If you know me you know that I care about food. I care about food a lot. For years I have studied food, read about food, planned around food. I’ve avoided some foods and Vitamixed up large quantities of others. I have researched food, I have experimented with food. I have talked about food, talked about food. Talked. About. Food.
I have obsessed about food. I have worried about food. I have coached so many others who worried, obsessed, and talked about food.
Imagine my surprise to learn a while back that it’s not about food. Happiness, joy? Not about food.
All the time I was coaching my clients about healthy lifestyle and we’d focus so much on their eating habits. Eating habits are important. You probably have some foods that make you feel great and others that make you feel awful. But your lists and your calories and your X liters of water a day are not, I can almost guarantee you, the things that will make you happy. So for me to give advice about eating habits no longer interests me because at the end of the day I haven’t seen it make my clients happy. Can you believe that? Helping clients micromanage their diets and workout schedules and yes, even their dry brushing regimes was not what was making my clients happy.
What makes my clients happy? Connection. Purpose. Novelty. A trusted listener. A group of like-minded travelers all heading in the same direction. (Happiness City: pop. You.)
Being a mom, particularly being a stay at home or work at home mom, can be stressful, isolating. It can be lonely. Being a parent in general can be stressful. We have our priorities. We want creative, meaningful work. Happy children. Healthy family. Nurturing relationships. A sense of purpose, to change the world. So often we are our own last priority.
My commitment to my clients has always been to help them achieve their happiest, best lives . But here in this culture we can focus too much on some of the wrong tools. I have been part of the problem. I come from nutrition schools that have the audacity to claim that there is probably a right diet for everyone and it probably includes a lot of thinking and work and expensive ingredients that not everyone can get their hands on. How ridiculous is that?
Look, I don’t claim any more to know what you should eat. And from now on I don’t even want to try to guess. I only know what makes me feel good. I know that Goji berries and green smoothies don’t make much of a difference in my joy, and that nothing has made me happier than enough sleep, a good cup of coffee, and a feeling that I am making a difference in the world, that I belong, and that people care about me. You can’t whip that up into a smoothie or weigh it or measure it in inches.
So I don’t coach clients anymore who want me to help them lose weight or gain weight or change their bodies. I work with moms who want to lose isolation, anger, shame, and loneliness. I work with moms who want to gain peace, meaning, connection, and joy.
Because those things – not a “bikini-ready” body or a clean diet, whatever that is – are the point of living. The point of living is to be happy. It’s really, truly not about food.
Kirsten Quint Fairbanks is health coach and holistic living expert who loves offering real-world holistic coaching for mamas who want to consciously cultivate big lives that get them totally fired up. Kirsten lives happily, works gratefully, home-schools secularly, dances inexpertly, paints badly, cooks traditionally, and nurses on cue in the San Francisco Bay Area. She believes that connection can change your life. Read more about her here.