By Sheri Sellars, BSN, RN
Nicholson Clinic Nurse Educator
For many people in farming communities, the seasons of the year dictate activities and goals. Planting takes place in the spring and harvest is, of course, in late summer/early fall. Time spent in the interim revolves around maintaining progress toward the stated goal — a bountiful yield that reflects the effort toward the outcome. Sometimes everything aligns and conditions are perfect all throughout the growing season. Other times, extra effort is required to give the best odds of a great end result. Regardless, the season after harvest is one of rest and planning. This predictable pattern of behavior outlines a methodical approach to any desired outcome, one that we can use to forward our own healthy ambitions. Here are a few key tips from the farmer that you too can use:
Know what it is you are planting. When farmers plant, they don’t toss seed on the dirt and hope it results in the crop that they want. They spend considerable time examining what it is they wish to plant and why. First and foremost, they identify the desired outcome. What is your end goal for your health and wellness? Set realistic goals and develop a plan to achieve them. It can be helpful to ask your doctor or a professional fitness trainer for help identifying goals and what you need to do to accomplish those goals.
Know what it needs to grow. Nothing grows without proper tending. All crops are not created equal and all soil is not the same. What deficits exist that will make your goal more challenging and how can you address them? Once you know what the goal is, research and commit to the actions needed to make it happen. Each of us has our own weaknesses. Don’t let yours become a hindrance, but rather find ways to address those weaknesses and use them as stepping stones toward achieving your end goal.
Put in the work. After the planting season comes the long days of tending. Even a dream planted in fertile soil will be lost to the elements if it isn’t nurtured. The elements of life — jobs, family demands, fatigue, stress, poor diet, limited income — impact our results as surely as watering, fertilizer and sunshine impact that of a field. Just as a farmer has to walk the field and pull the weeds, we too must visit our vision daily, pluck out the negativity that shows up seemingly overnight and protect the straight lines of our effort. The farmer is never surprised when rogue weeds show up or storms come along. These are normal, natural parts of the growing season and he deals with them accordingly without wasting time bemoaning they exist at all. Don’t allow the elements of life to throw you off course. If you have a bad day, start again tomorrow. These “challenges” should be expected. Prepare yourself to meet them with a sense of determination that the obstacles life throws your way won’t keep you from achieving your goals for a healthier you.
Get help when you need it. Recognize that you may not know all you need to about growing this particularly dream. Just as the farmer hires others to help plant, maintain and harvest, we too must be able to recognize when the job has gotten beyond us or when a little assistance could make the difference between failing or hanging in there. Rather than giving up, seek out help when you need it! Some of the key people who can help you along your journey to health include: family and close friends, your primary care doctor, a certified nutritionist or dietitian, a professional fitness trainer and a health coach.
Rest. Not every moment can be spent planting, tending or harvesting. Rest is a vital component for any change to take root. Whether it be a nap at midday like Grandpa used to do or a winter of the spirit to be spent in reflection, everyone needs some downtime to ultimately reach their goal. It is okay to let go for a while and trust that the dream is still there when you return to the field. Likewise, your body needs time to rest and sometimes, a few days “off” can give be just what you need to refresh and renew your mind and revamp your motivation to live a healthier lifestyle.
Recognize it is ongoing. Everything is cyclical and to everything a season. The farmer does not bring in one harvest and expect the field to continue to yield. Building and maintaining the life that we want is ongoing and requires sustained recognition that there is no finish line. Even when the harvest is plentiful, the next season lies waiting, golden with promise and uncertainty. Each opportunity in pursuit or maintenance of the life we have dreamed of is a gift. The work doesn’t stop when you achieve your goal. A healthy lifestyle is something that must be maintained for a lifetime. If your goal is to lose weight, for example, once you hit that magic number on the scale, you cannot allow yourself to revert back to your old ways.
Reaping a harvest of health doesn’t come without careful thought and hard work (and maybe a bit of blood, sweat and tears). For generations, the farmers have lived by these rules in order to reap a bountiful harvest. Apply them to your own life and with time, you’ll begin to see the changes you’ve been waiting for.