Here at Nourishing Routes, it is my mission and passion to empower you to experience a greater sense of compassion, and also to reach your full potential in mind, body and soul.
At its core Nourishing Routes is based on 10 key elements that are all interconnected and, together, fuel our ability to reach optimal wellbeing and become the amazing people we were born to be.
What's even better, there is no mention of food restriction, weight monitoring, or rigid exercise regimes !
1) Compassion for the Self and Others
The first steps towards reaching your full potential come from being kind to ourselves without negative judgement and self-comparison.
We can accept ourselves as beautiful unique creatures who also have the capacity to be kind and compassionate to others - both in human and non-human form, as well as the environment.
This may involve taking time away from work and other people’s expectations to nurture yourself, as well as eating and exercising in a way that fills you with joy.
Being self-compassionate can help us to become more open to new ideas and ways of living, and can also involve:
- Buying or consuming products that minimise the exploitation of other humans, animals and the planet
- Helping a charity
- Supporting a close friend, family member or a stranger
- Connecting more with nature
- Developing more environmentally friendly behaviours
2) Nourishment Not Numbers
Food is a core part of our identity, culture, memories and pleasurable experiences we encounter as human beings. What we eat is not simply a bundle of calories, macronutrients or a method of weight control (despite the constant lies we are told...)
Food, or your body, is not something to be looked upon as a negative item that we need to rigidly regulate, either by pre-planning, calculating or logging every single item we consume.
By looking past the numbers, and instead valuing a more kindful, intuitive and even spontaneous philosophy of eating, without harshly judging ourselves for what consume, we can learn to view food as an integral part of our life, way of connecting with others and optimally nourishing ourselves in both body and mind.
By viewing food as nourishment for the mind and body, we can place a greater focus on the quality of our food (e.g. where it comes from and how it contributes to promoting a better world) while seeing food as a resource for becoming optimally energised to go out into the world and become more compassionate and life-loving individuals
3) Health at Any Body Size
Health is not simply a number on a scale, a certain body mass index, or what we look like in relation to societal expectations.
Unless our body shape severely restricts our ability to move and engage in meaningful activities that we enjoy, health can be obtained in a variety of beautiful sizes - from those that are bigger, smaller, and every intriguing dimension in between.
Our bodies are vessels that we use to enjoy and do good in the world, not simply objects used for negative self-comparisons and beating ourselves up for not being quite ‘perfect’ or ‘good enough’.
In their own unique way, everyone is body beautiful right now - we just need to realise it and see past the constraint of what others say we should look like.
Arguably, we become less healthy by focussing so much of our time on being a certain size, even if we are so called ‘overweight’. Health encompasses our ability to be creative and find a sense of purpose and greater meaning in the world - all things that don’t require us to be a specific weight or body size.
4) Creative Expression
Health not only depends on what we eat or how much physical activity we do. As human beings we have an innate urge to be creative, in whatever form that may be.
Investing in your creativity is not a waste of time, energy, or something to feel guilty about.
Even colouring in a picture, knitting a scarf, writing a poem, playing an instrument, choosing an outfit to wear, engaging in gardening, and putting a piece of furniture together all qualify as amazingly creative and health promoting activities
By engaging in creativity we can take the time to think outside the box, express and communicate our deeper feelings, learn to live life in the moment, realise our amazing abilities, and also feel proud of what we have made or achieved.
Acts of creativity, whether they be art or a way of communicating with others, can also inspire others to be creative and become more in tune with themselves and their own ambitions.
5) Freedom and Autonomy
In a world full of expectations, pressure and social influences, it can sometimes be hard to act in ways that align with what our true values are.
Going with the flow isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when our lives are dictated by the rules and expectations of others, this is not the best route to take when aiming to reach our full potential.
Valuing freedom and autonomy requires us to take time to sit back, be present and notice what we really value in life:
- What do we want to achieve?
- Do we have a mission?
- Can we alter the way we go about learning, recovering, or achieving ambitions in a way that suits us best?
The best of our actions truly come from within, so it is important to develop the strength of mind to override negative social influences and expectations to instead become more in tune to with your intuition - what you feel and know is right.
Being grateful involves gaining satisfaction from even the most simplest of things - usually those that we take for granted. Gratitude is a key element to promoting long term happiness, as it enables us to feel fulfilled and satisfied with our lives.
We can often forget to be grateful for what we already have when we live in a culture that constantly reminds us of the things we haven’t got, or how we are not quite good enough in comparison to other people.
Many of us also live in expectation of achieving the next best thing - a better grade, academic status, job, or body weight. Rarely are we provided with opportunities to accept ourselves and our lives for what they are.
We are rarely reminded that many of us are fairing really well already !
Being grateful can simply involve taking note of a beautiful day, the support of a close friend, or the unconditional love of a family member.
It can also involve appreciating how we live in a culture where the majority of people have a roof over their heads and access to clean water and education.
To up our grateful game, we can also learn to live more minimalistically, by letting go of the materialistic items that no longer serve us, and instead taking time to treasure the possessions that really do bring us joy to look at, use and cherish.
Whatever you are grateful for, making a short amount of time for it on a regular basis can be a fundamental predictor of how happy we feel and can become.
We can never appreciate what we have if we never live in the present. Mindfulness is about consciously embracing the present moment, appreciating the here and now without negative judgement. It is also about connecting with all of our senses - sight, smell, taste, touch and sound.
By embracing our ability to become more mindful of the present moment, we can harness our psychological resources in ways that allow us to see anxiety for what it really is.We can also become more able to take control of our lives and overcome stress.
We can be mindful almost anywhere, whether that involves noticing the colours of some beautiful flowers on a walk, the aromatic flavours of a meal, the softness of your bed covers, how you are feeling emotionally, or the subtle sounds in your everyday environment - the list is amazingly endlness
Ultimately, being mindful allows us to be grateful of the present, connect with our inner emotions and values, feel free in our minds and appreciative of who we are right now - not who we think we ‘should’ be.
8) Making Connections and Sharing Stories
Life is not an individual matter where only our own goals, feelings and behaviours are important. Without making a quote from a famous disney film, we are all part of the circle of life, and are all quite beautifully interdependent with one another. Our connections with others are what make us human beings.
Without friendship, love, or even the simplicity of touch, our brains and capacity to socialise would be severely impaired.
Feeling connected and sharing our experiences with others allows us to develop a sense of identity, meaning and purpose in the world.
Few of us laugh or go through our emotions without the presence of others, and even when we do, part of dealing with our emotions often involves seeking the reassurance and support of others - whether they be human or animals.
Without connecting with other people or even animals, it would be impossible to live an enriched life, as well as share information in ways that would allow us to educate and protect our own and future generations.
9) Pleasurable Movement
Movement is vital for wellbeing. It keeps our muscles and bones strong, boosts our mental wellbeing, protects us from stress and chronic disease, and allows us to remain fit and healthy in order to carry out activities to the best of our abilities.
Movement does not need to come in the form of running on a treadmill or joining a gym . . .
These types of activity are enjoyed by many people, but for others the thought of getting onto an exercise machine fills them with dread - yet they continue to harshly push themselves to do it anyway.
There are many individuals who pursue physical activity in a self-hating manner - pushing themselves to the limit, following a rigid fitness regime, and punishing themselves if they don’t reach a particular goal or burn a certain amount of calories...
This can be a very unhealthy side to physical activity, as such pressure can lead to physical injury, fragile self-esteem and even disordered behaviour around food and exercise.
Movement does not have to be any of these things, as one of the most health promoting benefits of movement is the feeling of enjoyment of freedom - exploring activities that feel fun and allow us to move in the ways that we want to.
Healthy movement can come in the form of an enjoyable brisk walk, playing with a child/pet, cooking, and should embrace our unique personalities, abilities - not just the next fitness fad or activity that is likely to make us feel more punished than physically and psychologically healthier.
Pleasurable movement can also be undertaken in a way that is enjoyable because of where it takes place in. For example, taking a walk in a beautiful green area rather than lifting extra heavy weights and pushing yourself over the limit in a dreary looking gym filled with individuals competing to exercise and look the best.
Empowerment is what connects the 10 elements of Nourishing Routes together, as we need to feel empowered enough to follow our own routes to wellness.
Empowerment can be in the form of anything and everything that allows us to experience freedom, reach our full potential and be the amazing people we were born to be.
Empowerment might involve critically questioning and challenging what we have been made to believe or think a certain way, so it allows us to search for the real truth and make informed decisions based on our own intuition and values.
If you believe in empowerment, then you ultimately believe in yourself.
Empowerment is what makes us enlightened, energised, and determined to go out into the world and be effective human beings - developing your connections, identity, way of living, creativity, and ability to make the changes you want to happen.