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SMART Outdoor Nourishment for the Body, Mind & Soul

Outdoor Nourishment: Cultivating an Outdoor Life

I can’t believe it’s already March. My January and February were rather uneventful- some snow, some sun, some rain and the endless list of farm projects I work on in a very non-linear fashion due to my two farmhands being 3.5 and 1.5 years old.

Despite our unconventional approach to completing tasks, we always eventually complete them because our projects are: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and either our timeline for completion is flexible, or prioritized over something else.

About halfway through January, I had to take a tactical pause and reassess things. As a part of the Rancher’s Stewardship Alliance (RSA) Book Club, I was reading Utah State Professor Emeritus Fred Provenza’s book, “Nourishment: What Animals Can Teach Us About Rediscovering Our Nutritional Wisdom.” In it, he writes, “When I’m in the high country, the cultural bonds that can easily muddle my physical and spiritual being, with all the daily “doing,” dissolve into the illusions they are. Here, I enter a state of authenticity, as the chatter created by doing dissolves into being. This is a dimension of heaven.”

“Wow,” I thought. My kids and I spend A LOT of time outside, and yet, I felt scattered and hardly any of the physical and spiritual authenticity that Provenza describes. I felt I was lacking Outdoor Nourishment– the kind of time spent outside that feeds your body, mind and soul.

Provenza goes on to say, “Of course, we get some mental and physical benefits from working out in the open air, but to get the most out of natural surroundings, we need to be present, not distracted by all the trappings of modern civilization.”

I can relate- I’m typically so busy outside doing that I forget to just be! Being in the outdoors helps to improve wellness for the body, mind and soul. Who else is busy trying to do ALL the things or is distracted by modern chatter? Do you listen to an iPod when out running or gardening instead of listening to the birds? When exploring outside with your kids, do you check your phone every time it makes a noise?

I have to conscientiously put effort towards improving my own Outdoor Nourishment even though I spend a significant amount of time outside each day. Today is as good a day as any to put our best foot forward and improve our Outdoor Nourishment for the betterment of our body, mind, soul AND family. Developing a SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely) Outdoor Nourishment goal can help with this. 

I encourage you to assess where your Outdoor Nourishment is at and do the same! Examine what your Outdoor Nourishment desires are for the future, and determine if they are SMART. And, and if they are not, make them SMART!

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Landscape photo with trees, swamp and riparian area.
I have to conscientiously put effort towards improving my own Outdoor Nourishment even though I spend a significant amount of time outside each day. Developing a SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely) Outdoor Nourishment goal can help with this. 

Outdoor Nourishment

Nourishment can be described as feeding or developing something for optimal growth, energy and/or health. Most obviously, I think many of us jump to physical nourishment first- what we eat for the optimal health and development of our bodies. We can’t forget to feed the mind and soul either! Mental health is real.

To be in a healthy spot mentally, we need to nourish our mind and thoughts. Soul care ultimately must be prioritized over self-care to get things just right; but if done right, soul care is self care. 

I am not a nutritionist, but I can tell you this: proper nourishment looks slightly different for everyone. We are all different, unique, individuals with different, specific nutritional needs. For example, although the USDA guidelines on nutrition are a fine place to begin looking for unbiased, nutritional information, the guidelines are designed for the AVERAGE person. I am not average, and neither are you. 

Along the same lines as physical nourishment, Outdoor Nourishment for YOU and YOUR family will look different from EVERYONE else. No one is average, we are all unique and anti-average.

Outdoor Nourishment is time spent being outdoors in nature that leads to wellness of the body, mind and soul. It’s time outdoors not muddled by the modern chatter that distracts us and divides our attention. It’s time outdoors that reveals our authentic selves. It’s time outdoors that feeds our lifestyle and our dreams and provides refreshment to our spirit. 

Father and son hiking together in the Painted Hills of Oregon.
Outdoor Nourishment for everyone and every family will look different. My family is into hiking and exploring together as a family. Maybe your family is into skiing or canoeing. What nourishes your body, mind and soul?

Benefits of Outdoor Nourishment for the Body, Mind & Soul

Ainsley Arment, founder of Wild + Free, writes, “Being in nature awakens the senses, stirs the emotions, and raises the body’s vibrational frequency, which is important for having an overall sense of well-being, not to mention fighting disease and mental illness.”

All these benefits from something so simple and FREE to access for everyone – the privilege of being outside!

You might be somewhat skeptical and not believe that something so ridiculously simple as being outdoors could result in so many benefits for the body, mind and soul; but Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder,” says, “Mental health professionals are weaving nature into their practices. Within the health care community, a growing number of pediatricians have began to prescribe nature time to the families they serve.” Ruminate on that, outdoor time as a prescription for wellness.   

Research studies show that time outdoors can:

  • improve immune function, which can help fight infections and cancers. 
  • help lower blood pressure
  • relieves symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression

Outdoor Nourishment is self care, mental health care and soul care all rolled into one. If medical professionals are prescribing spending time outdoors in nature, and all you have to do is open the door and step outside, what are the barriers stopping you from achieving Outdoor Nourishment?

Boy walking in a forest.
“Being in nature awakens the senses, stirs the emotions, and raises the body’s vibrational frequency, which is important for having an overall sense of well-being, not to mention fighting disease and mental illness.” Ainsley Arment

Outdoor Culture

If I had to choose one succinct reason that encompasses all the reasons for why Outdoor Nourishment is important, and overrides all barriers to getting outdoors, it would be wellness. Wellness for us as individuals; our family; our friends; our communities; the environment. 

In “Nourishment,” Provenza shares, “The value a culture places on time spent in nature and in enjoyable, meaningful contact with family and friends separates top-tier countries from lower-tier countries.” In a day and age with so much divisiveness, let’s grow a culture that puts value on Outdoor Nourishment. There is no drawback.

Mom with 2 kids and a dog smiling on beach at a wilderness lake in the Cascades.
Outdoor Nourishment is important to make time for and prioritize because it leads to wellness. Wellness of us; families; communities; and the environment.

Steps to SMART Outdoor Nourishment for You and Your Family.

I can’t remember for sure, but I imagine I was first taught to develop SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) goals while working as a wildland firefighter. This framework can be applied to any goal you have the desire to pursue and achieve in your life.

Here I present them to you to apply to your own life for pursuing and maximizing Outdoor Nourishment for the wellness of your body, mind and soul. 

Specific

John Muir said, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” Every individual and family is unique. Therefore whatever outdoor scenario you envision as nourishing and strengthening to you, will be unique! 

Just make sure your goal for Outdoor Nourishment is focused and not vague. Don’t just say, “Spend more time outside,” identify real timeframes, real places, etc.

  • What does Outdoor Nourishment mean to you? 
  • What do you need to strengthen your body, mind and soul while outdoors? 
  • Where will you be? 
  • When will you do this?
  • What support or resources do you need to pursue and achieve Outdoor Nourishment?
  • Who will be there with you or help you to achieve your goal?
  • What’s your reason for this (YOUR why)?

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”

John Muir

Measurable

Once we have a specific goal in mind for Outdoor Nourishment, ask yourself, “how is this measurable?” Or, “how will I track/ assess that I’m making progress towards my Outdoor Nourishment goal?”

If you’re a social creature, find an accountability buddy to help you stay on track! Or share your journey to #OutdoorNourishment on social media with all of us!

  • How much outdoor time do I need/want?
  • How will I measure or assess Outdoor Nourishment for myself and my family?
  • Is this trackable?

Attainable/Achievable

Here’s where you need to be honest and realistic with yourself. If you struggle in this area, maybe ask a confidant to help you out here. Abbie Halberstadt, author of, “M Is for Mama,” says, “Hard is not the same as bad.”

If you’re reading this, you may find it challenging to carve out time for Outdoor Nourishment, but challenging is not the same as impossible! Pick a Outdoor Nourishment goal that is possible- you can always adjust for more growth!

  • Are your goals for Outdoor Nourishment reasonable?
  • To make them happen, what are the steps?
  • What is your realistic timeframe?

Relevant/Realistic

Your WHY is what will carry you and keep you committed when Outdoor Nourishment is the last thing on your mind due to life. Know what your limits are. You may be willing to put effort and work towards Outdoor Nourishment, but will you actually be able to?

  • Does your definition of Outdoor Nourishment align with your values?
  • Will Outdoor Nourishment help you to reach other long term objectives?
  • Identify your barriers and determine alternatives or contingencies.
  • Are you willing and able to pursue Outdoor Nourishment? If not, consider reassessing your priorities and other commitments!

Timely

Ask yourself if and when you will have time for this, and know how you will make time to prioritize it. Also have a target date selected for reassessment to determine if you are meeting your Outdoor Nourishment goals, or if adjustments need to be made. 

  • How much time can I dedicate towards improving my Outdoor Nourishment?
  • When will I reassess my progress?
Young child having a picnic on a blanket under a pear tree.
Sometimes I just need to step away from all my farm projects for at least 30 minutes (sometimes more) and go where I can’t see them and won’t think about them. I grab my kids and this helps us all to disengage from the chatter and nourish our body, mind and soul.

Conclusion

As a lifelong learner and advocate for non-formaI learning opportunities, I enjoy digging into topics which I’m passionate and discussing what I’ve read with others. This results in strengthened learning through aural and reading sensory modalities, and let’s be honest, it’s the opportunity for me to socialize with other adults too! During one of the RSA Book Club discussions of Provenza’s, “Nourishment,” someone commented, “we used to eat

for our medicine, and now we take medicine for what we eat.” 

That, I think could be extrapolated to include Outdoor Nourishment. People used to spend a lot of time outdoors due to lifestyle, but now doctors are prescribing time outdoors because modern lifestyles have become too busy to include it. How have we become too busy to do something so simple that is so beneficial to our bodily, mental and spiritual wellbeing? 

Albert Einstein is credited with saying, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Nourish your body, mind and soul- get yourself and your family outside! The benefits to your wellness are undeniable. SMART Outdoor Nourishment not only builds individual body, mind and soul wellness, but that of families and communities as well. 

Also, I’ll let you in on a secret, SMART Outdoor Nourishment is a ever changing and evolving journey, it isn’t a target to be acquired and forgotten. So, as an outdoor mama, what does SMART Outdoor Nourishment mean for you and your family? 

Blue Jay feather held in hand with small white daisy flower.
Outdoor Nourishment is spent time outdoors not muddled by the modern chatter that distracts us and divides our attention. It reveals our authentic selves and feeds our lifestyle and our dreams and provides refreshment to our spirit. 

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SMART Outdoor Nourishment for the Body, Mind & Soul

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