Good Harvest for Good Lifestyle

Harvesting a Healthy Lifestyle

Harvesting a Healthy Lifestyle 

by Sophia Harmes PHD.

Fall is the season for harvesting food.  But have you ever thought about “harvesting a healthy lifestyle? Our health is determined by the choices we make.  These choices result in what we harvest or reap in relation to our health.  Therefore, we could say that harvesting food goes hand-in-hand with harvesting health.  Working on your health is particularly important.  Since we are in the season of harvest, pay attention to the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables that we receive from the earth.  Incorporating them in daily consumption is beneficial.  Consuming healthy whole foods along with physical and mental exercise enables a stable harvest of health.   Pay attention to the choices you make.  Identify any triggers and unhealthy patterns or practices that hinder harvesting good health.

Take time to figure out what you perceive to be good health and how you can achieve it for yourself.      

What is your vision of health?  What is the seed or kernel that you want to grow to achieve optimal health and well-being? What would you like to harvest for good health?  How can you provide the soil or foundation to achieve your health harvest?  This may include your environment, social network and/or spiritual understanding.  The sun is important for crop growth.  Applied to harvesting health, the sun represents positivity and emotional well-being.  Just as crops need to be nourished through to harvest your body requires energy from a well-balanced diet.  Questions to ask as you set your agenda to achieve harvesting a healthy lifestyle are as follows.  What does good health feel like to me?  What is my perception of good health?  What does good health sound like to me?  What will being healthy enable me to do that I cannot do now?  How would a healthy harvest change my life?  Take some time to think about these questions and how you would answer them.  Write responses down.  Read them and begin to establish the seeds or goals for harvesting a healthy lifestyle.

Act like you are training for a race to ensure harvesting a healthy lifestyle.  Focus on eating the right foods.  Get enough rest.  Make sure you engage in exercise and enhancing spiritual and emotional well-being.  Eating the right foods requires you to focus on whole foods.  Whole foods are obtained directly from the earth. These foods are not processed so there are no chemicals, added sugars, fats, etc.  you can purchase whole foods at farmers markets.  This is one place where you will find fresh locally grown produce, thus ensuring freshness.  Buy from a local farm stand or purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at the grocery store.  The best way to get the freshest grown whole foods is to grow them in a home garden.  Fresh fruits and vegetables that are not processed have more nutrients and many include antioxidants that are beneficial for your overall health and well-being if you do not have a space for a garden or have access to local farmers markets, buy frozen vegetables and fruits at the grocery store. Sometimes frozen fruits and vegetables are better than fresh depending on whether the fresh vegetables have had to travel a long distance to get to the store. So, by the time the produce reaches the grocery store you are actually eating fresh fruits and vegetable that have been traveling for days or even weeks. Once fruits and vegetables are picked, they begin to release natural sugars which turn into a starch.  Therefore, it’s better to freshly pick your own vegetables and process them in the home kitchen.  Eating raw vegetables is preferable to eating cooked vegetables because when you cook vegetables you lose some of the nutrients.  There are some vegetables such as tomatoes where the nutrients are in greater amounts once you cook them.  As a last resort purchase canned vegetables. Canned vegetables have low amounts of nutrients because the nutrients are exposed to heat during the processing stage.  The process removes a lot of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in that vegetable.  So, it’s always best, when possible, to consume fresh or frozen whole fruits and vegetables. 

Now that you made a commitment to focus on harvesting good health and well-being try a new diet. Try one of those diets that help with weight loss and that prevents you from developing, or help to reduce, any risk of serious diseases or illnesses.  Choose a diet that offers a variety of nutrient rich foods and also addresses portion control.  Stay away from quick-loss-diets because they do not work in the long run. Also, those types of diets can lead to some nutrient, vitamin, mineral, and protein deficiencies which can create a serious health condition(s).

So, in order to establish a new diet and rely on the bounty of the harvest of fresh fruits and vegetables, try something adventurous. Take a cooking class! Look for a cooking class that helps you learn about cooking healthy meals and that introduces you to a variety of foods that you may never have been exposed to or may have thought you would never try.  Being able to cook healthy delicious meals with fresh fruits and vegetables is only going to benefit your health harvest.  Try adding super foods and herbs to your diet for a natural inflammatory and antioxidant packed delicious meal. 

Exercise is also important to harvesting a healthy lifestyle.  Exercise improves our emotional and physical health.  Making sure you get enough exercise is also part of training for a race so practice something that you enjoy. Maybe it is yoga in the mornings or swimming in the afternoons or tennis or lifting weights, walking, etc.  Whatever it is, just do it!  

Harvesting a healthy lifestyle also includes working on a healthy psyche.  Plan a short or long active vacation this fall.  A vacation that is active, requires some type of physical activity.   Activities could include camping, hiking, motor biking, kayaking, etc.  Maybe you were too busy over the summer to enjoy a vacation.  If so, it is especially important that you do a little vacationing this fall.  Vacations and short getaways really are vital to your health and well-being because it takes you away from your busy personal and professional schedules. They allow you to unwind and relax and truly be at peace for a short period of time.  Active vacations expose you to nature as well as physical exercise while enabling you to enjoy the fellowship with those you are with.             

Practice techniques that are stress reducing.  Stress can lead to a variety of health issues such as depression, anxiety, headaches, insomnia, etc.  Make a commitment to focus on yourself for 20 minutes to 1 hour a day.  Incorporate activities such as meditation, yoga or breathing exercises in your morning routine to start the day.  Establish a daily electronic-free time period.  Replace electronic activities with healthier ones such as reading a book.  Engaging in stress reduction activities clears the mind and fosters positivity leading to an abundant harvest of health and well-being.                      

Your health can be considered your harvest.  The results from managing your health and well-being is the harvest that occurs after days, weeks, months or even years of laboring and tending to your health and well-being.  Sometimes you may not have to work extremely hard at your harvest because you have been exercising, watching your diet, eating whole foods, making sure you get plenty of rest, staying away from stressful situations, etc.   Maybe it will take a long time requiring a lot of work to be successful in nurturing a great health harvest.  First the seed or goal of desire must be planted or developed.  The desire to be healthy, happy, and well.  Just like a crop, if you do not have a seed, you do not have a harvest! 


First appeared in Therapeutic Thymes Magazine, Fall 2021, Issue 20.

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