When you started the health and fitness journey you’re on now, what was your goal?
Perhaps to ‘get fit’, ‘be healthy’, ‘to try something new’, ‘tone up’ or ‘lose weight’?
I expect these are the most common reasons people state when they decide to get active and eat better.
But does anyone actually ever say ‘I want to be well’?
Surely none of these other goals can or should be achieved without first being ‘well’. So shouldn’t our ultimate goal be ‘wellness’?
Wellness (as a way of living and being) was the key take-out for me of a women’s seminar I attended last Sunday, put together by the manager of CrossFit Athletic Brookvale, Meredith Julliard, with a little help from her friends 😉
Without realising it in advance, I think, the key speakers on the day all directly or indirectly spoke to wellness over and above anything else. Wellness of the body. Wellness of the mind. Wellness of the spirit.
The seminar, called ‘Secret Ladies Business’ was held at the Mona Vale CrossFit site on a scorcher of a day.
Armed with yoga mats and plenty of water, we braved the 38 degree heat, ready to take time out for ourselves, relax and receive.
A large room full of women is always going to create a positive and strong energy, and this day was no exception. I thought I would share some of the salient points with you guys because, well, every little helps, right? Every little thing we can do or learn to bring ‘wellness’ into our lives is a good thing.
Most people will first think about the body when they are embarking on a new health or fitness journey.
The importance of wellness of the mind, however, was brought home by the first guest speaker, Sarah Spence from The Butterfly Foundation. The Butterfly Foundation provides support for Australians who suffer from eating disorders and negative body image issues, and so Sarah was the perfect person to open up the discussion on loving yourself, of being well mentally and emotionally.
Some shocking statistics illustrate exactly how big and frightening the problem of not ‘loving yourself’ is. For example, those suffering from anorexia are 32 times more likely to commit suicide than people suffering from any other mental illness. And did you know that 90% of 12-17 year old girls are on some type of diet? Or that body image, for the last 4 reports, has ranked in the top 3 issues of concern for our youth. This both saddens and worries me, as I’m sure it does you.
Sarah reminded us all to be careful about how we talk about ourselves. Be mindful of who is hearing you say ‘I feel a bit fat today’, ‘I hate my tummy’, or ‘does my bum look big in this?’ Children learn from us, and if they hear us talking like this, how can we expect them to grow up doing otherwise? This will be their norm.
But it’s not just about kids.
We also need to be more mindful of how we talk about ourselves amongst ourselves.
I have a few different groups of girlfriends. In one group, we all seem to put ourselves down, talk about how much weight we’ve put on or lost, what our bodies look like, how ‘fat’ we feel. It’s exhausting and negative, and I often come away feeling a little down.
In another group of women, we never even talk about our weight or bodies. Ever! It’s soooooo refreshing! I didn’t really notice the negativity elsewhere until I had spent a bit of time with these new training buddies who literally never mentioned it. Because talking negatively about myself and my body had become the norm for me.
And then you start doing it when you’re on your own too, becoming your own worst critic and enemy. And that can lead, as Sarah points out, to a very dangerous place.
Who cares whether your tummy is a bit wobbly? Seriously, who cares? Who minds if you’re not a size 6?
As Dr Seuss says (and he is the font of all knowledge, am I correct?) – those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
We need to love ourselves more, embrace our bodies… all the good stuff and all the stuff we’re not crazy about. Our bodies are working and fighting to keep us alive all day every day, we need to pay more respect to that, and stress less about the diameter of our thighs.
Pay more attention to being and feeling well, less on our body image. And you know what, if we are well on the inside, physically and mentally and spiritually, then I reckon we look damn cute on the outside too. As Audrey Hepburn said ‘happy girls are the prettiest’.
So assuming we’ve got our mindset sorted, how do we get to feel really well physically? Danielle Minnebo shared her advice.
As Danielle, nutritionist and founder of organic health food company Food to Nourish says, size is not the measure of wellness.
Wellness is about energy levels, sleeping patterns, how well we handle stress and recover from training, how our eyes and skin and hair look and feel, our mood, our eating patterns…. It is not about a thigh gap or a six pack.
Danielle’s advice, as a nutritionist, is to come from a place of love, not hate. To focus on wellness, not weightloss. Not to count calories but rather to ensure that all the food we are putting into our bodies is going to truly nourish us. Because that is what our bodies deserve and that is what is ultimately going to get us feeling ‘well’. There’s no point being a size 6 if you’re always hungry and moody, skip your periods and feel weak or can’t sleep.
Danielle breaks down what each plate of food you eat should look like:
- Palm size serving of protein
- Half a plate of veggies
- I cup of carbs (preferably gluten free)
- Some good fats
- Some fermented foods or drink (like kombucha – learn how to make your own here)
Achieve this at breaky, lunch and dinner and I reckon you’re at least half way to wellness. At LEAST!
Throw away the scales, says Danielle. Move and eat in (healthy) ways you enjoy, and don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself with others.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
I need to keep telling myself this. Especially when I practice yoga, which doesn’t come naturally (at all!) to my long limbs. Luckily for me, Louise Kelly from Surfside Yoga, runs beautiful sessions that feed your soul, in an encouraging, loving and supportive way that makes me want to keep trying.
And today was no exception. Louise led all 70-odd of us in an hour-long yoga practice. She shared with us her own personal journey and left us with this beautiful quote.
“Your life is a sacred journey. It is about change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation, continually expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul, learning to see clearly & deeply. Listening to your intuition, taking courageous challenges at every step along the way. You are on the path…exactly where you are meant to be right now. And from here, you can only go forward, shaping your life story into a magnificent take of triumph, healing, courage, beauty, wisdom, power, dignity & love”
If you live on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, you must try a session at Surfside Yoga in Narrabeen, Louise really does have a magical touch.
Meredith herself closed the day. Meredith is my trainer at CrossFit Athletic. Meredith is passionate. Meredith is on a mission…
“Seriously I am on a mission, a mission to make wellness sexy. It actually kills me that people are prepared to live, even choose to live so unwell.
It’s not ok to be tired and blue everyday. It’s not ok to get worn down and sickly every few weeks. It’s not ok to run off little sleep and survive on coffee and adrenalin and it’s definitely not ok to just push through.
If you know me, you will surely know that being “well” is my highest value. For me to be well I need to laugh, like actually have a fricken good time in my day to day. I need to eat real food, move and train my body. I don’t need to be any great athlete, but I do need to sweat and shake it off a little. I need good thoughts in my head. I need to look in the mirror and give myself a cheeky smile. I need good people in my company, people that make my heart happy and that I can invest into.
The norm of today is a far cry from what we were created to be. We suffer along in sickness and place the “it’s normal” banner over our poor health to help us accept the sad reality of how we truly feel. So what to do now ? We just wake up, and whatever situations we have control over in that day, we choose wellness. We choose a good breakfast, choose to smile, choose to not buy into other people’s bullshit. Choose to have a lunch break. Choose to give up a bit of screen time for some play time. And we choose to grab hold of the reins of our lives with both hands and ride it well. I know it sounds simplified, but seriously most things in life just come down to a choice. So choose .”
Meredith Julliard, CrossFit Athletic
So, choose wellness over weight loss.
Wellness over a size 6.
Wellness over negativity.
Wellness over striving for some kind of unrealistic perfection.
And when you choose ‘wellness’ as your motivation, as your goal, I think that goal can be more easily achieved and your initial targets of being fit and healthy will fall more easily into place. Only, with ‘wellness’, your body doesn’t suffer for the sake of how you look, and your mind and your soul will benefit too.
I’m choosing wellness. You?