By Hannah Holladay
Living holistically means that all parts of the self are taken care of. A holistic approach is checking in with each area of your life and finding a balance. Our relationships, social life, career, home environment, physical activity, and health all play a role in our overall well-being. Mental and physical health go hand in hand, if one area is off this will affect other areas as well. It is important for people to realize our body, mind and soul are interconnected. We don’t just get sick or have ailments from external effects, our inner world greatly effects our outer world and our physical bodies.
Unfortunately, in today’s world we are constantly on the go with little respect to our bodies. Because we live in a world that is always about getting to the next appointment, we do not live in the present. We grab for whatever junk food is on the way to work and down it on the commute. Not only are you losing out on vital nutrients your body needs by consuming this processed junk but you are not present with the food that is feeding your body on every level.
This fast paced lifestyle wreaks havoc on your physical and mental well-being. It is comparable to playing a tennis match that you are losing, you begin to rush through points, quickly grabbing a ball and walking up to the baseline to serve the next point. Usually in this scenario we’re angry, so all analytical thought has gone out the window. We are not present and we lose all thought process of what is going right or wrong. Rather than slowing down, taking a few deep breaths and approaching the next point relaxed with a clear plan we tend to be consumed by what has happened in the previous points and forget that we are still in the match. Very rarely does this rushing work out well for people and that is because there is no time to be present with yourself and the task at hand. My sports physiologist in college at UC Irvine used to say “the quickest way to get somewhere is to slow down.” I not only realized that in tennis, but in life and the way you treat your body as well.
If we live our lives on day to day basis in this hectic way with no regard to how we are treating ourselves mentally and physically we will feel off balance and unhealthy. It’s so important to be mindful and present with how you approach each day, each conversation, and each meal. Living holistically means that you have respect for your body and what you put in it. Nutrition is a key role in this philosophy. The age old saying “you are what you eat” is truer than people think. The food that you put in your body feeds your cells, blood, bones, and hormones.
The greatest thing you can do for yourself is to eat as many whole, natural food as possible. You want to cut out sugar, refined carbohydrates such as flour products, processed junk food, polyunsaturated fats like vegetable oils, trans fats and for some people gluten and dairy. Instead of restricting yourself, try to crowd out bad foods by adding in as much right foods as you want. Start filling your pantry and refrigerator with fresh, whole real foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, good fats and lean proteins if you are a meat eater. According to Dr. Mark Hyman author of “The Blood Sugar Solution” your plate should include 50% low starch, low glycemic veggies, these are fiber rich foods to help reduce glycemic load and you can eat as much of this as you want, 25% lean and clean protein and 25% slow burning carbs like whole grains and sweet potatoes. Eating this way will make you to feel lighter on the tennis court and give you sustained energy to finish strong in those long matches.
No matter where you are with your nutrition and health, it is important to know that you have the power to take control of it. It can be a daunting task, but taking just small steps each day will start to pave the road to better health. Choosing one healthy meal a day or staying in the present moment while eating or having a conversation with someone will have a positive effect on your body and your mind.
About the author: Hannah Holladay is a competitive tennis player and a current student in the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She grew up playing tennis in San Diego and went on to play college tennis at UC Irvine. A current Long Beach resident, she is the Girls’ Head Coach at Los Alamitos High School and works for the Southern California Tennis Academy. She has a passion for nutrition and health and is looking forward to starting a new career as a Certified Holistic Health Coach. “Tennis will always be my first passion, so I plan on continuing to play and teach in addition to helping people reach their health goals,” she says. “I am excited to share my knowledge and hopefully inspire people to make healthier choices.”