Balancing Your Fitness Routing with Overall Self-Care
By Sheila Olson
The North American market for the global health and fitness industry generated $26.8 billion (USD) in 2014 alone. That same year, more than 54 million Americans paid membership fees for gyms, and the total number of trips to the gym topped 5 billion. At the same time, though, an opposite trend is growing perhaps even more quickly: In 2000, 30.5 percent of U.S. adults were obese. By 2016, that figure soared to 39.6 percent.
One reason why we’re gaining weight even as we’re working out more may be that we’re focusing on our bodies but not our well-being. When we’re stressed, our body throws our cortisol levels – a hormone that helps regulate our metabolism and appetite – out of whack, causing us to gain weight. That we’re becoming a heavier nation may come as no surprise: Eight in 10 Americans say that they’re stressed out. Here are some tips on how to balance your fitness routine with overall self-care.
From the outset, let’s define terms: What exactly is self-care? No less than the World Health Organization defines self-care as habits to help people maintain their health and also prevent illness. As a concept, self-care encompasses a variety categories: income, hygiene, nutrition, medication, activity level and living conditions, among others. Broad as that sounds, the idea basically boils down to treating yourself well so that you can be a better friend, citizen, parent, or spouse. Further on, you’ll read about general categories of self-care, but here are some strategies for nourishing your well-being in between workouts:
- Go camping.
- Declutter a room.
- Take your dog for a walk.
- Dig out and plant a garden.
- Hike through the fall woods.
- Read that book on your shelf you’ve been eyeing for months.
The specific activity that you’re drawn to doesn’t matter so long as it’s healthy and it soothes you.
An essential component to self-care is fueling your body with the right foods. The advantages of maintaining a good diet include regulating your weight, strengthening your immune system, preventing against cardiovascular disease, and giving you tons of energy. Actually, a telltale sign that a meal is bad for you is whether you feel weighed down after you finish eating it.
The last thing you want to do is stick to a crash diet of, say, water and crackers because you’ll burn out in no time. Instead, fill your fridge with some of the world’s healthiest foods: kiwis, tuna, garlic, lentils, quinoa, salmon, avocados, blueberries, sweet potatoes, whole wheat bread and more. Vary it up, get some go-to recipes out of these, and reward a good session at the gym with a delicious meal when you get home.
A Relaxation Regimen
Planning a relaxation regimen for the long-term is one of the cornerstones of self-care. First, figure out what hobbies you enjoy. These might include knitting, landscaping, bird watching, journaling your thoughts, drawing in coloring books, or anything else that excites and relaxes you.
Also, make sure that you’re getting great sleep. The health benefits of sleep are almost too numerous to name, but suffice it to say that we can’t operate without a good night’s rest. So include anything in your bedroom to enhance your comfort zone – deep pillows, walls painted a dark (or bright) hue and a noise machine to lull you into your dreams.
Finally, it’s also important to designate part of your home that could function as a meditation space. This could be a guest room or a nook in the attic or any other place people rarely use. Hang mirrors, paint the walls, add in potted plants – decorate it in whatever way will relax you.
Our jobs and schedules can get hectic, and if you can’t find time to get in a jog or a ride a bike, at least you have a place where you can meditate and recharge. You deserve it.