Often when there is a problem with meeting those lofty lifestyle change goals the problem can be that your are focusing on the wrong aspect first. Get sail worthy for a lifetime voyage for the books.
Wellness is a very ambiguous term that conjures up images of skinny athletic models posing and looking serene while out for a run up the side of a mountain. It is fake as….well, let’s just say it is fake. If I took a picture of myself doing that same run, my face would be splotchy red, and my facial expression would be interchangeable with someone having severe constipation.
Wellness is not something you find on Yoga retreats while sitting on a beach with a chiseled and enlightened guy named Carlos. It is not reserved for people who have fancy cars and shop for $150 workout pants. Wellness is more than just one thing. The combination of sleep, body movement/exercise, nutrition, and mindfulness creates a well-functioning person. Often it is easiest to relate and remember the components of a subject with something familiar. I find that wellness components nicely match a sailboat’s essential parts. The rudder can be compared to sleep. Without at least 6 hours of sleep, you decrease your rudder, making it hard to stay on track. The sail is exercise. Consistent movement is the key to ensuring that the sailboat consistently makes long and amazing journeys. The cargo is food or the fuel of the body. Often, we can choose to load the wrong cargo in the boat because it is easier just to throw in the first thing we see that sounds good. Lastly, the hull of the sailboat is mindfulness. Mindfulness is a huge part of wellness, and it is often overlooked even though it is science-based and can change your mental wellbeing for the better. We tend to gloss over mindfulness as it is seen as something for fancy people or maybe someone who makes their own pottery. However, without your hull (mindfulness), you will be floating adrift in open water without a team of Hollywood movie producers to film your tragic death. Continue reading for small bite sized teasers on the each of the wellness components in the coming weeks.
Most of us think that we should be better about getting to sleep earlier or we wear our sleep deprivation like a badge of honor. Many of us opt to cut short on sleep for many different reasons. Reasons vary, but unless you are a single parent trying to do the work of two people, they are probably just excuses. Roughly 50 to 70 million US adults suffer from a sleep disorder or report insufficient sleep habitually, so you are amongst friends. Research on sleep shows a direct relationship between sleep problems, weight gain, chronic pain and mental health, which I will dig into next week.
Healthy eating does mean that you buy prepackaged food that has names of chemicals you can’t pronounce. It doesn’t mean trying the newest fade diet. It also doesn’t mean that you are required to eat bland roughage exclusively. Strawberries can be sweet and delicious. Whole food carbohydrates like strawberries are good for you and are great cargo for the body’s function. When a carbohydrate such as wheat is processed into white bread, the vitamins and minerals are removed from the food, making it chemically different as it enters your body. It is popular opinion that carbs are bad much as several years ago fat was bad. The truth is that when we eat processed food it is so much easier to put in more calories in because you can add all the things that tell us to eat more. Stay tuned for more information about the effect that your food and food environment has on your overall well being in the coming weeks.
Research emphasizes that sitting more than 9 hours is associated with early death. Indeed, if we were in a sailboat in the middle of the ocean without a sail for 9 hours a day while crossing the ocean, we would start to consider our lives differently. The office chair can be just as life-altering once it is compounded over the years. People working in offices, warehouses or staying at home are not thinking about the repercussions when they don’t make time for moving their body month after month and year after year. People often give for lack of exercise because there isn’t any time. However, television viewing is the most commonly reported daily activity aside from working and sleeping worldwide. In the United States, the average number of daily hours of TV viewing is 5 hours a day. Moving your body regularly is not optional. It is essential. The need for it is built into your blueprints, your DNA. Stay tuned for little ways to making moving more built into your habits for lifechange in the coming weeks.
Mindfulness is the perfect antidote to our workaholic, overstimulated culture. It means stepping back from your habits so you don\’t mindlessly go through the day on autopilot with the companions of sugar, caffeine, and social media clouding your mind. It is how we can be present and enjoy life right now. While this may sound like some hippy crap, there is a scientific basis for how mindfulness can change how your brain works. In the coming weeks, I will discuss the research on mindfulness and tips on how to make it a part of your weekly and ideally daily routine.
In conclusion, each aspect of the sailboat needs the other, and by only addressing one, it is easy to fall short of our lifestyle change goals because our ship is not sailworthy. However, all the research in the world will not help if you have problems with putting your newfound knowledge into action. Please check out my series on Realistic Lifechange in order to take apply the knowledge from the coming weeks to your goals for the year.
ACTION STEP: Set a timer on your phone for social media. Often scrolling through your phone is a primary reason for lack of sleep. When your app shuts down after your 15, 20, 30 min for the day take that time to call a family member, friend or read a few pages in that book you have had on your end table since last October.
LOOKING AHEAD: Sleep and your waistline have a very real relationship. Tune in next week to get all the research on how less than 6 hours of sleep a night is affecting you and your jeans size.