I am obviously super passionate about wellness. For me, it has been life-changing over the past few years as I made a concerted effort to educate myself and walk-the-walk of wellness where previously I was a devotee of working-hard and playing-hard as my career path demanded. Outside of physical benefits, the pursuit of wellness has been a source of creative fuel and personal satisfaction for me. I have found that if I don’t practice it daily in some form, I lose my mojo pretty quickly. Which gave me the sense that I was on to something interesting here…
Now, when I’ve had the opportunity to mention to people recently that I’ve taken a hard left turn from being a long-time Ad Executive to attending health coach school and blogging about wellness full-time, I lose the room pretty quickly so to speak (insider tip: don’t expect kale to be a headliner anytime soon). It seems that few people are super excited about being told to eat healthy and exercise (case in point: every time I post healthy recipes I seem to get cricket sounds in return.) I get it. I’ve been there. It’s not a new message and few people want to hear from another preachy hippie(ish) chick (to be clear, I prefer the St. Regis, thank you). And, there are a million reasons that make it a challenge – travel, family demands, a lack of quick healthy options in your area, free snacks in the office kitchen (truth bomb: I have a weakness for warm croissants with a cappuccino now and again.) The thing is, especially if you’re a busy executive, I’m willing to put down a bet that at some point your body is going to start to tell you it has had enough. At least that was my experience. I was exhausted. A bit cantankerous. Bored. Uninspired. Out of patience and just getting through my days. In summary: I had the womp-womps. Do you? I’d love to help you avoid the crash in advance!
Now, to catch you up if you weren’t totally sure what wellness is before this article, I’m going to get all formal for a minute (I know, I know – snooze-a-roo): Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making self-directed choices toward a healthy and more-sustainable life. It is an ever-evolving effort that may change by seasons, environment, health fluctuations, stress level, relationship dynamics, age, and a number of other possible influences. So, it’s more than eating healthy and exercise (which I’m about to prove in this very long article) – it’s really your whole modus operandi (that’s fancy for way-of-life – how do you say “ooooh la la” in Latin?) And the payoff is when you continually practice and optimize some key lifestyle tips, you may find yourself living a happier and more-fulfilling life overall. Like, you may moan with pleasure after a smoothie as I have. True story. But, as LeVar Burton used to say in Reading Rainbow, “…you don’t have to take my word for it.”
If I didn’t lose you yet [happy dance], I wanted to share my favorite tips for working on your wellness rather than sustaining your womp-wompiness. Now that I’ve paused on my previous advertising day-job, I am choosing to, instead, use my passion, experience, newfound energy and positivity to spread the message of health and overall goodness so we can all spend more time with friends and loved ones, have more energy to do activities we enjoy, maybe enjoy our career 10% more, and possess a general disposition of Sally Sunshine rather than Pity Patty. I’ve never felt better and I want you to as well!
With that, here are some wellness tips to pursue and practice that I’ve found helpful in my own corporate rehab:
- Clean Up Your Diet: Do your best to eat fresh, in-season, whole foods – lots of green veggies, fresh fruit (more berries than sugar-filled bananas), whole grains, wild-caught/grass-fed or plant-based protein, healthy fats like avocado and olive oil, and plenty of water. Avoid processed food and soda, choose organic where possible, reduce sugar intake and other “white foods”, and possibly dairy. Try to cook at home as much as possible to control any unwelcome additives to your food. But, don’t hold yourself hostage – allow yourself the 80/20 rule so you can have that nice dinner out with friends. (Important note: one person’s food is another one’s poison so you may have to make your own personal diet edits based on your individual microbiome – listen to what your body (or doctor) is telling you when you make your food choices, this is simply a guide.)
- Get Moving: It’s not new news that physical activity is critical to your health and longevity for a variety of reasons and benefits, and if you haven’t had the time or motivation to accommodate it, maybe you need to just try another angle. Find an activity that you enjoy – it’s not just about pounding it out on an elliptical in a crowded gym – there are so many choices these days thanks to the beauty of technology, in particular. I’m not shy to say that I have a love affair with my Peloton bike, for example, but couldn’t stand group spinning classes before that. Mix it up with strength training, endurance, flexibility and balance exercises at least a few times a week. Use technology to keep track and keep yourself accountable.
- Spend Quality Time with Friends and Family: Maintaining positive relationships and social life are important elements of a healthy lifestyle. Spend time with people who fill your cup emotionally, make you laugh, and/or are great listening ears. And in tough times, be sure to remove any negativity in your communication – remember that what you affirm grows – positive or negative.
- Manage Your Finances: Debt can put a tremendous strain on your emotions, stress level, and subsequent physical response. Consider budgeting your after-tax income with a 50/30/20 rule – 50% to your needs (housing, transportation, food, bills, etc.), 30% to your wants (travel, restaurants, concerts), and 20% to savings. I’m not a financial advisor, but that’s likely a decent place to start.
- Cultivate Your Spirituality: In general, spirituality means to explore something bigger than just ourselves. Spend some quiet time thinking about your life’s meaning, value, and perhaps, how you can feel more connected. Explore various books, podcasts, or other spiritual groups for inspiration. If you need a place to start, I personally think Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations podcast series is pretty uplifting with a varied list of thought leaders.
- Make Self-Care & Creative Expression Part of Your Routine: It is not an indulgence, but rather a necessary part of your health care and cortisol reduction to take time to recharge, relax, breathe, and/or flex your creative muscle. This can be a calming hot shower with aromatherapy, time spent alone perusing an art supply store or museum, a theater performance, journaling one page of free flowing thought each day, or reading a book in the park – whatever strikes your fancy.
- Get Adequate Sleep: Everyone is short on sleep these days and it can be detrimental to your mind, body and spirit. Some things to experiment with aside from your diet might be to find a regular wind-down routine you can stick to, turn off your tech devices a couple hours before bed, adjust the temperature setting in your room, try a weighted blanket, skip the afternoon caffeine, try a hot herbal or non-dairy “Golden Milk” tea an hour before bed, or write in a journal before bed to remove lingering to-dos/thoughts/concerns.
- Avoid Toxins: Do your best to clean up products in your home environment that may be silently (or even quite obviously) sabotaging your health in a variety of ways. Use resources like EWG.org and the Think Dirty app to explore what may be negatively affecting you or your family now or in the future.
- Consider Probiotics, Vitamins and Supplements: Optimizing your microbiome and immune system could have a positive impact on your overall health, wellness and energy level – this was a big one for me, at least. Consider having a functional medicine doctor measure your levels like I did to help you optimize to your individual needs. Check out www.ifm.org to find a practitioner near you.
- Enjoy Meaningful Work: It is helpful to your wellness to feel that your work is satisfying and enriching. This doesn’t necessarily mean your job, but your life’s work and contribution to society. Are you using your skills and/or talents in a way that brings you joy or purpose? Cultivate activities – whether paid or unpaid – that help bring greater intention to your life. How do you want people to tell the story of your life?
- Continue to Educate Yourself and Get Inspired to Stay on Track: Wellness information is ever-evolving and the definition is very different by individual. Educating yourself is a great way to help to continue to optimize your own health and longevity. Here are some suggested sources in no particular order:
- “Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating.” by Walter Willett, MD
- “Clean” by Alejandro Junger, MD
- “Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?” by Mark Hyman, MD
- “The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in ‘Healthy Foods’ that Cause Disease and Weight Gain” by Steven Gundry, MD
- “Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future.” by David Wolfe
- “Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar – Your Brain’s Silent Killers.” by David Perlmutter, MD
- “Super Immunity: The Essential Nutrition Guide for Boosting Your Body’s Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger, and Disease Free.” by Joel Fuhrman, MD
- “Ayurveda Beginners Guide: Essential Ayurvedic Principles and Practices to Balance and Heal Naturally.” by Susan Weis-Bohlen
- “The Ayurveda Way: 108 Practices from the World’s Oldest Healing System for Better Sleep, Less Stress, Optimal Digestion, and More.” by Ananta Ripa Ajmera
- “The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose.” by Oprah Winfrey
- “Halftime: Moving from Success to Significance.” by Bob P. Buford
- “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin
- “The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith” by Gabrielle Bernstein
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Disclaimer: “The Well-Intended”, and its associated blog and social media pages are owned and operated by The Well-Intended LLC and does not provide medical advice. The Well-Intended’s author is not a physician or licensed medical expert. The content provided shares perspective on a personal wellness journey and lifestyle approach practiced by its owner in order to achieve their own health and happiness. Please consult your physician for advice and/or guidance regarding your own health, vitamins, supplements, fitness plan and/or anything else health- or wellness-related.