Put Your Wellness Why Before Your What

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Do you ever stop to consider the impact that your wellness choices have on your day-to-day life or are you generally so busy going through the motions as you hop from one task to another? Often, I find that exercise is something on my list to check off so I can move on to the next item for the day. And sometimes I’m simply trying to get a meal on the table in a timely fashion, so the nutritional content of what’s on the plate is not of complete interest. As military spouses, I think we’ve all been there— especially when the daily routine changes on a moment’s notice, PCS is happening and visitors are staying for extended periods of time as they join in our military journeys to distant locations around the world. The impact of the shifts that we face in the military community have a great effect on our wellness habits, whether we like to admit it or not. 

 I was thinking the other day about how overwhelming it may seem to pursue wellness. It can be a daunting and exhausting topic to explore without the right resources or people to bring clarity. At times, it seems there are endless possibilities, ultimately leaving us empty of solutions. There are so many diet plans marketed online. An array of workouts exists on websites like Pinterest. And then there are social media contacts who are posting photos of their personalized e-recipes, downloadable workout plans, and general tips for healthy living. What are people to do with all of the information being thrown our way? How do we know which plan is best? Which model is most efficient for each body type? What does the research reallysay? And what is a Tabata workout, anyway? 

 When those are the questions swimming through our heads, it’s no wonder that many women shy away from jumping in with both feet when it comes to a consistent food and fitness regimen. And that doesn’t even take into account the stress level of trying to figure it all out on our own as we shift from one duty station to the next. Did you know that statistics actually show that 95% of all illness is either caused by or worsened by stress? 

 The encouragement lies in the fact that healthy eating and establishing regular movement routines don’t have to be draining. Structuring life around staying healthy can actually be enjoyable because it allows a level of freedom and flexibility for individual needs or preferences. I find comfort in the idea that wellness is not a one-size-fits-allapproach. And while all of those whatquestions hold value (and many of them have crossed my mind too), I want to push you to begin/pause/continue on your personal journey toward health with a different question. Why?

·       Why am I pursuing information about health and wellness? 

·       Why do I have an interest in a specific diet plan or workout? 

·       Why do I feel strongly about one format over the other? 

·       Why am I striving toward better eating habits?

Quite possibly ask yourself: 

·       Do I feel the need to look a certain way because I'm comparing myself to what I see on social media? 

·       Do I prefer a certain diet or form of movement because it seems like the in thing right now? 

·       Am I struggling with a specific health concern (internally or externally) and looking for clarity and support?

·       Do I need direction and help with recipes and/or meal planning because life has me firing on all cylinders right now?

Before you answer, "What are my goals as I journey through wellness?" or, "What is my plan of action for getting healthy/ier?" ask yourself, "Why do I desire a change?" Once you've got that question answered, it will allow you to gain the most out of your experience. 

Just a few tips as you journey toward wellness:

·      Stay connected to like-minded people who will help build a foundation for your health practices while holding you accountable.

·      Don’t be rigid in your food or fitness routine. Stay adaptable while remaining consistent in making healthful choices to develop positive habits. 

·      When your environment seems to offer unfamiliar situations, don’t let them throw you off your course. Adapt and regroup. Maintain your health practices as best you can in the face of transition.

·      Give yourself grace, knowing that one positive choice you make in your mind and one follow through in your actions is already pointing you in the right direction. 

·      Even if you don’t feel as if you are seeing results, stay the course. Your rewards will become evident with continued effort. And remember, it takes at least four weeks to build a habit or to undo a bad habit. Stick with it!

·      Stay true to who you are, be realistic with your current levels and abilities, and honor your interests. As you promote healthy living, in whichever way you see fit, it will encourage others to do the same. How amazing would it be to encourage those around you as they journey on the road to wellness?

I encourage you to develop or adapt your why for health so that you may become strong, consistently showing growth (as small as you think it may be), and allow your plans to be adaptable for all seasons and situations. As you ask yourself why,you’ll begin designing a lifestyle that helps you find a healthier version of yourself.

ABOUT ALECIA

Alecia Ritzema is a military spouse, lover of travel, and a coffee-drinking connoisseur. She holds a BA in Psychology, a Master of Education degree, and is a certified ACE® Group Fitness Instructor. Through IDEA Health & Fitness Association, she holds the Understanding Hormones Certificate and a certification in Functional Foods. Alecia is an educator at heart and passionate about the physical and mental well-being of women everywhere. She believes that information and education are the tools that help women cultivate meaningful lives of wellness. Personally, she has seen the value that a diet rich in plants and whole foods has on the natural functions of the body. She understands the need for regular movement to maintain hormone balance and is continually learning the specifics of self-care for stress management. Alecia has an interest in the integrated connections that stress (physical, situational, mental, or emotional) can have on nutritional choices, emotions, and the body's natural ability to repair itself. Simply stated, she enjoys living well and teaching others to do the same. 

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