I am currently going to school at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, studying to be a Health Coach. IIN promotes the concept of Primary Foods — relationships, career, physical activity, and spirituality. As you can see in this graphic, primary foods are just as important as what we eat (secondary food), if not more so. You could eat broccoli all day, but if your primary foods are not in order then you will not be healthy or happy!
My relationship with my family is great. I get along well with my parents and my sister. I talk to my mother on the phone nearly every day. My sister and I don’t get a lot of time together even to talk on the phone, but we are planning another trip to Europe together in a few years, and I am very excited about that. The last trip we took around Europe was in 1984. It was my high school graduation present and my sister got to come along. We had a great time back then, but it will be fun again in a few years too. Fun, but different. We are a lot older now than we were back in 1984, and the world is a very different place.
Because of my life circumstances, I have never been in a romantic relationship. In fact, I have never even been out on a date, and I am 48 years old. I was unpopular in school because I had behavioral problems due to then undiagnosed bipolar disorder, and we all know how cruel kids can be. I was one of the “weird kid” outcasts in high school, so my romantic options were pretty much nonexistent. But, I was fine with not having that as a part of my life back then. I was a late bloomer anyway, and I was happy being active in the band (I played the tuba) and with being obsessed with Star Trek. I still love the show now, but I don’t go around greeting people with the Vulcan salute, ha ha… I have struggled with mental illness and with being able to financially support myself all of my adult life, so the past 30 years have not lent themselves well to being in a serious relationship. I hope it will happen for me someday, but if I am single for the rest of my life and I never get to experience a romantic relationship, I am okay with that. It’s been the story of my life so far anyway, so I am comfortable with it.
My career path now is working hard to become a successful health coach. But in the past, my employment record has reflected a lifetime spent struggling with mental illness. I have worked many low-paying, dead-end jobs over the years, and the last ten years I have not worked at all. There have only been two times in my life when I was self-sufficient financially. I worked at Dell for a year and four months (1996-1998). That was a great job and I was looking forward to having a career at Dell, but unfortunately bipolar disorder reared its ugly head and I ended up in the hospital and I lost my job. But… it was at that time that I was properly diagnosed at the age of 32. After the job at Dell, I had a job in Amarillo, TX for a few months working as a printer repair technician. But… I hardly had to work at that job! I had to call in every day to see if there was work or not, but most days I was free. Needless to say, that job didn’t last long. I am still surprised when I think about it today that that job lasted six months. I was semi-retired, making $16/hr for doing basically nothing. The company I was working for is no longer in business, but they couldn’t keep that up forever!
I am usually very physically active, but that wasn’t always the case. There was a time in my life a few years ago that I was so overweight and out of shape that I could barely climb the stairs in our house. Back in late 2011, I was introduced to the Beachbody company and their DVD workout programs, and since then my physical health has improved dramatically. I started with Power 90 and then progressed to doing P90X. Since then, I have done Insanity, Body Beast, and Les Mills Combat. But…I have had a few setbacks and I am now about 30 pounds heavier than I was summer of 2012. I’m also totally burned out right now on doing DVD workout programs. I am having a really hard time sticking to any program. Summer is almost here though, and the ice and snow have melted enough that I can get back on my bike. I’m planning to ride it around the neighborhood and around town as much as is reasonably possible to get some good exercise. I will be walking the trails in town frequently too. Biking and walking may not be as intense as the DVD workout programs, but they are fun and I can see myself sticking with them better right now.
Spirituality…wow, that’s a tough one for me! I currently lack any religious or spiritual beliefs, and I am very happy that way. After 15 years of fundamentalist Christianity and a year or so of seriously dabbling in Hindu beliefs and meditation techniques, I am completely and gloriously free of religion! I plan on staying that way too. I went through a lot of emotional trauma and pain after discovering that my strongly held Christian beliefs were not true and after realizing that the Bible is mostly anonymously-written ancient mythology (long stories!), but my deconversion process is complete now and I am very happy now that I am free and I can see the world as it really is! My spiritual practice now is just being the best ME that I can be – being the kindest, loving, and compassionate and understanding ME that I can be. When the subject inevitably comes up with my clients, I plan to work to see them free as well, but of course at a pace that is comfortable for them. If religion is working well for them, there may not be a reason to change that, necessarily. But if limiting religious beliefs or doctrines are holding a client back, then that should probably be addressed, and I know how to do that effectively and with compassion and patience. Being free of religion is wonderful and amazing, and everyone should have that option available to them!
So…that’s my story, my life experience, and my 2 cents…