I’m excited to share my summary around how we can look at health and wellness like we approach the Rubiks cube. It’s a work in progress, you need to balance aspects of wellness; each face representing more than just eating well and exercising and just when you think you’ve got it sorted someone picks it up and twists it.
Each face of the cube relates to wellness:
- Self identity and ambition – our goals, visions, aspirations, our Why!
- Physical fitness and strength – the fitter we are, the more energy we have. We’re like a battery that needs charging
- Nutrition and energy – food obviously keeps us alive, but the menu you choose either gets jobs done really effectively or not.
- Mental health and mindset – we weren’t born physically fit, nor were we born mentally fit. We have to put a mind workout on our to do list too. This will influence how we approach stress and build resilience.
- Social relationships and connection – there is no denying that loneliness is a major cause of death. Having relationships which are positive, laughing, getting hugs all lights up that happy place in us.
- Restorative or spiritual health – mindfulness and meditation, this is where we create space to be in the present. Let thoughts, memories, visions come and go.
As a Dietitian and Exercise Specialist I am right in the mix of seeing challenges faced in today’s society. I summarise a few of these challenges and insights below
Challenges in a health focused society
- Much of my work these days is working with individuals and groups to embrace a non diet approach to health and body image. I heard it somewhere but can’t remember…Our bodies are not an ornament, but rather they are a vehicle. I love this.
- There is too much shame and blame. Foods are villainised and labelled, body shapes are idolised or ridiculed, we are constantly being judged.
- If you want to get my blood boiling use the hashtag clean eating; it irks me like not other. So does “sugar free”. Yip that’s right, I’m an anti sugar-free advocate because I see the detrimental effects such as disordered eating and unhealthy relationships with food. It’s not to say I don’t recommend reducing the added sugars into your diet, but being free of sugar means people are questioning eating fruit and when you work with people suffering from eating disorders who are adamant the sugar documentaries tell them apples have more sugar in them than a paleo bar, your blood would boil too!
- Size & ageing obsessed society. We have a motto in our studio “embrace size diversity, aim for strong physically and mentally, no matter your size”. I would highly recommend watching an amazing video on youtube, google it one day; Poodle Science. (explain)
- People are experiencing loss of or confusion with their identity. I see women frequently who are unhappy and believing they are not good enough. They see their body shape as the reason for their unhappiness but when we get to the bottom of it, it is usually their loss of identity. Yes they may love being a mum, or a working woman or retired but they’ve forgotten what else makes up their identity. They often can’t justify time for hobbies, exercise, taking time with cooking, or relaxing on the couch with a magazine. Our identity should be made up of many parts and there needn’t be a hierarchy or justification of how we spend our time. We are not a pie chart. Our time does not have to be divided into particular segments.
- People are stress and anxious which when we dive under the layers, are feeling overwhelmed and undervalued. There are solutions to feeling this way and I love working in this area.
- We are not great at asking for help and then being patient to work towards a solution. Clients typically cancel their appointments or stop coming when they ‘haven’t been on track’ when I’m trying to say, that’s exactly when you need to be coming to see me, not when you’re ticking all the boxes. The media and even people in our health industry put in peoples heads that results can be achieved in 21 days or 8 week challenges etc. It’s misleading. You don’t just reach a point of health and say, cool, I’m there. You have to constantly work on it.
Check out this video to challenge our attitudes towards body size and weight loss!
Start to create your own Toolkit
- Look at the Whole cube & Create your own Self Identity – If there was a fly on the wall, how would you want them to describe you. Now how would you change that. List it. Do something about.
- Focus your Mental health & Learn Acceptance
Accept the thoughts and emotions that enter your consciousness, and don’t judge yourself for having them. Then let them go. Like clouds, they are not permanent and they do not define you. Unless you create a story around it and anchor that emotion to you. I accepted that leading into tonight I would likely feel emotions of anxiety and worry but I understand that they are fleeting. If you avoid stress and the idea of failing, then you limit what growth you can make.
- Prioritise Social relationships and Learn Compassion
Connecting with others starts with believing in yourself, that you are enough and happy with who you are. This may be challenging for some of you, to be really kind to yourself. But until you can be truly compassionate to yourself, you can not be to others. Practice compassionate communication with yourself and others.
- Develop Ambition and self worth as part of your health and learn Gratitude
I’m not saying to throw out your to-do lists and goal setting but have you thought of creating your gratitude list. This is a reverse bucket list of some sorts. Be happy with what you have done and what you are currently doing. Celebrate and be in the present. Then when it’s time to focus energy towards something new, you’ll be energised and ready.
- Consider your Physical health such as your nutrition & fitness and match this to your Values
Live by what you value. If you value the outcomes you will honour the journey. I value being dependable, energetic and strong. So I invest time into strengthening my body through exercise and energising food, and my mind through mindfulness.
I urge you to invest some time and energy towards yourself, how you want to feel and function. I know there are many things we all need to be busy doing…but I created this saying
“A to-do list without you on it, is a life without you being present”
Take home messages to improve your outlook on health and wellness
• Saying no at the time is hard, but in hindsight it opens opportunity for other things.
• Learn to steer your own steering wheel, rely on your own intrinsic drivers to motivate you.
• Believe in yourself and be kind to you self, give yourself pep talks, like you would to a friend.
• Be ok that some days are dull while others challenge you in enormous ways.
• We can be the writers of our memories. If you focus your energy remembering the negative stories, there is not enough space to write about the good ones.