Creating a Wellness Routine That Works
Why the setup is so crucial to the execution
It's relatively safe to say that we've all been out of our routines during the past year. In times when we most need to take care of ourselves with a wellness routine, it has become increasingly difficult for most of us to stick to one. As fitness centers reopen and COVID restrictions loosen, now is the perfect time to start getting back into a routine and taking better care of ourselves. A wellness routine should be tailored to your goals, fit you as an individual, and work with your lifestyle.
It's instrumental that you set yourself up for success. Debbie DeAngelo, RNC, a holistic health coach, suggests three ways to do that:
- Determine your motivation. This is your why. It's the specific reason that you want to take your life in a different direction. Your motivator must be very strong and meaningful because this is what will help keep you going when you feel like giving up.
- Anticipate a marathon, not a sprint. Lifestyle changes are not short-term solutions. They are long-term strategies. You didn't get to an unhealthy state overnight, so don't expect to return to a vibrant state of health overnight either. Slowly but surely, you will get there and stay there.
- Take the time to plan and prepare. In your exuberance to turn your life around, you may be inclined to jump right in with both feet. DeAngelo encourages her health coaching clients to take a few days to assemble everything they require (i.e. food prep and meal planning, scheduling exercise time, and buying any equipment or clothing they need, etc.) to ensure a seamless transition to their healthier way of living.
Jack Sullivan, owner of FitPlus, says that taking account of your starting point is also really important. "Unfortunately in this day and age with social media and wanting that instant gratification that we see in the pictures, sometimes people set themselves up for failure. A lot of people don't realize that you have to put your body in a position to start building muscle and burning body fat and sometimes you can't do that until [you go through] what you might call a detoxification period where you get those markers in line, decrease inflammation, and set your body up to start working harder than it has been."
Sullivan urges those starting a wellness routine to be realistic and always keep looking at the benefits of what you are doing. "If you aren't happy with the scale but you are finding that you are feeling better and stronger, sleeping better, and your clothes fit better, these are all good markers that you are moving in the right direction. Sometimes those smaller markers are actually the big milestones because they are setting your body up to be more successful down the line if you continue to have the discipline and stay on the path."
Sticking with a wellness routine also demands consistency over time and discipline. "When you start to lose your motivation, that's when the discipline kicks in," said Sullivan. "No matter what you're trying to accomplish in life, discipline is your key to success and is going to be your backbone to anything you try to excel at because over time, it's human nature to lose motivation. You're going to have bad days and setbacks, and so, discipline will always help you hold the line."
When goal setting, DeAngelo cautions that you shouldn't bite off more than you can chew and to set both short- and long-term goals. "It's really more effective to keep your plan simple and take it slowly. It's better to set one goal at a time and focus on achieving it than it is to feel scattered and overwhelmed by the enormity of conquering multiple goals at once. Attainable goals are as specific as possible and have no more than three detailed steps for achieving them. The detailed steps are the things you will implement every day to get you closer to your goal," said DeAngelo. "Progress is more important than perfection. No one is perfect and nobody has a perfect lifestyle. There will always be splurges, slip-ups, and setbacks. That's ok… it's normal. It's what you do afterwards that determines your long-term success. Will you go right back to your healthy routine or will you use it as an excuse to give up?"
Sullivan says that at Fit Plus, having accountability is a big help for his clients to stick to their routines and meet their goals and can also help get them back on track when they do inevitably fall off.
"When you have people pushing for you, rooting you on, and holding you accountable and raising that bar for you even when you don't feel like reaching for it, it can make the biggest difference. In our darkest hours sometimes it is easier to let ourselves down than it is to let others down, so it can make a big difference to have that support," said Sullivan.
The experts all agree that there is no shame in getting help to assist you in the process, especially if you are attempting to completely change your lifestyle or if you have had several unsuccessful attempts in the past. Most people are much better at accomplishing wellness goals when they have professional support and guidance. A coach, trainer, nutritionist, or other wellness expert helps you stay accountable to your goals by having you check in and report your progress and can lift you up and provide encouragement when you feel discouraged.
"You have to do your research and have the right help and the right people around you. You also have to become educated about what you're doing and remember that everyone's body is different. Be clear about what your goals are, and how much time you have to commit," Sullivan said.
The starting line differs by individual. Most people know what is and isn't working in their life. DeAngelo suggests that people ask themselves, "What do I need to do to support my physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being?" She added, "Our body really only requires the fundamentals to function well. Unfortunately, these are the areas that we tend to neglect. The motto that I follow, and use with my clients, is 'Eat right, sleep tight, move more, stress less.'"
"The proper mindset is crucial to any type of change," said DeAngelo. "You can't just desire to take your life in a new direction; you must be truly willing to do so. It's not enough to want to change for someone else or because you think you should. You need to be genuinely committed to yourself and your well-being. "
Remember that a wellness routine is all about what works for you. Taking small steps, setting goals, and focusing on living your life with intention are great ways to start. Learning to reduce stress by increasing the healthy activities in your life will have you well on your way to wellness. Jack Sullivan encourages people to check out FitPlus at 2421 Asbury Road and join the Fit Fam. Debbie DeAngelo can be reached at debbie@HealthonHeels.com.
Amy VanScoter is a certified yoga instructor at SchoolHouse Yoga in Erie with a passion for wellness, and a marketing and communications professional. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.