Taking a deep breath in, my hands gripped tightly, I lowered 145lbs down to my chest. I exhaled and pushed the weight back up with all the strength I could muster. I had just bench pressed my own body weight and felt powerful and strong.
I finished my core workout then headed to the locker room. On the way, I shook up and guzzled a cup of protein powder and water. It tasted nasty and it aggravated my gut but this is what you did after strength training, right? This was what all the body builders did.
My chest and shoulder joints were sore for days after but I thought that was the norm and what I equated to making gains.
Most days my stomach was gassy and bloated but as far as I was concerned, that was normal.
My meals consisted primarily of protein (in the form of chicken, tuna and whey powder), some vegetables, no healthy fats and lots of sugar. I suppressed my emotions with sweets and ate to build muscle the remainder of the time.
My hormones were out totally out of whack and my period non-existent but my body was strong.
As far as my feelings went, the only thing I ever put down on paper was in notes to my lover. I told her all sorts of wonderful things in those letters. I chose special writing paper and was able to express everything I felt for someone else without missing a beat.
My personal sense of self and my confidence were the pits.
I never had a journaling practice or even a confidant I could share my deepest feelings of insecurity and anxiety with. I didn’t have any kind of spiritual practice. My mind raced daily from one thought to the next. I could not shut it down nor did I have to the tools to even try.
If you asked me the meaning of mind-body-soul connection back in my early 20’s I would not have had an answer for you.
Today, 15 years later, I have lived and learned so much.
I now understand that in order to truly live a balanced lifestyle we need all elements of health. Wellness cannot be achieved if parts of the whole are missing.
We need to nourish our bodies, not just feed them. We need to practice some form of mindset work not just think about how we would like things to be. We need to connect to Divine source (whatever that looks like for you) and find our Faith. We need to move our bodies every day to raise those happy hormones and find enjoyment in what we do.
So much was missing for me years ago, but not anymore.
As someone who has truly changed and decided to live an authentic and balanced lifestyle, here are my 4 ingredients for true wellness:
1. Body — The body we’re born with is the body we have for life. Although our personality, interests and gender identity can change, our genetic make-up is set from birth. Making a conscious effort to treat your body well through movement such as cardiovascular activity, weight bearing activity, stretching or yoga is crucial. Our bodies were designed by nature to move.
Some people find things like a step-counter, Fit Bit or having a Personal Trainer helpful and motivating. Find what works for you and utilize it. Moving your body every day is one of the most important things you can do for your health.
2. Mind — Our mind is a powerful part of who we are. Our mindset can help us achieve our dreams and meet our goals or it can create self-sabotage and negative self-talk. Choosing to commit to a mindset practice is very powerful. It can be as simple as writing daily in a gratitude journal or as involved as meditating, EFT tapping, and reprogramming your limiting beliefs with focus and dedication.
Find a journal that inspires you to write, a meditation exercise that you enjoy listening to or a calming audio CD. These are great ways to incorporate mindset work into your daily routine. Visualizing and dreaming are an important part of changing patterns and old ways of thinking.
3. Soul — How we express ourselves and channel our energy in the world is very important to our self-esteem and happiness. Without some form of spiritual practice we can feel alone or disconnected. By quieting the mind and learning to tap into our intuition we begin to listen to our soul. At the very essence of it all, we are but one thread woven into the vast tapestry of the universe.
Having faith in a belief system, religion, or learning about things such as astrology or archetypal work, we can better understand how we relate to ourselves and to others. Prayer, mediation, circle gatherings or other forms of guided meetings are a great way to support our spirituality and our soul’s journey.
4. Nourishment — You are what you eat, no matter what way you look at it. Fueling your body with whole organic fruits and vegetables, free-range meat and eggs, clean water and whole grains goes a long way to support optimal health. Eating to fuel your body and your mind should be your mission. Enjoying everything in moderation and eating lots of variety is very important to ensure you are getting all required nutrients.
Take your time eating to really savor the tastes and enjoy the experience. In this fast-paced, fast-food society we too often eat mindlessly, consuming high caloric “food products” that provide us next to no nutritional value. Cooking and eating meals at home, attending health workshops or classes at your local market and growing your own food are great ways to learn more and appreciate food.
When all four of these aspects of personal wellness are being met you have the capacity to thrive. If one is missing or not taken into account you are not truly living to your potential. Making time to focus on all aspects of your being will go a long way to truly transforming your life.
Make an honest assessment and share in the comments: which area do you need to put more effort and intention to?
Originally published at medium.com