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The Domino Effect

When most people think of “getting healthy” they are likely thinking of ways to improve their nutrition and start a fitness routine. They jump all in ready tackle their health goals, excited for the results. But before too long, many of those once enthusiastic go-getters find their motivation waning, back to hitting the snooze on the alarm and reaching for the ice cream at night. Suddenly the excitement of starting down a healthier path is replaced with feelings of guilt and frustration. What gives?

Too many folks focus on just nutrition and exercise when it comes to thinking of health and some pretty important factors get overlooked, leading to self-sabotage and derailment of one’s goals. When health is thought in terms of one’s whole being, it can be easy to see where things may be falling apart. In my work as a health coach I often lead clients through an exercise called Balancing Your Wellness Wheel. The Wellness Wheel looks at 8 different facets of wellness. Along with physical exercise and nutrition, it also includes intellectual, occupational, environmental, social, emotional and spiritual wellness as components that all make up our overall health. We don’t often think of our occupational well being when thinking of improving our health, but think about if for a second. Someone may be putting all the work into eat more healthy and getting active, but if they are laying awake at night worrying about the contentious meeting they have to run in the morning, those efforts may be easily waylaid. The same holds true when it comes to emotional or spiritual health. If one struggles to have ways to manage difficult emotions appropriately, they may find it harder to make a healthy choice in the kitchen after a long and difficult day. Likewise, if someone struggles to set appropriate boundaries with others, they may soon discover the time set aside to get in a much needed workout has disappeared. It is a bit like a line of dominoes. When one part of our health falls apart, it is quite likely the rest may too. Closer examination of ways we can improve our health in all areas is key to sustainable habits.

I am not one to be a Debbie Downer so here’s the good news. It can work in reverse too! There is a pretty cool thing that starts to happen when you begin to make changes for the better in one part of your health. You start to see ways to make changes in other areas as well. Take for example, my client who identifies herself as an emotional eater- stressful situations called for chocolate, chips or some other quick, tasty relief. (Sound familiar? I think we can all relate to this one.) When she began to recognize this pattern it also lead her to take a closer look at where all that stress was coming from-issues at work and poor sleep. That led to some big changes in how she chose to handle different scenarios at work and prioritizing sleep. As a result of feeling more rested and less stressed, she found her emotional eating was happening less and less. How cool is that?

In my own experience, when I began to take training for races more seriously, I found I needed to pay a bit more attention to the quality of food I was consuming. I quickly found that eating in a way that fuels my run was also improving my mood and helping to heal my decades-long battle with food and poor body image. What started off as a goal to cross a finish line had positive, lasting effects in many areas of my life.

It all comes down to really paying attention to what’s going on in your life. If you find you have the best of intentions to improve your health but are struggling to get motivated, take a closer look at the other parts of your wellness wheel. Where is it a falling a little flat? What steps can you take to make some small, but necessary changes that will get your ball rolling in the right direction again?

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