If you are like me and are inclined to engage in physical activity, integrating fitness and spirituality is essential. For many, many years I struggled to answer the question, “How do I take good care of my body but not fall for preconceptions about physical attractiveness and health?”
The answer was very simple, yet also highly complex and paradoxical. The closer you live to your spiritual heart, the less you tend to engage in purely physical activities and beautifying methods, even if they promote a healthy body and high self-esteem. This is because your spirit knows that sickness, old age, and death are inevitable. The time we have on earth is too limited to concern ourselves with the impermanent aspect of our existence. Every second becomes a valuable chance to recognize our true nature and to realize who we are in the spiritual reality.
When you know that there is a lot more to you than a body and a thinking mind, but you don’t know how to access that deeper part, you end up struggling between the two. This journey in limbo can be interesting, especially because it can teach you to have compassion for your own body. The paradox is that even giving attention to thoughts about fitness and health can lead you to believe that you are a physical being whose psychological needs must be met in order to feel good or to be whole. At this level, you are not living a spiritual existence yet.
However, this is all part of the journey to reaching the happy you. Listening to the heart, so that we can live more and more as a spiritual being can bring our existence to a conscious space where life becomes a loving and joyful adventure that renews itself with every moment.
Nothing in the past can hurt us when we have learned a lesson from it. Nothing can happen in the future that is not happening now. Our job is to recognize in the present moment the peace and joy in our hearts.
Below you will find a sample of the diet that I was on for about two years before I competed with WBFF – World Beauty Fitness and Fashion. This dietary system, combined with weight lifting, can be of great help for losing weight, staying in shape, and building muscle and strength. But as I have mentioned throughout my book, Fit for Joy, this type of regiment mainly focuses on the physical body, which is only one aspect of our being. We are so much more than just our bodies! The approach to fitness that works the body in isolation from our mind and our spiritual heart is not what I do today, professionally or personally. My work at the moment is about integrating conventional physical fitness with spirituality.
These meal suggestions are only to illustrate what my personal journey was like. They are not approved meal-plan recommendations.
BREAKFAST Option One
8 oz cold water with a probiotic supplement
1 tablespoon matcha green tea + ½ lemon
1-2 whole eggs
BREAKFAST Option Two
1 salmon filet oven-roasted with coconut oil
BREAKFAST Option Three
Steel-cut oats, almond milk, berries
Any lean meat of your choice: white fish (sole, cod, flounder, or halibut), grass-fed red meat, tuna fish, wild salmon, chicken breast, turkey breast, sardines in water.
Eat with steamed veggies or a green salad.
Avoid sauces; instead use olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and avocado oil for salad dressing.
Snack - Best Options:
1 tablespoon spirulina shake with ½ oz. frozen organic berries and a teaspoon of coconut oil
Green juice (no fruit added)
Protein shake (whey protein)
Nuts (walnuts, macadamias, pecans, Brazil nuts)
Raw coconut flakes
Celery, cucumber, or carrots with almond butter
Kale chips or dried seaweed
Raw cheese (unpasteurized)
Sweet potato chips (homemade)
The same options as lunch
*Important – Avoid:
All sugar and sweets
Regular fruit, except for berries and green apples
Starchy carbs such as pasta, bread, rice, wheat wraps, white potatoes, etc.
Kombucha drinks or tea
All kinds of tea, but especially green tea (no sugar added)
Coffee (no sugar added)
Sleep 8 hours or more per night
Drink a gallon of water every day, as well as green tea
All vegetables and fruit should be organic
Adding lemon to your meals is great – it alkalizes the body
You can have a small piece of dark chocolate 85% cacao or higher, but not every day
Use stevia powder as the only sweetener
Snow is softly falling
Dreams are calling
Likes bells in the distance
We were dreamers
Not so long ago
But one by one
We all had to grow up
When it seems the magic slipped away
We find it all again on Christmas Day
Believe in what your heart is saying
Hear the melody that's playing
There's no time to waste
There's so much to celebrate
Believe in what you feel inside
And give your dreams the wings to fly
You have everything you need
If you just believe
Trains move quickly
To their journey's end
Are where we begin again
Ships go sailing
Far across the sea
To get where they need to be
If you just believe
If you just believe
If you just believe
May the heart guide our next steps!
Source: Song "Believe” by Josh Groban
If we can learn how to create space for action without losing touch with the joy in our hearts, we can live with serenity. We become stressed, anxious, and depressed because we have limited our minds to act (and react) according to our psychological, emotional and physical aspects only.
Think of it this way: when we are in our hearts, living a kind and positive life, we can be overloaded with thoughts and physical activities. However, our peaceful state won’t change as long as we don’t identify with our "must do" actions (and likes and dislikes), but rather keep ourselves open to embracing it all. What is amazing is that we can live in that space, starting right now, by recognizing we are joyful and serene beings living a human life!
To be healthy is to be loving.
If you are like me (someone who can’t stay away from physical activities), integrating fitness and spirituality is essential. How many of us have struggled to answer the question of how to take good care of our bodies, without falling for preconceptions regarding physical attractiveness and health?
The answer can be very simple, but highly complex and paradoxical at the same time.
The closer we live to our spiritual hearts, the less we tend to engage in physical activities as purely beautifying or self-cherishing methods—even when these activities promote good-looking bodies, health, and higher self-esteems.
At this point, we are wiser, joyful, and peaceful enough to work on our bodies, so we hang around longer to support others with our virtues.
To be healthy is to be loving!
The limited physical reality most people live in is a painful one. We entertain ourselves with achievements, pleasures, and excitements. But we also suffer dissatisfaction, confusion, and disappointments, and we lack wisdom in the face of sickness and death. It’s hardly fun to dwell on the past, worry about the future, and constantly fight to maintain what we think we have or to acquire what we believe we lack. This kind of worldly life is an endless marathon toward suffering, but it can be replaced with joy when you access the truth inside your own heart.
After investing many years in physical and psychological health, I finally realized that true health comes from knowing the depths of our own hearts and the nature of life. With this knowledge, all my external searches for happiness and peace ended and a joyful celebration began. You don’t need to find the way back home when you realize that leaving home was only a dream.
Exercise, diet, and even therapy can become traps for a painful reality; in some ways they can make it worse. For example, if you consciously (or unconsciously) believe you are not good enough or not worthy as a whole human being, you might work to become fit in pursuit of such worthiness. This mindset, however, creates the trap of sustaining habits out of fear, turning exercise and diet into negative forces and compounding the root problem as we live for our bodies through abusive mechanisms. Disharmony within the heart occurs when we forget to recognize that love and kindness are what life is all about.