Part 1 of 2
This is part one of a two-part series to help guide you toward a more meaningful definition of health and wellness.
Okay. I know the title of this blog may sound a bit meta to you. You’re probably waiting for me to introduce the magic fairies that enter your body while you’re sleeping and turn dials in your brain to make your greatest hopes come true. But, the truth is, you don’t have to be spiritually aligned in order to understand and adopt the terms health and wellness in a functional way into your lifestyle. When discussing physical fitness, the phrase “health and wellness” is so casually thrown around these days we often forget to consider the true essence of what it means to live a healthy and well-balanced life.
So, let’s start by defining these terms. More accurately, let’s start by re-defining these terms based on your current assumptions.
Health: Lasting health comes from the interaction of our genes with our lifestyle and environment. Personalizing this connection is the future.
As defined by Jeffrey Bland, PhD and President of the Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Institute this definition mentions the parameters that determine our health outcomes rather than addressing the physical appearance of our underlying determinants of health. Said another way, this definition goes beyond the appearance of individuals, which includes physical appearance, body-composition, blood profile, and known disease states.
Wellness: Your perceived level of contentment with your physical, emotional, and psychological being.
Wellness is how you feel about your underlying state of health and your position in life. This includes acceptance of the state of your body, your employment, your relationships, and other lifestyle or environmental factors. Further, we can expand this definition to include your ability to accurately determine discontentment in all of these domains of your life and create actionable strategies to change them. Closing the gap between these conceptions, and your health improves your overall wellness or “well-being”.
With all the formal definitions and explanations out of the way, let’s talk about the ways in which our behaviors directly influence our health and wellness, and then cover some strategies on how to improve upon these behaviors.
The diagram below illustrates the domains of behavior which can impact our overall health and wellness. Although there are other contributing factors that may determine the scope of these behaviors, the ones listed in each domain are behaviors perceived to be in our control. For now, let’s consider those barriers which you can create strategies to overcome and initiate healthier behaviors.
Practical changes can be made to each of these domains of behavior which will improve your state of health and wellness.
Create a sleep ritual which does not involve electronics and practice this ritual consistently at least 30 minutes before bed. Examples include, massage, listening to music, conversing with loved ones, or reading a paper copy of a book.
Eat less processed or packaged foods and more real foods. Focus on staying hydrated and eating meals that could appear like “your grandma made them”. Things that grow are healthy to eat and the least number of steps from food source to your mouth, the better.
Intentionally move your body for at least 30 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes sometime in the afternoon. Consider intentional movement anything other than normal daily tasks or commuting to work. Any form of movement within these parameters counts.
Each of these suggestions are examples of practical strategies that on the surface don’t appear to have any major impact on your health or wellness. Yet, it’s the small things that make a huge difference. Sleep, food, and fitness powerfully influence your genetic expression, lifestyle, and environment while increasing your sense of self-worth.
Shifting your perspective on the definitions of health and wellness while you attempt to determine the outcomes of your life will empower you to take control of it.