Forget about conspicuous consumption and theories of the leisure class, these days it’s about conspicuous contentment and a derrière defining barre class. Whereas in the past much of the conversation surrounding health and fitness revolved around counting your macros and keeping up appearances, nowadays we’re all a little more wise and enlightened and favour a more holistic approach to wellness. Indeed, the old definition of health is as outdated as those Mr Motivator videotapes still holed up in your garage, the new measure of wellness goes beyond the mere absence of ailment and embraces the idea of ‘high-level wellness’: the conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving your full potential’.
Rather than living vicariously through all of that #fitspo scrolling you do on Instagram, here are a few tips to take the initiative and turn some of that fleeting motivation into an active pursuit of optimum wellbeing.
Let’s get physical
The theory: Described as the ‘miracle drug’ by many leading health practitioners, the benefits of regular exercise are numerous and plenty. Aside from the obvious benefits of acquiring a mighty fine physique, getting a good workout in has been shown to reduce stress and alleviate anxiety, improve cognitive function and mental clarity, increase confidence and self-esteem, as well as boosting your energy and those all important endorphins (the body’s natural ‘feel good’ chemicals), essentially making you a healthier, heartier, and more happier person in general.
In practice: Now you don’t have to run a marathon everyday to reap the rewards of a bit of cardiovascular activity, though, much like the pennies in your pocket, every little helps. Whether you’re an avid gym bunny or a homebody, try to find activities that you enjoy which you can build into your routine and stick to. With new gyms, fitness studios and health apps offering everything from strength training and callisthenics, to hot yoga and high-altitude workouts in a hypoxic chamber, we’re spoilt for choice with ways to get in shipshape condition.
Mind over matter
The theory: Like peanut butter and jelly, Kim and Kanye, or french fries and ketchup, the inextricable link between mind and body is beyond question. Numerous studies on the connection between mental and physical health have been conducted and proven it to be one of the key deciding factors as to whether you are healthy or not. Indeed, the World Health Organisation even goes as far as saying “there is no health without mental health”, the message: when you get your mind right, everything else will fall into place.
In practice: While the advice coming from all the self-styled self-help gurus is a step in the right direction, ‘thinking positively’ will only get you so far, it’s what you do with those thoughts that makes the difference. One of the first things that you can do is to develop your own personal philosophy, one that is both constructive and rewarding, and which leads to good habits. Once you have that sorted out, there are several other ways that you can use to enhance your mental state and boost your brainpower; expand your mind and become a lifelong learner by reading books or watching educational videos, travel the world and explore different cultures, tap into your creativity and join an art or dance class, become more mindful through the practice of meditation. The key is to find things that are going to encourage healthy levels of serotonin, build character, and which ultimately work for you.
Selfcare and sensibility
The theory: Despite what some of the marketing and naysayers in the media would have you believe, selfcare is not some sort of new-age narcissism that promotes excessive self-indulgence. In fact quite the opposite, selfcare is about being self-aware and looking after number one, it’s about making yourself a priority and creating the time to incorporate those health-inducing activities that you want to be doing into your daily schedule, without feeling any reproach or guilt about it. Because when you feel good and you’re at your best, you can give your best to others.
In practice: There’s more to selfcare than face masks and bubble baths, whilst treating yourself to new gym gear and a pampering session is to be encouraged, selfcare doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. Practising selfcare can be as simple as enjoying some of life’s little luxuries such as taking a nice brisk walk in nature, prepping a healthy lunch for yourself the next day, or going on a mini digital detox for a few hours before bed, the idea is to ‘do you’.
Fuel for thought
The theory: Perhaps the most crucial component of high-level wellness and living a healthy lifestyle is the food you put into your body. Whereas practicing healthy eating habits with good nutrition, and a diet enriched full of vitamins and nutrients promotes good bodily function and performance, prevents disorders and disease, protects the immune system and enables you to perform at your best, a poor diet is more likely to leave you feeling lethargic and out of shape, cause sickness and contribute to an increased risk of infirmity. In essence, ‘you are what you eat’, and by making the conscious decision to consume quality ingredients you are not only going to look and feel good now, you’re going to be doing yourself a favor in the long term too.
In practice: Ignore the latest fad diets or woo-woo weight loss programs and begin to think of your food as the fuel to power up your day, so that you can go out there and be the very best version of yourself. Of course, everyone’s dietary needs are different, but as a general rule it’s best to opt for nourishing, wholesome ingredients that are going to boost your vitality and give you bounds of energy, and most importantly, foods which make you feel good.