My Wellness Plan

I've spent a lot of time thinking about my wellness journey over the past year. Sometimes while eating a too large serving of ice cream, and other times as I'm hiking up a mountain with my family, struggling and self-motivating with the promise of a rewarding view at the top.

I've shared a lot of my thinking, ideas, hopes and helpful resources as I explored myself, what I needed, and what was available to support me in Jersey City last year.

But after this much reflection and thought — combined with my ever-wavering commitment to intentions, resolutions and self-promises — I decided to dust myself off, pick myself up and try again this fall as we embarked upon this cross-country RV trip. Exactly how to try again, I didn't know. I knew that I wanted this journey to be a commitment to healing and better living, with our trailer ("The Wellness Bus") supporting those efforts. But I didn't know what that really meant. To some extent, I still don't. 

However, if there is any sort of goal set for later (even a variable "later," as I'll explain momentarily), I can only muse, and ponder, and think for so long before action is necessary. That's where I feel I am now, and what/how I am feeling guides every bit of this. 

In the past three years, as well as on and off throughout my life, I've had trouble navigating a path of wellness. Environmental triggers and bizarre, unhealthy behaviors (as shared in "A Space Built for Wellness") dictate my actions more often than intention or conscious will. Which I find is all too common in the women I share this with. But it's still pretty contrary to what I expect of myself based on my values, expectations and goals (loose as they may be), and for the (hopefully issue-free) example I want to set for my daughter. 

Through all of this reflection and research over the past year, I've learned a lot about myself. This meandering but determined path to help myself, experimenting with acupuncture, massage, energy work, and seeking as much information as possible about supplements, nutrition and the food we consume has filled me with facts, philosophies and a more holistic picture of my health.

But evolving to make actual long-term, unwavering change is hard. Damn hard. Really motherfucking hard. 

So I'm taking a different approach. It's a solo approach, but it's customizable and I'm sharing it for accountability's sake. It's a timeless approach, which is to say that while it has three phases, there is no timeframe or limit on any phase. It is intended to build upon positive, healthy actions and behaviors as I'm ready to move forward. I understand the picture ahead, and how to jump from rock to rock. But I often fall down in between them and give up (whether for that day or entirely), tripped up by an unhealthy meal, stagnate day or cloud of negative thinking. 

This time, my approach takes my stumbling blocks into account. It makes space for them while propelling me forward. 

My overall goal is to achieve a healthy body weight and strong frame through healthy behaviors toward food and exercise.

The first phase focuses on food. It acknowledges the changing picture of my world, as I transition from a static home to a moving one, a huge brownstone to a 22' room, a static backdrop to an environment that changes by the day. I challenge myself to explore positive habits with food. Sourcing healthy food on the road, cooking healthy recipes in the trailer, and doing all of the above on a pretty tight budget! During this phase, I have no requirement to work out for exercise's sake, but I will take advantage of opportunities to move my body as we explore on our voyage, whether biking, hiking or walking. The first phase pays attention to when cravings strike, in an attempt to understand what is triggering them, so I can address that cause when it's not true hunger. With a better understanding of my relationship to food and the emotional or environmental triggers that cause me to fall off track, I will be better equipped to manage those moments in a healthy way (and/or deal with them independently to remove root causes). I'll be ready to move on when I feel the bigger food picture is mostly in place.

The second phase focuses on movement. It means a greater daily commitment to moving my body every day, while maintaining what I learned and implemented in the first phase. I'm asking myself to commit to 20 minutes of movement per day (with a day or two off, as needed), knowing that 20 often turns into more. I'd like myself to experiment with different kinds of workouts and different times of day to see what works best for me, so that a daily movement practice sticks over the long run.

The third phase pulls it all together and tightens the commitment level. I cannot move into phase three until I feel really solid with the first two phases. Once I know what works naturally in phases one and two, I move on. And the best part is that there is no hurry. This entire plan moves at the speed it needs to move and at a speed that feels comfortable and productive toward a "lifestyle change," as they say. But at this final phase (as in, how I operate moving forward indefinitely), I will completely eliminate the foods that don't work for my system, and let go of the habits that undermine the whole effort. I will have a varied daily movement practice that has become a habitual part of my days. I will operate fully from a grateful, healthy, happy and most importantly, whole place.

BriannaGraves_WellnessPlan_October2015

I will shift from one phase into the next when I feel ready. Right now, I am living somewhere between phase one and phase two. Over the first month of our trip as we drove the Canadian loop, I really committed to cooking with local, fresh ingredients and created heavily vegetable-based menus (until the seafood madness began in Québec). In one instance, even though a delicious vegetarian meal in the first week made me literally gag, I pushed on. I know, from observing myself, that for some reason, I have a lazy palette that craves an endless buffet of nutritionless processed foods. I also know that I feel best and most satiated from vegetable-based meals. So there is a gap that I have to close there. 

But I'm confident that I can do this. And obviously, I will let you know how it goes, because that's just what I do. 

How do you tackle  food and exercise planning, and how do you get the habits to stick in your daily routine? Please share any tips in the comments below!