As we prepare to launch another wellness campaign, read Bingo Holman's fun 12-week road to wellness from last year. Change your lifestyle, feel better, have a good life.
Normally when someone utters the word "wellness," I cringe. It spawns in my head visions of a distant mountain. It's too hard to get there, so I'm not going. But, now in my 30s the fun I've had has begun to catch up to me. My anxiety is out of control. My weight fluctuates like the tides. I may even have a wrinkle, and Lord knows, I've got gray hair. I'm reminded of what it says in the Tao Te Ching: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." And I'm ready to start walkin'.
Over the next 12 weeks we'll be taking a little trip on the road to wellness, together. We hope to change not only our own views of the world, but yours, too.
To prepare, I started thinking and reading. I figured out that the first step isn't the hardest one; it's every step after that. What we need is a change of lifestyle, not some diet or exercise fad. Wellness is not only how good you feel, it's how good you feel about yourself. I hope to change both of these over the next few weeks. I challenge you to do the same.
We're going to start nice and slow. This program isn't exactly easy, but we're going to try to make it fun. That's the only way I'll try something new.
OK, there are four areas to our new life. We're going to gradually increase our exercise from none to daily (don't freak, I said gradually). We're going to change our diet from bad to good (calm down). We're going to increase our creativity, and we're going to loosen our tight emotional boundaries.
Ready, guys and gals? Start walkin'.
• Exercise. Three days this week walk for at least 10 minutes. You can do this in the early morning or late in the evening. Try to make it a tad more vigorous than a stroll, but enjoy yourself. According to most sources, walking is the single most important (and cheapest) form of exercise. We'll increase the amount of time over the course of a few weeks. But, for now the most crucial thing is to get moving.
• Diet. Visit Rainbow Co-op or your local grocery's health food aisle. You don't have to buy much. Just get used to being there. What you do need to buy are the following items: broccoli, salmon (if you eat fish), olive oil, green tea and fresh flowers. Partake of these at least once this week (except the flowers, unless you're that brave or hungry). Broccoli is nearly a magic potion of valuable nutrients, particularly when steamed. Salmon is so beneficial that it's sometimes the only "flesh" exception in some vegetarians' diets. Olive oil and green tea also have benefits we'll discuss as we go.
While you're there, buy little bottles of the two essential oils every household should have: lavender and peppermint. The scent of lavender is wonderfully relaxing and will stop the itch of (and help heal) insect bites. Rubbed on your temples, peppermint can help you survive a migraine and is a great pick-me-up when your energy wanes.
Pick up a good all-in-one vitamin (not all all-in-ones are the same, and you don't want artificial junk in yours; see drweil.com or ask at the co-op), and start taking it every day. Even if you don't take any other vitamins, you need to remember the most important one—water. You need to drink water that has been purified through distillation (definitely not tap water, and not just any spring water), and you need to drink plenty of it. For starters, try substituting one cup of coffee or one Coke with a tall glass of water. And, no, Jackson's tap water is not good enough; it contains bacteria that some experts believe cause infertility, among other problems.
• Creativity. Choose a project that you've been meaning to do and start it. Whether it's finally framing and hanging those pictures or organizing a junk drawer, find ways that you can break the task into manageable chunks, and accomplish at least one chunk; five minutes is fine for now. (Set aside the space, locate the paint brushes, set up the canvas, etc.) When you focus on something, you're closer to accomplishing it. Try to give it your undivided attention for that five minutes; this type of "mindfulness" can literally change your life. You don't have to do it all yet. Just think about it and take the first step. I also suggest a thorough cleaning of your house (and in my case, car). Nothing feels better than a clean house. Remember, if your idea of housecleaning is out-of-sight-out-of-mind, you can always hire someone, at least once, to do the serious work for you, then you can keep it up yourself.
Finally, buy yourself a toy, not a Palm Pilot, a legitimate toy—something that makes you smile (preferably wind-up), and keep it on your desk or in your pocket if you don't have a desk.
• Boundaries. Studies show that more than 80 percent of illnesses are stress related. Breathing exercises are the easiest way to cut down on stress. Take 10 minutes a day to just breathe: no TV, radio, computer. Get yourself into a quiet room (the bathroom works) and just breathe in and out deeply. Don't laugh until you try it.
• Exercise. Walk at least 15 minutes three times this week, and see if you can't schedule something a bit more intense for the weekend—a moderate hike, a bicycle ride or a longer walk. During your regular walks, books on tape make the time fly; so does fast beat music—but, be careful, you might start dancing. Hell, go ahead.
• Diet. Continue with ideas from last week. Experiment with olive oil instead of vegetable oil, and if you prefer something that doesn't taste like olive oil, choose canola oil. (Organic canola is best.) Replace all products using refined, white flour with whole grains. (White flour has few benefits, while whole grains have many. Many grocery store "wheat" breads don't offer whole grains, so shop carefully and focus on the health-food section.) Throw out (or at least don't buy more) products that have artificial sweeteners (including diet sodas). It's scary, I know. But trust me. The things we plan to replace Diet Coke with are going to be tastier and much more useful for improving your life. Try having green tea (it has caffeine) instead of coffee two mornings this week and/or herbal tea (particularly with peppermint if you're feeling groggy) instead of caffeine in the afternoon. If you have any trouble sleeping, try cutting out caffeine of all types after about noon. And add another glass of water per day—the recommendation is actually eight 8-ounce glasses per day, and drinking coffee or Coke actually sets you back a glass, because the caffeine in those drinks takes water out of your system.
Finally, go back to the health food aisle or Rainbow and buy one soy product, take it home and try it. (Boca burgers and Morningstar Farms corn dogs are personal favorites. I can't keep my meat-eating husband away from them.)
• Creativity. Go out and buy the stuff you need to start your project. If it's to create art, Art Supply Headquarters (707 Monroe St., 948-4141) is a great place for ideas; so are craft and bead stores. Give yourself an hour this week just to play with your supplies—with the TV turned off. Compare the feeling of "relaxing" with your hobby for an hour to "relaxing" with the TV for an hour. You may be surprised. Always turn off the TV except when you're watching something specific, keeping your mind clear for creativity.
• Boundaries. Continue with breathing exercises. Schedule a manicure and pedicure. (Guys, if you're not quite ready to have your nails done, you might consider a massage or shopping for a health club that includes a steam room.) I'm personally afraid they're going to take one look at my waitress feet and send me packing, but I'm going. I deserve some pampering. I work hard for the money, so hard for it honey. And I'm going to pay someone to rub my feet.
Finally, to open your mind, pick out an event in the Lounge List (p. 28) and go. Read a book about a different religion.
It's all about portion control. The best weight loss method I've experienced on my road to wellness is this: Place all the food I want on my plate; eat half; place the other half in the garbage (or in the fridge for another meal) and repeat this mantra: "This food looks better in the garbage than it does on my hips." I successfully went from near 150 pounds to 130 in a matter of a few short months.
- Janice Jordan
Janice, that may be the coolest diet I've heard, yet. But you may have more discipline than I do. ;-D
Mamma (Janice), you have got enough metabolism for three people! I know the truth. I on the other hand have only eaten four saltines in the past week and have gained the twenty pounds you lost.
But, this is about more than weight loss (at least that's what I keep telling myself). This is about learning to eat right, for life. I lost fourty pounds on the Atkins Diet, along with exercise. But I want to learn how to eat without my wastline changing like the tides.
More than that, I want to see my funny husband in yoga tights!
I so enjoyed this article and look forward to the rest in the series. I'm a working mom of a 10-month-old, and I am able to incorporate most of this advice into my life. Finding time to exercise every day is a toughie. I feel like I'm getting plenty of heavy lifting done, however. At the very least, it's giving me some positive inspiration! :)
Good for you, Lucy. Todd and I adopted an all-around healthier lifestyle several years back using this week-by-week, chunk approach to changing our lifestyle rather than dieting. I must say the lifestyle has suffered since we started a newspaper, but we're trying to follow the 12 weeks to get it all back, too. So, we're all in it together! The next two weeks will be out this week in the print publication, and on the Web site. Keep an eye out.