As somebody who has been in the wellness field both as a teacher and trainer for 35 years, I can attest to the frustrations and misunderstandings that often occur when people seek to improve their wellness. They want to reach that certain zen level that happens when being healthy becomes part of your daily life. Unfortunately, there are so many quick fixes, mixed messages, and new ideas, that just getting going can, and usually does lead to quitting before you get started. I’m hoping that the four steps below will get you on the right track.
Before jumping into those four steps, I’d like to briefly mention a story I often tell students in my exercise class. While it may seem silly, they usually get the point of understanding and implementing all four steps. Hopefully, you’ll feel the same way!
As we were beginning class, I was listening to the typical habits that many teens and even adults exhibit to sabotage their wellness. Such as, lack of sleep, eating junk (or not eating at all), not being confident, etc… I thought for a moment and then said, “okay everyone, here’s a little example that may help you. Let’s say you order a pizza (I know, poor choice of food). The pizza you’re ordering has four slices (if you’re eating 8, we need to focus on portions!) plain, pepperoni, sausage, and mushroom. Each of those pieces represents the following: pepperoni/exercise, mushroom/nutrition, sausage/sleep, plain/mental attitude. When the delivery person comes to your house and gives you the pizza; you open it up and see one of the pieces is missing! Would you pay full price, or even take the pizza?” Every student will either say, “no” or ask if they get a discount for the missing piece! My point is that each piece of pizza is important. If you’re missing a slice, some of your wellness will be lacking. Let’s briefly look at them.
Pepperoni/Exercise – I won’t bore you with all the benefits of exercise. There are too many to mention. Here are four tips to start. Please realize that they are far from all-inclusive. I’ll do another post that is solely about exercise.
- Find something you like or love! The majority of people will never stick with exercise if it feels like a chore. Yes, you have to give it time to stick, but if after a few weeks you hate it, move on to something else!
- PLEASE, PLEASE, be consistent. Doing something one time and stopping doesn’t allow you to say, “I tried this, and I’m not seeing any difference!” It doesn’t have to be every day, but a few times a week is really a necessity for change to happen.
- Find a partner or group. Exercise is so much more rewarding and beneficial when you’re with others. You’ll motivate and challenge each other to be better. Plus, you won’t quit just because things get a little tough.
- Get Progressive! Not the insurance, but how you train. Your body and even your mind will improve and adapt to the work you put in. As you get better, work harder, mix it up, and even consider trying new types of exercise.
Mushroom/Nutrition – The diet industry is a billion-dollar behemoth for a reason. Sticking to a plan and eating clean is tough for many reasons. It’s a combo of media messages, advertising, how we’ve been trained to eat, and other keys. But simply, most of us love foods that taste good and might not be good for us! I love asparagus! When is the last time you saw a commercial that said, “eat your asparagus, your body will thank you for it!” Out of all the areas to conquer, eating is often the most challenging. Below are three key tips. Just as with exercise, I’ll do a more lengthy post as a follow-up.
- Avoid cutting every single food you love out! While some people have the will power to make this happen, most don’t. Focus on little changes to start and build on them. One of my favorites is cutting out drinking your calories. Drink water!!
- Please don’t follow what your favorite celebrity is doing. They have dieticians, large sums of money, and most importantly more time than most of us can only dream of. Find your own path! If you need help, there are thousands of resources to guide you. You can even reach out to me!
- Forget the scale, and focus on how you feel. A scale just provides numbers. When you start eating healthy you will FEEL BETTER! That is the best scale I can think of!
Sausage/Sleep – I can’t give you an exact number of hours to sleep. Some of us can easily get by on 5-6 hours a day and others need a solid 7-8. In either instance, if you are constantly tired when you get up, feel fatigued during the day, and feel grumpy because of lack of sleep, it’s time to consider these three things:
- Set your body clock to a normal bedtime. Our bodies adjust quickly to sleep schedules. Going to bed close to the same time each night will help you to get to bed quicker, clear your head, and even promote a night of more restful sleep.
- Turn off all tech at least 30 minutes prior to going to bed. We don’t want our brains even thinking about the tweets we sent, games we played, or any other things related to technology.
- This is my favorite! About 5-10 minutes before bed, do some easy yoga, mediation, and body relaxing movements. Keep the lights low and if you are playing music, avoid music that gets you pumped up. It’s supposed to help you relax.
Plain/Mental Attitude – For those who aren’t on Twitter, I started a chat called #teachpos on Sunday night. The goal was to have a chat that focused solely on positive things in education and beyond. I mention this because so often Social Media can descend into a session of complaining, disagreements, and create tension that goes against everything positive wellness can do for you. I believe that the Plain slice/Mental Attitude is by far the most important part of the wellness pizza. I’ve listed four tips below. There will be multiple posts that follow.
- When it comes to wellness, positivity is huge! We all have bad days, weeks, months, and even years. Life events happen! I lost my dad 25 years ago, which I mentioned in the “challenge of change!” It was a sad period of time, as would be expected. But it doesn’t mean that I should dwell on it forever. Finding positive vibes in little things can lead to big changes.
- Find positive folks as cohorts to share your joy. Don’t be a downer Duck! People will gravitate to those who inspire and uplift them. Plus, many of those people you connect with will pay you back by enhancing your life.
- Allow your emotions to show. Holding everything in and never allowing yourself to show happiness, joy, anger or sadness leads to much higher levels of stress, emotional fatigue, and unhappiness. While there are times to consider your voice, don’t allow yourself to be stricken by never letting your emotions show.
- Give yourself credit! I was sitting in a room listening to a bunch of teens chat. The banter was joking, but also really self-deprecating in nature. Part of the mental wellness piece is being able to say, “I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished! I’m happy with the growth I’ve made. I’m going to continue to help myself and others to be better each day!”
I hope you enjoyed four steps to wellness. Again, there are articles and videos that go into greater detail and have more components than what I’ve listed. This isn’t meant to encompass all aspects, but to highlight four that I personally consider important to start with. I welcome your feedback, comments and any questions you might have.