Do you look at your fitness & wellbeing as an integrative methodology? ey? Ha?
You might already subconsciously be doing it or you may have no idea, either way listen up! Basically, i’m talking about taking an increased awareness of the much-used phrase mind-body-spirit unity. and how you can unite them all in a system that works for you.
Exercise truly is medicine. It should be done in some form every day. I.e our bodies are meant to move. But millions don’t follow the much-quoted advice. Mainly because it hasn’t resonated with people in a way that works or is meaningful for them. When you think of fitness in a mind-LESS sets and reps fashion for many, (not all) it becomes tedious and boring and soon is disbanded.
You see, there is no one size fits all approach for clients, it’s not about following a prescriptive course of exercise. It’s about finding your fit. Until you become active in the process and present with this increased understanding and awareness you won’t be unlocking your potential. I say finding your fit, but really it’s finding a whole host of wondrous things that work for you, and putting them all together, in your ‘holistic’ plan that adapts and changes as you adapt and change in life.
When you apply a more integrative approach to your fitness and wellbeing you’ll find an enjoyable mix of styles, ideas, techniques. You’ll learn to be more present in the movement, prevent injuries, chronic pain, you’ll be less stressed, and your movement choices will truly help you de-stress and find relief from an overcrowded schedule or tough day.
Finding your integrative fitness, wellbeing, movement methodology (not that you would give it that formal title) will aid in your positive psychology, promote positive body image for you and discover your human potential.
So, in short what sort of movement do you do? There’s no right or wrong here. Are you an intense hit work-out kind of person, do you run, do you do cross fit? Could you add yoga or Pilates? Could you add dance? Martial arts? Walking? Trekking? Swimming? Do you do breath work? Massage? Stretching? Have you tried relaxation techniques that don’t involve watching the TV? Have you tried reflexology, acupuncture, cold water therapy, or maybe you’re more into visualisation, positive self talk or meditation to round off your total wellbeing methodology?
When you start looking at your overall health and wellbeing of you, your whole self, you’ll be learning the fundamental skills to your own development. You’ll taking charge and engaging in active participation of your health, and taking responsibility for your own individual health maintenance and personal development. When you live a more integrative wellbeing lifestyle you’ll find more energy, physical and mental, greater resilience to overcome adversity, and you’ll find it clearer to map our your goals, your future. You’ll be enjoying day that little bit more.
Have a look at the next set of questions. Treat them as bigger picture ideas across the board of what you do, rather than trying to dissect one gym class you go to and hoping that one class involves all these things. Look at everything you do. And don’t do! It’s worth pondering on these for a while and see how your attitude to your health and wellbeing fits in with these areas of integrative fitness.
Are you present in the moment? Are you cramming your exercise in as you feel you must train or can you work on creating a little ritual around it, set the mood, be in the here and now?
Are you aware of the breath and its power through the movement of your choice?
Are you coming at it from a point of view of caring, kindness, and compassion? (to yourself and others). Rather than movement as a chore or pain, can you find joy? Note, this is joy in what you’re doing and whilst I’m very competitive, don’t make your happiness be because you think you’re superior to others on an elite field. (unless you are and you’ve won a gold medal, then hats off to you!)
Can you find an inner sense of calm or potentially a flow like state? Is there great satisfaction without the ego? Is the whole self and being involved? For me the most flow like state is when I dance. You can’t think of anything else when dancing, except moving the body to the music.
Where is the variety? Can you visibly see that your movement and styles, energy and tone is varied across everything you do? Movements are big, small, short, long, fast, slow, is there power, strength, endurance, mobility etc. Is the brain involved, are things challenging, creative? Do you laugh?
There are people out there who over plan their rest days, and there are people who don’t rest enough. That’s why I find this topic so interesting. I meet people who have overly scheduled in their rest days when they’re not actually doing enough to warrant such amount of rest days and I meet those who wouldn’t dream of having a rest day.
If you have a pulse then you need to move. That’s a given. But if the intensity is too high, too rapid an increase, or you’re not sufficiently nourished in the right way, you can end up fatigued, broken and then just give up.
When striving towards your fitness goals we don’t want to be running on empty. And I mean both in terms of food, but also mentally and emotionally. Attempting to fast track yourself down an intense fitness plan without the foundations is a recipe for disaster.
Everything comes back to educating yourself on taking ownership; take responsibility, educate yourself, ask the right questions, be active in the learning process of health, movement, wellbeing, so that YOU know what works for YOU, on any given day. You’re not blindly following a plan that states MONDAY you do this, eat that, think this, etc. You’re in control because you know what you need, whether that’s a form or rest and recovery or more stimulating movement or creative outlet.
So, I always talk to clients about their week and what they’re doing. From a movement point of view we’ll discuss their activities and then of course what they consider rest and relaxing. We talk about their sleep patterns, the quality of the sleep and we talk about hobbies and creative opportunities. With regard to sleep, insufficient sleep will hinder the body’s recovery process overnight, reduce the benefit of the hormones released during sleep and will hamper our bodies ability to function. Yet it’s often not someone’s priority. Ever not slept properly and then noticed the inability to communicate, concentrate, or focus on driving? Realised you’re not short tempered, find it difficult to remember details, stay positive or chose to eat a more nourishing choice of food?
I say rest for short, but in terms of applying this to a more integrative approach to overall wellbeing, I’m talking about the umbrella term of yes, resting from intense exercise, (but rest can still be movement) but also I include nourishing your soul, sleep, taking time out from an over active mind, the daily grind. Rest doesn’t mean just binging on TV but maybe it’s learning to eat slowly, engaging in community, conversation, painting, meditating, and all of the other low impact things we can do. It’s resting our bodies, quietening our minds, and nurturing our souls.
Just recently a friend said to me she had finally realised the power of sleep, and time out of work and was starting a new 3 days working week. She’s happy to take the financial hit, as she realises her health is far more important. Up at 5.30am to commute to London, to be in a negative office space that was draining her emotionally and physically, she was returning home, late and deflated. Eager to keep up her exercise, she would smash out a workout in the sitting room, before going to bed exhausted, having not engaged with partner or friends and the result was complete mental and physical fatigue, poor gut health, irritable skin and a feeling that life was all a bit unbearable. Learning to prioritise sleep, friendships, community over an intense workout could be what someone needs. Learning to prioritise quiet alone time or sitting down and eating slowly could be the missing factor in your plan. Or maybe it’s working on more yoga and restorative breath work or connecting with nature that is the missing link for you. Someone else in similar situation has also realised that a 4 day week despite the financial hit is better option for their health, they’ve also joined the borrow a dog scheme because everyone knows how cute yet powerful hanging out with a dog can be! And has taken up art and drawing as a new means to find inner calm, peace and creativity.
We are all different and unique.
My objective as a coach is to help you find your integrative approach and methodology, open your mind to the endless possibilities so that movement feels natural and you find your seamless fit suitable your preferences, personality, and style of life.
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