What is Wellness?
Though many think of wellness as a word that references physical health, it is more accurately defined by a blend of spiritual, mental and physical health. Neglecting any of these areas leaves one vulnerable to un-wellness. Wellness comes from a balance and centering of our body through all the elements that make up good health.
More literally, the art of wellness is created by maintaining proper diet, exercise, and habits.
Before we begin to discuss the aspects that create wellness, it is critically important that you understand that we are all individuals. Despite similarities, each human body is unique and has unique needs. Keep in mind that you are the only one in your particular body; therefore, you are the only one who will know what your body needs. Learning to be in your body is critical (more on that in a future post)
Eating for Wellness…
What happens if you put sugar in your gas tank instead of fuel? No matter what your answer, I'm sure the outcome is not optimum efficiency. Likewise, what you pt in your body as fuel, directly impacts how your body will run. The food you eat will determine how able your body is to regenerate on a cellular level. Therefore, one of the 3 pillars of wellness is maintaining a proper diet.
One's diet should be made up of unprocessed, whole foods - organic if possible. It is incredibly important to avoid artificial ingredients and preservatives as they tend to overload our bodies and build up in the tissues. Choosing organic foods will help you to avoid these ingredients as well as exposure to persistent chemical pesticides. Not only that, this will help you to avoid ingesting untested GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms).
Regardless of what else you eat, it is essential to eat fruits and vegetables each day. In fact, at least 60% of your diet should be made up of plant foods. That is approximately 2-4 servings of fruits and 4-6 servings of vegetables each day. Be sure to vary your choices - ideally you are looking to eat all the colors of the rainbow each day.
While your body utilizes fruits and veggies for regeneration and cleansing, it needs protein for building material. Adults weighing 130 pounds require 48 grams of protein per day. Pregnant woman and children, as well as athletes, need more protein each day to assist with growth and development. There are 9 essential amino acids that make up a protein - vegetarians be sure to include each of these daily. Although I advocate eating a vegetarian diet that minimizes use of soy and animal products, if you choose to dine on the flesh of other creatures choose to buy organic, free-range meats.
The final piece of a proper diet is the inclusion of carbohydrates and fats for fuel. Make your carbohydrate choice those of the complex variety: whole grains and legumes are fantastic. Minimize (or better yet, avoid) refined complex carbohydrates such as potato chips and white bread. Complex carbohydrates are vital! They assimilate slowly and have a less drastic effect on blood sugar levels, they are less processed and include other nutrients (fiber, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals)
Using your body
In whatever way makes you groove
You can eat all the fresh organic foods you like, but without exercise wellness will still evade you.
The benefits of exercise are well documented and should not be underestimated. The body, if not used, will eventually stiffen and age. Rather than exercise wearing out the body, it revitalizes and rejuvenates. Exercise means movement. Movement is energy. Energy is life. A simple enough statement, but a regular exercise program can be one of the hardest things to implement into your health program.
Here are just a few ideas:
Bike to work, the grocery store, or somewhere else. Just pick something you do regularly and you will have regular exercise.
Take a hike! Not only do you get exercise, but you get to play in nature.
Take a yoga class.
Watch kids and implement what they are doing into your own life - jumping on a trampoline, building a fort, playing tag, etc. These are all great ways to move your body.
Build & Maintain Helpful Habits…
With a proper diet and a great exercise program under-way, one must also cultivate positive habits to be truly well.
Getting a good night's sleep is as essential as eating your fruits and vegetables. This is the time during each 24 hour cycle of the sun, that the body rests for several hours at a time. This time must occur for your body to properly regenerate and for your mind to process. Studies conducted by the Harvard Medical School and the Lab of Neurophysiology at the Massachusetts Health Center show that skills and new factual information may not get properly encoded into the brain's memory circuits without adequate sleep. It is suggested that there are two stages during sleep (one in the beginning of the sleep cycle and one at the end) when the brain undergoes physical and chemical changes whose interactions may be what strengthens the memory traces. Thus, for those who do not get a full-night's sleep, they may be cheating themselves out of fully processing what they've learned.
Limiting intake of known toxins is also critical to good health.
Eliminate, or at least minimize, alcohol consumption
Be aware of lead and other heavy metals in your environment and take proper precautions.
Furthermore, learn to manage stress. Stress amplifies and is sometimes the cause of un-wellness. There are many ways to help your body in better managing stress, here are a few ideas:
Diffusing essential oils into your home space or office - lavender (5 drops) + orange (8 drops) + peppermint (1 drop) is one of my personal magic potions.
Regular yoga practice - I adore Vinyasa, Yin Yoga and Kundalini!
Intentional Deep breathing (do not underestimate the power that breath holds)
Learn to Meditate and do this often
Spend time with animals
Enjoy life and remember to smile.
I hope you've enjoyed this brief introduction to wellness. I could speak endlessly on this topic. If you desire more information on any of the topics I've mentioned here please contact me. I’d love to share a pot of tea and discuss wellness with you.