Let’s jump into this a bit…
The reason I take this point of view is simple - there are no two individuals the same. Whether it is current health or health history, activity level, or overall lifestyle, etc.; we are all different in a variety of ways. These differences are important. These differences drive the main reason why we must self-evaluate constantly, be open to the ideas and experiences of others, and never try to fit into a rigid, very dogmatic program intended to ‘improve’ health and/or wellness.
The only dogma we should follow is based solely on our own needs.
I mean on some levels there will certainly be similarities, and in some cases so many similarities that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to wellness and fitness will work, for a limited duration.
But let’s face it; a ‘one size fits all’ point of view is too simplistic. It’s way too general, and when companies and individuals identify and push a OSFA approach, they are taking advantage of a potentially disillusioned and vulnerable population.
I encourage you to do some self-work to be sure you do not fall into this category.
BEWARE THE GENERALITIES!
Common issues, interests, and protocols around wellness are all over the media in many different forms – news, TV, radio, podcasts, blogs, books, websites, smartphone apps, etc. This should be good, right? I mean it seems like we have tons of resources at our fingertips.
And that leads me to this question:
How can we be one of the wealthiest, most technologically advanced countries in the world also be one of the most unhealthy and “un-well” societies? And getting worse…
I’ll tell you why, or at least give you my take:
Two reasons -
Number One - The wide variety of topics, or clutter as I see it, is very tough to follow and really understand because there is so much available to us. Information overload is what I call it.
Our natural filter that helps us determine what is good information, and what is bad information, is clogged, and we become aimless. Our filter no longer works as designed.
Number Two – and this is the big one for me, because the information being shared around wellness is not sustainable – it’s way too general. And there are so many experts out there – it’s hard to find people we can trust and that really know how to help us understand our individual needs. How can we trust them when they do not even know us, individually? More on that soon…
I’m sure you’ll agree that most of what you read and hear around wellness is designed to be more SHOCKING and reactionary rather than proactive and individual. And what’s more is that there is no encouragement for folks to learn about what is best for them, at least without being introduced to a sales pitch.
And enter the expert, guru, leaders, what ever you want to call them, or what they call themselves…
Through these folks and their witty charm and charisma, we’re being TOLD what to do; TOLD how to eat; TOLD when and how to workout; and TOLD what to buy. It’s all WHAT, WHAT, WHAT!
There are many different opinions and points of view, and it’s very confusing. Absolutely nothing wrong with opinions. We all have them. Our opinions are created and driven by our experiences.
But it’s downright wrong to use an opinion to become a fear monger, especially around health and wellness. And that’s what is happening!
It makes me think, that some people just cannot be trusted with an opinion.
Lot’s of folks have become an expert in absolute theories and modalities in wellness. Being a scientist or researcher reporting results and findings is one thing. But folks outside of that realm, have egos that have overrun our wellness intentions!
What has happened to us? Where does this go wrong, and how does it impact us?
Let’s take a quick look at a microcosm of where this is getting out of hand. Where these generalities begin to really take their toll:
- People are encouraged to think all generalities apply to them – but information is missing
- Generalities are typically not sustainable at the individual-level – the human body and mind are made of cycles; these cycles drive the diversity in needs for all of us
- Marketers, diet gurus, and nutritional & fitness cult leaders (let’s call them what they are people…) take advantage of the generalities in wellness to pawn-off ideas and advice, feed egos, and build sub-cultures that can be very dangerous
Here’s the nasty paradox you need to be aware of: the ‘one size fits all’ approach SELLS and it’s easy to execute when a coach/trainer/nutrition guru is looking to make money by providing quick, simple steps to get from ‘BEFORE’ to ‘AFTER’. That’s it!
It all becomes noise - but like I said, rarely does this ‘one size fits all’ approach prove itself to sustainable.
Sustainability is the key to life-changing, life-long success. Everyone evolves differently.
But there’s a way to avoid this.
MAKE THE MOVE!
So, how do we transition from hearing the generalities in wellness that cause us to take blind action, and keep us from understanding our own specific health and wellness priorities?
First, we need to identify and understand our own needs.
For me, as a coach and trainer, to help folks avoid the pitfalls of a limited and often rigid wellness dogma, I try to get people to understand these three concepts:
- Why do you want to achieve those results
- How do you plan to achieve those results, and
- What does success look like or reveal itself to be for you over time based on a specific current assessment of your health and wellness
And this is a cycle that repeats over and over again – needing constant attention. And that’s what being ‘WELL’ takes – constant attention to be sustainable.
Honestly, I find it difficult to connect and work with a client or athlete that doesn’t really grasp this concept. It’s like people expect immediate change, or they begin to compare themselves to others. That doesn’t work. Again, it takes time.
But once you begin to ‘see’ this, you’ll know you’re on your way! Progress is encouraging and can be the most effective motivator – but those first few indicators of progress can take time.
Our lives our busy! We are not professional athletes, or celebrities that have blocks of time where our schedules are open and we can spend 90% of our time on our own wellness. This is where the ‘How’ comes into play. Your ‘how’ will look different than somebody else’s ‘how’ because you lead different lives and have different responsibilities.
This means we must intelligently prioritize our needs – this assessment of priorities really begins at understanding our intentions.
So, for now, and the rest of this episode, let’s focus on the ‘Why’….
Why your ‘WHY’
Simon Sinek so eloquently stated in his TED Talk that “inspired organizations, regardless of their size, regardless of their industry, all think, act, and communicate from the inside out.”
Think about that for a minute – from the inside out: think, act, and communicate.
These inspired organizations do not allow outside influences to dictate their direction; they change the game themselves – on their terms!
According to Sinek, this is all based on the fact that people buy into you because of your
‘why’ and not your ‘what’.
This is a fascinating concept that I’m really bought into because this concept forces me to start asking myself:
“Am I bought in to what I believe?”. But more importantly, “Am I ACTING on what I believe?”
Now you think about it: “Are you taking action based on what you believe, for yourself?”
I’m a big fan of leadership and management theory – It is part of my unique ‘nerdy-ness’. These are theories that have fascinated me, and molded my style of leadership in management positions throughout my career.
Now I’m beginning to applying these theories to myself, on another level and introducing it to others that engage my help – creating internal missions and values focused less the outside influences and more on internally-rooted needs.
I’m not going to sit here and regurgitate Sinek’s entire “why” philosophy to you – that would be unproductive, and probably some sort of copyright infringement that’ll put myself on the hot seat. I do encourage you to watch the two extraordinary TED talks featuring Simon Sinek. You’ll get a lot out of them. I only wish I had his speaking ability.
So, again – in a different way, I ask this question based on Sinek’s point:
Are we; are you, bought into your own ‘Why’?
Is there an alignment between what we believe – truly, like deep down – and our actions? I ask you to really think about that.
Then think about what brought you to those beliefs. Some of you may be surprised what you find out.
Again, this concept is conventionally applied to leadership in organizations with clear visions and missions. But how can we apply this to our own values and mission in our life? Our own mission which is an ever-changing journey to wellness?
Very simply - But it takes time and some work – but well worth it, in my opinion.
You must establish your own value set and mission statement. This is where you will begin to understand your “why”.
When you begin to understand your values and personal mission, the reason why you want to accomplish a certain goal, the path towards achieving the goal, and what the action looks like to get there becomes much clearer, and may even change.
Let me give you example:
Very often these days we are bombarded with blogs and articles that give us lists or numbered steps on how to do something like: 5 steps to wellness; 10 foods to avoid when trying to loose weight; 12 steps to avoid procrastination; 8 ways to support your kids, How to quit sugar, etc. I think most of the content in this form, just states the obvious.
While this information is helpful as a reference, this information almost consistently leaves out one important concept: the “why”. It also leaves out the “how” and “when”.
It’s like getting your hands on a really good recipe for chocolate chip cookies, but you’re missing the details on what to do with the ingredients – like how long do you bake them for, what temperature, etc.
So, with all of this, how do we decide what to pay attention to, so we are making this abundance of wellness and health information work FOR us, and not AGAINST us?
Understand your “why”?
To do this, I suggest you write!
Begin to journal!
Journaling, by writing out your thoughts, feelings, and anything that comes to mind is a great step to begin identifying what’s important to you.
Connecting with your thoughts by putting them down in writing is one of the best ways to relieve stress and stay connected to your inner-self.
In other words, it’s a great way to get to know you. And, yep, you guessed it – It’ll help you get to your “why”.
It may not happen immediately, in fact, it won’t. But over time, with consistency you should begin to understand common themes and feelings that come up – I mean both physical and emotional.
Journaling doesn't have to be about what you are feeling emotionally – but the consistent exercise of journaling physical feeling can elude a lot about us.
Journaling does more for us than help connect feelings to actions. Journaling helps us connect, in some ways, to what we stand for – what we want out of our lives. What our intentions are.
From journaling, you can get to place where you find and put together a personal value set, and mission statement.
Now, I do suggest that folks attempt to draft some sort of value set and personal mission statement, when the time is right for them. This is very thoughtful no matter what your goals are. I’m not going to get into how to draft a mission statement or values – you can easily find this on-line somewhere. Blogs around how to do this are very common.
But we must start with small steps - Let’s start with the exercise of just writing at first.
But, I do believe there should be a connection between wellness and your mission and/or value statement.
When it comes to wellness, specifically, you need to develop vision for yourself that will connect some sort of ‘end state’ to go after, even though there is never really an end to the ever-evolving journey of wellness.
Why your ‘WHY’
So, here’s my call-to-action:
Let’s keep it really simple, I say.
Maybe a few days a week, give your self a short block of time each day of quiet time to write. If this sounds like a lot at first, just start with 5 minutes at a time, 2-3 days a week. Then move to 10 minutes, 15 minutes, or more. Then maybe go to 4 days a week, then 5. Move at your pace – this is for you.
This is your time to hunker down with a note book and pen, your laptop, a keyboard – whatever medium you’re most comfortable with – and just start free-writing about what you want to look like, accomplish, change physically, how you want to feel in the morning when you wake up, your career path, etc. Anything….
This can be a wide range or topics, and I’m sure you’ll find yourself wandering a bit, and that’s ok. This is not the next best selling novel or fitness book.
Why writing – because thoughts can disappear. Writings do not!
But do keep this intention in mind - part of journaling is to help you identify and establish your “why”. You are doing this by thinking about what’s really important to you – what makes you feel fulfilled, satisfied, and motivated by writing it down!
Think about specific details about your life now and how you may want it to improve and evolve. Write those down!
What are the bad habits you want to remove and what are the good habits your want to adopt? Write those down.
Think about the clutter in your life - “Things”, people, issues, other obstacles or limiters that may be causing anxiety or acting as roadblocks to your progress - all the toxic parts of your life and how they make you feel. Write those down!
Think about your personal priorities – family, wellness, career, finances, etc. Write those down!
How about the foods you eat? Do you need to make a change? Write it down!
There is no limit to where journaling can take you. It’s an exercise that should never end.
Also, as you’re doing this, remember there is no wrong answer or wrong way – this exercise is for you, on your terms.
Keep at it until you feel some comfort and connected-ness to what you’re writing. Stick with it – it’ll take time! You’ll get there. And your writing will evolve.
Who knows – maybe you do have a novel some inside of you, or an autobiography, or an incredible memoir people absolutely must read. Go for it!
Go back and read your writings. Again, journaling is an exercise in exploring thoughts and connecting actions to emotions and vice versa. One of the many benefits of journaling is that you begin to think about what traits and characteristics you value in others and yourself. Reading your own writing will be very revealing.
But the biggest and most powerful takeaway of journaling is that you’ll begin to establish a clear direction about how you’ll improve your wellness by understanding your intentions - your “why”.
What will you get out of knowing your “why”? I encourage you to discover the answer to that very question – the answer will be different for all of us and will never be the same over and over again.
Once you know your ‘why’, your individual goals will become much clearer – at least for that time being.
To sum this all up, and going back to the beginning of this conversation, I do not want to sound like what everyone is telling you is wrong; I’m not saying that nutrition and fitness experts are wrong; I’m not telling to ignore the information and advice out there. But be wary.
What I’m telling you is to learn as much as possible, but more importantly learn what you need. Information is good – there will be things that work, and things that don’t - everyone is different.
Your “why” is what should drive you. Think of yourself first, and be cautious of what others tell you how to train, eat, work, live, or rest. They do not know you – you know you, and you know your “why”.
Thanks for listening….
Be well, and go get it!
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