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Between Mind and Body

Seeking Shangri-La Inside My Cubicle

Work is a chore, but health is a choice—a daily choice
Seeking Shangri-La Inside My Cubicle
Published on November 23, 2010 : 2 comments

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My last day at my place of former employment was September 30. I, like many other folks in Omaha and around the country, entered into the realms of unemployment. I found a placement with a temporary agency and was making phone calls for a local non-profit.

Sitting in a cubicle for six hours, with no computer, no friendly banter with coworkers, having only a telephone and a list, was apparently just what I needed.

I lasted there a week and one day.

I had an epiphany on one of my rides to work. Driving on I-80, I began to think about what gave me the most passion, when was I in the flow.


My story with health is kind of wild. When I arrived in Omaha, I weighed a little over 200 pounds. You need to know, I’m just 5 foot 4 and a half (again, in full disclosure I asked my doctor if I could round up to 5 foot 5, she said no). I’d played soccer all through elementary and high school. I loved running. I was in shape. But something about being in graduate school and living on my own opened the door to pretty bad habits—enter Betty Crocker and Reese’s cups for dinner.

I got to Omaha and continued to put on the weight. My parents gently invited me to consider an alternate way of living, and I entered a local weight loss program. In that program, I met a number of women struggling with the similar problems. I lost almost 100 pounds, and I thought that I was on top of the world.

Then reality hit me. Being healthy isn’t just about eating a certain amount of calories or exercising a certain amount of time. Being healthy is about eating nutritious foods that fuel the body, exercising, and tending to inward health…and a lot of other things, but eating nutritious food, exercising, and tending to my inward health are the areas of my latest focus.

About a year ago, I was introduced to clean eating (aka if a 7-year-old can’t pronounce the ingredient, you shouldn’t eat it) and mindful eating.

I began to think about the ways that local weight loss program got it right—watching portions, listening to when your body is full. And then I thought what was I missing at the program: the emotional engagement and accompaniment.

There are really great weight loss coaches who are there every step of the way, but I needed more than how was your week…I needed how did you grow up with food types of things and how was your week, really.

Clean eating can be daunting, but there are a lot of tools out there that I’ve found to be incredibly helpful. Michael Pollan is one of my favorite authors and someone I look up to in regards to food and clean eating. From Food Rules, In Defense of Food, to the Omnivore’s Dilemma, Pollan offers the reader ways to engage their community and environment in new and dynamic ways—through eating and choosing foods.

I also recommend another book, Savor, by Dr. Lilian Cheung and Thich Nhat Hanh. Both Cheung and Hanh remind us to slow down in a number of ways —not just with eating—but also with how we are in such a quick movement to the next thing.

Daily Grub, a local restaurant here in Omaha, has an open table for you to eat and experience whole and local food. Bring cash, they don’t accept credit cards and bring your appetite. Nom nom nom. 

There are lots of ways to incorporate healthy living these days. We have access to a lot around us, but sometimes our bodies have ways of telling us when to slow down and ways of choosing health—listen to it. 

Maybe eat a few extra vegetables during those parties. Maybe write a letter to a loved one and also give him/her a call. And maybe get those eight hours of sleep you were thinking about.

I know the holidays can sometimes get the best of us, but maybe this time we can make an early resolution for our health instead of waiting until January 1, 2011. 

When we’re able to access our emotions and full health we make some damn good community members.

Jara_BI believe in the power of stories and I strive to provide everyone access to hearing and telling those stories.


mamashepp says:

December 3, 2010 : 13 years 32 weeks ago

mamashepp's picture

Excellent points all. Perhaps pizza for dinner will have to be taken off the menu!

jordy says:

December 3, 2010 : 13 years 32 weeks ago

jordy's picture

I think pizza on occasion is acceptable. It’s all about having personal rules and charting your results. If you know that you’re going to be out with friends once a week in a situation where your food options are limited, eat the pizza and enjoy it. But if you say you are going to do it only once a week, or if you say you are no longer putting sugar in your coffee, or whatever, say it and mean it. And follow through! You will begin to see results that will motivate you to be even more adherent in the future!

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