What Is “Consistent Wellness?”
“Consistency” is frequently portrayed in the wellness business as an issue of being strong or determined enough to achieve one’s fitness and wellness goals. Fortunately, psychology clarifies that consistency is linked to behavior, and the smaller the activity required to change habit, the better:
Make an initial commitment to an activity to engage in to take advantage of behavioral consistency. It should be low-risk and simple to execute.”
Consistent wellbeing, then, evolves over time through small-scale but concerted acts, making it less intimidating to pursue. “When the Fitbit mobile app first launches, it asks users to state their fitness objectives,” for example. These goals act as a commitment and are displayed on the user’s dashboard, along with the user’s progress toward the goals. This visual representation serves as a reminder of the user’s commitment to these objectives, increasing the likelihood that they will be met” (Fessenden, 2018).
Because our brains are essentially programmed to choose the path of least resistance, more simplistic attempts toward regular wellness function better in the long run. We must be quick to protect oneself, acquire and save resources, and make intelligent decisions in order to survive. From a psychological standpoint, there is only so much time that can be spent being spontaneous.
Many other processes strive to keep our bodies in relative equilibrium, as indicated by some of the first few texts in our Holistic Nutritionist Certification, which is part of the nature of evolutionary adaptation. Seasonal fluctuation adds an extra element of complexity to the behavioral constancy we’ve learned to expect. To put it another way, what worked for a fit and healthy summer may not work or even be possible during the winter months.
Here are five strategies to take it one step at a time to harness the power of wellness consistency that lasts throughout the seasons:
Make the Changing Seasons Work for Your Wellness
Incorporate Ayurveda into your lifestyle
Throughout the year, in each season, Ayurveda is designed to work with your body and constitution. Two of the most important concepts: life balance and a healthy diet. Certain stimuli and external factors disrupt the body’s balance, resulting in physical and emotional stress. Surprisingly, our diet and eating choices come under this category. Ayurveda can help you maintain internal peace and stability as the seasons change.
Create S.M.A.R.T. goals
The S.M.A.R.T. goals acronym stands for Specific, Measured, Achievable, Relevant, and Timed. When applying this acronym to fitness and wellness, it is important to keep in mind that aspects like “measurable” and “timed” vary from person to person. In most cases, goals that may be measurable but not necessarily improve overall life fulfillment (like weight loss solely for the sake of becoming thin instead of naturally losing weight in preparing for an athletic event) and ones that may quote too little or too much time won’t work. In “12 Tips for Success in Achieving Your Fitness and Health Goals,” the author emphasizes goals like determining purpose, pacing oneself, getting a health coach, and finding a supportive community. All of these goals can be applied to the S.M.A.R.T. method for greater specificity as well as the likelihood of success.
Here’s a very helpful goals idea from one of our personal training graduates:
“And exercise contributes to commitment to long-term positive changes and social support as well. I would encourage a positive food substitution practice, removing trigger foods from the pantry/fridge, and replacing those with accessible, healthier choices (like a bowl of fruit on the counter instead of a box of Oreos sitting visibly). Furthermore, I suggest using a paper calendar on the wall or SmartPhone app to monitor daily water intake, setting a goal for the week, a daily marking off of the amount of water consumed, and journal-noting how the body feels day by day or week by week.” – Elise Brion
Learn to trust yourself
Trust, or more specifically empathy, is the number one factor in client retention as well as retaining your own inner reliability. Neuroscientifically, the ventral striatum (human reward processing/positive emotions) and medial frontal cortex (perceiving another’s mental state/comprehensive external awareness) are activated when close connection—even within oneself—yields positive social value. A great resource for quickly and cohesively understanding trust (read: empathy or vulnerability) is B.R.A.V.I.N.G. With greater self-trust, one is increasingly capable of implementing the very consistency they dream about, plan, and then try out. The more consistent that person can be in their wellness goals, the more self-trust builds over time, and this can be used to take health up to even higher levels!
Organization, convenience, and value
According to “Yoga in America By The Numbers” by Yoga Journal Live, the top three reasons we go to exercise classes (as one piece of evidence pointing at consistent wellness) are organization, convenience, and value:
- Am I setting up and taking care of my movement space/outfit/belongings in a way that feels consistent and inviting?
- Am I taking time to practice thoughtful self-care that supports my appearance and hygiene?
- Am I engaging in my wellness activities in a way that is exciting yet efficient?
- Are my wellness goals both doable and fulfilling?
Stress: yet another reason to embody consistent wellness
Among the top three reasons students and clients engage specifically in physical wellness initiatives, to begin with is to reduce stress (with other reasons relating to flexibility and general fitness/conditioning). Living with less stress is both a reason to adopt a more consistently well lifestyle as well as a byproduct of doing so. In “6 Healthy Ways to Help Your Clients Cope with Stress and Anxiety,” negative effects of chronic stress are listed as follows:
- Stomach and digestive issues
- High blood pressure
- Chest pain
- Lowered libido
- Sleep problems
- Panic attacks
When focusing on sustaining wellness no matter the season, it is also essential to consider how different seasons create different stress triggers and how to proficiently handle them by creating a manageable, seasonally based fitness and/or wellness plan.
Understanding the seasons further
One barrier to being consistent throughout the year is truly understanding how the seasons work. Karen Olson of Experience Life identifies five elements pertaining to the seasons: wood for spring, fire for summer, earth for later in the summer (almost fall), metal for autumn, and water during winter. Based upon this holistic view of there being five distinct seasons, she makes these wellness recommendations and others:
- Spring: Eat more raw foods and establish a movement routine.
- Early summer: Do cardio and stay socially active.
- Late summer: Eat mindfully and get some rest.
- Autumn: Eat root vegetables and grains. Also, add or continue weights in your workouts.
- Winter: Consume warm foods and move your body fluidly.
In parallel, putting the mind into its seasonal context will offer even greater support. With awareness as that support, consider how seasonal changes can affect your mood and adjust accordingly.
It is an accomplishment in itself to establish behavioral consistency, which sometimes requires changing behavior, in the pursuit of consistent wellness. Due to how much our behavior relies on sameness, it can be even harder to be consistent as the season’s change.
The idea is to be as consistent as possible in the face of changes in weather, mood, responsibilities, holidays, and other factors that become more relevant during the year’s transition periods.
It turns out being as consistent as possible doesn’t mean the whole year needs to look the same. You can create different goals for different seasons. Simultaneously, consistency will help you get through change beyond just one season.