I’ve been doing a bit of research around wellness and illness. How they are linked and how they are essentially one state of homeostasis.
The term has been defined by the Wisconsin-based National Wellness Institute as an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a more successful existence.
Or Dicitionary.reference.com says this:
1. The quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort.
2. An approach to healthcare that emphasizes preventing illness and prolonging life, as opposed to emphasising treating diseases*
*I personally like this best
When was the last time you thought about the word health as something isolated from having an illness? The phrase ‘at least you have your health’ is referring directly to just-not-being-sick. Awesome.
So are you content with ‘just not being sick’. When you’re sick you stop doing stuff that you think is making you sick – drinking, over working/exercising, late nights and bad food choices. Then you sit still in often whinge reluctantancy and wait for sickness to go. Then you go back to your old routine without a thought to its hand in helping you get sick in the first place.
But what happens when you want to just ‘not’ be sick. Have you thought about what it might feel like to be well, overwhelming well…. In a state of total wellness?
What would it take for you to look at your state of health and focus on optimum vs. just not sick? I bet you’ve never even considered it that way hey? And how the hell do you even start.
We all get the exercise more and eat less health message. So is wellness only about weight? And if that’s our measuring stick; is super skinny the holy grail of wellness? Do our overweight citizens flunk wellness school and have to boot-camp it until they qualify for a better wellness grade?
I’m not so sure it’s that simple.
This post isn’t about 5 steps to ultimate wellness (although that’d bump me up the SEO’s) I just want to challenge your ideals around what wellness or being ‘well’ means to you. Is it just the absence of disease? Is it being able to get through your day without a physical or mental breakdown? Is it the ability to run a marathon? It is total zen; spiritual, mind and body connection?
The jury is out for me on the actual definition, but I do know there is a balance – a scale perhaps, at one end has illness and the other has total wellness with a pivot point in the middle, called the Wellness-Continuum. No one is static in this, we move up and down the line closing in on one end or another. The true trick (or skill) is know when you’re heading in a particular direction and act accordingly. Are you heading towards illness by burning the candles at both ends – and what does that mean for you? Are you the ‘best you’ve ever been’ fittest, strongest, brightest etc and what are the contributing factors around this? What are your telling signs because there is no one-size-fits-all on this. For example I have a friend who can stay up all night, party hard, drink and eat less than ideal foods and then get up the next morning for a 6am PT session. Me – I’m not so lucky. I know that I’ll pay for that late night over the next two – or three – days. But if I choose to do that, its ok, I manage it. Which is essentially what wellness means for me. Where are my limits and what are my signs for pushing the pendulum too far in the wrong direction. You can apply this to foods, diets and exercise – once you start knowing what works for you, what you react to, what makes you feel awesome, you can investigate it more. Feel like crap and all ‘puffy’ after a carb-blow out, take note. Feel awesome after a yoga class or do you get all buzzed up after a HIIT session or spin class? Perhaps you need a bit of both to rock your world.
You can’t flick a switch on this either, it’s a slow burn. But that’s totally ok cos we’ve got time, the body is very forgiving and excellent at healing. Lucky.
So run fast, do your downward dogs, drink your green smoothie or eat steak for breakfast, its all ok. See how you feel after each. Maybe the thought of green liquid make’s you want to gag? Does a paleo fry-up for breaky go against your beliefs? For me a early yoga class makes me cranky – so I do a evening session. Long distance running makes me hate myself – so I do interval training at the gym. Its all the freakn same to our body, it registers it all as movement or nutrients. Then its up to you to interpret how you feel after it. And trust me – a big night fueled with alcohol and greasy food actually makes everyone feel like crap, so why do we keep doing it?
We all have a inbuilt sensory mechanism that supplies us with feedback of our actions. I suggest have a inquisitive listen, it won’t lead you down the wrong path. It wants you to feel good, your best even.
So my #1 tip to get started on wellness is to listen. Shut up, sit down and listen to your body. What is it trying to tell you?
Let me know what makes you rock.