I want to be healthier.
I just want to lose a little bit of weight.
How often do you hear a friend or family member say this? As I tell my clients, this is the first step to embarking on a wonderful journey towards wellness.
But all too soon I find myself constantly reminding them that wellness isn’t a temporary way of life, and that they don’t have to put so much pressure on themselves. It’s supposed to be fun and exciting! Somehow, taking care of our own well-being has become such a struggle. And lately, I have been asking myself how we can achieve it without judging ourselves along the way.
Today people think that diets are the only answer to losing weight, but deep down they know none of them actually work. The problem with diets is that they are only a temporary fix and leave us deprived. Unfortunately some people also throw wellness into that fad diet category. Those people don’t understand wellness for what it really is—a way of life and living.
For example, juice cleanses are all the rage right now. So you may go on a raw juice cleanse for three days, but then you go back to your old habits and eat processed foods the other 362 days, that really isn’t doing anything for your health. Yes, juicing is a great way to get the vitamins and nutrients your cells are lacking fast and efficiently. And juicing can without a doubt help detox the body. But to be constantly well, you need to provide your body with these vitamins and nutrients consistently. You may lose a couple of pounds from juicing, but those pounds will come back just as quickly as they came off if you continue to eat nutrient deficient foods.
Our focus of wellness and diet needs to shift from how many pounds are coming off to how many vitamins and nutrients are going in.
Becoming well is a lifestyle. And a common misconception is that you are either extremely well or extremely unwell. Whatever happened to being somewhere in between? Being you, but also being well? No one said you need to become an elite wellness expert overnight. It takes time and patience. Most importantly, remember that even if you slip up once it doesn’t mean your attempt at wellness is ruined.
I push this concept with my clients, and myself, all the time. You don’t have to be perfect, no one is asking you to be. All that you should expect from yourself is to make the best decision you can make in that moment of time. If it falters, you know that you will be given an opportunity to make a decision to create a balance. That could be as easy as drinking a lot more water or green tea to make up for eating one too many cookies. Or, maybe you had a treat at lunch, so a good idea would be to not have one after dinner. Sometimes you may have a filling breakfast, therefore have a salad or something light for lunch.
I used to think that to be a health coach and to be well I had to fit into this pretty green wellness box, but it was far from who I actually was. I smoked a pack a day, and I drank almost every night. Even though these were things I was scared to let go of, as time went on I started to listen to my body more and ultimately I began to resent those self destructive choices I was making. I knew it wasn’t who I was, and the more I recognized that that, I gradually began to shift.
That shift also helps me the times I do slip: it makes me own them, to think of how far I have come and how to correct them in future situations. So if I binge out on ice cream, I drink a lot of water and eat a lot of greens the next day. The same goes when I have had an extra glass of wine the night before or had a couple puffs of my boyfriend’s cigarette (the hardest to forgive myself for). If I imagine myself in the future, I have a better knowledge of how I will feel about myself after doing these things, which usually isn’t good.
So I choose to love myself over falling back into old habits, but I still forgive myself if I don’t.
No one can tell you to make this change, and it doesn’t happen overnight. But this is my version of wellness and I think from where I started, I have come a really long way.
I don’t know what the true secret to wellness is.
All I know is it begins and ends with you.
Kathleen O’Hagan is a Holistic Health Coach, aspiring yoga teacher, and miracle worker in progress. She enjoys writing, practicing yoga, making oatmeal cookies, and watching reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond every night with her boyfriend and dog. She dreams of spreading the knowledge of nutrition and self love across the world through any outlet she can.
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Assistant Ed. Caroline Scherer/Kate Bartolotta