I used to be so much like the rest of the world that when I thought about the term “Wellness”, I immediately thought about the physical elements of wellness like diet and exercise. To me, focusing on my wellness was going for a run or doing a juice cleanse. When I started recovery for my eating disorder, I found exercise as a good way to connect to my body. At the time, I thought I was using movement to heal my body after years of disordered eating. Now, looking back, I realize that I simply transferred my food issues and body insecurities into diet and exercise, under the guise of being “healthy”.
If you are not familiar with the term, Orthorexia, it is a term that was coined for people who have an unhealthy focus on eating in a healthy way. This often involves intense workouts as part of “being healthy”. While I wasn’t limiting my caloric intake when I did with my Anorexia, I became obsessed with “clean eating”. Instead of cutting calories, I was cutting out whole food groups (carbs, sugar, etc.). I was Vegan and then Raw Vegan. I did month long juice cleanses with my coworkers. I even criticized others for what they ate. I remember standing in grocery lines and judging the purity of the food of the person in line in front of me. “Well, I hope she enjoys that cancer causing beef”.
It did take me some time to wake up to the fact that I was still struggling with disordered eating but now it was under the guise of “being healthy”. So it was okay, right? Wrong.
If you have been following me for a while, you will know that my marriage of almost 20 years ended in 2020 and we were finally divorced in 2021. The last two to three years of our marriage was very chaotic and a lot went down (check out my latest video, “The Truth About My Divorce” on my YouTube channel). Due to drug and alcohol issues my ex-husband was having at the time, I quit drinking as well to support him in his sobriety. This was a very dark time for me, and I never thought I’d see the light again. So, I started self-soothing my emotions with food.
I was Anorexic from the age of about 12 until I was in my mid-30s. Then, as I mentioned, I then shifted into Orthorexia, thinking I was being healthy. Now I was still having food issues, using food as medicine, and binge eating to comfort my emotions during the stressful last three years of my marriage. Angry? Eat a whole cake. Stressed? Drown your cares in a pint of ice cream. I even began to hide the amount of food I was eating, having binge sessions before my husband got home and hiding the evidence.
The moment my ex-husband and I decided to separate and get a divorce, I felt lighter than ever. It was like a huge weight had been freed from me. I felt free, light, floating, and happier than I had been in years. Instead of an ending, I felt like it was a new beginning for me. That day, as I moved into our guest room, I decided on exactly what I wanted to let go of and what I now wanted to create in my new life. I knew that I had to really work on my emotional and mental states. That is when it dawned on me that wellness isn’t just physical. To live in balance and harmony, we really need more than just our physical state to be well.
I started thinking about all the parts of me that felt out of balance. I gained over 50 pounds in two years because of my binge eating due to depression. I realized that my depression was affecting many of my thoughts and actions. I started to really understand all the approaches I needed to focus on my self-healing journey. It was like a aha moment about what the term holistic really means as far as our health and wellness is concerned. I realized that wellness isn’t active either, it something we must actively work on every day. And that wellness extends beyond physical health into many different dimensions.
I realized that Wellness is multidimensional and includes our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual states. I decided that I wanted to focus on all these areas and bring them back into balance and harmony. Because of my depressed state, I spent the first year focusing on my mental and emotional health. I decided to only allow things that brought me JOY into my life. That meant letting go of things that didn’t bring JOY and learning to set boundaries with those in my life.
Now that I am more balanced there, I am using 2022 to really focus on my physical being. Healing my issues with food and comfort eating. Moving in ways that celebrate my body instead of punishing it. Loving my body as it is, but still accepting that it is a work in progress. And having grace with myself when everything doesn’t go to plan. Love and grace are exactly what my body needs right now.
I decided to shift my focus with my blog, YouTube channel, etc. to share my journey of self-healing and hopefully help others to learn to love the skin they’re in. I hope that my content and eventually coaching will help others as I have learned. So I have created The Four Pillars of Wellness, by which my content and coaching services will be guided by.
The Four Pillars of Wellness
Wellness is about what we put IN and OUR bodies. It is about how we deal with our emotions and thoughts. It is about feeling connected to community and to something larger than ourselves. When we are balanced across all four pillars, we can finally feel at peace. We can finally feel in a place of total wellbeing. We can finally learn to forgive ourselves and begin to love ourselves authentically. We can finally live joyfully.
THE FIRST PILLAR – PHYSICAL WELLNESS
I think a huge part of accepting ourselves on our healing journey is how we relate to our bodies. How we treat our bodies, the negative self-talk we allow ourselves to participate in, and how we nourish our bodies. As I mentioned I struggled with disordered eating for many years. I have now learned to use food as a means to nourish my body instead of soothing emotions. I have learned how to use movement to celebrate my body for what it can do, instead of punishing it for what I ate.
The Physical Wellness Pillar is to help you to:
- Love yourself and your body unconditionally.
- Learn to stop punishing your body and learn to love it as it is.
- Stop the negative self-talk so you can increase your confidence and build better self-acceptance and self-love.
- Find ways to move your body that bring you joy instead of doing workouts you dread.
- Learn how to nourish your body properly.
- Recognize that you can be both a work of art and a work in progress.
THE SECOND PILLAR – MENTAL WELLNESS
Our thoughts become our actions and words become our deeds. Studies have shown that we often believe our own words and thoughts over those of others. You know how it goes. Someone pays you a compliment, but you believe your own negative self-talk. Or in a meeting a coworker or boss gives you tons of positive feedback, but you dwell on the one criticism they stated instead.
Mental Wellness influences our thoughts and actions. It relates to how we process information, store it in our memory, understand this information, manage stress, make choices that define our actions, and how we relate to others.
The Mental Wellness Pillar is to help you to:
- Learn how to stop the negative self-talk.
- Learn how to better process and understand the information your mind receives.
- Improve your decision-making process and how you react.
- Interact better with others.
- Better manage stress.
- View life with a sense of balance, seeing both the good and the bad.
- Keep your brain active in healthier ways.
- See mistakes as learning opportunities of growth and change.
- Stand up for your beliefs and values.
THE THRID PILLAR – EMOTIONAL WELLNESS
Where Mental Wellness relates to our brain and how we think, receive, store, and interpret information, our Emotional Wellness relates to our awareness of our emotions and our ability to manage and appropriately express our emotions. Mental Wellness is brain centered and Emotional Wellness is heart centered.
The Emotional Wellness Pillar is to help you to:
- Become better aware of your emotions.
- Accept and even honor your feelings.
- Process and manage your feelings.
- Express your emotions in an appropriate manner.
- Learn to be resilient in the face of adversity.
- Express gratitude daily.
- Help you feel that your life has a purpose.
- Avoid dwelling on negative thoughts.
THE FOURTH PILLAR – SPIRITUAL WELLNESS
In my opinion, Spiritual Wellness simply means you have a connection to something great than yourself. That can be GOD, the Universe, SOURCE, whatever you choose to see it as. I think that Spiritual Wellness also includes your beliefs, values, and morals. It is about feeling that you your life has a sense of purpose and that you use your spirituality and principles to guide your actions.
Having grown up Catholic, when I came out as gay, my family, friends, and community pretty much shunned me. I felt so detached from a religion that said who I am was a sin. Over the years, I searched through many spiritual paths to find something that resonated within my heart. I tried Buddhism, Hinduism, Paganism, and more.
After my marriage ended, I felt a big pulling towards GOD. I knew that GOD was there for me, telling me it was time to come home. I went back to church and after leaving that service that day, I cried and cried. I knew that I was home. I felt loved and accepted. I felt part of something that was much bigger than myself. Since that day, I have dived deep into my relationship with GOD and Jesus. I have since learned that Jesus didn’t die for us to have a religion, he died for us to have a relationship with GOD. That relationship can be on my terms, and I see that GOD accepts me just as I am. In fact, he created me as I am. It was my prayers and conversations with GOD that led me to shift my focus in my life, to change my focus on my online life, and to begin coaching others on Wellness. God set this path before me and is guiding me to how I can best be of service to others.
If you are like “Hold up, I don’t believe in GOD” just remember that being spiritual has nothing to do with GOD. What is my path, is not always going to be yours. It is about having a connection to something greater than yourself. You can find GOD or whatever you choose to call it in even little things…sitting by a lake, mediation, a tree, a rock.
The Spiritual Wellness Pillar is to:
- Help you connect to something greater than yourself.
- Have a better relationship with the world and people around you.
- Live your life guided by your beliefs, values, and morals.
- Have a better relationship with your sense of self (your soul).
- Learn how to practice kindness and compassion not only for yourself but to those in your life.
- Achieve greater mindfulness.
I hope this gives you a better understanding of the term Wellness and how we can balance our lives in a more holistic way. If you are interested in learning more about The Four Pillars of Wellness and would like some one on one coaching, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.