Over the past two decades, I have had the privilege of coaching many different types of people. I have had the privilege of being educated by leaders in human performance and I have had the privilege of working side-by-side with industry experts. As all of these wonderful experiences and challenges have shaped where I am today, it seems there is one common theme among the health and wellness industry — the desire to prevent aging and maintain longevity.
Maintaining health — preventing injury, disease and aging — is, arguably, the most important goal in human life. Without your health, your quality of life may suffer greatly. Thus, people spend billions of dollars seeking outlets and information on how to achieve these results. Whether you check in regularly with your doctor, join a gym, hire a personal trainer, sign-up at a yoga or Pilates studio or buy a book about essential oils and nutrition — and we’ve all done it — we are seeking insight as to how we can live vitally, healthy and balanced.
We are seeking insight as to how we can live vitally, healthy and balanced.
But, do you have a plan? Why did you choose this Pilates studio or that book on nutrition? How are you going to apply it to your life? What habits are you trying to form and what are your end goals? There is a very real difference between attending a fitness class or cooking a healthy meal versus planning ahead to become part of a fitness program or meal-planning lifestyle. Are you setting yourself up for a successful physiological change? Or are you just winging it, setting yourself up for disappointment without results? Does it make sense for your mind and body that you do a grueling spin workout Monday and an intense strength session with your trainer Tuesday, all while cutting carbohydrates out because they are “bad?” Should you add in a strength workout to compliment your yoga routine? What types of foods should you be eating to fuel your mind and body properly? What is your plan?
With an abundance of information out there, how do we sift through to narrow it down to what is best for us? Balance is key. First and foremost, consider hiring an educated, credentialed industry professional. Even if just for a short period of time, getting a baseline of information from someone with experience will be worth every penny. Your longevity is priceless, after all. Second, be sure to approach your short and long-term goals with realistic expectations and timelines. Maybe you want to run a marathon next spring, and your plan is to run as many miles per day as you can handle. Maybe you want to lose 20 pounds for your brother’s wedding and you think you need to eat micro portions of food. Whether your goals are to run faster, lose weight or just feel good while you are here, there are four areas in which you should consider to bring your health into balance.
Approach your short and long-term goals with realistic expectations and timelines.
Of course, we need to move. Exercise is probably the one pillar in the wellness circuit that everyone knows, without a doubt, they need to do. But what combination of movement best suits your goals? The marathon runner will see significant progress in performance by adding the right amount of and types of strength training to their program. The weight loss goal will be achieved much faster with a variety of movement and exercise options rather than just cranking out 90 minutes on the treadmill.
Different bodies and different goals have different needs. All meal planning should be based on whole food and balanced nutrition. What is your body type? What is your activity level? Do you participate in outdoor activities or sports? There are many things to consider when fueling your mind and body.
Recovering is just as important as moving! I can not emphasize that enough. I have seen both the general population and athletes push themselves past the limit of progress and into the realm of physical and mental breakdowns for avoiding this important component. I like to compare exercise to spending money and recovery to saving it. If you have nothing in reserve, you will burn out fast. Recovery comes in many forms: stretching, sleeping, active movement, no movement, massage, acupuncture, dietary. Without a plan, how do you know what element is best for you at what time?
Our mind is a powerful thing, cliché as it sounds. I am not just talking about pushing yourself that last mile of your race or pumping out that extra set at the gym. Of course, we need mental strength, but we also need realistic expectations and understanding how the mind and body will adapt, over time, to the intensity or lack thereof, you place on it.
If you consider these four pillars when planning out your wellness regimen, you are bound for success. The time is going to pass anyway. What is your plan?
Photo courtesy of Angela Muzic.