Written by Tascha Macchia, owner and trainer at Wilda Personal Training Studio.
Wellness is a word that is thrown around a lot in social media and marketing realms these days. It is easy to see the word and think: green juices, motivational quotes and nice activewear...which are all helpful, albeit minor, parts of wellness (the expensive activewear is only helpful if it makes you feel good!). Wellness is so much more than the little things, the somewhat prettier things that we think it stands for.
Wellness means “the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal” So if the goal is good health as a broad term, then the makings of that need to be all inclusive. This doesn’t just mean exercise, because with all of the other life-jobs we have tasked ourselves with as humans, sometimes it just isn’t always realistic for an already mentally tired being to workout everyday before/after their 9-5. This is why the other pillars of good health (fitness is one of them) can help you improve wellness holistically and in a maintainable way. Reducing stress, quality sleep, mental and emotional health and diet (in the sense of what you eat) are all just as important to your overall health and should be equally prioritised to find your optimal capacity. If you're stressed, a high intensity workout may leave your body in a higher state of stress and be the opposite of beneficial. If you are undernourished on important nutrients, working out could feel incredibly difficult and leave you feeling more fatigued than when you started. If your mental health isn't being addressed and nurtured then you could struggle to sleep. If you are lacking good quality sleep you could end up reaching for sugary foods or excessive caffeine to get you through the day and completely overwork your adrenals . When you take a step back and realise that sometimes not all symptoms can be addressed by a band-aid at the site of the wound, you can really start to heal thyself. To see that the root cause could be three steps away from where you have ended up… and the only way to fix that is by taking a holistic approach, means you may just be looking at your body the way it was intended.
In regards to learning how to hack the exercise cog of the wellness wheel, here is some advice: Some of us live busier work lives than others, some more hectic home lives and so on. This is why fitting in a 60 minute workout everyday can sometimes seem unachievable to the many. However, it’s important to start to realise that even short bursts, 20 minutes of movement or 2 x 15 minute intervals at any point in the day have massive benefits with a domino effect. You may think its not worth it because you couldn’t make your 1 hour HIIT sweat fest that day, however studies have shown that there are actually greater benefits for lowering blood sugar, and keeping it lower for longer by doing three shorter (12 minute) bouts of exercise rather than one 30 minute session. There is obviously benefits to longer sustained sessions (like increased aerobic capacity) , however knowing that there are other different benefits to shorter efforts (whenever you can fit them in) shows that something is really better than nothing when it comes to moving your body, there is always a point to it if you use those small windows to move with purpose.
All said and done, all our lives are different and ‘wellness’ is going to look different to everyone. However, I believe finding and showing ways to make it accessible to more people is key. There is so much dogma and righteousness in the realm of ‘fitness’ that it becomes tricky to even know where to begin. Don't forget small steps make the biggest difference. Learning about a new wholesome recipe, or benefits of different produce could be your step to wellness one week. Realising that you can fit two 15 minute bouts of movement into your day could be your wellness win. Figuring out what it takes to help you sleep better (limiting how close you eat before bed time to help indigestion, making your room darker, hydrating earlier in the day so you're not woken by the need to wee 5 times a night!) could leave you feeling more energised and happier (which in turn, could lead to better food and movement choices too). Hopefully by now you're getting the gist that it's all very connected, and all plays its role (equally and synergistically) to aid your personal wellbeing. You don’t have to be doing everything every day to start, but once you begin to see the changes in your energy, mood, resilience etc those tasks that felt hard to complete will become ritual and your healthier, more vibrant self will thank you for it!