The Positivity of wellness

3 things – Proud, Feeling Great, Being a Doer

Wellness, by its very nature, is an extensive-term.  It’s not uncommon for many people to think of wellness only in the context of how we look or feel.  That’s unfortunate since it is much more about a holistic (whole body and mind) approach to being your best. In an earlier post, the “four steps to wellness,” I mentioned exercise, nutrition, rest, and the emotional component. To be clear, those four are not the only areas related to a wellness continuum. Experts will often write and speak about spiritual, financial, environment, intellectual, etc. 

My focus, mainly because of my profession as an educator and trainer, is solely on exercise, nutrition, rest, and emotional wellness.  Training, food, and rest will usually be under the umbrella of “physical” wellness.  I see them as unique parts of that umbrella, not just one single component.  You’ll understand why, after reading my short personal exercise story.  

Because of how exercise influenced some of my younger years, I’m going to cover “the positivity of wellness,” which often falls under the emotional classification.

People can have high levels of physical (exercise) wellness but not be well!  I know this because I’ve lived it and watched many others do the same.  When I was younger, in my 20’s, I became hooked on bodybuilding.  I wouldn’t say it completely overwhelmed my life, but by easily spending 5-6 hours a day in the gym training, it seems clear now that it wasn’t healthy for my emotional and even physical state.   While I saw gains in my physique, they came at the expense of other parts of my life.  More specifically, how much time I spent with others, being stressed when gains didn’t come as quickly as I would have liked, and usually comparing myself to others, which is rarely a good thing.  Even with the benefits I saw, I wasn’t satisfied, so I’d always be changing diets, training plans, and rest schedules.  Anything to get better!  While a few worked, I learned some valuable lessons on how to see wellness in a different light.

In my opinion, being positive about our emotional wellness is the most critical step in developing a holistic approach to how we look, feel, act, and live our lives.  Yes, that seems like a stretch!  But after covering some key points, hopefully, you’ll see how meaningful it is to create that positivity in your life.  Here is also a quick read on “How to Improve Your Mindset For Wellness”

👍 We all have moments that make us proud.  The issue is our willingness and comfort level in admitting it.  Whether speaking with teens or adults, I’ve often heard,  “Shap, there aren’t many things that I’m proud of!”  Of course, after a brief chat, just about all of them realize that’s not true. Honestly, I’ve never met a person who doesn’t have at least one part of their life that hasn’t given them some sense of positive well being. Unfortunately, it’s normal to look at moments that don’t go well and dwell on them.  Maybe it’s because those events are unusual compared to the sense of normalcy that we generally have.  What’s important, though, is realizing that it’s a much better solution to focus on those happy times that inspire us, give us joy, connect us with others than to let negativity fester.  My experience has taught me that the easiest way to make this happen is simply by taking a few seconds to think about each situation and where we want to place our energy.  The best example is flipping out when somebody cuts you off in traffic!  A few weeks ago, I had that happen and was about to say something but then realized, what’s the point of getting upset?  They are driving away, and I’d be throwing a temper tantrum! Instead, I took a breath and remembered it’s a “little thing” that I can’t turn into a big thing.

👍 The second part of wellness relates to how you feel about yourself.  I do an activity where students have to rank their self-esteem and self-worth on a scale of 1-10.  It’s anonymous, but the results are always alarming.  Most students are in the 3-6 range.  You might think that it would be different for adults.  It’s not in my experience.  When I spent significant amounts of time training others, those same results would often come to the forefront.  Just as in finding that proud moment, a great way to start feeling good about who we are is to find time to build strong relationships, hobbies, exercise, or anything that makes us feel better.  The beautiful thing about doing this exercise is you can then carry it over into other things that you may not have thought of before.  Let’s face it; we have times where we feel doubt.  That’s human nature.  But we also have many experiences that we should cherish and realize how special we are.  Another personal example; I never really started to write until about five years ago.  Now I can’t imagine not doing it!  I’m still not where I want to be, but at least I’m writing!

👍Be a doer, not a dreamer!  So often people mention how they want to improve their mind or body.  A few days or weeks later, we will follow-up and reflect on what’s happened.  I’ll often hear, “Craig, I was going to get started, but something came up!” That usually brings a chuckle, followed by a frown.  Very simply, emotional wellness or any wellness for that matter has to start with you doing something to make you feel better about you!  It’s finding a new hobby, making new friends, getting rid of so-called friends, or any other positive inducing ideas.  For example, the simple act of going for a walk can be an incredible physical and emotional wellness booster.  

Even though developing wellness habits will vary significantly from person to person, there isn’t a magic formula.  Every tip, idea, book, or video will give guidance that can be helpful.  This writing is no different.  But for a positive wellness habit to grow, YOU need to start building it.  I encourage each person to begin with a simple goal and allow it to flourish.  Remember to ask for help, be patient, be persistent, look for the positives, and be kind to yourself.  Doing that will make a massive difference in your wellness gains.  I hope you enjoy this and other posts.  The next writing will deal with exercise!  Have a beautiful day!

start with these four

Intro and Highlights! Thx for checking it out!

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


Challenge of change

About 25 years ago I lost my father to cancer.  While he’d been sick for a while, losing a parent is something that nobody can truly understand unless they’ve gone through a similar loss.  Before he passed away, my wife and I took him down to Atlantic City, one of his favorite places.  We went down in April, in the hopes that it would be quiet and calm.  It was!  But along with the quiet, were temps in the mid-’40s and winds in the 20-30 mile an hour range.  As we were walking on the boardwalk, I could see he was having trouble moving.  I asked him, “dad, do you want to go back?”  He said, “no, I’m so grateful for both of you taking me here!”  To this day, I always remember that day.  It was a moment that I believe changed me for the better.  

Making a significant change in our lives is one of the most daunting tasks we can take on.  Whether it’s related to our health and wellness, always a huge one.  Or, something much more intrinsic, like our overall outlook on life.  In my opening paragraph with my father, the change was how I viewed being grateful and keeping an open mind.  Before he passed away, I wouldn’t say that I wasn’t grateful or didn’t care.  I’d like to think I’ve always loved teaching and have been a positive person.  But again, this time was different.  

So how do we make a change in our lives?  That’s been written about hundreds of times, with many self-help books and Ted Talks.  Both are really valuable, and I strongly suggest taking advantage of them if you get the chance.  While I won’t delve too deep into the topic, below are a few ways that may be helpful.  As always, I welcome your feedback and hope you find the words useful.

For me, the initial reason for the change was realizing that I’d actually taken for granted my father and all of the positive things he did in life, and all that he stood for.  Your reason will be different, but we generally do need a reason for the change to happen.  Think again about all those people who get on a fitness and diet kick.  Those reasons are usually obvious to see and usually fail for more reasons than I can list in this writing.  But changing our attitudes is much more complex.  We’ve often built traits and quirks over many years, and as the old saying goes,  “it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks!”  But it isn’t impossible! 

I’ve longed believed that the 1st step to change and the most important is knowing “why” it’s important to us.  Again, I’ll relate back to wellness.  One of my friends recently had a heart attack.  His “why” seems pretty simple, “he wants to see his children grow up!”  When our “why” isn’t a life or death choice, but rather how we live our lives, it’s paramount to reflect on that “why” and take stock into how implementing it will help us, and maybe those around us.  As another example, if your change revolves around listening more intently, the “why”  could be that we view the opinions of others, their happiness, and desire to be heard as a key to our own growth.  Once you know your “why” it makes taking on the next step much more attainable. 

When I help people with fitness and wellness, there are many consistent messages that I’m hoping they understand. Step number two in the change process is realizing that it won’t be smooth sailing all the time.  No matter what you’re trying to change, habits are hard to break even if you think they will be easy.  Whether it’s listening, as I listed above, or a multitude of other changes.  We must be patient and persistent with our desire for change to be lasting and permanent.

As a person who has exercised for 40 years, it’s part of who I am.  With that said, I’ve gone weeks without exercising seriously, maybe even a few months.  But I’ve always gotten back to what I love.  My final step for this post is to never stop moving forward.  You don’t necessarily have to have a full tank of gas all the time, but you will have to fill it up on occasion.  Even the most steadfast of individuals have to recharge their engine before the car (their body or mind) breaks down.  

Here is a final quote to ponder – “change doesn’t have to be something to fear, but rather a chance to embrace the positive change that it has on our lives and those around us!”