Defining Wellness

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Written by Shari Sullivan

Shari part of local community news since she moved back to the central coast in 1998. Her family connection to the central coast go back to the 1940s when her grandparents moved to Shell Beach and owned O'Connor Buick in downtown SLO. She is also an artist, herbalist, yoga teacher and certified health coach, and with more than a decade of marketing experience.

May 6, 2021

By Shari Sullivan

Wellness is hot right now. Certainly, this pandemic has a hand in that, but the trend definitely started before the virus showed up and messed with all our lives. It’s great that wellness is so popular, until the profiteers and charlatans crash the party sowing confusion and potentially triggering eating disorders or even worse. So, let’s unpack this concept a bit, shall we?

At its core, wellness is defined by you. Yes, studies and doctors will confirm that a sedentary lifestyle and a diet of processed food will contribute to dis-ease and disease. Beyond that though, it’s up to you. Are you happy with your level of vibrancy and your engagement in your life? Are you excited to start your day? Do you feel healthy?

That puts a lot of pressure on each of us to be honest with ourselves about some of the things we may want to hide from. Do you thrive with high-quality dairy in your diet, or are you really in denial about a problem giving up excessive amounts of cheese and ice cream? Are you getting a healthy amount of movement or are you avoiding the trail/gym/pool for fear of others’ judgement? What elements of wellness aren’t even on your radar that could make a huge impact in how you feel?

So, what does wellness really look like? Does it mean you’ve gone Keto? Or vegan? Or that you’ve nailed crow pose in your daily 90-minute yoga practice? As you’ve likely already guessed, there is no single answer. Each of us has our own, beautifully unique path to feeling our best. What we eat and how often we exercise is only a small piece of that path.

Yup. The food you eat very often is not the most important thing.

Imbalances in areas of your life like career, relationships and environment are often a much bigger issue.
Take a solid look at your job, finances, home environment, relationships, social life, spirituality and creativity. Anything make you cringe? Addressing those cringy spots, even just making small positive changes, can make huge positive impacts on your wellness.

For example, working a job that’s a poor fit for you can create, or add to existing, anxiety, depression or deep dissatisfaction. Those feelings, in turn, can demotivate you to eat well or be a cause for emotional eating. They can undermine your exercise level. Who hits the gym after a long, soul-sucking day at the job? And they can prevent you from doing things that bring real joy. For example, I found myself sitting in front of a TV and foregoing creative work that I knew would make me happy while working one job I really disliked.

The goal is to become aware and be honest about what works for you and what doesn’t, then take small steps toward a better balance and greater wellness.

Shari is a certified integrative nutrition health coach with advanced training in gut health, a 20-year student of herbalism and an artist working in mixed media and metals and a soon-to-be certified yoga and mindfulness instructor.
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