Inspiring Consistent Wellness Even As Seasons Change
What Is “Consistent Wellness?”
In the wellness industry, “consistency” is often portrayed as a matter of being strong or determined enough to reach one’s fitness and wellness goals. Luckily, psychology more attainable details that consistency is related to behavior, and the smaller the action to adapt the behavior, the better: “To take advantage of behavioral consistency...make an initial commitment to an activity to engage in. [It should be] low-stakes and easy to make.”
Consistent wellness, then, emerges from small-scale yet concerted actions over time and can thus feel less daunting to attempt. For instance, “When the Fitbit mobile app is first launched, it asks users to state their fitness goals. Once these goals have been entered, they act as a commitment and are displayed on the user’s dashboard, together with the user’s progress toward the goals. This visual representation [is a] reminder of the user’s commitment to these goals and makes it more likely that they will be accomplished” (Fessenden, 2018).
Simpler efforts to achieve consistent wellbeing are more effective in the end because the brain is wired to follow the least resistant path. For survival, it is important to take action quickly when protecting yourself, gathering resources and making informed choices. Not much time can be spent—from a psychological standpoint—being spontaneous. As advocated by some of the first few texts in our Holistic Nutritionist Certification as well, many additional systems work to keep our bodies in relative equilibrium, which is part of the nature of evolutionary adaptation.
With the changing seasons comes an extra layer that can challenge the behavior consistency we have become used to. This means that what worked well for summer might not be as effective or feasible in winter.
To harness the power of wellness consistency that truly lasts throughout the seasons, here are five ways to take it one step at a time:
Make the Changing Seasons Work for Your Wellness
Incorporate Ayurveda into your lifestyle
Ayurveda is meant to work with your body and constitution across seasons. In the article “Can Ayurveda practices really improve digestion,” one learns how “Life balance and a healthy diet represent two of the most significant concepts proposed by Ayurveda. Some factors can cause imbalances in the body's balance, which can lead to both emotional and physical stress. Interestingly enough, our diet and the food choices that we make fall within that category.” As seasons shift, Ayurveda can help to maintain internal calm and stability.
The S.M.A.R.T. Goals 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. These goals all can be applied to S.M.A.R.T. For greater precision and increased success, you can use the S.M.A.R.T. method.
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. A positive food substitution approach would be to remove trigger foods from the fridge and pantry, and instead replace them with healthier, more easily accessible options. For example, you could have a bowl full of fresh fruit sitting on your counter rather than a bag of Oreos glued to your face. 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. You can increase your self-trust by being consistent in your goals for wellness.
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?
- Do I take time for self-care?
- Do I engage in my wellbeing activities in an exciting and efficient way?
- Is it possible to achieve my goals for wellness?
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). A healthier lifestyle that is less stressful can be both a benefit and an advantage. 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, Experience Life, identifies five components that relate to seasons. Wood for spring, fire in summer, earth (almost autumn), metal for fall, water for 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. In your training, you can add or maintain weights.
- Winter: Consume warm foods and move your body fluidly.
The mind will also benefit from being able to see the seasons in a different way. 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. It can prove difficult to maintain consistency as seasons change because our behaviour is reliant on the sameness of others.
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. Different goals can be set for different seasons. You can also have different goals for each season. However, consistency is key to surviving change.