All of the diet podcasts, exercise plans, and fitness coaches seem to know the “right way” to tackle health and fitness goals.
But when you try to implement them in your life as a busy working woman, the process can feel overwhelming and downright frustrating. With all of the conflicting advice, where do you even begin?
When you make a change to improve your health, it may seem like it would be easiest to focus on one thing at a time – like exercise!
But giving your attention to one small piece of the puzzle leads you to neglect the other important aspects of your health that are equally as important.
We’ve been conditioned to think a single supplement or a special diet is a cure-all that will make all of our health and wellness dreams come true. But the reality is your health and wellness needs are far more complex.
Complete wellness is more than just exercise.
Your body’s needs are like a wetland ecosystem. Having many different plant species is a great start, but without a proper balance of aquatic life, animals, and trees, the ecosystem is unhealthy.
The exercises you do or the foods you eat are just like all of those individual components.
If you start adding exercise to your routine but don’t recover properly with hydration and sleep, your body’s ecosystem won’t flourish, no matter how much time you spend in the gym.
Improving one area of your health is a great start, and I don’t discourage adding exercise or eating healthier. But, to improve your overall health and wellness, you must look at the remaining pieces of the puzzle.
“Get the fundamentals down, and the level of everything you do will rise.” ~ Michael Jordan
7 Essential Foundations of Wellness
We can think of other things that help us feel our best, but I’m suggesting that these are the 7 essentials.
- Consistent sleep/rest
- Regular exercise/stretching
- Healthy digestion
- Stress tolerance
- Stable blood sugar
These foundations operate in the body like overlapping energy reserve streams, and all are necessary for our bodies to function at a high level.
We are made of trillions of cells, and those cells need all the essential fundamentals to operate at a high level. If they are sluggish, we feel sluggish.
Each cell in our body is supposed to be between 60-75% water. If we’re not hydrating well, they become exhausted, and communication between them is impaired. Our cells also need time to recoup and regenerate, which often happens while we sleep. Lack of sleep makes it hard for the cells to detoxify and incorporate the necessary nutrients.
Do you see the domino effect here?
Putting a ton of attention on one of these causes imbalances that strain the organ systems and ultimately drain your resources trying to sustain the imbalance.
A Story of Health and Wellness Out of Whack
Let’s look at a real-life example of an imbalance in the foundation.
Carol is a mom who works as an accountant. She’s been married for 20 years, and her wife’s 80-year-old parents need support every other day. During her busy days, she felt exhausted and fought her heavy eyelids with energy drinks, snacks, and crash diets.
The drinks and snacks left her feeling jittery and hungry.
Every diet she tried worked temporarily, but every single one ended with Carol regaining the weight. After diets failed her, she was determined to find a controlled and intentional approach to self-care.
Carol decided to focus on exercise.
She joined a gym, picked up home workout equipment, and started working out daily. She fought through the initial soreness during the first few weeks, and her energy increased. Carol even started looking forward to her daily 60-minute workouts. Things were looking up!
But outside of exercise, her routine hadn’t changed. She didn’t drink much water because of the bland taste and it often slipped her mind while working. After a 9-hour shift, she helped her kids with school projects and stopped at her in-laws’ place every other night to check-in. Supper had to wait until 8 pm.
After a few more hours of work and laundry, she finally got into bed and flicked on the TV for an hour or two to settle her mind. By midnight she was finally asleep; on a typical night, she got 5 hours.
After a month or so of daily exercise, Carol noticed that her energy levels didn’t feel quite as high as they had been.
Increasing exercise helped before, so she decided to add more time to her workouts. Instead of 60 minutes, she bumped it up to 80 minutes a day.
She knew it would take her body a few days to adjust, and she pushed through the fatigue, soreness, and her growing exhaustion. But instead of feeling stronger, Carol’s energy crashed.
She struggled to sleep even more, was always hungry, and felt angry more often. She wondered, “What is going on?”
By now, you may have picked up on the importance of a balanced wellness foundation. In this story, it’s obvious Carol’s self-care plan was focused heavily on exercise and caused significant strain on her other systems.
The problem with specializing in one aspect of health and wellness is that you don’t hit all of the essential foundations necessary for your internal systems.
Without considering the rest, your body can’t produce the mental and physical energy you want.
How to balance your health and wellness routine
Disappointment and frustration come from the on-again-off-again health and wellness roller coaster on which we often find ourselves. Simplifying health and wellness and focusing on the essentials keeps us steady.
After working with thousands of women for almost two decades, I’ve heard Carol’s story a lot. It’s not that Carol and women in her shoes aren’t smart enough to figure out how to balance their plans. They just don’t have the right information.
When we skip over the fundamental principles of health, our best efforts don’t provide lasting results.
Focusing on one or two fundamentals leads you to temporary results that inevitably bring you back to square one. Eventually, you hit a certain level of desperation, and you’re forced to find something to help you feel better. And the cycle starts again.
Even small steps take you far.
I know you think, “this is great, Cara-Michele, but I don’t have time to work on many things simultaneously.” I get it. I’m a busy working mid-aged woman just like you.
But I suggest you think you don’t have time because you can only see yourself doing all seven of the essentials at 100%, as Carol did with exercise.
I’m here to tell you, you DON’T have to do that to yourself.
Instead, take your time and work on each piece at a low level until you have the energy to take care of the people and projects you care about the most.
As much as we might want it to be different, there’s no way around our bodies’ basic physiology. Accepting the essential fundamentals as a part of your everyday routine is the quickest, easiest route to consistent mental and physical strength and vitality.
If this blog resonates with you, I invite you to comment below.
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