As a Wellness Health Educator, I am constantly surrounded by all aspects of wellness. I spend the majority of my time trying to figure out how to simplify the plethora of information available, so that busy, sleep-deprived college students will adopt health promoting behaviors. And you know what? It’s not easy. It’s not easy, because we love to complicate all aspects related to health. I found that even though I developed health messaging that simplified behaviors, encouraged students to set realistic goals, and not be hard on themselves, I was not taking my own advice…in pretty much every aspect of my life. After a year full of change (think getting married, new job, relocation and new car), I finally did some internal reflection. Basically, I was trying to stay sane.
You see, I enjoy planning…probably a little too much. With planning comes lists- piles of lists. A year full of big changes meant there were a lot of lists. Creating a super long to-do list used to make me oddly giddy as I would mentally prepare for the a long day of productivity (it’s sick, I know). I would plop on the couch after buzzing around all day feeling unsatisfied, because I didn’t cross everything off the list. I would get frustrated and stressed when it was 3pm on Sunday and not even half of my list was complete. But I was so productive, how could that be?! Then I realized it, I was setting myself up for failure.
Around the time of this epiphany, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, “Happier with Gretchen Rubin”, and the theme for the episode was “Lower the Bar”. Wait what?! I don’t have to strive for perfection? This message really hit home for me. I realized that I can still focus on those things that are important to me, but if it doesn’t always work out or I can’t cross off every task then that’s OK. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my lists. Let’s just say I’m using lists in moderation and I’m trying to focus more on mindfulness and gratitude.
The lowering the bar mentality also transferred into my fitness and nutrition philosophy. Don’t fall off your seat, I still love exercising and a big serving of greens. I simply decided to let loose a little bit or sometimes a lot. I realized that instead of exercising for enjoyment, I was just grinding through the motions hoping to get some results. When we moved, I had to switch gyms and develop a whole new exercise routine. I decided to use this opportunity to get in touch with my passion for exercise again. I constantly tell students to just move and do something they enjoy, rather than worrying if the type of exercise they are doing is the most effective. So, rather than attending classes everyday and doing the prewritten workout, I started doing what my body felt like doing. Sometimes that means doing intensely sweaty workouts, but other times that means going on a long walk or practicing yoga. If I miss a day, it’s not the end of the world.
I also embraced the “lowering the bar” mentality with my eating habits. As much as I would love to admit that I eat the recommended 7-11 servings of fruits and vegetables a day (I know! That’s so many!) and don’t have the sweet tooth of a child, that would be a lie. I definitely try to consume as many fruits and veggies as I can, but life doesn’t always work in my favor. There will be holiday gatherings, happy hours and bar food, tantalizing baked goods, and other opportunities to indulge. However, I realized it’s what I do long term that matters. So I stopped beating myself up over those time periods when my food intake was rather abysmal, because they never last. My regular desire for nutritious food comes back and veggies become the star of my meals again. This does not mean I’m going to stop bringing salads to parties, because I still believe veggies always deserve a fighting chance.
If you ask me anything about pop culture, I will probably just look at you with a blank face and try to seem interested. Did I just hear you say something related to food, exercise or well-being though? You now have my undivided attention. For as long as I can remember, I have loved everything related to health and wellness. More than anything though, I love sharing what I learn with others. You may be wondering why it took me so long to start a blog then. Well, I was afraid. Phew, it feels good to get that out in the open. I realized though that I really couldn’t fail, because having a blog would only allow me to share my passion for all things health and wellness with others. I am looking forward to starting this journey and sharing my passion with you!