physicalDoes Physical Wholeness Mean I Have to Look Perfect?

For the past 15 days we have talked about ways to nurture ourselves. For some of us, nurturing others comes easily. Unfortunately, we forget to nurture ourselves. Over time, our lack of self-care leads to complications in our own lives. Burn out. Illness. Emotional stagnation. Physical limitations. Ennui. In our quest to nurture ourselves, we need to seek mental wholeness, academic/artistic wholeness, physical wholeness, and spiritual wholeness—MAPS.

physicalLet me make something clear up front. Finding mental wholeness doesn’t mean that you never experience a down day. Working towards academic/artistic wholeness doesn’t mean that you turn into Einstein or Picasso overnight (or at all). Experiencing physical wholeness doesn’t mean that you look like the gal or guy on the front of some muscle magazine.

What exactly IS physical wholeness? I contend that physical wholeness starts in our mind as we seek healing and work towards mental wholeness. Once we start that journey, our emotions experience the freedom to explore academic and artistic endeavors. As we relearn how to nurture ourselves, we naturally start to think of other improvements we could make.

Maybe we take up walking because a counselor or magazine article touts the benefits to our mental health of daily activity. Perhaps we want more energy to pursue an academic or artistic endeavor. Maybe we realize that we long for the ability to chase after our kids (or grandkids) without feeling as if a coronary event might clothesline us.

A Word of Caution

We don’t turn into puffy couch potatoes overnight. Likewise, we can’t expect instant results when we start a journey towards physical wholeness. As tempting as comparing your progress with someone else’s progress might seem, just say, “No!”

Just as mental and academic/artistic wholeness take time to achieve (and require frequent adjustments and tune-ups), so physical wholeness takes time as well. Have patience with the process. Life is a journey, not a destination.

Have patience with the process. List is a journey, not a destination. #physicalfitness #mentalhealth Click To Tweet

Tips to Get Started

1. Take a self-inventory. Use your journal from week one. What do you hope to accomplish by seeking physical wholeness? Improved health? Weight loss? More energy? Better habits? Setting a good example for your kids?

2. List ‘em. Make a list of your five worst health habits. Be brutally honest with yourself. You know what they are, no one needs to point them out to you. We all have them—even healthy-looking people.

3. Assess the list. Circle those things that you can tackle on your own. Getting more sleep each night, for example. Underline the things that would be more fun if you had a buddy to help you out. Working more movement into your life, for example. Put a star next to those things that might require professional help. Quitting smoking, for example, may require a physician’s assistance.

4. Just do it! Set your alarm to go to bed earlier and figure out what you can cut out of your day so that you can go to bed on time. Phone a friend and schedule a regular hike or walk together. Call your doctor and make an appointment for a thorough health screening and share your list with the doctor.

5. Give yourself a system of goals and rewards. We need extrinsic motivation to start better habits. Eventually, the intrinsic reward of the new behavior will replace the need for extrinsic motivation.

Wholeness has a Twin

Wholeness of any kind has a twin—balance. Remember that lasting change requires steady progress, not violent swings. We’ll talk more about this later in the week. You CAN form new, healthier habits. Remember to give yourself grace for the journey!

Nurture Yourself Takeaway #16—You CAN improve. Just get started, because forward movement becomes forward momentum.


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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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