For a brief period in 2009 and 2010, my health and well-being were at an all-time high. When I think back, it’s ironic that it was at its best while I was going through a divorce. But, at the time, I made a pact with myself to up-level my life. And that looked like changing my thinking and finally dropping the 30 extra pounds I’d been carrying around.
I soon became fascinated with how strong I could get, how far I could push myself, and what challenge or new experience I could take on next.
Later on, I found myself in a bad relationship and down the road to a career I no longer loved. It impacted my health and well-being. I lost the torch I’d been carrying, and the focus on my health began to fall away.
I let external forces — my stressful job and a bad relationship — erode all the mental and physical work I had done to improve my life.
All the bad habits crept back in.
Hated my job? No problem, let’s eat my way through it. And I’m talking all the bad foods — donuts, a whole medium veggie pizza from Domino’s, an entire bar of dark organic chocolate in one sitting, and as many carbs, sugars, and fats I could get my hands on.
Angry, frustrated and stressed about my finances? How about some retail therapy? I’ll buy a $600 handbag or revamp my entire wardrobe. That’ll make me feel better? Right?! Nope.
I used all of it to ease the pain of a job I loathed and my deteriorating financial situation. I overindulged in shopping and food for therapy instead of what I had learned about better health, eating well, and improved mindsets.
I stopped playing tennis, let my road bike sit unused in the garage, and my workout videos started collecting dust. As I backed away from moving my body regularly, my confidence and self-esteem fell apart as well.
Then — job loss; my self-esteem and love for myself got worse. I did my best to focus on the beautiful new opportunity I was presented with, but sadly, thoughts of being useless, old, and unwanted overtook the joy and gratitude.
So here I am. Today. Starting over on that same journey I took in 2009 to focus on simple and intentional health and wellness that I can carry for the long term instead of letting silly external things steal it away from me again.
A simple and intentional approach to wellness
As we age, it requires intentionality to increase brain activity and create lasting change in our lives. Why? Well, from age twenty-five onwards, neurochemicals that fuel creativity, social engagement and novelty begin to decline.
This is why we need to make intentionality toward changing a natural and practiced way of living.
For me, this means two things: 1. creating a simple and actionable plan for becoming the best version of myself, and 2. Making intentionality toward my health and wellness a way of life.
3 actionable steps to help you create a simple and intentional plan for health and wellness
- What do you want?
- Create a simple and intentional plan.
- Follow through and stick with it.
1. What do you want?
Answering this question is sometimes difficult. It requires you to face some challenging emotions that you may be working through. If you’re struggling to understand what you want from your life, there are a few questions you can ask yourself or journal to get a better understanding of where you are now and what you do want:
- Are you avoiding working through challenging emotions? Red flags are eating to work through emotions, addictive behaviours, laziness, and resistance to things you once loved.
- Have you fallen into comfortable routines? We use comfort to self-protect. We stop challenging ourselves and hide away in a cocoon of comfort.
- Are you at a plateau in life? Do you have feelings of being stagnant and want it to change?
- Do you feel less motivated toward change and growth?
- What do you want?
- If you’d like to live healthier, what’s your why? And yes, it can be as simple as wanting to be able to walk to the bathroom when you’re 90 instead of needing help or adult diapers. This one’s on my list.
And here’s my answer to what do you (I) want:
- My biggest reason? I’m in pursuit of the best version of myself.
- Pursue strength, elegance, confidence and being my most vibrant self every day.
- To love and accept my body today just as it is but also pursue becoming the best version of me.
- Being brave and having the courage not to let food, fear, or comfort run my life again.
- To build resilience so I can create long-term, lasting change.
2. Create a simple and intentional plan.
My plan focuses on four key areas:
Exercise, Nutrition, Mental growth, and Emotional growth.
Focus on exercise to create strength, not out of guilt or for punishing myself, or to change something I don’t like about my body.
Exercise should be about pushing limits, celebrating our strength and honouring what we love about our bodies.
I will no longer focus on a number on a scale or tell myself I must lose X pounds. Now, it’s about how great I feel, how my clothes fit and creating lots of endless energy to create the life I desire — feeling good in my body.
Eat real whole foods to fuel my body instead of using food to work through emotions or for comfort.
Indulge in moderation. Because a little dark chocolate never hurt anyone. And I don’t believe in restrictive diets. We all need a little of the foods that make us happy.
It’s about understanding and remembering what foods make you feel gross and which ones make you feel great. When you’re intentional about the food-mind-body connection, you’ll become aware of what makes you feel awful when you eat it and associate feeling awful or bloated with that food and avoid it.
Be intentional about learning new skills and experiencing new things. Be a lifelong learner.
Focus on stillness to allow my intuition to take the wheel and guide me.
Bloom from within by fostering self-love and working through challenging emotions without crutches like food.
Self-care is priority #1. Mindfulness, meditation, and restorative yoga are all on my list for staying sane, focusing on flexibility, and being healthy and vibrant.
Meditation creates stillness and space to recharge.
3. Follow through.
Well-being is a skill we can develop. With practice and intention, we can build better health and wellness habits to reach our goals and keep ourselves in a constant state of thriving, instead of yo-yo-ing all over the place. Follow-through requires three things: commitment, perseverance and discipline. You have to get up and exercise whether you like it or not. You have to reach for healthy food even though you feel like eating a box of donuts. You have to keep your mind focused on the end goal. And that is to live well, be well, and feel amazing every day. It’s about training your brain to crave the good stuff instead of the bad stuff.
Our wellness affects so many areas of our lives; if it’s not good, it can stop us from achieving what we truly desire out of life. My wellness break in Hawaii was the perfect reset I needed. It broke the cycle of stress, exhaustion and unhealthy eating. And it gave me the white space to focus my energy on my creativity again. Creativity does not thrive in a place of stress, exhaustion and comparing. It also broke my unhealthy pattern of picking up my phone every 5 seconds. From now on, my focus is on change and making it a practiced way of living.