This photo is from a few years ago, when I just started working as a wellness advocate. Since then, I’ve learned a lot and adjusted many habits in terms of what I eat and how I move, but the principles behind my desire to encourage healthy lifestyles for myself and others have remained pretty solid. These concepts that have stuck with me are the forces that continually move my work forward. I believe that keeping these ideas in mind can inspire anybody to consider their health more seriously. I probably don’t share them enough, so here are a few of my core values when it comes to wellness. What are yours?
1. Holistic thinking is paramount. All elements of your life will be altered, for better or for worse, relative to your personal wellness. Don’t think of eating and exercise as a disposable extra-curricular. Approach better health with concern for your career, family, relationships, spirituality, intellectual development, and and so on.
2. Always seek balance. To be holistically well requires nurturing your physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional needs.
3. Spending time and money on wellness is not selfish. You have to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others, and so that others don’t have to worry about you. You deserve to feel your best.
4. You know your body better than any doctor, any friend, or any “expert.” Always research, always experiment, and always think critically about any exercise or eating advice that you receive. What works for you does not necessarily work for others - be wary of those who are selling something or aggressively proselytizing. Nobody’s way is the best or only way. Listen and pay close attention to your body’s reaction to everything in order to understand what’s right for you.
5. The more natural, the better. Exercise outdoors, eat foods from the earth, and don’t try to manipulate your body into something that is drastically different from how you were born. We were all born different, we were all born perfect. Accept your beauty.
6. Fitness is not about looks. Looking good is a positive side effect of physical activity, but not necessarily the the primary motivator.
7. Wellness is social, fun, and exciting. It is only a chore as long as you tell yourself that it is a chore.
8. Sacrifices will be necessary on the wellness journey. Be creative, brave, optimistic and persistent as you strive to live your best life. “Man, by nature, is a damn mess. Only by picking up God’s rhythms are we able to regain power and beauty. All good things come by grace, and grace comes by art, and art does not come easy.”
9. Love yourself unapologetically. A lot will fall into place after that.
10. Ancestral teachings will heal the world. From food to movement to holistic thinking, Indigenous people have always understood best practices when it comes to living well. This knowledge might not always have a western science stamp of approval, but it should not be devalued. Look no further than the ways of your people to understand how to truly build strength and longevity. I call it being #WellForCulture.