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Foundations of Vitality Part 4: Following the Seasons of your Body

Fall is officially here in the midwest. We had our first 55 degree night and I am just elated. I love so much about living in a four season climate, the subtle shifts, the big shifts, the ever changing landscape of weather, plants, sunshine, heat and cold. It makes my relationship to nature dynamic and interesting to get to experience so much difference every few months.

And much like dynamism, which I wrote about in part one, heeding the call of the changing seasons of your body is your best path to a deep root of relationship, and ultimately, health, with your body. Approaching our body as having seasons isn't something that we often consider, but reflect enough on the seasons of your life and you'll see that the body, just like, nature, and just like our lived human experience, goes through seasons and cycles. Attending to the seasonality of our body is something easy to write off as unnecessary when it comes to our journey of health, but I can tell you that in my clinical herbalism work with women, where I see the biggest positive shifts happen is when women come into relationship with their own seasonality and really begin accept and honor what their body needs in the ebb and flow of life.

Seasons come in two distinct arenas with our bodies. However, even though these natural cycles exist in the body, doesn't mean we often listen. But if you're here, reading this, then I trust that you actually want to listen, want to chart a new and better relationship with your body and health. Learning to listen, heed and follow the needs of our body in any given season is one of the best ways to forge a stronger and more in tune relationship with your body soul wisdom.

First, our bodies have a natural rhythm that corresponds to the seasons of the year and accordingly adjusts energy levels, digestion and sleep patterns. Even though you *can* buy watermelon shipped in from who knows where in the middle of winter, doesn't mean you should. In the middle of winter, our bodies want warm, soothing, nourishing food. In spring, the body is ready for a little wake up, a little bit of brighter, fresher food, which is why in most parts of the country highly nutritious greens can be found in the wild as some of the first plants to sprout from the ground. It isn't a coincidence that as we sort of "wake up" in spring from the slower more restful time of winter, we want lighter, easier foods than squash, beans, soups and stews.

Coming back into seasonal eating, and seasonally living, is one of the most generative-and enjoyable- things I've learned to do as an adult. Even if you don't know what foods are seasonal and what aren't, it's easy to figure out by simply looking at the prices and abundance of certain foods in your grocery store produce section. When blueberries are $6.99 pint, you can guess they probably aren't in season and are being shipped thousands of miles to you. Or when the tomatoes barely have a blush of pink on them and its the middle of February, you can rest assured that is not the food your body is meant to eat at that time of year.

And then there are the seasons of our individuals lives and health and how our bodies need to adapt, shift and change in tune with each new personal season or chapter. As a new parent, you probably aren't eating (or drinking!) in the same way you did when you were a fresh young college student. As a perimenopausal woman, your energy is different than when you were an excited new professional starting her first job. As such, the expectations of our bodies and what they need is different in each of these seasons. It's important to learn, and accept, the new season we're in so that we can meet our body-and soul- needs in each new season. As a 45 year old seasoned professional starting perimenopause, you'll want to consider different exercise, food routines, rest and nourishment in ways that you didn't have to as a bright 34 year old mom.

Accepting the ebb and flow of our personal seasons can be challenging when we've come to understand, enjoy and be attached to a particular season. If you suddenly find that those two glasses of wine after dinner keep you up at 2am when they used to be your favorite thing at the end of a long day, it can be hard to let go. Which is why as with anything, adapting to the changing seasons of our changing bodies is a journey and an ever unfolding process.

Lastly, the best thing about attuning to the seasonality of our bodies is that it's never a one and done task, so there isn't any room for perfection here. You never have to get it just exactly right. Simply showing up, listening, attuning and putting the effort in is what's asked for. Just as the seasons are moving, shifting and changing, so too can our relationship with our body and our learning of how to care for it season after season.

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