INsight/ Starting Body Dialogues

Kris: My favorite scale in Indonesia

Kris: My favorite scale in Indonesia

Ubud, 28 December 2016 — What does Body Dialogue have to do with your leadership? A lot, actually. Are you ready to explore how we can empower our leadership in 2017 by starting a Body Dialogue?

You don't have to visit a new-age site to learn that our diet—what we eat—has a lot to do with how we show up in life, both literally and metaphorically.

Nowadays, even government websites like in the US acknowledge that "there is a powerful mind-body connection through which emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and behavioral factors can directly affect our health."  Practitioners of holistic health from countries around the world have known about this connection for a long time.

Starting my Body Dialogue

Last month, having made up my mind that I wanted to make my mind-body connection as strong as possible going into 2017, I started inquiring into this connection in a new way.  By new, I mean that I went beyond the good recommendations of my doctor and my own mind regarding eating healthy food and exercising more. 

I asked my mind and my body how I could have an actual dialogue about making this mind-body connection as strong as possible, by looking at it from the body's point of view.  Where to start? How could I listen to my body?

Almost ten years ago in Time Magazine

Almost ten years ago in Time Magazine

Following the old saying that you can't manage what you don't measure, I started by measuring what I could, through a body checkup, inside and out. When the results came, I read them with more care than I did in the past, recognizing that this was really my body I was looking at, and that it was talking to me through those results. I gave it my full attention and appreciation.

I also bought a new scale to measure my weight daily, and I read up on the recent research about healthy foods and releasing weight. Here is an interesting piece of research that I found on the benefits of weighing yourself daily. Getting a scale and using it daily proved to be an important step in starting my Body Dialogue.

Two months into the journey, and after releasing 6 kgs of weight that I did not need, I realized how I was getting more and more intrigued by the question what my body 'thinks' about my health and how to improve it. I felt that I had already triggered my mind-body connection to a higher level by the attention I had given it.

Favored Foods

Whether you have read TIME's article or not, you have probably heard the saying that We Are What We Eat. I read it several years ago, and I got the point they were making. What I chose to eat has a direct impact on my health and energy.

The important question, of course, was who in me decided what food I put into my stomach and colon? The answer was clear to me. Most of the decisions had been taken by various parts of my mind, with little or no regard for my body's voice. I decided to change that right away, and I have started to 'listen' to my body's perspective when making food choices in these past two months.

As part of my inquiry, I looked around for the latest research about healthy food choices, and noticed a shift from categorizing food choices by calories to focusing on foods that score low on the Glycemic Index, and more recently on the Insulin Index too. I realized that these two indexes were not yet widely known, even though a lot of resources have already been published.

The South Beach Diet, for example, was built around foods that score low on the GI index. Click here to see a convenient breakdown of foods with low, medium and high GI values, published with a US audience in mind.

A much more detailed list of foods and their GI score was published in Australia, where most of the leading research has been taking place over the past two decades. Click here to see the detailed list.

For people who, like me, want to release some kilos, a good recommendation is to select foods with a GI index of 35 or lower. I had already learned about this earlier from the Mediterranean food guru Michel Montignac in his book Eat Yourself Slim. 

A healthy and zesty pea soup I prepared today

A healthy and zesty pea soup I prepared today

I noted, however, that dairy foods like milk and yoghurt may spike your insulin much more than their very low GI rating suggests. This came out in the Insulin Index.

From my search and practice, I realized how much I learned in a short period of time from the research on the glycemic and insulin indexes. The studies showed me which foods could empower me to be healthier and feel more energetic.

Using this knowledge in my Body Dialogue, I have been taking a variety of low GI  foods, and have started observing how my body weight and energy levels during the day have responded to these foods. Seeing the responses, I have started to enjoy my Body Dialogue even more.

Teaming Up

What else would it take to start a good Body Dialogue? I was reminded of Prof Rosabeth Moss Kanter's 4th key to leading positive change. "Everything goes better with partners," she said.  

On my part, having started the Body Dialogue together with my life partner has worked wonders and made a big difference. I would recommend to anyone who wants to start their own Body Dialogue to find one or more partners to join in the journey. And to give this suggestion a bit more weight, I would add that Prof Kanter's flip-side statement was that "nearly anything worth doing is very difficult to do alone."

So what would I recommend to someone interested to start a Body Dialogue? Here are three actions to take.

  1. Measure—learn to listen to your body by measuring its changes. This is most easily done by standing on the scale daily. Getting a body checkup also helps.
  2. Research—find out more about making healthy food choices. Using the Glycemic Index table is a good starting point for foods to favor and foods to avoid.
  3. Partner—team up with one or more partners in the Body Dialogue journey, to work together on empowering your health, energy and leadership into 2017.
Today, we accept that there is a powerful mind-body connection through which emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and behavioral factors can directly affect our health.