On a regular basis I encounter clients, friends, and acquaintances that talk to me about their journey of fitness and wellness. I think for the most part, the term “wellness” means something different to each person. For the purposes of this blogpost I am going to refer to the “Six Dimensions of Wellness” established by Dr. Bill Hettler. As the term implies, there are six different aspects of overall wellness and they include occupational, physical, social, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional. One could argue that they are all interrelated, one effects another, etc. We are going to operate on the assumption that each of these dimensions has an equal importance and effect on overall wellness but we are going to focus on physical right now.
Physical wellness is the need for regular physical activity but also good nutrition. Understanding that the body is a multi-dimentional, yet cohesive unit and needs to be fueled properly is an important part of physical wellness. On a regular basis, I enjoy having conversations with members and clients about their past accomplishments and future fitness goals. I love the uplifting spirit they have as they discuss overcoming obstacles and being able to achieve their goals amidst the many challenges. I love the way they talk about how increasing their physical activity has led to a lot of other positive changes in their lives. However, often as they discuss plateaus in weight loss, or setbacks in their training, the conversation turns to nutrition. My follow up question to these comments is usually “How’s your diet?” And I get a variety of answers ranging from “it’s crap”, to “I know I’m eating healthy stuff, I’m just eating too much”, to “It seems okay, I just don’t know what to change”.
My expertise is limited to the physical training portion of wellness so this is where I automatically refer these clients to a dietitian. I have a basic understanding of the fundamentals of nutrition and diet and I know what I should be eating and usually how much. However, there are so many intricacies of diet that are beyond my understanding. For instance, I know that someone who is training for an ironman needs a different diet than someone who is training for a physique competition. Men and women require a different diet, younger and older, post-menopausal and prenatal, family history, blood pressure, the list goes on and on. So the nutrition portion of your physical wellness is better left to the professionals who have spent years educating themselves endlessly to learn about nutrition. I personally have an appointment set up with the dietitian in a couple weeks to discuss how I can improve my efficiency, performance, and physique. I have been introduced to new lingo and information and I would like some clarity. She and I will discuss my own personal goals as well as some of the common myths that plague the industry. I will be discussing that conversation in detail in the next couple weeks.
So, in summary, no matter what your goals are for physical wellness, consider speaking with a dietitian about the things that your individual body needs. Be mindful of the latest diet trends and the superfluous amount of misinformation that can be found on the web. Trust that registered dietitians are in their field for the same reasons that I am in mine: to help people take care of their bodies, inside and out.