Per usual, the days of the Military Spouse Wellness Summit keep passing but the messages and lessons continue to inspire!
Together we’ve learned from six inspiring people who shared their experience on how to grow with purpose, spend with purpose, and love with purpose. These three aspects of our lives pervade almost everything we do, so learning how to coalesce them around our intention and passions are crucially important to living our life to its fullest potential.
Need a quick recap of the first three days of the summit? Hey, I get it. Life gets in the way sometimes! If you want quick summaries that offer the best of what each day had to offer, check out my recaps from Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3.
Today #MSWS19 participants had the opportunity to learn from two thought-leaders on how we can eat with purpose. As much as I love food, the topic is one that can actually make me very defensive because, well, it’s so integral to my life. (And if you really consider the roles food plays in your life, you’ll likely find the same holds true for you, too.) Food is a weapon and a tool; a drug and a medicine; something that causes pain and something that offers pleasure. In short, food offers us life and death.
In order to live the lives we truly want, ones filled with purpose and happiness, we can’t ignore food. And I’m not just talking about physical food, either; spiritual food is also an important component to our wellness journey. These two aspects of food were covered in great detail and with great vulnerability by Caroline Potter and Chrissa Benson in today’s interviews.
Thoughts from Caroline Potter
This NTP and person living with Type 1 Diabetes knows a thing or two about stress and how to care for the body. Unfortunately, she gained some of that wisdom through the school of hard-knocks. In an attempt to guide others down a different path than her own, Caroline shared some important advice on how military spouses can better care for their bodies.
This statement from Caroline took place near the beginning of her interview and set the tone for the rest of her time with Corie. Caroline has experienced some tough stuff in her life, like being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 20 and experiencing adrenal fatigue. But it’s through these experiences that she came to understand the wisdom in how you feel directly affects your life.
You’ll notice in my recap from Day 3 that I mentioned faking it until you make it is sometimes what we need in our lives. I stand by that statement. But faking it through all seasons of life is a surefire way to run into burnout and serious issues with your health. When Caroline first embarked on her journey with diabetes, she ate whatever she wanted but stuck to taking her insulin. She quickly realized that was not a healthy or sustainable way to live her life. She felt awful and knew there had to be a better way. If we want to be present and love fully, we need to be able to acknowledge when we’re not feeling like our best selves and take steps to create meaningful change.
I love that Caroline brought up this incredibly important point during the summit. In talking with Corie, Caroline mentioned that stress is, in fact good. It’s how we “ran from the tiger” and survived when we were cavemen. Stress serves and important role in our lives and a certain amount of stress is actually needed in order for the body to function.
But, as Caroline pointed out, people in ancient times lived by the season and weren’t perpetually stressed out. In today’s society, stress is endemic and is happening year-round. Between work, kids, family and military life, we’re inundated with stress. And, to add to this already dangerous cocktail, Caroline shared that we’re also inundated with toxins from our diets which are also wreaking havoc on our bodies and causing additional, physical stress.
You are enough. Repeat that to yourself five times, nice and slow. You are enough. Living in a constant state of stress comes, in part, from the belief that we must be all things to everyone in our lives. Women especially are prone to this line of thinking, says Caroline, and they’re going to die trying to achieve that aim. The truth is, it’s okay to not perfectly do all the things all the time — and you’re still enough despite of it.
In order to help her remember this, Caroline uses the mantra, “Grace over perfection.” There are going to be times when you just cannot give more or as much as you want, she says. And she couldn’t be more right! Much like what Amy Hawthorne shared in her interview on Day 3, there’s a lot of power in learning to say, “No” to different opportunities in life.
Thoughts from Chrissa Benson
A fitness enthusiast and passionate healthy-eater, Chrissa Benson had lots of actionable advice to offer throughout her interview on how to make meaningful change to your eating habits.
If you’re like me, you too have failed at trying to eat healthier at one point in your life. Changing your eating habits is probably one of the toughest things to do! When you eat well and make it part of your lifestyle, however, you’ll often feel noticeably better. It’s amazing how we don’t realize how crappy we’re feeling until we make the transition to better food choices. So when we begin the journey to eating better, it’s important to remember when things don’t work out, “just pivot.”
Chrissa shared this tactic with MSWS19 audience members because she didn’t want folks to get down on trying to initiate meaningful change in their lives. Instead of viewing missteps and mistakes as failures, view them as pivot points, places where you can adjust your aim and fire again. By approaching life in this way, you’ll never come up against failure; instead you’ll have the opportunity to keep moving forward toward your goals.
One of my favorite things Chrissa shared with audience members was the idea of trial by elimination. Her struggle with psoriasis led her to eliminating a myriad of foods from her diet, but she began slowly. As she eliminated one food after another, she came to realize so much of the ailments she experienced were related to her diet.
Her experiencing with eliminating food mirrors my own. During my junior year of college I made the decision to stop eating all red meat (to include pork). I was struggling with gut pain after every meal because my body simply wasn’t digesting the food I was ingesting. To worst part is, I thought this was normal; I truly believed that after every meal everyone in the world experienced awful pain in their stomachs. It wasn’t until I stopped eating red meat altogether — an easier task than it sounds — that I stopped experiencing post-meal pain. The effect of eliminating this one type of food from my diet was so dramatic that I’ve never looked back.
Elimination-style experimentation with your eating habits is one of the easiest ways to discover what your body likes and what it doesn’t like. But the process can be slow and frustrating at times. That’s why it’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind and show yourself some grace when things aren’t going as well as you hoped.
Another fantastic day in the books! And here we are, nearly at the end of the summit. I’m looking forward to wrapping up this year’s event with two more fantastic speakers. Were there any additional takeaways you learned from Caroline or Chrissa? Tell us in the comments below!
Eat With Purpose was generously sponsored by Blue Star Families. Remember that time you PCSed and didn’t know anyone in your new community? No friends. No family. No support. Say “goodbye” to those days by becoming a Blue Star Families Member where you’ll connect to military and civilian neighbors — people and organizations — who will do more than wave hello. Join Blue Star Families for free by visiting their website.
About Alexis Miller
Alexis Miller is the Director of Communications for Warriors at Ease, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to bringing yoga and meditation to the military community through a network of trained professionals and through free programs that support them in their health and healing. She’s also the writer behind the blog Wife in the Wild Blue Yonder, where she shares her travel and military life experiences with readers. Lastly, Alexis is a certified yoga instructor and specializes in bringing yoga and meditation to the Yokota Air Base community. When Alexis isn’t busy working, you can find her doing yoga, rock climbing, fly fishing or traveling.