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The Foundation of Wellness

Updated: Aug 21, 2022

When we take a moment to be grateful, we are usually thankful for our health. "I haven't had to go to the doctor for quite some time", or "I haven't taken any sick days at work", are the meter stick measures of our society. How about when some one asks you how you are? You probably respond with something like "I'm good. Tired, don't have the energy I used to, but I'm good."

So how do you get to the point where you only go to the doctor when something is really wrong, or where you say "I'm great!" and mean it? You have to build it.

At Mariposa Wellness, we believe in four concepts that take you from sick and tired to great! I've been studying, practicing and teaching nutrition and other wellness modalities for over 20 years and what I have learned is that the key to overall wellness is not just one thing. You can't out exercise a bad diet and you can't sleep off working too much. It's a balance between, and addressing key functions, of the whole body.

Humans are wholistic beings, meaning that our bodies work as one entity. If one thing is not working well, another part might fail. For example, if you are not nourishing your body with the right foods, you might start to have negative emotions, lose energy or not sleep well, eventually getting sick. If you have been sitting a lot with little to no movement, your body will start to hurt, you won't sleep well and you will get sick. See a pattern? I also often explain it to students and clients like this - if, for example, you have troubles with your heart and it stops working properly, chances are other organs are going to start failing soon too. Because our bodies rely on all systems go to make this rocket take off every day.

So what are those four concepts for wellness that can take you from ick to great?

Nourishment, Mindfulness, Movement, Sleep.

Here's a further breakdown and introduction to each.

  1. Nourishment - feed your body the food it needs to feel well. I am a big proponent of the 80/20 'rule' because nourishing your body is also about nourishing your soul and I don't care who you are, no one can deny that comfort food is usually not super healthy, but plays an important role in our psyche and that's important too. If you eat 3 meals a day and 2 snacks, for example, that's 35 meals over a 7 day period. 20% of 35 meals is 7 meals. Those 7 meals can be indulgent, fast food, chocolate based, alcohol laced, whatever you want them to be. This is an easy way to manage the "everything in moderation" sentiment because what exactly is "moderation"? Heck if I know! The other 'rule' that's easy enough to follow is "eat food, not too much, mostly plants". I write about it in this blog post.

  2. Mindfulness - support your mind and emotional wellbeing. There are two ideas I have been chasing down most of my adult life - mind over matter and the mind body connection. Here's a story. I graduated high school, where I was a full time dancer, went to college to be a nutritionist while working 3 jobs and dating my now husband. Shortly after graduation we bought our first house together, I was still working 2 of three jobs, broke my ankle, got married and had a baby all within 3 years. Went down to one job, and 19 months after first baby had second baby and second bigger house. Picked up second job again, because I can't say no. Husband and I worked opposite shifts to support kiddos and both picked up as many side hustles as we could. We were in debt, over weight, tired and my back started to hurt. Did I also mention we have dogs? Right. Fast forward 12 years. I've got two tweenies and a my back still hurts - that resulted in a diagnoses 4 herniated discs diagnoses - ouch! Through this whole journey, even in the absolute thick of it, I always came back to tools I had picked up along the way, that I remembered made me feel better. Guided meditation, journaling, breathwork and Access Bars. Mind over matter. Connecting my body to my mind. Our bodies work as one, as I mentioned above, so the way I saw it was this had to be the next "level". Every time I supported my mind, I was ready to tackle what came my way. 5 minutes here, 20 minutes there. Each page journaled, each meditation session, every time I "got my bars run", allowed me to acknowledge and move on. It taught me to breath into the pain and let it go and made me realize that a lot of my physical pain could be controlled with my thoughts. Pure magic.

  3. Movement - move your body gently and it will move you. I was a dancer for a good chunk of my life and I never felt better than when I was dancing. Moving, jumping, twirling until sweat ran down my face, was what I lived for! I love walking, hiking, and a decent workout program. Lifting light weights and yoga, ahhh my beloved yoga - more on that in a moment. But when the going got tough, the workouts stopped. I felt like crap. I ate bad food. I cried all the time. Rinse and repeat. Fast forward 15 years and I finally realized the key, is that any kind of movement makes me feel better. When I feel better I sleep better, I eat better and I am happier. Exercising (the dirtiest of all the words!) releases endorphins, the happy hormone and the truth is, it doesn't have to be much! My personal favs are walking, at a decent pace to pass a 30 minute lunch break, and yoga. I love trying different yoga's, some flow, some gentle movement or stretching. I will set aside a few minutes 10-20 mins most days and jump in. I never regret connecting my body movement and breath and feeling so light after, it feels like a gift to myself every time. Both walking and yoga have different effects in the moment but overall, this movement not only helps me feel better, but I digest food better, and I keep my weight steady. Important things!

  4. Sleep - a good sleep routine sets you up for a great sleep. Let's start by talking about why you need a good night's sleep. Deep sleep, R.E.M. (rapid eye movement, not the band) is when the body is carrying out a bunch of different functions. The body is repairing itself, healing, digesting and literally resting up for the next day. So why do you need a sleep routine? Because modern day life, like sitting in front of screens and sitting a lot, has ensured that we miss our sleep window (the time when we feel sleepy) and that messes with our natural ability to fall asleep when the sun goes down and wake up when the sun rises, or basically, a circadian rhythm. We are genetically hard-wired to be active during the hours when the sun is up and sleep soundly when the sun is down. Unfortunately, with busy life and too much screen time, we are trying to avoid the inevitable; what's the saying? You can't stop a freight train? So you might as well jump on the train to sleepy town! What does a sleep routine look like? Well, it will look a little different for each person, based on preferences, shift work, etc. but overall it has some key principles to follow. Ditch the screens 1 hour before bed. Our brains need a break from the images and lights we are exposed to on our screens. The brain needs a signal it's time to start feeling sleepy and switching off the screens and turning our eyes to other things like other humans faces or printed text is a good way to start that. If you go to bed around 10:30 pm say, by 9-9:30 I would be plugging in my phone, turning off the TV, shutting down the computer and having some face time with my husband and kids or jumping into my routine that will also include reading a few pages of a good book. Now we move to lighting. The bright lights from our screens messing with our sleep is also true for bright lighting in our homes. How often do you look around and realize that EVERY light in the house is on!?! Turn them off. Switch on some soft lamp lighting, I like the soft white light bulbs over the bright or day time light ones. They give off more of a spa feeling. I would probably just light a bunch of candles at night but my family is partial to electricity. I even turn my alarm clock away from me so the bright numbers aren't shining at me. Take a look around your home and think about where you can soften or even turn off some lights. Next, set up a series of night time "things" you need or want to do before sleep. Mine looks like letting the dogs out, setting the dishwasher, saying good night to the kids, going to the bathroom, washing off my makeup and brushing my teeth. Then I move to my bedroom where I always have a good book on my night table or I pick up my journal and write down a few things I was grateful for that day. Then I take a moment and check in with myself. Do I feel sleepy yet? Yes - click off lamp and go to sleep. No - pick up book and read a little more. This check in stops me from staying up past my window of opportunity to fall asleep. This sleepy feeling is the bodies way of telling you it's ready for sleep and when you ignore it and jump on your phone or turn off the TV, you have just told your brain it's party time and not sleep time; leaving you with that hungover feeling the next day. If you aren't getting enough sleep or a sound sleep, your body will constantly have the hungover feeling, or as I like to say, the newborn baby feeling where your so tired you can't see straight. As a result, your body will crave carbs. Not good carbs either like quinoa and fruit; we're talking donuts, chips, cookies, bread. I'm not saying those carbs are bad but when they're eaten in response to sleep deprivation, you're not actually fueling your body the way you think you are because all you're left with is a carb crash, making you feel sleepy, funnily enough. I also like to supplement with magnesium which promotes muscle relaxation and getting your bars run! Other ways to support good sleep, in addition to a good routine, is get the movement during the day, nourish the body and make time for mindfulness - these are the pillars of wellness and the four combined create an unshakeable structure, helping you to feel more like you again!

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