You want to be healthy? Try gardening.

I know this is a bold statement, but growing your own food actually makes you feel mentally, physically, and emotionally healthier. More alive. Fulfilled. And grounded. I promise I am not making this up.

We live in a time and place where everyone is BUSY. There is so much noise in our lives. There is enough work to always be connected, lots of social media to be glued to your phone all day every day, and then there is the rest of our lives. It can get really congested super fast, leaving us feeling overwhelmed, empty, and exhausted.

I used to commute every day on the bus to my 9-5 downtown. I would immediately connect on my phone when I got on the bus, spend all day in meetings, attempting to answer emails while sitting in them, and then reconnect on my bus ride home. By the time I entered the house, I had been inundated with screens, lots of data – some important, some that just filled my brain with too much white noise, and I hadn’t spent a minute just “being present” or taking in my surroundings. I was tired and felt disconnected from my real life.

Everyone talks about being present and living in the now. Spending hours “pinning” inspirational quotes about being more creative, working less, getting healthier, living life to the fullest, and taking chances. I am definitely that person. I could pin as many inspirational posts as I wanted to, but it wasn’t until I actually stepped away from the noise that I truly started to become more creative, get healthier, and felt like I was really living, all by taking the chance and time to grow my own food. Get my hands dirty.  

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Suddenly I was making time before and after work to get outside, take in the fresh air, and root myself in the earth. Believe it or not, this extra time each day pulling weeds, picking berries, cutting greens for my lunch salad, grabbing a few zucchinis to share with co-workers, filled my mind with joy, made me think more creatively, and actually helped me to be a healthier person physically and mentally. I don’t have my phone with me when I am in the garden. I am completely and totally present in the moment. Even better, I actually see results from my hard work. 

When you grow food, you think in an entirely new way about food. For years I struggled with food and my body. Always trying new diets and never loving the way I looked. When I started growing food, watching it from seed to sprout, harvesting it and making something delicious with it, I viewed it as nourishing, wholesome, and literally felt better in my body after eating it. Before I knew it, I was snacking on green beans, and carrots, and savoring fresh raspberries for dessert (with ice cream of course). I began to love cooking, which triggered a whole new hobby. And now, for the first time, I feel so mentally healthy in my relationship with food and truly appreciate and value my body. I am stronger from working in the garden and I am happy because I give my body good fuel to have more energy and good health for myself and my family. 

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I know I am making all of this sound really easy. The cool thing, it is. There are always excuses – I don’t have a yard, I don’t have a green thumb, I don’t have space. Good news – you don’t have to have any of those things to grow something. Yes, you do need sun and water. So if you have those two things, then buy a container and fill it with a few seeds of your favorite vegetable or herb. Grab another one for fresh flowers. Start here. If you need help, ask me or a friend. And for all you parents, there is nothing cooler than seeing your kids learn through the garden – touching, tasting, and even growing their own veggies, but that is a post for another day.

So take a small chance and try to grow something. I promise you will feel more present, happier, more inspired to cook and eat real, good food, and a little more rooted in the earth you live on. Take a break from the noise, and enjoy the peaceful moments of living outside. Remember to stop and smell the roses, literally.

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