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Expert advice on living a truly healthy life
By Ashley Reynolds
Achieving wellness is a goal so many of us have in common. But what really is wellness? Many believe it’s all about how we look on the outside – we strive to be thin, athletic, attractive, etc. But there’s actually so much more to it than meets the eye.
“Wellness is such a broad term that we often equate to simply looking like what society deems as thin,” says Tracie Fountain, nutritional consultant and overall health, wellness and fitness expert. “In reality, determining how well someone is requires taking an in-depth look from every angle versus just basing it on how they appear on the outside.”
“There are literally thousands of factors that contribute to wellness,” adds Maren Piefer, physician’s assistant at Dean Health Care. Emotional, mental and spiritual elements all play a role in our overall health.
So, instead of focusing on your waistline, take the time to understand what wellness really means and make an effort to become your healthiest self. Because when you feel good, you open up the door to all of life’s possibilities! Here’s how to begin:
Look Beyond the Scale
It’s important to understand that physical wellness doesn’t just affect your appearance – and it’s certainly not all about the number you see on the scale. “Everything starts with having a good foundation of physical health,” says Maren. “A healthy, strong and well-nourished body enables you to focus and think more clearly. It gives you confidence to make the best decisions for your life. It empowers you to take on challenges and gives you energy to extend to others.”
However, physical health is really just one piece of the puzzle.
“Even more importantly than how or what we eat, I believe our thinking has the biggest impact on our health and wellness,” explains Tracie. “Start by taking an assessment of your thought life. What kinds of things are running through your mind? Would you tell those same things to someone you love? The first step to change is self-awareness.”
Understand the Connection
All factors of wellness are interdependent, and you cannot truly be healthy without acknowledging how the dimensions work together.
“There is a HUGE connection between our body, soul and spirit,” explains Tracie. “What many of us don’t realize is that stress starts in our thoughts and then translates to our physical body. When we try to focus on just one piece of the puzzle, we end up doing ourselves a huge disservice by not looking at our entire being.”
“It’s amazing how everything is intertwined. If you’re happy with your job, your relationship at home is better; giving to others can motivate us to try harder; eating well gives us the energy to move or shake,” says Maren. “Overall wellness requires you to acknowledge and nourish every aspect of wellness, not just one or two. It’s like a 4-legged table – if one leg gets all the attention, the table will fall over.” That’s why finding balance is key.
So, how can you get started on your wellness journey? It’s all about taking it slow, giving yourself room to grow and recognizing than any step forward is a good one.
“Start anywhere!” encourages Maren. “Start by cooking breakfast instead of going to the drive through. Start by complimenting the co-worker who irks you. There are literally thousands of ways to improve your overall wellness – so just start somewhere.”
And, above all else, remember that your progress is determined by your own thoughts. “Whatever you focus on grows,” says Tracie. “If you tell yourself that getting or staying healthy is going to be hard, you actually make the journey more difficult – or even impossible.” Think positive, act positive!
No matter where you’re at with your wellness, remember it’s not always about the end game. “Wellness is truly a journey – not a destination,” concludes Maren. So allow yourself to enjoy the ride and accept the challenges that lie ahead – you’ve got this.
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