Sounds good, right? But what does it actually mean?
Here is the definition of vitality:
1. the state of being strong and active; energy.
2. the power giving continuance of life, present in all living things.
FEMALE vitality, to me, means living in a strong and active way inside your own female body and life!
It means living in harmony with who you are, with ease, equipped with openness and a sense of humor about yourself and the world.
It means you are actively fueling yourself with foods, people, and choices that are adding value to your life.
It means having a voice, being bold, making space for creativity and for rest.
It means hearing your spiritual calling and aligning your life with your purpose.
It means not being afraid of your own power and going for what you want because you deeply trust that the woman behind the scenes has immense value to add to the world.
Living in encouragement of your own female vitality is largely equivalent to living a fertile life, because it means that you are growing, that the soil you are creating your life from is fertile, that you let the sun shine and the rain fall when it needs to.
You keep going because you believe.
That is what the continuance of life -vitality!- is all about.
Okay, you say, all of that sounds nice, Caroline, but how do you actually increase your female vitality?
Below, I've got 10 food and lifestyle choices for ya that will get you started and rollin' in no time.
1. Make sure you get your Bs.
B-vitamins that is. Good sources include: almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, beets, black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, quinoa, lentils, wild salmon, grassfed beef, organic eggs, avocado, leafy green like spinach, asparagus, and brussel sprouts. If it's difficult for you to get B vitamins through food, you can also take a high quality B Complex supplement like this one by Thorne Research Basic B Complex.
Research shows that B vitamins (especially, B6, Folate and B12) are essential for growth, development and other important bodily functions, while insufficient B vitamins can lead to fatigue, irritability, poor concentration, and even anemia, depression, respiratory infections and serious birth defects.
B vitamins also help convert food into energy, which is super important in order to prevent that mid-morning or mid-afternoon slump that's leaving many of us hangry, unmotivated, and uncreative aka. the opposite of what it means to have vitality, which leads me to my second point:
2. Prevent blood sugar crashes.
If you are running on empty, you are not only hurting your metabolism but truthfully your entire endocrine system (think, hormonal rollercoasters are dominating your mood and energy levels), which in turn can impact your thyroid further, your adrenals and your ovaries.
This not only impairs your ability to deal with stress and normal life challenges, but it's also impacting your fertility and other sex hormones related to issues like PMS, irregular periods, acne, PCOS... the list goes on.
So, make sure you have a snack every 3 hours that contains a healthy protein and a healthy fat (more on that below) but aren't full of sugar.
My favorite go-to's are hummus with a bit of olive oil and carrots, 1/2 avocado with a few nuts, a scoop of almond butter with a piece of fruit, or, depending on the season, a smoothie or soup.
3. Stick with healthy fats. Lots of them.
Here is the truth about fat: Fat is one of the main building blocks of your body (& for those of you planning to become moms, your baby's body!). The body's brain, cell walls, and hormones are composed mostly of fat. It gives you a feeling of satiety, which prevents overeating and keeps your weight at a naturally optimal level.
Feeling "just right" weight-wise is a huge component of vitality; neither feeling heavy and sluggish, nor too light and ungrounded is great for active, positive, confident energy. Plus research shows that by making healthy fat a primary part of your diet, you actually reduce your risk for diabetes and heart disease.
What are healthy fats? The best fats are saturated and monounsaturated. Examples are egg yolks, butter from grass-fed cows, coconut, grass-fed animal meat, wild sockeye salmon, sardines, anchovies, avocados, olives, and nuts.
4. Help out your gut.
Hippocrates said, "all disease begins in the gut." A healthy gut is crucial because it ensures proper digestion, avoids intestinal imbalances, and makes sure that unwanted particles cannot leak into your bloodstream and cause inflammation.
An inflamed body will always be busy fighting the inflammation instead of giving you energy to live your best, most fertile, happiest life.
Unfortunately, in our society, our gut is often under extreme compromise because stress impairs your gut function as well as antibiotics, birth control pills and NSAIDS.
Having a healthy gut with lots of good probiotic bacteria is especially important for women planning on getting pregnant because just like the gut, the vagina's health also relies on a delicate ecosystem that is dominated by the right probiotic bacteria. These bacteria will be the ones populating your baby's gut, which sets him or her up for optimal microbiome and thus, immune system from the start.
What to do? Promote healthy gut bacteria with a good probiotic like this one by Metagenics Ultra Flora Plus DF 15 Billion Organisms and eating probiotic rich foods like sauerkraut and kimchi (always buy these from the fridge in your grocery store, because that ensures that the probiotic bacteria are staying alive).
In addition, you can also add spices like ginger and cilantro to promote digestion and add a spoon of apple cider vinegar to your water in the morning, which doesn't taste good but helps fend off candida aka. the "bad" bacteria.
5. Consider going off hormonal birth control.
No, I am not nuts and no, I'm not suggesting you get pregnant, but I am suggesting that you educate yourself about what hormonal birth control actually does and how is works. Women are all different and while the side effects of hormonal birth control aren't totally detrimental for all women, they certainly are for many.
One side effect of hormonal BC I want you to know about today since we are talking about female vitality is that hormonal birth control reduces your sex drive because of its high content of Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) that binds to testosterone and makes it inactive (translation: you dread your hubby making the moves).
It takes some women years to reclaim their sex drive even after they get off of hormonal birth control, so if you have a hunch that hormonal BC doesn't make you feel your best, consider getting off.
Note: I will write another post about this topic soon, because I know this can bring up many issues and it really deserves to be a topic covered in its own blogpost including a suggestion for what to do instead, so stay tuned!
6. Pass the cookie plate and nibble on some dark chocolate instead.
I know, cookies are gooooood, BUT most types of cookies are extremely high in sugar, not to mention processed and filled with unhealthy oils and other fake crap that doesn't serve you, your metabolism or your skin.
Instead, try some dark chocolate (and by "some" I mean 1-2 pieces). Dark chocolate is known as an aphrodisiac because it has been shown to cause a spike in dopamine, which induces feelings of pleasure. Yes, please!
7. Dare to be mindful.
Over the years, the one thing I come back to over and over in my own life is mindfulness.
If we are not mindful, it means we are not present. And if we are not present, we cannot experience joy and pleasure. Joy and pleasure are deeply feminine principles and they are the building blocks for our vitality.
Mindfulness can enter your life in many forms. Meditation, visualization, and yoga are on one end of the spectrum, but you can also commit to spending your walk home from work solely focused on observing and taking in your environment. You could turn your phone off for an hour and spend time journaling undisturbed, you could cook a meal with your favorite music playing and focus on engaging your senses -fully smelling, seeing and tasting the rich flavors of the meal you are preparing.
Let mindfulness be something you play with that interweaves everything you do in life, instead of another thing on your should list.
8. Bring your own beauty to the forefront of your awareness
We all have parts of ourselves that we love and parts we don't like so much. That's normal. What matters is where your focus goes, because that is where energy will flow.
Identify a few things you love about yourself (your hair, your eyes, your smile, your legs, your shoulder, your hands, you laughter, your kindness, your thoughtfulness...) and then make it a ritual every morning when you get ready to tell yourself what you love about yourself. This is not conceded or arrogant, it's simply a way to honor yourself and be grateful for what you've got.
9. Create the space that will allow you to succeed.
I am all for having high expectations and challenging ourselves to become better. BUT, there is also a serious danger in having expectations that are too high and that you cannot reach, like ever.
Nothing is more demotivating than failing day after day.
Once you are in the failure mindset, it's hard to bounce back and begin feeling like a success. If you are finding yourself constantly running after your to-do list, stressing from one task to the next with your head spinning, it's time to adjust how much you put on your plate.
Remember that you are in charge for setting yourself up for success by creating appropriate boundaries and communicating them to the world (and yourself!) nicely yet firmly!
10. Ditch your perfectionism. Just let it go. Seriously.
Perfectionism is the devil's playground. You will never reach it and it will make you chronically unhappy.
Embrace the charm and ease that comes with your authenticity instead.
In addition, perfectionism creates energetic stagnation in the body because you will always act as your own worst critic. When inner conflict like this is present you are preventing flow, balance, as well as inner harmony.
True vitality can never prosper. Your feminine spirit can never truly feel free if your self-expectations are rigid, harsh, and inflexible.
This is, again, super important for those of you who are moms or want to be moms one day: if you have a perfectionistic mindset you will unconsciously put these unrealistic expectations on your kids and other loved ones. I cannot emphasize enough how incredibly important a kind, loving relationship to yourself is, especially when you are the role-model for little ones!
In the comments below, let me know what female vitality means to you? What do you find difficult about it? How do you want to embrace yours more and live with more vitality in your daily life?