Spirit: the force within a person that is believed to give the body life, energy, and power. the inner quality or nature of a person. (Merriam-webster.com)
Sprout: to produce new leaves. to grow or develop; spring up. to send out new growth.  (Merriam-webster.com)
Fitting that the auto-correct word for “spirit” is “sprout”.  Both are essential for personal growth.  And while it seems like my latest blogs have been less about fitness and more about internal (mindset) health; well it’s because we all need appropriate doses of each.  What good does it serve to strive for our best body on the outside while neglecting what is going on in the inside?
I heard Randy Frazee say this and believe it to be true:

The #1 strategy to anti-aging is not diet and exercise, like most of us believe, rather it is: SPIRITUAL GROWTH 

Wait…what?  I’m a fitness professional and a nutrition coach. Shouldn’t I be telling you that above all else; diet and exercise are the tried and true anti-aging combats?  That eating and following a healthy diet and daily doses of exercise is what will cure all of our ailments and help us ease into our later years?  Not necessarily, and here’s why:
  • If you’re constantly stressing yourself over following the proper diet 100% of the time, your aesthetics and exercising in a way that doesn’t renew or empower you, rather it defeats and deflates you – how is that healthy? Chances are, you are in a constant state of mental stress, not to mention physical. You’re also probably missing the “little things” in life while focusing on your outward appearance. 
I just saw an article in Women’s Health: Does Losing Weight Lead to Depression? that covers issues of losing weight the wrong ways and for the wrong reasons. Stating that the findings from a research study show “that we need to better understand the implications of weight loss on your psychological wellbeing” (womenshealthmag.com)
  • We all know that the better we feel, the happier we are.  And while eating the right foods and exercising on a daily basis does make us feel better – what happens when your body no longer cooperates with you? What happens when you are injured? Diagnosed with a disease?  Can no longer do the things you once used to do, or eat some of the foods you used to enjoy? What happens when all of your “happiness” is attached to something physical….
When we spend all our energy and focus on diet and exercise in the quest to become a better person while neglecting the person (our spirit) inside; we’ll always be searching for something greater; the next “new” thing or goal. 
If our spirit –the force that gives the body life, energy, and power isn’t our number one priority; yet our outward appearance is  – at some point we will be faced with what has been neglected.  
I like the way Dr. James Rouse describe what one’s diet should be, and I think it sums it up perfectly:
Primary diet –  your level of meaning in your life. Your purpose, your service. Your big why: why you get up in the morning, why you go after the life you created for yourself. It’s about your relationships, your service to the world – the meaning that gives you life.
Secondary diet – protein, carbs, and fats

“When your primary diet, your reason for being, your purpose, why you get up in the morning and all the things that matter, all the things that you love about life – when that primary diet is fulfilling, when it’s in alignment, when it’s balanced and nourishing YOU, your secondary diet tends to take care of itself.”

Once you become happy with the person you are on the inside; it makes it a whole lot easier to become satisfied with the reflection on the outside.   Never underestimate how important it is to take time each day to reflect what’s going on internally vs. constantly trying to keep up with what others see on the outside. The more your grow your spirit; the more you will sprout! 
I’m not saying that I have perfected this; it’s a work in progress – just as everything else is. But, I try to work on it daily.  We all should.  These are a few of my favorite books that I often read and reread again to nourish my spirit and mind. 
What are some of your favorite soul food books?  What keeps you nourished on the inside?