Something for Every Body: Well Into the New Year

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By Millie Jackson

Many of us head into January with notions of transforming some aspect of ourselves. Health and wellness are common areas of focus with popular resolutions like losing weight, exercising, quitting smoking, getting more rest, cutting back on alcohol and caffeine, etc.

Despite our present state of wellness, we can improve upon facets of our well-being.  Regardless of the time of year or the day of the week, each moment presents opportunities to make progress.  Simply put, any day is a good day to resolve to be healthier.

Pondering our current condition—comparing where we are to where we want to be—can be a source of empowerment.  Let your potential get you excited about implementing positive changes; It would be counter-productive to let the evaluation lead you into discouragement. Instead of draining energy on self-judgment, channel it into forward momentum.  Consider the prospect of improving your wellness as a “get to” versus “got to” endeavor.  I find that the first expression connotes “opportunity”, while the second implies “obligation” and “drudgery”.

Use positive framing to get yourself motivated.  I prefer the term “joyful movement” over “exercise”.  Exercise for me conjures up images of hard work and monotony.  I know that I have to enjoy myself to keep at it.  I would much rather dance myself into a good sweat than get a comparable workout on a treadmill (or “dreadmill” as I call it—a great example of negative/unproductive framing on my part).  Plenty of people benefit from using a treadmill and actually enjoy it.  Find what engages you.

In addition to other goals you may have set, be sure to revisit the essential ingredients of physical well-being.  You have a greater chance of accomplishing goals when getting a solid foundation of adequate amounts of water, nutrition, movement, rest and oxygen—an accomplishment in and of itself!  For example, embarking on a strenuous workout routine without being properly hydrated, nourished and warmed up could injure your body.

Improving upon the basics is a productive use of time and energy.  Our amazingly resourceful body will put to good use any enhancements we make to addressing its fundamental needs.  Gestures as simple as taking a deep breath, stretching, drinking water and eating a piece of fruit instead of processed sweets are all examples of how easy it is to get started.  Accomplishing small steps can inspire and motivate us, especially when we start experiencing the benefits of our efforts.

The formula for improving wellness is simple: more good, less bad.  Start doing a little better job today than you did yesterday and build on it.  If you slip back into unproductive patterns, remember that each moment affords opportunities for new behaviors.  Start from wherever you are and again begin progressing toward healthier practices.  “Baby steps” are better than no steps and possibly better than giant steps.

Even healthy improvements can challenge the body if done too aggressively.  Dramatic departures from usual behaviors can be difficult to sustain and unnecessarily disruptive.  My motto: start low and slow.  I find gradual changes to be gentler on the body and easier to incorporate into an existing life-style.  Starting slowly and building on progress is also a good way to reduce risk of injury.

Desired goals sometimes become natural byproducts of healthier behaviors.  For instance, “losing weight” could be a misdirected focus.  After all, there are lots of unhealthy ways to lose weight.  When I stopped fixating on the need to lose weight and started focusing on eating healthier, weight loss became an easy and comfortable side effect.

The excess pounds have a better chance of staying off when behaviors that triggered the weight loss have been integrated into a routine (chewing food better, eating at a table, putting your fork down in between bites, being present with your food, taking walks, etc).

Today is the first day of the rest of your life.  Whether it is January 1st or well into the year, each instant is an opportunity to positively impact your state of wellness.  Fine tuning the basics could indeed transform your well-being.  Remember to have fun, celebrate your progress, build in rewards, ask for support and be forgiving and compassionate with yourself.

From this moment forward, may you experience ever-improving wellness! 

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