How many places in life does the quote above apply to?
It certainly applies to our health and wellness. Without a foundation to build upon we cannot sustain the changes we hope to make.
We might be able to reach our goal without a strong foundation, but as soon as any little thing goes wrong, all of a sudden we get thrown off course and we watch our goals slip away.
Having a strong foundation doesn’t mean you won’t veer off course from time to time, that happens to everyone. However, if you have a strong foundation from a health and wellness perspective you will be able to self correct in a very short period of time and prevent a complete collapse.
Lots of people start their health and wellness journeys by making drastic changes to their nutrition or fitness. That is fine, and in fact is very important for your overall health and wellness, but it’s not where you need to begin and is ultimately going to fail if the foundation is not solid.
So if nutrition and fitness is not the foundation for health and wellness what is?
I can hear the comments running through your head now….
That is not what my favorite influencer said on social media!
That won’t help me lose weight!
How is that going to improve my mobility?
I won’t get a better squat doing those!
That’s not going to make me build muscle!
You are kind of right….
Getting 8 hours of sleep, doing 10 minutes of meditation, and going for a walk everyday is not going to directly impact any of those goals.
Indirectly though they will make all the difference!
How many times have you been cruising along on your new nutrition or fitness plan and all of a sudden something goes wrong and you just can’t seem to self correct?
Imagine you are a parent with a full time job and toddler. Suddenly your toddler starts teething and they are up all night in pain and your sleep has taken a turn for the worse.
Maybe the first few days you are OK. You are able to buffer the poor sleep. Eventually though it catches up to you.
You have no energy to work out, the thought of making food is unbearable and you just want to order out…you can see the momentum you had built with your eating and fitness fading away and it’s stressing you out.
You don’t know what to do…so you turn back to what you know, Netflix, Ben and Jerrys, and the couch.
Two weeks later the worst has passed, your child is no longer waking up in the middle of the night, but you still find yourself not able to get back to the healthy habits you had two weeks ago. The Ben and Jerry’s is still finding itself in your shopping cart, your cable company is calling you because you have been streaming so many Netflix shows, you are taking up the neighborhood bandwidth, and your gym clothes are as clean as a whistle nicely nestled at the bottom of your drawer.
Well your foundation, your ability to deal with the stress and sleep issues, was not there and when those started to crumble so did your nutrition and fitness goals.
Now imagine you are this same parent but you have sleep dialed in, good stress management practices, and realize the value of recovery.
During the time when your child is teething and your sleep is not optimal you begin to find ways to mitigate the disruption in your foundation.
Obviously the sleep problem is out of your control. However you try and take steps to get some additional sleep.
The first action item you might do is go to bed earlier. As soon as your child is asleep, shortly after you go to bed too, taking advantage of the time they are sound asleep. Another thing you might do is adjust your fitness routine. Instead of waking up early to go to the gym you immediately scrap that and use that time to get more sleep.
To try and at least get some movement into your day you prioritize walking, especially outside.
Not only does this help from a movement point of view, but also helps deal with the added stress that is building up. You take advantage of the time outside to relax, listen to calming music, or even do a walking meditation.
When the weekend comes you realize that the week has been stressful and you are sleep deprived….you need some time to recover. You know that some Ben and Jerry’s may not be what you need from a nutrition point of view but man it would certainly help them chill out after a long week.
You decide to have the Ben and Jerry’s and sit down on the couch to watch a movie on Netflix knowing that it will help you recover mentally. However you portion out the ice cream, put the rest away and plan out your next week as if your child’s sleep will be back to normal. Your plan is to take it easy this weekend so when Monday comes you are ready to jump right back into your new routine you had started before everything went to hell.
You lay out your gym clothes for Monday morning and put your gym bag in the car. You also plan to attend your favorite class at the gym making you more excited to go.
You also plan to get some healthy meals ready for the next week so you have no excuses when it comes to nutrition.
What is the difference between these two scenarios?
As you can see if you have well established sleep, stress, and recovery practices in place you can adjust your lifestyle to deal with unforeseen changes. Sure there was a period of time where maybe you didn’t eat the best and you didn’t workout the way you wanted but as soon as life returned to normal you were right back where you wanted to be. A week of not eating the best and not working out the way you want is better than several months.
The question becomes how can you build a solid foundation in order to make yourself more resilient and more likely to achieve your goals?
Over the next several posts I will outline some techniques you can use from a sleep, stress management, and recovery point of view to build a stronger foundation to support the nutrition and fitness changes you want to make and maintain them for a lifetime. If you would like to follow along and be the first to know when each post comes out, sign up for my newsletter using the form below.