Provision #786: We Are How We Eat

Laser Provision

After a week off during my annual vacation at the Chautauqua Institution, I’m back with an all new Provision as we wind up our series on optimizing wellness through paying attention to what, when, where, how, and why we eat. This conversation is far more than just a matter of physical well being. How we eat reflects and influences how we go through life. These things matter to body, mind, and spirit. If we want to be the best we can possibly be then it behooves us to pay attention to how we eat. Fail to see the connection? Read on to get a taste of how things might be better for you.

LifeTrek Provision

I received two kinds of responses to my short announcement last Sunday that I was taking the week off while enjoying my time at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York State. Some were celebrating (Good for you!) while others were mourning (Sad for me!). I empathize with both responses. My wife was proud of me for taking the week off, since I have so rarely done that. But I missed the opportunity to share with you my thoughts on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s good to be back in the saddle.

In the interest of full disclosure, there was another reason I took the week off: at the start of the week, my laptop died. One minute I was humming along just fine. The next minute, it was dead and gone. You can click on this link, if you want, to watch a 52-second YouTube video regarding Catastrophic Hard Drive Failures. It isn’t pretty.

That said, everything I have learned over the years as to the importance of backing up your data really paid off. Virtually nothing was lost because everything was backed up at home. And now, in the wake of my recent experience, I have instituted real-time backups in the cloud, using Dropbox. That would have helped me when I was on vacation. It’s free, simple, and effective. I encourage you to click on the link for Dropbox to learn more and to sign up yourself.

Redundancy and reserves are two interrelated coaching principles. Although my family and friends were not unhappy about my laptop dying, saying it was the universe’s way of getting me to actually take a vacation for a change, I would not have been able to relax if my data had been lost. Knowing it was safe at home made all the difference in the world. That knowledge lowered my stress and enabled me to enjoy myself. It was the key to actually having a vacation at all.

The same works in all areas of life. If we have no cushion to fall back on, if we are living on the edge • whether that be “paycheck-to-paycheck” or “uproar-to-uproar” • our stress increases and our health decreases. As coaches, we work with people to develop those cushions of redundancy and reserves. We do so not because we are cautious but because we are courageous. Having resources to fall back on enables people to stretch out, to help others, to be creative, and to take risks. Resources enable people to make more of a difference in life.

Which does not mean that one has to have a lot of money to make a big difference. We all know lovely stories of people from modest or even impoverished means who go on to distinguish themselves as heroes and to make a huge contribution in life. I think that’s what I most enjoy about the Olympics every four years. It’s not who wins or loses. It’s the stories of how people got to that level of excellence, often against all odds. Those stories fill me with emotion and inspire my soul.

If the stories that move me have a common thread, whether it be in the Olympics or in life, it’s the combination of talent, determination, and support. Those three always make for success, sooner or later. And of the three, nothing is more important than support. Without support, talent will be squandered and determination will fail. With support, all manner of things become possible.

And support takes many forms. Physical, financial, emotional, social, and spiritual support come immediately to mind. That’s what we heard in all those stories from the Olympics and that’s what comes back, over and over again, when people who make a difference in life talk about what enables them to do whatever it is they do. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are both right on that score: no one gets there alone.

So make sure you have the redundancy and reserves to go forward with confidence and to become the best you can be. It may sound like a stretch to go from Dropbox to the Olympics, let alone to leaders around the globe, but they all share one thing in common: they provide and depend upon vast storehouses of redundancy and reserves in their quest to make life great.

Of all the storehouses that we depend upon, nothing is more important than health. You will, perhaps, remember the old adage: “Those who have their health have many wishes. Those who do not have their health have but one.” And health means so much more than personal, physical well being. Health means psychological, social, spiritual, and global well being. It all adds up together. When any one part suffers, every part suffers. It is a delicate balance that we attend to each and every day.

Recently I watched the movie, Vanishing of the Bees. Here is a synopsis of the movie from their website:

Honeybees have been mysteriously disappearing across the planet, literally vanishing from their hives. Known as Colony Collapse Disorder, this phenomenon has brought beekeepers to crisis in an industry responsible for producing apples, broccoli, watermelon, onions, cherries and a hundred other fruits and vegetables. Commercial honeybee operations pollinate crops that make up one out of every three bites of food on our tables.

Vanishing of the Bees follows commercial beekeepers David Hackenberg and Dave Mendes as they strive to keep their bees healthy and fulfill pollination contracts across the U.S. The film explores the struggles they face as the two friends plead their case on Capital Hill and travel across the Pacific Ocean in the quest to protect their honeybees.

Filming across the US, in Europe, Australia and Asia, this documentary examines the alarming disappearance of honeybees and the greater meaning it holds about the relationship between mankind and mother earth. As scientists puzzle over the cause, organic beekeepers indicate alternative reasons for this tragic loss. Conflicting options abound and after years of research, a definitive answer has not been found to this harrowing mystery.

Although a definitive answer may not have been found, Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, summarizes eloquently a major factor and what we can do about it at the end of the movie. Pollan states:

We don’t know exactly what is responsible (for Colony Collapse Disorder). Is it a particular virus? Is it a particular pesticide? There are conflicting theories. But in the long run we know exactly what’s responsible and that is these huge monocultures in American agriculture, and world agriculture, that are making bees lives very difficult and creating conditions where they are vulnerable to disease and exposed to pesticides.

In our culture scientists have the last word, the ultimate authority, in commenting on matters having to do with biology. But there are other forms of knowledge, very powerful forms of knowledge, about biology. There is local knowledge, there is the knowledge of beekeepers, there is the knowledge of people who are just really great observers of the natural world. We should listen because very often traditional knowledge gets there before the scientists.

My take on colony collapse is that is is one of the signs, the really unmistakable sign, that our food system is “unsustainable.” That word that we all throw around but that means something very specific, which is to say, “It’s destroying the conditions upon which it depends. It has internal contradictions that will lead to breakdown.”

We don’t have to wait for the government to act on some of these issues. Even though it’s important for the government to act, we can do something today. We get to vote three times a day for what we’re going to eat and what we’re not going to eat. And both decisions are equally important. So that voting with your fork is a very powerful thing. And by doing so you can nurture the food systems that will take better care of the bees.

Life becomes “unsustainable” when we lack redundancy and reserves. In agriculture those equate to polycultures (many different species growing together in one area) and preserves (protected areas for wildlife, flora, and fauna). Without these key ingredients, the system will indeed collapse under the weight of its own internal contradictions.

It’s encouraging to think that we can make a difference by voting with our forks. It’s also sobering to realize the consequences of our dietary habits. What, when, where, and how we eat is not just a matter of personal preference. Our choices make a difference to the trajectory of our own lives and the future of our planet as well.

That’s why I and many others choose to navigate through our Planetary Predicaments by eating as much fresh, local, organic, and sustainable food as possible. By eating close to home, we not only do a body good, we do our heart, mind, and soul good as well. By connecting with life in this way, by paying attention to the food choices we make throughout the day, and by seeing the deep value of those choices for our own health and the health of others, we become more physically fit, spiritually minded and socially active.

I hope you will join me in this quest. No one does it perfectly and I make more than my fair share of exceptions. But every time I choose to eat something that is not recommended in the LifeTrek Optimal Wellness Prototype, I am at least aware of what is going on. And awareness is the beginning of change.

So think about why you are eating the way you are eating. Look at the effects on your well being and the well being of others. Compare how you are eating to your intentions. Then do your best to put your values where your mouth is.

Coaching Inquiries: On a scale of 0-10, how important would you say it is to pay attention to how you eat? Why didn’t you pick a lower number? What would make it a higher number? What changes would you make if it how you ate was really, really important to you? What if your life depended on it? What if the life of the planet depend on it? What is one, easy step in the right direction you could take today?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form to arrange a complimentary conversation.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob.

Great to read about your time at Chautauqua. Hope you’re more radical as a result! And how wonderful to celebrate your dad’s 90th! Continue blessing.

Good for you (to take that vacation) and be happy in life.

I woke up on Sunday morning and went to my computer to read my weekly Provision and I was sad that it wasn’t there. It has become quite a ritual for me and my husband. Can’t wait until you are back next week!

I’ve known you for almost 40 years and it’s been fun watching your professional life grow over the years, at a distance, once a week with Provisions. You•ve done a great job! 

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School
Immediate Past President, International Association of
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

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