5 Things: Physical Wellness for you and for your family
It’s the time of year when we think about what we want to fix about ourselves. It’s the time of year we think about big goals and cutting things out and losing things. This is the time we focus on self-improvement and change.
I’m here to tell you that you are 100% perfect just the way you are. You are and have everything you need. I’m also going to tell you that we can make you ever better How? Focusing on the main areas of wellness, and how we can bring some inspiration for you and for your family.
Every month, the blog posts will focus on one of the areas of Wellness: Physical Wellness in February; Social Wellness in March; Mental & Emotional Wellness in April; and Spiritual Wellness in May.
This month is February, so let’s focus on physical wellness. Remember, Physical well-being is so much more than great muscle tone; having a healthy quality of life embraces one’s level of physical aptitude, sure, and also the ability to recognize the impact of one’s own behaviors and focusing on adopting healthful routines. Getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, staying well-hydrated, staying active – all part of the physical well-being piece of your wellness pie.
Let’s start the month of with five simple things you can do for yourself and encourage your family to try that will make a big improvement in your collective physical wellness. And most of them are free!
1. Move more every day. If you have an office job, set an alarm every hour and get up for a 5 minute walk every hour. If you have the opportunity, take that 5 minutes outside, especially if you have a nice green space to enjoy. That way you get the benefits of getting some sun on your face (yay, vitamin D! Just don’t forget your sunscreen!), and some fresh air.
2. Start a fitness journal. I know what you’re going to say: I barely have time to work out, let alone time to also write about working out. But hear me out. Writing down your fitness goals, progressions, and even any hiccups you may hit all help you to gain even more fitness benefits. Think about it: do you know what is different in your exercise habits today versus what you accomplished a year ago? What you might be going differently? Do you remember what your fitness goals were 6 months ago? Are you training with a specific objective in mind? You’d know the answer to all of these questions almost immediately if you were jotting notes in your fitness journal. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy and while you can find journals specifically geared to be fitness journals, you can also just use a regular journal or notebook. Use the space as a place to plan, track your progress towards your goal(s), to recognize your efforts and note successes. This journal will be a record of your achievements; who wouldn’t want something that awesome to flip back through?
3. Think about what you are putting in your mouth. Really. Don’t just gobble things down, standing by the sink. Don’t just inhale your meal, glued to whatever you are reading or watching on your device. Focus on your food. Make it pretty on your plate (and yes, use a plate!), sit down at a table, and enjoy each bite. Even if it is a plate of KFC, enjoy it. Savor the flavors. And please, add at least one food that comes from a garden (e.g. cucumber slice? Tomato salad? Roasted broccoli?).
4. Try new sports or activities. Don’t let time or location be your excuse because neither are legitimate reasons to not do something. Just get up off your butt and move. Interested in Tai Chi? Bet you can find an instructor nearby, maybe even one that will come to your home. Zumba? Find a dvd. Yoga? Find a studio, or try an online class (some great options on YouTube). This is the perfect opportunity to give a new whatever a try. Most studios have try-out periods. Most coaches have intro sessions. Online sites have free intro sessions. There are also great online sources that can help you build your own workouts (for the gym or your home gym). In the coming weeks, I’ll have a number of links for you specific to working out, strength training, and more.
One thing: I do suggest not signing up for a year-long subscription on your first day at a new activity; give it a few sessions before signing up. Yes, I want you to try new things, but I definitely don’t want you to commit to something (especially if you have to pay for it), and then you end up not enjoying it. Rather, remember what we talked about: these goals of ours are flexible and adaptable. We want to celebrate our successes, which may start out looking like ‘Run a marathon’ and morph into ‘Bike to work every day’ because we find we LOVE biking.
Also, think about joining a group with this activity (or another one you already do). Being a part of a group doing exercise not only makes it more fun, but it also makes it more likely that you'll stick with it. Including the social component enables us to have the support and encouragement we so often crave when doing something challenging.
5. Get to bed on time: give yourself a regular bedtime. The older we get, the more responsibilities we get. The more kids we have, the more responsibilities we get. The higher you climb on the career ladder, the more responsibilities we get. The more we own – property, furnishings, vehicles, etc – the more responsibilities we get. You get where I am going with this, right? You have a lot on your shoulders so invest in what you need to recharge, give yourself the time to regroup and reenergize. Sleep is when your body gets over the day that has passed and gets ready for the day that is coming.
For your family:
1. Go.outside.and.play. Put the darn device(s) down! All of you! You go, get your kids, and play a game. It doesn’t matter if it’s throwing a football around, PIG on the basketball court, or a fierce game of croquet. Just go play some PHYSICAL AND OUTDOOR game with your kids. They might whine and whinge but I promise, after 5 minutes, they will be having fun, too. Yard games count as quality time. I have very fond memories of playing freeze tag or badminton as a family during summer nights; bet you can think of a number of fun games you played with your family, too. Not that I am trying to spend your money, but it would help you succeed with this if you can have the supplies on hand to use for these sorts of goals (hint: this is an excellent time to get your kids’ suggestions for games and/or supplies).
2. Bring your kids into the kitchen and cook together. Decide on your meals together. Write your grocery list together. Go through the aisles at the grocery store together and talk about what might be good choices and what might not. You know what? It’s okay that you don’t know everything there is to know about nutrition; you might be surprised about knowledgeable your kids are. You can further the fun by then learning how to cook different dishes together. Sure, the kitchen will be a mess, but the time spent together working to create a meal will not only give you some more of that quality time I keep jabbering on about, but it will also help your kids learn where food comes from, how to make it taste good; generally, food made at home from fresh ingredients is lower in fat and sodium and other undesirable components than foods purchased ready-to-eat or in a restaurant. And cooking together might bring a picky eater onto your side of the broccoli fence.
3. Let your kids teach you their favorite sport. Let them teach you what they know about it, what they want to learn about it, and help them develop their skills. Be their biggest fan. Oh my gosh, they would love to see you at games, at their practices, cheering them on. Let them hear you loud and clear; let them know you are there and rooting them on.
4. Take your kids grocery shopping. I know, I know, it can be painful. But trust me on this: the more involved they are in what fills the cupboards and fridge, the more invested they will be in what goes into their mouth. They will learn how to make smart shopping decisions (reading labels, price comparisons, picking good in-season produce), they will learn how to make grocery lists from planned or upcoming meals, and, most importantly, they will spend time with you and you’ll have ample time for quality conversations.
5. Help your kids drinks enough water. Get them a water bottle they like and will use, and help them understand how much water they need to be healthy and well-hydrated. Keep cold water in the fridge if that is their/your preference. Help them understand how much better water is for their health than any rehydration fluids, or (especially) sugary sodas. What’s the secret to keep them drinking (water)? Is it a contest? Is it a slice of lemon? Is it carrying around their water bottle wherever they go? You will know best. Every day, encourage them (and yourself) to drink a full glass of water upon waking up and then another one every hour. Sadly, we all spend a good portion of our days borderline dehydrated. Especially if you tend to drink caffeinated beverages all day, work or go to school in an air conditioned building, or are very physically active, it is very important to replace the water you are losing through your interactions. And no, not juice, not rehydration fluid, not soda but W A T E R. Your body needs water for every single thing it does – from involuntary actions such as digestion to breathing to having a heartbeat to voluntary activities like running, playing basketball and playing in the pool with your kids. Water literally greases your wheels; give yourself enough to keep things rolling smoothly.
So. These are simple suggestions. None of these are novel or nouveau. None of these are life changing alone; together, though, they can make a positive impact on your and your family’s physical health.