Exercise, Self-Care, and Finding the Right Balance to Boost Your Overall Wellness

Photo credit: Pixabay.com

Please check out this excellent article by Shiela Olson which explores the delicate balance between pushing yourself to the next level and nurturing yourself at the same time.

– By Sheila Olson of fitsheila.com

You’ve decided you’re ready to stop perpetuating a cycle of sleeping in on weekends, spending weeknights slumped over in your couch, and eating out at greasy burger joints every other meal. You’re ready to live a healthier and happier lifestyle, and you’ve known the answer all along — diet and exercise. Diets aren’t very effective when practiced every other week, and fitness requires you to keep up and even build up the intensity over time.

So, what’s the secret?

The Importance of Prolonging Good Fitness

When someone decides they are ready to start running every day, or some other form of exercise, they typically feel this fire within themselves to keep it up. You go in for your first day, and you feel exhausted, but you also still feel pretty good knowing that you’ve taken your first step at getting healthy. After a few more gym sessions, you notice that you aren’t just tired but also sore, and that goodwill for better living starts to feel a little less compelling.

It’s natural to give it your all the first few times before your mind and body start to naturally resist the transformation that is occurring. It’s the kind of transformation that people from all walks of life seek to make their lives better. It’s why so many recovering addicts start running and bodybuilding. Exercise not only changes how we look on the outside but how we feel on the inside. It reduces stress and boosts positive self-image and confidence.

The process of transformation can be difficult and uncomfortable at times, especially when you’re just starting out, which is why it is important to not overdo it. If you work too hard or put too much emphasis on your physical fitness, you run the risk of burning out and not making the kind of progress you are looking for.

The Meaning Behind Self-Care

Right now, the buzzword of the day seems to be self-care. People are starting to collectively realize that we don’t need to punish ourselves to live our best lives. Exercise shouldn’t be something you dread to do but something you look forward to. To remedy this natural resistance to living healthier and a fitness-oriented lifestyle, people are turning to self-care as a way to supplement diet and exercise and avoid burning out during the process.

One of the ways you can practice self-care is by leaving plenty of rest days in between workouts to give your body time to recover. Recovery is essential to practicing good physical fitness and ensuring you have enough energy to keep going back to grind week after week. Self-care also addresses showing yourself love in alternative ways. Exercise is important for our physical health, but we also need to consider our mental and emotional health as well. Beyond exercise, there are a number of activities you can do, such as meditation, reading a book, or pursuing a hobby, that can all fill a specific need you have in your life.

The Need for Balance in Your Life

When you approach your physical fitness as just one piece of the puzzle, then you can start looking at other ways to enhance your life, while not overdoing your diet and exercise. You won’t just be working hard, you’ll be working smart. You’ll know that there are many activities you can work on to improve your overall well-being. By balancing out these different self-care activities, you will always make yourself better while also keeping a very diverse routine. Some days, you will be focused on your physical fitness, but when you need to rest and recover, you can then switch gears and focus on your mental and emotional health as well.

Once you decide it’s time to make a change, you’ve already started your journey to improve your wellness. You may have attempted to change your life a few times now, but all of those past experiences were just the lead up to this one moment where you finally committed to achieving personal wellness and living your best life.

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

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What If It All Shuts Down?

Ever since we hit the era of Google and the information superhighway, we have become as spoiled as fattened swine on the plethora of technology which swarms around us constantly. It’s been an interesting study in contrasts for me, because I spent my childhood without any of the fancy technological bells and whistles which earmark the new millennium. I remember making and receiving phone calls on a beige rotary dial phone, and if I didn’t want to talk to someone, I just left the receiver off the cradle. Now THAT was call blocking! We didn’t even have the luxury of answering machines back in those days. And tooling around on personal computers wasn’t part of our daily routine either.

Now we have personal computers which are so handy that we carry them around in the form of laptops, tablets, and cell phones. We navigate via global satellite, search for factoids via Google or Bing, and pretty much have the world quite literally in the palms of our hands.

Yet what happens when a phone runs out of battery power, or if a power outage threatens to shut us down? The thought honestly makes me shudder, and is part of the reason why I will never take the advice of my sister and digitize all of the photos from my photo albums (I have 39 photo albums, mostly from my mother’s photo collection), then destroy the original photos to save space in my home. Yes, a fire could destroy those photos, but I am not too keen on the idea of storing images on a disk or hard drive and relying on a computer whenever I want to view those images.

Today’s society is so image-driven, yet who is bothering to save these captures in a precious archive? Though I have a habit of printing out images from important events (like birthdays and holidays), I’m sure I am in the minority. I have also noticed that there are some online searches I have conducted which are later deleted or moved, so the information is forever lost. Maybe I’m old school, but there’s something to be said about holding onto an item, whether it be a printed photo, a printout of a Google search, or financial documents.

Pack Your Meals! Tips On How To Succeed

containers-stacked-for-storageAnyone who knows me well is aware of the fact that I am consistent about packing clean meals and toting them around with me throughout the day. It can be cumbersome to pack food, especially when I know I will be out of the house for most of the day, but by doing so I have peace of mind knowing that I will be able to stay on track with my meal plan no matter what. Competitors and fitness professionals practice this habit and can attest to the power of clean eating in maintaining a sculpted, muscular physique.


However, I realize that many of you who do not compete or have an involvement in fitness may be wondering if there is any point to packing meals if you are an average person. There are a multitude of benefits to be gained from packing meals for the day:

• Portion Control – If you measure and weigh your portions before placing them into containers, you will have full control over your intake.

• Cooking Method – Steaming, baking, boiling, grilling and poaching are easy cooking methods which also enable you to prepare food without adding unnecessary fat.

• Save Money – By purchasing food at the grocery store and preparing it yourself, you will save a significant amount of money.

• Maintain A Low Sodium Diet – Restaurants often add significant amounts of sodium to enhance the flavor of their dishes. If you are trying to keep your sodium intake low, you are better off preparing your own food.

• Accommodate Medical Dietary Restrictions And Food Allergies – Restaurant meals may add ingredients which are forbidden from your meal plan due to medical conditions or food allergies. Instead of taking a risk, you are better off preparing your meals and packing them with you.

When I worked the Arnold Sports Festival Expo in Columbus, Ohio earlier this month, I made sure to drink plenty of water, filling up my one liter container 3 to 4 times each day. I also brought my Hot Logic Mini with me (https://youtu.be/GQltYTRLTC4) and had meals from Icon Meals (https://iconmeals.com/) with me, and I made sure to consume a meal every 3 hours to keep my energy levels up. If you are committed to living a healthy lifestyle, you will find ways to stay in line!

I always recommend tempered glass storage containers over plastic, since heating up ingredients in most plastic containers carries a risk of deranging the plastic and releasing harmful chemicals into the food. I make an exception with BPA-free containers, and recommend the types which have locking lids to prevent leakage of food.
6-Pack-Bag_Details-small
The BEST meal packing system out there is made by Six Pack Bags:
https://www.sixpackbags.com/bags.html

By adopting the habit of packing your meals, you will be on the road to better health!

The Power of NO (Updated Post)

How often do you agree to do something when you are either completely unmotivated to do it, or are so over-burdened by other responsibilities that you feel like you are shackling yourself to an impossible schedule? Maybe you’re known as the “nicest person” who always manages to make time for everybody no matter what. And maybe you don’t want people to think otherwise about you, despite the fact that your energy and your patience are worn thin by people who always seem to drain the very lifeblood from you, and expect you to do everything for them at the drop of a hat.

Have you ever considered using the word NO once in a while? By setting limits and boundaries, you will keep energy vampires at bay, and you give yourself a chance to balance out your life so that you don’t burn yourself out. I am sure that the people who have taken your availability for granted will be stunned when you respond to a request with NO, but they’ll get used to it. Whenever I gather the courage to refuse a request, a feeling of complete relief washes over me, especially if I feel like I am drowning in the wide expanse of my to-do list.

When you refuse a request, task, or invitation, you finally allow yourself to take a break. As long as you aren’t shirking responsibilities, you absolutely should feel like you deserve to clear the space around you, especially if you are in dire need of recharging your own batteries. There’s something I say to patients quite frequently, and that is, remember to put the oxygen mask over your OWN face. If you don’t nurture yourself, you won’t perform as well in all the roles you play in your life, whether it’s employee, boss, parent, spouse, etc.

It’s completely acceptable to draw the line in the sand, and to establish boundaries which preserve your sense of self and which keep your life, and your spirit, balanced and happy. If you are having difficulty asserting yourself and getting to the power of NO, then try this: whenever someone asks you for a favor or invites you somewhere, just say that you need to think about it or check your schedule, which is not a lie, and that you will let that person know soon. That gives you a window of time to evaluate the situation, and to determine if you have the time or the resources to accommodate the invitation or request.

Another important consideration is whether you have the inclination to take part in the task or event. Be honest with yourself! I see too many people agree to do things they don’t want to do, then they are steeped in misery. This doesn’t give you permission to be difficult, selfish, or uncooperative, but it certainly gives you some breathing room. If your heart isn’t in it, then don’t do it!

Remember that you will be better equipped to serve others if you take care of yourself first.