Somewhere in my late 20s and early 30s, I lost my obsession with being “skinny”. Maybe it was having kids that changed me, or perhaps the new (highly welcomed) social mindset that curves are good and “strong is the new sexy”. Whatever the reason, I wholeheartedly embraced the philosophy of wellness over unhealthy fixations on clothing size. What does wellness mean to me? Read on to find out.
For me, wellness is being more concerned about your whole health. It’s about taking stock of your mind, body, and spirit and focusing on being the best version of you. You might not be the thinnest you’ve ever been, but are you happy? Because that’s what really matters. Are you strong enough to enjoy the activities you love most? Are you passionate about the fitness activities that you do? If the answer is no, maybe it’s time for a change.
In the last five years I made a decision. I would work out for my mental health first and foremost, any other physical results would be the cherry on top. I would fuel my body with what made it feel good. I would choose only activities that I truly loved and enjoyed doing. I would eat, drink, and be merry with my friends and family (within balance) because to me that is one of the best parts of living.
When one of these pillars starts to crumble or life gets out of balance, it is then that I take a week (or month) and challenge myself in some way to re focus on my priorities. When my priorities are in order I’m a better wife, mom, daughter, and friend. When I’m healthy I feel good about myself, and I feel ready and capable to take on any challenge I set my mind to. For me, healthy equals happy.
This Fall, I took a week and dedicated it as my “Wellness Week”. As part of this week I chose to embrace some new trends I’d never tried, and was curious to learn more about. I challenged myself, and by the end of the week felt lighter, happier, and more connected with my mind and body. Here’s the full report.
Although my Juice Cleanse, Reiki, Sensory Deprivation Tank, Meal Prep, and Martial Arts experiences were sponsored for the sake of this round up, all opinions remain my own.
I’ve written about juice cleanses before (including before and afters), and to date, that post is probably the most popular post I’ve ever published. It’s clear to me there is a lot of curiosity and interest on these and more importantly, what kind of results you can achieve.
Did you know that your body consumes an incredible amount of energy just digesting your food? Yes, that partially explains that mid afternoon slump after lunch. It also explains one of the great reasons to do a juice cleanse. When you nourish your body with easily digestible nutrients you give your digestive system a break and allow your body the chance to send that energy elsewhere. This has been said to encourage detoxification and healing.
My Experience This Round
I’ve struggled with digestion for years and feel like my system is especially slow. Energy is something I battle for daily, and one of the reasons I’m so committed to my work out routine. When I do a juice cleanse my energy soars! By the end of the three days I feel like a super human. In addition it decreases bloating, and my skin glows! My latest experience, with a three day cleanse from Kairos Jacksonville, was a fine example of all of the above. As a bonus I also dropped six pounds. Not my intended goal, but I’m not mad about it either. This has led to better performance in my fitness goals so to me it’s a win.
- Timing is critical.
I’ve learned from doing it both ways that I simply cannot have a successful cleanse if my husband is around. He has different fitness goals and a way different metabolism than me. So the most successful experience involves me designating three days when he is out of town.
- Hydration is your friend.
You will mostly likely not suffer from hunger if you keep activity at a minimum and maximize your hydration. This ideally comes in the form of water between every juice. I wouldn’t hesitate to add a kombucha in there as well for more probiotics. For me this technique was very successful but results may differ with you.
- Don’t be a martyr.
Don’t be afraid to have your daily coffee. Especially if this is your first cleanse. I chose not to have my coffee on my first cleanse and in hindsight I’m not sure why. I tend to be a rule follower and I guess I thought I’d be breaking some important rule. Not so friends! My results have never suffered by including a cup of coffee into my cleanse. There is no reason to become lethargic and moody due to lack of caffeine. Just choose your source wisely. Maybe sub out tea or coffee instead of coke?
- Customization is key.
No two of us is alike. We all have our own routines and individual needs. What my body can take yours might not be able to so feel free to adjust accordingly. This round, I choose to switch out some juices I didn’t like the flavor of and instead ordered a second of one I did enjoy. It’s ok to get a little creative. I also chose to do some activity and on those days enjoyed a cup of pureed vegetable soup or light salad. My goal was to be as gentle to my body as I could and I feel like I was successful.
Sensory Deprivation Pod
Have you heard the buzz? Sensory Deprivation Pods are all the rage. What exactly is a SDP? Well, it’s a large enclosed pool (kind of like a jacuzzi) that you can stretch out in. A lid comes down enclosing you in a pod. Once inside your body floats in a mixture of warm water and 1,000 lbs of epsom salt. You can choose to utilize light therapy and listen to music, or lay in complete darkness and silence. Getting freaked out yet? I was actually super intimated to do this but my curiosity finally got the best of me. After hosting the commercials and instructional web videos for Jacksonville’s H2OM Float, I started getting tons of questions from friends and strangers who saw the commercials and wanted to know what it was like. I decided it was time to see for myself what this was all about.
Benefits of Sensory Deprivation Pod experiences include detox (due to the epsom salt), muscle recovery, treatment for anxiety, stress relief, and boosts in creativity. Some people report having altered state experiences where they receive creative insight or have almost an out of body experience. It can be trippy.
I am happy to report I did not freak out! In fact. I didn’t feel claustrophobic or closed in at any time. The pod was big with plenty of overhead space. It didn’t feel constricting at all. I had an hour experience which they say is a great place to start. Many people work their way up to an hour and a half to two hours in the pod. It’s during these longer periods most report the “altered state” as I like to call it. I did not experience anything surreal, but I did feel really relaxed afterwards. Surprisingly I enjoyed it more without light in complete darkness. I did download some spa music before I went in because I thought complete silence might be too much for me. I’m picky about my rhythms so I wanted control of what I was listening to. The hour went by in good time. I was never able to completely clear my thoughts but I think I processed a lot that was swirling around in there. Having said that, I would definitely do it again. If only to totally unplug and relax.
Definitely download your choice of music before you go. You are required to shower in their showers before entering the pod, and for the best experience you are encouraged to go in the tank nude. I would encourage you to bring lotion and your own toiletries for washing your hair after because the epsom salt will leave you feeling dry. Also, ask the front desk about other alternative therapies to enhance your time in the pod.
Reiki is one of those weird things I’ve secretly always avoided. I grew up in the spa industry and consider myself pretty intuitive. However, my understanding of Reiki was always pretty abstract and as a result I was very skeptical. My friend Giovanni at Sole’ Spa Wellness Center has been encouraging me to try it for sometime though, so I decided I would give it a try.
According to Giovanni Manzano, the therapy of Reiki can aid with sleep disorders, stress, anxiety and even grief. Every living thing radiates energy, and the core philosophy of Reiki is that the therapist can channel their energy to stimulate your body’s ability to heal itself.
For some reason I had always thought Reiki was hands off but actually there was touch involved, but in a different way than massage. On key points throughout my body such as my forehead, shoulders, hands and feet there was light touch. Unlike typical massage I was fully clothed during the treatment. During my experience I was surprised to have more of the “altered state” I expected during the Sensory Deprivation Pod. By that I mean, I was able to quiet my thoughts more and listen to the intuitive voice inside. I had more creative insight come to me and felt more in touch with my instincts. I am not sure if doing the Sensory Deprivation Pod the day before perhaps aided in my Reiki experience or if it was simply the fact that Giovanni was there to guide me, but I certainly felt more in touch with my therapy than I was expecting.
Because Reiki is a very personal experience, I would encourage you to choose your therapist wisely. Since I’ve known Giovanni for years I knew I could trust him and felt safe with him. The more you trust your therapist, the more intention you can put into your treatment.
My journey with Martial Arts began when I was 19 years old. After feeling threatened and intimidated by cat callers who routinely made remarks about me nearly every day at work, I took matters into my own hands and signed up for a self defense class. After learning that most attacks on women end up on the ground where traditional self defense techniques don’t work, I decided to sign up for Mixed Martial Arts including Jiu Jitsu which is an ancient form of ground fighting or wrestling. Even though I only studied for a year, that experience stayed with me through my adulthood. When I was recently invited to join Ludus Martial Arts in Jacksonville Beach, I couldn’t wait to get started.
Why Martial Arts?
The practice of Martial Arts is ancient but has many modern adaptations. Martial Arts is widely recognized for it’s ability to discipline the mind and body. It harnesses not just your physical strength, but also your mental strength. Committed practice builds confidence, self esteem, and is a terrific outlet for stress.
I’ve been with the gym now for several months and after weeks of consistent training I broke through a fitness plateau I’d been struggling with. During my wellness week I was able to detox my body, overcome some personal obstacles and dig in deeper to my work out. I primarily train in the women’s cardio kickboxing class and my body’s response to the training has been dramatic. After suffering a few back injuries in the past I’m a little touchy when it comes to certain work outs, but I’m happy to report I’ve been able to increase strength in my core, and amplify the amount of power I can pack into every conditioning and muscle building exercise we do, which all ultimately decreases my risk of injury.
Go at your own pace. Everyone starts with a different level of physical fitness and there is no shame taking a breather. You are competing against no one but yourself. So challenge yourself, but listen to your body. Don’t forget to have fun. Remember, I wont do it unless I love it. So enjoy yourself. It’s worth the investment in you.
Meal Prep Services
Meal prep services are booming right now and for good reason. The world has never been busier. We are all busy with work, fun, family responsibilities, and travel. Who has time to plan meals anymore? Not me! It’s not hard to find a meal prep service these days, the trick is finding the right one for you.
Why Meal Prep?
Believe it or not, using a meal prep service could save you money. If you eat out more than you cook, chances are this is for you. Looking to clean up your diet? Using a service will ensure you are not tempted by the convenience of fast food. Gluten free, dairy free, or paleo? There are services designed just for you.
I recently worked with Fit Meals to try out two weeks of their maintenance meals. I was pleasantly surprised at how flavorful and diverse the meals tasted, as well as how generous the portion sizes were. Being a busy mom who works from home, I usually just eat some soup or a bagged salad for lunch. It was so nice to know I was finally fueling my body with the proper nutrition for all these intense work outs I do. I never had to worry about what I was going to eat, there was always a tasty option awaiting me in the fridge that I could grab whenever I needed.
If you travel a lot like our family you’ll need to plan accordingly. Likewise, you’ll need to choose either delivery or pick up for your week of meals.
Fitbits, IWatches, and Garmins are just a few of the options available now to track your fitness. In fact, they are even making smart shoes these days to report back on your activity.
Why Track Your Fitness?
You might already know that some insurance companys give you a benefit for proving that you are healthy and active. Using a fitness tracker is just one way to provide evidence that you are. Another reason to use these handy devices is step up your game. We all get a rut. We may think we are working hard but how do we really know other than looking in the mirror or stepping on a scale?
After purchasing a Garmin Vivo Fit 3 recently, I came face to face with exactly what my daily activity looks like. I found this data really exciting as well as humbling. I now know just how much energy I put into my work outs and where I need to improve. I’m also more motivated to get up and move around more so I can gain more steps or beat my latest record. We also got a Garmin for one of our daughters so we can keep track of the whole families score and compare notes on activity as well as sleep schedules! We can even keep track of our daughters chores on her device which is a powerful motivator.
Devices range in price, size, and function. I found after a few weeks that I really regretted not getting a device capable of tracking my heart rate. I do a lot of cardio, as well as weight training and unless you are moving it wont really recognize the calorie burn. It would be nice to have a heart rate monitor report back to me how much I’m exerting myself and therefore have a better idea of calorie burn so I can better manage how I fuel my body. However, any device is great for beginners so feel free to experiment with what works for you.
Put These on Your Radar
Zeel is an awesome massage app that allows you the convenience of massage on demand. Similar to Uber, all you have to do is put in your address and within as little as a hour a massage therapist will be at your home or hotel room. All therapist are background checked and you pay through the app so the process is seamless. Prices include tip so you don’t even have to worry about gratuity. We tried a couples massage in our hotel room in South Beach during our summer getaway and it was amazing!
Not unlike Reiki, Bio Feedback utilizes energy to support your body’s natural healing capacity. According to experts, it treats stressors in your body that could be dragging you down physically, mentally, and emotionally. Where Reiki relies on the intuition and training of the therapist, Bio Feedback utilizes technology to treat your stressors. I recently experienced this treatment with Bio Feedback Jax and was surprised how quickly a burn I had received from an accident healed. It’s definitely something worth looking into especially if you have a heavy stress load.
Mind-Hammock Class at Define
Receive 60 minutes of deep stretching while you relax your mind and nourish your soul in Define’s Mind-Hammock Class. I haven’t yet had the pleasure of trying this class but it’s on my list. Using a hammock to stretch sounds incredibly intriguing while relaxing to music sounds exactly like my jam.
Have you tried any new trends or other alternative wellness treatments not seen here you swear by? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.
Enjoy the Journey!