Monday, February 1, 2010

What are wellness fundamentals

Wellness fundamentals are exactly that, the fundamentals of wellness. It's my personal philosophy of getting back to the fundamentals of what works when trying to lead a healthy lifestyle. In our Westernized culture, we are barraged with advertisements from a variety of media outlets, this person's suggestion, that person's suggestion, etc., etc., on how we should venture on our wellness journey. "Eat this amazing food today but wait, don’t eat that same amazing food tomorrow! Do this one exercise today because it is hands down the best exercise you can do for yourself. Don't do this exercise ever again because you'll only get hurt!" Where do we begin? Who do we believe? As you can see, this can become quite overwhelming especially to the average Joe with limited knowledge when it comes to the fundamentals of wellness. Is there only ONE right way? Of course there isn’t. There are multiple paths to success in any endeavor in life; wellness is no different. The difficulty for most of us is tuning out all of the nonsense and choosing the path that fits us best. Ask yourself a few questions. What are my immediate and long-term goals? What kind of time do I have? Is this something I can do for a lifetime? Be realistic but be persistent and consistent about what you can handle. Allow yourself to slip up (I hate the word fail) from time to time and don't feel guilty it. Ok, so you had a little bit too much dessert or you missed a workout. Big deal. Tomorrow is another day and you can get back on track with your wellness goals then. We’re all human.

When it comes to wellness fundamentals as it relates to fitness, I always tell people to stick to the basics. Why? Because the basics always work and they are the foundation on which you will build and continue your wellness journey. At this point, you’re probably be asking, what are the basics? Well, I can certainly tell you what they are not; they’re not some trendy “wall handstand” with one hand on a medicine ball and the other on a wobble board or whatever other funky movement or contraption the latest health and fitness magazine would have us believe is the “exercise of choice” these days. Those types of exercises are totally bogus, do not work and are only there to get you to buy the magazine, program or product. Nonsense like that can also get you really hurt. People simply can’t sell the basics anymore. I'm going to go REAL basic here with you. You cannot get any simpler or basic than with bodyweight exercise. It is my philosophy that one can and should be able to get in tremendous shape by simply working with what you've got (your own body), where you're at. Not everybody has access to a gym or even money for a gym membership. Not to worry, as this is simply not needed. Some of the most beautiful bodies (both male and female) have been built from a routine consisting of a bodyweight routine only. Remember people, wellness fundamentals! What are the fundamentals? The basics. Squats, lunges, pushups, dips, pull-ups, and sure, sit-ups if you’re so inclined. These exercises (or movements) constitute the fundamental movements (the basics) one could do at home, without any equipment, no access to a gym, require minimal time and allow you completely work your whole body from head to toe. Even if you possessed all the riches in the world, had a personal trainer, a great deal of time and access to the most state-of-the-art gym, simple bodyweight exercise performed a couple of times a week will get you further than most. Any famous celebrities come to mind with access to all of these things yet still has not made any progress? A popular female T.V. show talk host perhaps? Those things are simply not needed. The “desire and want” to live a healthy lifestyle come from within, not from having access to money, people, a great deal of time or fancy gym equipment. In a future article I will lay out some workout routines that anybody can follow and can be done in as little or as much time as you choose. I will also discuss how the fundamentals have and always will outlast the latest exercise trend or gadget when it comes it to health and fitness. For now, perform the above exercises a few times throughout your day whenever you have a few minutes. For those of you that are stay-at-home moms or dads, this is relatively easy to do. For those of you that work the 9 to 5, be sure to take frequent breaks, perform the exercises that you can to get the blood flowing and then get back to work. It makes a profound difference and breaks up the redundancy throughout your day. Also, walk a lot. As humans, walking (bi-pedal movement) is our most natural form of moving and getting from point A to point B. If you don’t have time or make time to walk, then make time for a lifetime of nagging aches and pains, chronic fatigue and chronic illnesses. It doesn’t have to be much, 30 minutes a day most days of the week and outside (fresh air is key to wellness) will suffice.

With all this talk about wellness fundamentals, you’re probably asking, “What about diet and nutrition? You’ve provided the fundamentals for exercise but what about the fundamentals of diet?” Let’s start by realizing that when it comes to diet and exercise one is not any more important than the other. They are both equally important and are crucial in shaping your wellness fundamentals goals. Let us follow that up by throwing out the word “diet.” Whenever most people hear the word “diet” they naturally start thinking of a calorie restricted, bland food tasting, limited choice of foods eating plan that is 99% not sustainable for the long haul. The term “diet” can mean anything from a diet of pizza and beer to a diet of celery and water. While the first one sounds great, those particular “diets” and diets in general are not fun and not realistic! Unfortunately, what we’re led to believe is good for us by conventional wisdom (like exercise) as it pertains to food, is not entirely accurate. In a future article, I will go more in depth about the FDA, the USDA and their Food Guide Pyramid and other organizations that have been leading Americans down the wrong path for years. For now, let’s focus on the fundamentals when it comes to eating. I think we all can agree that we need to consume more fruits and vegetables throughout our day. I’m quite certain, that I’ve never heard anyone say “Wow, I really ate too many Brussels sprouts and lettuce today. I need to cut back!” Nope, never heard that one before. The truth is that most Americans do not eat enough of the green stuff. The USDA Food Guide Pyramid has its base (the foundation of what they believe we should be eating the most of) as grains, i.e., bread, rice, pasta, cereals, etc. (Oops, I said I was going to leave this stuff for a future article.) To put it bluntly and simply, this is wrong. Instead, we should be focusing on whole, natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, meats (of all varieties), nuts, seeds and berries. “But I thought grains are natural… and good for me.” Not so fast, and not entirely true. Again, for a later article. For now, focus on buying and eating fresh fruits and vegetables of all varieties and slowly implement them into your meals. Choose good quality, lean cuts of meats (though fatty cuts and saturated fats aren’t as bad as you think either) as the main portion of your meals. As with the exercise routines that I plan to lay out in the future, I will also do so with meal planning, providing ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. For now, remember to choose fresh produce, good quality meats, and a vast array of nuts and seeds to help keep you satisfied and to provide satiety throughout the day.

One of the most difficult things to do in life is to find the right balance in all that we take on in our daily lives. By balance I mean managing our career, family, friends, play, exercise regimen, and sound a diet to name but a few. I created this blog one night after a long day of work, school, dinner with my wife’s family and some associated family issues, and realized just how daunting it can be for people to take on the many challenges that our fast-paced modern life hurls our way on a daily basis. My passion has always lied in the fields of that of health and fitness or (wellness), and has taken me on a quest and led to years of research, self trial and error and constant revision and fine-tuning of what I believe works and what I believe doesn’t. I have engaged in athletics and overall health and fitness for many years and have spent time at extreme ends of the spectrum as it pertains to being fit and healthy. I have been at the peak of competition, been superbly well conditioned and yet have also been injured, completely off my game and have suffered many overuse injuries from long, repetitive and grueling workouts without a purpose and bad advice from so called fitness experts or gurus. People are continually mislead as to what it truly means to be fit and healthy and as a result, travel down the wrong road and end up in worse shape than before when they began their search for a healthier lifestyle. Being happy, healthy and fit does not and should not have to be difficult. It is my utmost desire and passion to help and spread the word to the everyday person who works hard day in and day out in all aspects of his or her life and struggles to find the time or right balance when it comes to implementing what I like to call the wellness fundamentals.

About me:
My name is Steven and I am a professional firefighter and paramedic in Saint Augustine, Fl. My passion is helping people. After realizing that I can only do so much in “field medicine” when it comes to educating people about leading a healthier lifestyle, I decided to create this blog to put my thoughts, words and sometimes unheard advice in print (or cyberspace) for people to follow and hopefully implement into their lives. I am also a full time student of nutrition and exercise physiology.
As stated above, my passion is health, fitness and helping others. I have competed in a variety of sports, possess a Crossfit Level 1 certification and have been a personal trainer to various members of the fire department and friends alike. I believe such experiences have aided in me in continuing to lead a healthy lifestyle for myself and to project a healthy lifestyle unto others.
I thoroughly enjoy researching and reading other health and fitness enthusiasts’ blogs and websites. Of great inspiration to me, and two people that I admire and try to model my health and fitness ideologies after are Mark Sisson of and Professor Arthur De Vany of Both of these individuals are not only well-versed and experienced in elite competitive performance and general health and fitness but are also mere geniuses with their immense knowledge of evolutionary biology and steadfast challenge of the so-called “Conventional Wisdom.”

No comments: