If you are one of those blog followers that love wellness experts that have everything mastered, you are going to want to unsubscribe to my blog.
While it is true that I have earned a Master’s Degree in wellness, officially Functional Medicine and Nutrition which is basically the scientific approach to optimal wellness, I am still a human. This means that although I know countless facts and figures about what it takes to live to 120 and feel amazing every day, I carry the habits of my childhood and the reptile brain of my ancestors. I still eat sugar, drink a little too much wine and trade in sleep for a good movie…sometimes.
However, 15 years ago, I smoked cigarettes, ate Taco Bell and drank a 20 oz. Starbucks mocha for breakfast. I have improved, today I eat only whole foods, drink my coffee out of 1 ounce espresso cups, eat a healthy breakfast, move everyday and meditate to breathe instead of inhaling nicotine and tar. I expose these dirty secrets to you to illustrate that wellness behaviors are a constant work in progress and comparing your journey to others is not beneficial, in fact it is detrimental. Nothing makes me feel more deflated than reading an article by a wellness expert (in their twenties without kids or a partner), telling me that I need to create a sacred meditation space in my bedroom and juice 20 pounds of greens every day. Guess what, my kids and dogs have accessed and soiled every square inch of my room, I don’t have the time or funds for 20 pounds of greens (nor the desire to consume only that) and my marriage is best when I make time to share a bottle of wine with my husband at least once…. or twice a week.
Here is the other thing…health is individual. This is what I want to tell the 18-year-old that teaches my yoga class while preaching her many life-shattering insights… “your path is not mine, and when you are older and wiser, you will hold a space without filling it with your words” …I wish I would have told my younger yoga-teacher-self that too.
In the world of nutritional science, I might have a genetic tendency to poorly absorb vitamin B-12 which means that I will likely need to take a supplement to balance out the deficiency and properly carry oxygen to my brain and small capillaries. Or, I might want to eat a massive amount of steak, but probably not. Does that mean that everyone that I work with needs to take B-12 or eat steak???? No, it does not. This also means that I may have a client that can’t begin to change their diet until we address sleep, or stress, or a relationship that is toxic because when we dig down to what is going on, we realize that food is a byproduct of another issue.
Here is another idea to chew on…I have lived in Italy for 6 months in a small Tuscan town. If I had to guess, 75% of residents smoke. They also walk everywhere. They also eat real food in a relaxed setting with family and friends. They take a 3-hour break every afternoon to rest and recharge. Traffic is non-existent. The air and water are clean. In general, they live long and healthy lives. I am bewildered, and then I am not. As far as wellness goes, it is a balance scale. If you are going to smoke (not advised, however), you better make up for it with a lot of other good habits. If you are going to eat junk food daily, you may have to be practically perfect in every other aspect to balance it out. If you live in a very stressful and traumatic environment, you may not be able to do enough burpees or eat enough broccoli to feel good. If you have food sensitivities, you may never feel good until you identify them. This is the work of wellness. This is the unique and deeply personal process of defining your health consciously. Most people are never aware of this and they manifest disease. However, if you dig in gently and begin to peel back layers or habits and the roots of their growth, you get a choice to redefine your health and live well.
For me, I choose brisk walks in nature, real food, a lot of veggies, liters of clean water, long meals with family and friends, wine with my husband, movies with my kids, 7-minute meditations while hiding in an undisclosed location in my house, and inspirational podcasts for my foundation of health and I am still in process. 2018 might be your year to dive in and paint a new wellness picture.