Make Change Fun

As a Board Certified Holistic Health Counselor and Nutritionist, and a Behavior Change Specialist, you can imagine that I have an opinion or two on diet. I eat gluten and dairy-free, and always organic whenever possible. I do my best to follow a low glycemic yet alkalizing diet. I love eating fermented foods and I wrote this blog post from my new upstate digs (yes, I moved part time to Columbia County, NY) where I share a house with a local farmer who tends 22 acres organically, so I am obviously down with eating locally as well.

My husband and I grow some food on our porch in Brooklyn too, and I am a longtime supporter of the urban organic farming movement. As a post-menopausal woman, I also do my best to live in service to my adrenal glands and my bone health. I live on a significant nutraceutical regime and supplement very specifically for my health as a cancer survivor. Further, I have a deep reverence and love of Ayurveda, which incorporates my respect for the seasons and for yoga.

Yet, with all of these preferences and highly researched lifestyle approaches to health, I personally feel one of the most fundamental pieces of creating good health is often overlooked: having fun!

In this day and age with a food industry pedaling poison and the blogosphere and media reminding you multiple times a day what you should and shouldn’t be eating, it’s sometimes hard to see the forest for the trees when it comes to health. Given the complexities of the food world, it’s really easy to become overwhelmed or obsessive over what we put in our bodies and how we care for ourselves … which can be a real buzz kill. It can make it hard to socialize with people, engage in the culture and connect with your community.

That’s why I want to encourage you to not get too caught up in all the latest dietary theory and “Do this, not that” mania we live in. Instead, I’d like to make an argument on behalf of you letting your hair down for a moment and enjoying the freedom that comes with allowing the biochemical response to fun and community to naturally purify your mind/body/spirit.

You NEED Fun in Your Life! 

  • There is a biochemical reaction that happens when you have fun that actually heals your body.
  • Bonding with your community is a fantastic antidote for unhealthy levels of stress.
  • Mindfully eating something delicious and indulgent (mindfulness is key) can open up your sensuality.
  • Fun can be the exact thing you need to gain perspective on places in your life where you feel held back.
  • Fun that connects you to your community also up levels your courage.

Now, you may not know this, but I’m a diehard music fan and I love rock in all its forms: indie, folk, classic, jam, punk, bluegrass.

Hanging back stage at Red Rocks with Sting and my mentor, Debra Silverman, before his show this summer

Hanging back stage at Red Rocks with Sting and my mentor, Debra Silverman, before his show this summer

(That’s not to say I don’t have a sweet spot in my heart for hip hop and electronica, but I’ve invested the majority of my listening time to tunes that fall under the rock umbrella.) I’ve seen more than 1000 live shows over the years and credit my love of music and my community within the music world for majorly helping me up-level my enjoyment of life. In fact, the majority of my friendships burgeoned at music events, as did my relationship with my husband Doug who was managing my best friend’s indie rock band when we met.

The fun I’ve had with and through music has been monumental in creating the changes in my life that I most desired (love, community, relationships, wellbeing, happiness), so I make sure to honor my rocking out time as much as I do my commitment to healthy eating and regular exercise. Which, I bring up to emphasize how important fun is to making the changes in your life you most desire, especially when it comes to health.

You see, I am a strong believer in the 80/20 rule or Pareto Principal that teaches us how to get 80% of our work done in 20% of the time, which when followed leaves a ton more time to engage fun. And when looked at from a slightly different perspective, it can also mean that 80% of the time you should take exceptional care of yourself and then for 20% of the time, allow yourself freedom to enjoy your life and be in the moment without worrying about all of the rules. (I do believe there is a range here like 85/15 or 90/10, but I urge you not creep beyond the 90/10 mark.)

Health is not about perfection, nor is success. Aiming for perfection when it comes to your health can be just as detrimental as doing nothing at all. Unless you are dealing with a very specific health issue, I feel strongly that it’s best to refrain from doing anything “all or nothing”.

According to Martin Seligman, founder of the modern Positive Psychology movement, happiness is comprised of 3 fundamental aspects: pleasure, engagement, and meaning.  Though he’ll refer to pleasure as the icing on the cake and not necessarily the meat of a good life, science irrefutably proves that pleasure is a foundational piece to happiness.  Engagement or flow comes from participating in an activity that fully engages you (like rockin’ out to your favorite tunes or doing something you really love that has an element of challenge to it). The third component to authentic happiness comes from meaning or purpose, which means knowing who you really are and being willing to take a stand for it!

Living life on behalf of meaning, making big changes in our lives, taking a stand for what we really want, or initiating bold moves requires courage. And, one of the most surefire, pleasurable ways to get there is through fun.

Fun can resolve the chronic lack of courage many of us face when it comes to making bold moves.

When fun and courage are balanced, it becomes way easier to make the changes that will fundamentally shake up your life in the most positive ways!

So, in honor of Rocktober, and the upcoming full moon eclipse in Aries tomorrow, I encourage you to throw on your favorite tunes (whatever they may be) and rock it out. Dance, sing, twirl and shout. Roll on the floor if that’s what you’re called to do. You can even knock out an entire choreographed routine if you have one up your sleeve. Put on something that feels sassy or edgy, or just comfortable and you. Let your freak flag fly and allow your body to spontaneously heal you through a full-blown experience of fun. Given the intensity of this eclipse, our inner rebel may want to roar- so I say let her!  Allow yourself the freedom to play. I promise you, more than anything else, fun is likely the thing you need the most.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. And as always, I send you all of my love.

Be well,

Jenn

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