Every Piece of Food You Eat, Can Lead to Inner Peace.
In our ever-evolving world filled with tempting delicious treats, constant stimulation from iPhones and gadgets, and the competition to succeed, there is no escape from stress. While most adults have the life experience and education to develop coping strategies for this stress, many children do not. However, it is not solely a healthy diet that enables us to feel good, but rather a healthier lifestyle.
My name is Jackie Brenner. I am 17 years old and I am the poster child for stress. In 2015, my mother began her brave fight against breast cancer with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. In 2016, I tore my anterior cruciate ligament in my right knee. Unable to play sports, which were my daily escape from the pressures at home and in school, I had no outlet to de-stress. I felt both dejected and anxious, as the impending 9-12 month recovery loomed over me. In order to occupy my time, I began researching a new passion to pursue: nutrition. Having been a vegan for five years, I began to learn more about the benefits of healthier eating habits, and watched as my mother used nutrition to maximize her health during her battle against cancer. I have watched first-hand how nutrition has transformed my mother’s life and health and decided to take it upon myself to inquire further. While I was engulfed by fear for my mother’s health, I watched her practice of mindfulness and healthy eating habits grow to become a unique combination. My mother fought both chemotherapy and radiation, but also grew mentally stronger throughout. Naturally, I began to see that this was due to mindfulness (eating with attention to the five senses), and soon after my surgery I began practicing yoga and learned about its nutritional benefits.
Not only did I see a huge difference in my physical and mental strength, but so did my friends and family. My attitude was positive, and my reactions to everyday occurrences were enlightened. From dealing with conflict amongst my friends, diminishing the stress that arose from academics, and satisfying my awakened interest to spread optimism in my community: I felt like I finally found a way to change lives. However, unlike most aspects of my life, this epiphany was simplistic.
I had a mission to spread wellness. I began with the group of people which I can relate to most: children and teens. Piece of Peace was born and the mantra was “every piece of food you eat, will lead to inner peace”. This mantra is enhanced by mindfulness, nutrition, and yoga. I believe that the key to success begins with knowledge. If we can all understand why eating healthy is so important, we will be better fit to make healthier choices. A couple of years ago, I was blind to the multitude of healthy eating and lifestyle choices available to me. I believe that I owe part of my happiness to my healthy choices.
I hated yoga before I started. I thought it was boring, and I didn’t understand or realize its benefits. It seemed useless. I was incapable of taking a class without laughing or teasing my yogi mom. But, after allowing myself to give it a serious try and relax into my most peaceful state, the changes in my body and state of mind were evident. Initially, the silence felt uncomfortable and awkward. However, once I took the time to understand yoga and give it my best try, I soon found that I had become a more open-minded, harmonious person.
I learned about inversions and grew motivated to try headstands, handstands and more. This did not come easy and I had to work hard. The balance between challenge and comfort I found while doing yoga was compelling. I felt better after being diligent for just a month, and wasn’t going to stop there. I find yoga to be mentally stimulating. Taking some time every week to disconnect, think, stretch and relax can do extraordinary things for one’s body. While the short-term effects are present, the long-term effects are far more rewarding. Speaking from almost two years of experience, I can proudly say that diligence leads to success.
Last October I created Piece of Peace, which was carefully designed for children to make better decisions regarding nutrition and to develop strategies for improved wellness overall. I created a number of power-point presentations that engage the youth in the topic of nutrition. Soon after I began delivering lectures at after school programs, I noticed that visual reminders such as posters and demonstrations were a hit. For this reason, I created colorful posters that reinforced what I had spoken about in lectures, as well as the strength of mindfulness. As many of these children do not have the ability to participate in organized sports or have access to formal training and gym memberships, I thought it would be beneficial to teach them yoga poses that they can do anywhere. I bring other teenagers my age that share my passion on these trips, and have found it incredible to watch how much children look up to teenagers and peers similar in age. The kids love the fun of the experience and respectfully listen to these teens as role models.
I am going to go through my story and daily questions I have on nutrition and try to answer them to help us all. If you have any comments or requests share them below. I hope to hear from you, as we are the future, and it is important that we work together to make our generation the healthiest yet! We have the power to make the necessary changes to live happier and healthier lives.
Health Corps provides such incredible information that we can utilize in our lives and that is why I am happy and excited to be supporting the work they are continuing to do as an ambassador. Dr. Oz has done incredible work in high schools around the United States and I am happy to join this work to spread the message. He has been a true inspiration and I hope to help encourage more kids to use this opportunity, which provides incredible knowledge in their own lives.
Health Corps also is moving a team to Palm Beach County and I am so excited to start partnering with them in the fall. Together we will help children find the best way that works for them to be healthier and feel better.
There is always more to learn, and I hope that we can learn from each other on this journey. If you are reading this and are unable find a reason to live a healthier lifestyle, I challenge you to explore what you are unable to comprehend the most. Often the things that bring us happiness come from where we least expect.
Comment below or on Facebook tag @healthcorps with questions you want me to answer or figure out! I have so many questions and I bet you do too so I want to hear your questions!
To see our Piece of Peace Curriculum including posters, yoga cards, research, and more information please visit pieceofpeace.world
By: Jackie Brenner