Jun. 9. 2017
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped® and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

Exploring, and letting your imagination go wild, is good for the soul.

Happy Friday guys! Today I’m continuing the NS Lifestyle series (we’ve almost covered all of the “Health Hexagon”!) by sharing the last pillar of health according to NS – Explore. What do I mean by explore? Remember when you were a kid and let your imagination go wild? Engage in activities as an adult that bring out the natural explorer within you – traveling, coloring, playing outside, etc.

To catch you up to speed in case you missed it, the NS lifestyle is based on 10 areas of wellness that I think are vital to a balanced wellbeing. The first six are foundational and vital to feeling balanced and living whole, and the other four are supportive pillars that enhance your health once the first six are on lock. I’m not sure if I’ve ever shared the story about these little triangles I designed to represent the NS Health Hexagon + Lifestyle. This was a vision board-like activity to help me put images and symbols to things I wanted to “manifest” in life from colors, words, feelings, etc. This is just an example of what manifesting may look like. Quick recap of what they are:

♦ 01. SQUAD ♦ 02. STRESS ♦ 03. BODY ♦ 04. NOURISHMENT ♦ 05. LOVE ♦ 06. SLEEP ♦ 07. EXPLORE ♦ 08. CENTER ♦ 09. MANIFEST ♦ 10. NATURE

SO, why is exploring so important to a balanced wellbeing? Exploring expands our worldview, promotes happiness and joy, and allows ways to practice self care. I get that it’s not always easy or accessible to travel often, so while travel is a huge source of exploration, it isn’t the only way to experience something new! Keep reading for 5 easy ways to bring out the explorer in you.

No. 01

Explore a new city

What’s more exciting and new than immersing yourself in a new city, environment, culture, etc.? Traveling gives you the opportunity to learn so many new things about the world and about yourself! NS tip: Travel and a new place can be tough on your schedule and body. I like to bring along comforts of home to make it easier like a travel blender, my fave pillow, scents like lavender or palo santo, and my favorite teas like Traditional Medicinals’ Green Tea Peppermint (bonus: peppermint is soothing for belly and alleviating discomfort in the digestive system especially when you’re traveling*) Whether you’re staying in a hotel, a shared home, hostel, or whatever, bringing along things that help you stick to your diet and schedule and bring relaxation are super helpful for keeping your body balanced. I just got back from exploring Hawaii and had this in mind too!

No. 02

Explore nature

This one may seem pretty obvious, but once life gets full getting outside is often one of the first things to fall to the wayside. It can be as simple as exploring a public park near you or may be more adventurous like a hiking or camping trip. Just a couple of hours outside of Nashville are several waterfalls that are perfect for exploring. Plus getting out in nature often means limited cell phone service which may do your mind some good as well. What nature is accessible to you where you live? Are there any parks nearby or maybe a day trip you’ve been eyeing? I’d love to know where you guys are and what spots of nature I should add to my list!


No. 03

Explore a new hobby or skill

Getting older and more established doesn’t mean that you stop learning and playing! Exploring a new hobby can really bring out your inner child and bring inspiration and joy. For me, I’ve been exploring painting, yoga (I’m starting yoga teacher training in June!), and videography which have all been so fun to dive into and learn even more about. Check out your local community center, library, community college, or continuing education center. You can often find a totally free or super affordable class to encourage you to dive into a new hobby or skill. Plus there’s endless resources on YouTube, blogs, or sites like SkillShare where you can seriously learn almost anything. Is there a new skill you’ve been thinking about learning? Go for it!

No. 04

Explore a new act of self-care

Lately I’ve seen lots of different versions of self-care, but self-care is rooted in taking care of your body, mind, and spirit. It can look like nourishing your body with whole foods, getting in enough movement every day, or things that just make you feel good. Explore new ways to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally outside of your norm. If you enjoy cooking, then explore new recipes. If you recharge from relaxation, check out a spa or try acupuncture. Check out some of Traditional Medicinals’ teas that provide plant-powered wellness – some favorites are the classic Peppermint, Chamomile with Lavender, and Roasted Dandelion Root (a favorite for when I’m staying away from coffee).

Packing up my carry-on bag for travel – Luna wanted to go with me too!

No. 05

Explore with letting your mind wander

When was the last time you let yourself just be? When life gets full, we often check off to-do lists and schedule our days from morning until night. However, I encourage you to create space to just let your mind wander. I don’t mean just sitting there staring into space, but instead it might look like taking the time to journal, play in adult coloring books, or take a long walk with no device. Give yourself the room to think and feel things that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to when you’re working or checking off a task. Try it for yourself and see how you feel after!

So what about you? What are your favorite ways to explore? Share in the comments so we can all get inspiration from each other. It’s a 2-way street, and I always comment back!

xx McKel


This post is in partnership with Traditional Medicinals, a brand I truly love and trust for quality products. Thank you for supporting brands that support Nutrition Stripped! *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. © Copyright 2017 Traditional Medicinals® All Rights Reserved

Lululemon Photography by Kezia Nathe

All Other Photography by Kelsey Cherry