Wellness. It’s spoken about often but in so many different ways. That’s because multiple facets relate to your overall wellness.And these are influenced by where you are on your life journey.
As a result, wellness has become something slightly different for each person. But there are some fundamental elements at the heart of wellness that are true for everyone. These are mental health, nutrition, and fitness.
To further unpack this, I invited the experts to join me in a roundtable discussion on these elements.
About Our Guests
Three remarkable women joined me in a fascinating discussion about wellness on the Kurline Speaks Show. They were certified nutritionist Maxine Radolinski, REFIT fitness instructor Leunika Griffin, and president of the Botham Jean Foundation Allisa Findley.
These powerful women have a wealth of experience and expertise to share.And I felt that together we could discuss and examine what wellness looks like to each of us. The result was a profound and inspirational conversation.
You can check out the full episode on the Kurline Speaks YouTube channel.
Wellness Uncovered: Exploring Mental Health, Nutrition, and Fitness with Experts
There were some noteworthy takeaways from the discussion which I want to share with you here. In short, it was clear that below the surface of nutrition, fitness, and mental health are three core components that tie these wellness aspects together.
We’ll discuss these core components and more in this blog post. So, let’s dive in.
Self-Love as the Foundation for Wellness
“Self-love is a big deal. If you love yourself, move your body.” – Kurline Speaks.
Every wellness journey begins with love. That is a love for oneself and the desire to treat your body like the temple it is as a result. When we love ourselves, we want the best for ourselves. And this affects the daily choices we make in terms of body, mind, and spirit.
Choose to Love Yourself
Yes. Loving yourself is a choice. And, as Leunika reminded us, you have to start by choosing to love yourself. When you do, you’ll find yourself making the time to do those essential things that lead to your overall wellness.
For example, REFIT fitness instructor Leunika Griffin wakes up early to start training at 6:00 am every day. And she does this because she wants to do it, not because she has to. Leunika displays self-love daily by caring for her body and fitness, contributing to her wellness.
Your Body is Like a Car
Nutritionist Maxine Radolinski illustrated this to us beautifully with the analogy of a motor vehicle. Imagine you’ve just purchased a brand-new car. You will take specific steps to ensure the vehicle runs smoothly and lasts as long as possible.
For instance, you’ll have the vehicle serviced annually. And you’ll put a particular type of oil and fuel in the car to make it run efficiently. You’ll also likely take it to the car wash regularly to keep the body clean and protected.
But it won’t run properly if you put anything other than the proper oil and fuel in the car. In fact, the chances are that the engine will eventually seize, leaving you with a broken-down car.
The same applies to your body. As Maxine pointed out, everything you put into your body affects your wellness. So, you must ensure you’re taking in the correct type and quantity of nutrients to adequately fuel your body.
Get the Help You Need
All of us are faced with challenges in one form or another in our lives. Sometimes we have to deal with trauma and immeasurable loss, which can be devastating. And during these difficult times, it can be incredibly hard to remain positive and motivated on the wellness journey.
Allisa Findley, president of the Botham Jean Foundation, has faced an incredibly challenging tragedy in her life. Her brother, Botham Jean, was shot dead in his apartment by a police officer who claimed she thought she was in her apartment.
And more than 3 years after her brother’s death,news of police brutality continues to trigger her anxiety, PTSD, and depression.It’s not hard to imagine that this level of trauma significantly impacts one’s wellness journey.
But as Allisa shared, she had to make a change when things became too much. So, in an act of self-love and self-care, Allisa visited her doctor and was referred to a psychiatrist and a therapist. Now, with this team of professionals, she works hard to piece her life back together.
Allisa’s story is just an example and mental health may look very different from your perspective. But the takeaway here is to identify when something is broken andseek help to repair it.
Like visiting a physician when you’re ill or have a physical injury, you should speak to a professional when something doesn’t feel right mentally. Doing so is an act of self-love. Mental health is one of the most crucial contributors to overall wellness. And it shouldn’t be taken lightly.
It Starts with You
Becoming a society focused on wellness begins with you. It takes one individual to stand up and inspire a community. And when you exercise self-love this way, you become an example to others.
Self-love leads to self-care, which should not be confused with being selfish. When you actively take care of yourself, you’re working towards becoming the best version of yourself. And when you’re on this path of personal growth, others will notice and follow you.
I absolutely love this quote about self-care from Oprah, which I want to share with you here. She said, “Self-care is something deeper. It’s a practice that comes with doing the internal work and listening to what you, and only you, need.What you need to refill your cup is personal and might look differently at different times.”
At some point, you’ll be strong enough to start giving love and care to others. This is the point at which you begin simultaneously solidifying your foundation and that of your community. And this is when the real building begins. The first step is to recognize and address what’s needed in your journey toward wellness.
The Lifelong Journey of Wellness
Wellness isn’t something that you accomplish in a moment. It’s a lifelong journey of wins, losses, and seasons.And it requires consistency and patience as you develop a daily regimen that tackles all related aspects. That includes nutrition, fitness, and mental health.
It’s a Lifestyle
“Your body’s a temple. Treat it as such.” – Maxine Radolinski
Working toward wellness is a lifelong commitment, which means you’ll need to make lasting changes for the long term. So, when it comes to nutrition, it’s helpful to think of it as a lifestyle change rather than a diet.
As Maxine highlighted, the word “diet” has negative connotations. People do it for a limited period, and they end the diet when they achieve their goal weight. Consequently, they return to eating as they did before the diet and inevitably put the weight back on.
So, how do we end this vicious cycle? Maxine explained that seeing your new diet as a new lifestyle is essential. Unlike a diet, this lifestyle doesn’t require cutting out the foods you love. You can still enjoy everything you usually eat. You’ll just need to tweak each dish to make it healthier.
This way, you can eat all your favorite foods without sacrificing flavor and enjoyment. Making all your most loved foods a bit healthier will ensure you enjoy your new eating plan. And this will make it easier to stick with it over the long term.
Find Your Balance
“Your body is a body worth celebrating. And when you shift from moving because you have to, to moving because you get to, you find more joy in your movement.” Leunika Griffin.
I’ve been fortunate enough to cultivate a healthy regimen allowing me to incorporate exercise into my day. But for many, it’s a struggle to find that balance. We live busy lives, and for some finding 30 minutes per day to move their bodies is a real challenge.
But it’s vital to remember that everyone’s fitness journey will take a different form. And this will largely be determined by your schedule and personal needs. However, it’s still crucial that you work towards incorporating movement into your day.
Leunika said best: “It’s not about getting fit or losing weight.It’s about loving your body in the season it’s in.” That’s a wonderful outlook and approach to have, not only for fitness but for overall wellness.
If you don’t set the intention to move your body regularly, you’ll feel lethargic and unmotivated. You may even find yourself slipping into a state of depression and losing your self-esteem.
As Leunika pointed out, it’s up to you to decide what you want. Once you’ve made that decision, you’ll find a way to make time for some exercise or activity. And identifying the benefits associated with being active daily is the first step.
Develop Coping Mechanisms
Experiencing PTSD, depression, anxiety, or any other form of mental illness, can often make one feel stuck. But you can work with your doctor or therapist to develop strategies to get through the more challenging moments of your day.
I’m so thankful for Allisa’s courage in sharing her story with us. And one of the things she was brave enough to share was her methods of coping with the loss of her brother. Grief is difficult in itself.But when there’s trauma, moving forward can seem nearly impossible.
Allisa shared that while she isn’t sure if she’ll ever feel fully healed, she’s doing what she can to establish balance and wellness in her life. One of the primary coping mechanisms for Allisa is the foundation she founded in her brother’s name.
The Botham Jean Foundation gives Allisa and her family an outlet to honor her brother’s memory while uplifting the community. As the president of the foundation, Allisa finds her work incredibly rewarding. But it’s also therapeutic in helping her cope with the PTSD and depression that stem from her brother’s passing.
It’s vital to remember that mental illness is a struggle, which means you will have good days and bad. But Allisa shared some other ways she gets through those tough days. Meditation plays a vital role in her daily journey to wellness. And when her PTSDis at its worst, Allisa sings a particular song to calm herself.
For those struggling with mental illness, it’s essential to establish coping mechanisms that help you move forward with your life. These methods of coping can take various forms. But speaking to a professional and finding what works for you should be a priority.
Wellness is the Whole
“Wellness is not a one-sided thing. It addresses all the areas of who we are and who we’re becoming.” – Kurline Speaks.
When we talk about wellness, we’re referring to all we are as human beings. Of course, the foundation of this is our physical and mental health. The most essential elements of your physical health are your nutrition and fitness. But your mental health plays an overarching role in all of it.
That’s why it’s essential to consider all the factors contributing to wellness when working toward your overall well-being. And because our amazing guests are experts in these fields, they provided us with a wealth of knowledge and guidance in each department.
This invaluable information will equip you with the tools to work toward wellness in all spheres of your life. Only when we work on all aspects of our well-being can we say we are truly on the path to wellness. So, let’s take a closer look at the gems my amazing guests left us with.
In our discussion, Maxine stressed the importance of getting in enough of the nutrients we need to be healthy. That means staying away from sugary, processed foods. And the best way to transform your nutritional intake is to cook your own meals using fresh ingredients.
But we all know that preparing every meal yourself can be time-consuming. And many of us lead hectic lives, so we sometimes opt for convenience foods. So, how do we overcome this barrier to cultivating a nutrition-focused lifestyle?
Maxine’s top tip for those taking the road towellness is to incorporate meal prep into your week. If your health and wellness are important to you, Maxine recommends taking control of your diet. And preparing your meals ahead of time allows you to control what goes into them.
She suggests finding a day of the week that you put aside for meal prep. You can use this day to cook and prepare almost all your meals for the week. This way, you’ll know how many calories, carbohydrates, and proteins are in each meal.
Some may say that dedicating a whole day to preparing food for the week is a bit extreme. But bear in mind that it probably won’t take you the entire day. And putting one day aside for meal prep is a small sacrifice to make for your overall health and wellness.
As a REFIT fitness instructor, Leunika knows what it takes to move your body with intention in an effort to improve your wellness. In fact, the physical activity allows you to feed your body, mind, and spirit simultaneously.
As Leunika put it, there are five reasons to move your body every day:
1. Improved sleep: People who exercise regularly typically experience healthier sleeping patterns and achieve deeper, more restful sleep.
2. Happier mood: Exercise is proven to make you happier and is highly recommended for those struggling with mental illness.
3. Stronger bones: Not only will exercise strengthen your muscles, but it will build healthier bones, promoting physical longevity.
4. Clearer mind: Exercising daily is a great way to instill a more profound sense of mental clarity.
5. Have more fun: Being active doesn’t have to be about doing boring exercises. You can exercise with friends, play a sport, or take part in a physical activity you enjoy.
Leunika recommends taking part in some form of exercise for at least 20 to 30 minutes per day, five days a week.20 to 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise daily promotes improved heart health and overall physical health.
But exercising also releases endorphins which help reduce stress and elevate your overall mood. It can also induce a meditative experience, especially when coupled with deep breathing and mindful reflection.
Leunika recommends walking as a great starting point for those not used to regular physical activity. But she encourages dance fitness as an enjoyable way to increase your physical fitness. Dancing allows us to be active and lift our spirits while having fun. And it’s a form of exercise suitable for anyone and everyone.
“The same way you take care of your body, take care of your mind. If you have to say no to put yourself first, go ahead.” – Allisa Findley.
We’ve touched on mental health a great deal here, but it’s an integral aspect of one’s overall wellness. What’s going on in your mind dictates your choices concerning your physical well-being. So, it’s something everyone should take very seriously.
As Leunika pointed out during our discussion, you must be a whole person. No one can make you whole, so it’s up to you to recognize the things you need to work on and to work on them. If you need to speak to a professional, it’s best to do so.
You can speak to your physician or a therapist, but initiating the conversation is important. Talking to someone is the vital first step toward mental wellness. At the same time, try to remember that it’s okay not to be okay and to take it one day at a time.
Having a support system is incredibly beneficial. This could be in the form of your partner, family, friends, or your community. But having a safe space to open up and receive the support and motivation you need is essential. It’s also an opportunity for you to support and impact others.
Allisa reminded us that it’s also important to put yourself first. Sometimes that means saying no when it may not be easy. But it’s essential for your self-care. And when you care for yourself this way, you can give people the best version of yourself.
Overcoming the Stigma Associated with Mental Illness
A great deal of stigma is linked to mental illness as a whole. And much of this can be attributed to a lack of understanding regarding the causes and effects of mental illness. But cultivating a better understanding of mental illness in our communities plays a massive role in determining who we become as a society.
As Allisa pointed out, there’s even stigma associated with the word “therapy”, particularly in the black community. It’s an uncomfortable topic that many seem to want to avoid. But avoiding the issue doesn’t help us overcome, grow, and become well.
I want the community at large to know that it’s okay. Mental illness has always been present in our lives. We’ve always struggled with something. However, we now have words and language to define what we’ve been struggling with.
And struggling with mental illness doesn’t mean you’re crazy. It means you’re suffering from a condition similar to a physical illness. The difference is that mental illness lives in the mind. Therefore, it requires a different set of expertise to resolve.
I’ll draw upon what Allisa stated regarding this issue: In the same way you would see the doctor for a physical illness, you should see a doctor when something doesn’t feel right mentally.
Ultimately, we as a society need to educate ourselves regarding mental health. Only then can we begin to heal and work toward wellness. Talking about mental illness openly and without judgment is a step in the right direction.
The wellness journey begins with the realization that wellness is not one-sided. It encompasses your whole being and is a lifelong journey of discovery and effort. And it places focus on who we are and who we’re becoming.
It’s a process that forces you to tackle your physical and mental health. Incorporating weekly meal prep and daily exercise into your regimen will go a long way to supporting wellness. And if you feel that your mind needs some care, speak to your doctor or a therapist. They will help you find ways to cope and become stronger.
Self-love is the ultimate catalyst for this journey and will encourage you to treat your body and mind with care. When you love yourself, you’ll find the motivation within to push forward, even when things get tough.