioned everything. During my first abroad to Australia is when I noticed I began questioning the deeper meanings of life. Why are humans here? What’s in the sky? What is the purpose of life?
Throughout the last decade, I have questioned, and still question, many things about life. This is what I refer to as a spiritual journey and consciousness awakening.
I believe that every human is sent to earth to experience something different. Some of us are sent here for our soul to discover something new or endure a challenge while contributing to mankind.
Questioning aspects of life are important to overcome issues and find YOUR truth. Also, questioning life gives you an independent mind that is not easily influenced by others. This allows you to think and make decisions for your highest good. This is more important now than ever before because new products, theories and concepts are continuously released on the consumer market.
One example that I will give about questioning the diet industry is the introduction of the Paleo Diet. The concept originated after the release of a popular book that reflects on the negative attributes of wheat and carbohydrates. It seemed overnight, that everyone was Paleo and Paleo cafes popped up around the world. The point is that a person hears, reads and sees one side of the story without questioning whether that choice is beneficially. Many clients I have worked with tried eliminating carbohydrates, but could not sustain more than three months with the level of intensity of their workout. Therefore, they jumped on the bandwagon but could not live up to the lifestyle and social pressures. Some of my clients wanted to do 30-day Paleo meal plans and when they presented me the material I noticed the maximum calories one ingests is 1,200. I asked her, “How are you going to sustain your 10-hour work day?”
When I first heard of Paleo I questioned many things from the quality of meat to global health concerns. As a vegan, I see a different perspective, but do not judge people on their diet choices. But for many, it seems like a validation to consume ungodly amounts of hormone-pumped bacon and eggs, which is part of modern day “indulgences.” I question things based upon health effects and who is monetarily benefiting from a new phenomena.
In terms of this diet, I questioned:
-What is the difference between meat thousands of years ago compared to today?
-What in our present day meat affects human health?
-How do our stress levels vary now compared to the ancient times?
-Where did these Paleo people get their nutrients?
-Who and what cultures in this world eats carbohydrates and how is their health?
-What is the mindset of the cultures who eat carbohydrates?
-What cultures have survived off plant-based foods and how is their health?
-Does this diet include alcohol?
-Is carbohydrates part of Centenarian diets? (People who live to 100 or more)
-Can the world graze more cattle? How would more animals affect global warming?
-What health concerns do I have? And is it related to carbohydrates?
The point of this article is not to argue whether one should be Paleo or not. The point (since this diet has been a hot topic for the last couple years) is that you must question everything from diets to spiritual practices to even these very words.
I am sharing information on this blog based on my journey and life experience. I hope this inspires or transforms lives, but even you must question what I say to see if it works for you.
As an independent female, I have found questioning things to benefit my life. It maintains my independence with the ability to use empathy – to see both sides of every story.
To sign off I leave you with this –
“Sometimes questions are more important than answers.” – Nancy Willard
Welcome to Mind Body Soul Food, the place where food for your soul is a daily treat.
MBSF will share tips, opinions and observations that I discovered along my journey in life. As I write, I will fuse eastern and western concepts to overcome many myths about diet, exercise and spirituality.
I, Elizabeth, have worked in fitness since 2006. Throughout this time, I have coached hundreds of people and watch many suffer and spiral out of control due to modern products and beliefs. I, your "Quality of Life Advocate" am here to guide you on a path of wellbeing that goes against a variety of mainstream topics.
Combining my exercise science knowledge with energy healing and spiritual theories, I am here to create powerful, independent beings who are ready to take control of their mind and life. If you would like to see a particular question or topic written about, please touch base using the contact form.
I welcome you to Mind Body Soul Food - a place to discover health and happiness.
"Quality of Life Advocate"
The word “spirituality” is a term coined at a broader approach to connecting to something greater than us. Spirituality does not have a specific definition or deity but conveys the message of fulfilling our spirit, often with universal energy.
Often people hear the world “spirit” or “spirituality” and “freak out” over the term or anything that has to do with spirit. Many shun yoga as it’s a “spiritual exercise" that originated from India, and label it negatively because of India’s Hindu-dominated culture. Many of these perceptions and thoughts are flawed opinions about the spirit.
Spirit originates from the Latin word “spiritus” or “breath.” By definition, “it is a force or principle that animates living organisms.” In simple terms, the breath is our life force that provides energy and healing to the body. Without the breath, the human body can only survive seconds or minutes without air.
In Greek mythology, the term pneuma translates to “air in motion, breath and wind.” In yoga, the word prana means “breath” which is life force energy. In ancient China, the term “qi” is “life force or energy flow.” In essence, the spirit, known as the soul, is found in many texts of life from the Vedas to the Bible. The purpose of these tales and discoveries to show that everyone is on their own path and there is more than one way to enhance the spirit.
But it seems that only in modern times do we shun or shy away from the term “spirit.” Why? This mainly has to do with disrupting the ego and any organized religion that we associate with. We forget that our breath is our spirit, and when we connect to our breath we are simply energizing our spirit. Simply, we should not fear the spirit because it is what keeps us “alive.” When you encounter a stressful situation you may notice that your breath becomes short, shallow and light. This “chain reaction” stimulates “fight or flight” and long-term one disconnects from their soul. Another interesting observation is during post-crying when the body tries to calm down you may find yourself unconsciously taking a few deep breaths.
Many ancient techniques may be too out of the box for some people, which is okay as we all need to find a method that works best for us. But, simply sitting in a quiet room, taking deep breaths and focusing on the present moment is not weird nor does it conflict to any religious connections.
Many who are coined “spiritual” find a connection to their inner-world and the universe through nature, yoga, meditation or energy healing techniques such as Reiki. In fact, humanity is progressing toward these practices as people begin to awake consciously. History does repeat itself, and the ancient yogis, Egyptians and Greeks were smart people. They were highly connected to the source without distractions such as internet, video games and text messages.
If you’ve ever found yourself in awe while hiking a mountain or breathless staring at the ocean’s beauty, those are pivotal soul-enhancing moments. And there is nothing odd about those behaviors. As an “energetic” person, every time I leave the ocean I tear as it feels like I’m being torn from my true home. Why? One simple reason is that I am in the moment, happy and rejuvenated.
So yes, you can tie your legs into a knot and bend your body like a pretzel to be spiritual, but it does not have to be that way. And in the name of the spirit, remember to take several deep breaths at times of chaos.
Elizabeth Rae Kovar M.A. is Author of her memoir, Finding Om and is a Fitness Trainer, Yogi, Reiki Master, Presenter and Lover of Life. To view her portfolio please visit www.elizabethkovar.com