Five Ways to Make Your Wellness Well-Rounded

Think healthy living is just about eating carrot sticks and getting your downward dog on in Yoga class? While those elements can help, my experience at the 2012 Fitness & Health Bloggers Conference in Denver over the past few days reminded me there’s a whole lot more to the equation. In the spirit of sharing and caring, here are five ways to make your wellness more well-rounded:

1)      Eat wisely.  According to MarketData Enterprises, the number of American dieters is going to soar to 108 million in 2012; yet 95% of those individuals will regain lost pounds and then some. A big reason is deprivation eating: people taking in a ridiculously low amount of daily calories or other extreme practices until they snap like a rubber band and eat all sour cream and onion potato chips within a two mile radius. Most nutrition experts I’ve spoken with advise aiming for a 90/10 balance of healthy eating choices with occasional spikes of planned treats. I’m happy to report that the Conference managed to serve foods that lovingly blended both attributes. Hungry when the trade show started, I immediately darted to the Refuel With Chocolate Milk booth to chug a yummy low fat sample for a protein boost before becoming obsessed with snack squares from goodness knows.  Other delicious, nutritious treats included portion-controlled dried cherry packets and anytime maple energy squares.  Sure beats the stale Danish rolls served at the corporate conferences I’ve attended in the past!

2)      Move often.  I’m not talking about renting a U-Haul and plying friends with beer to cart furniture around. You’ve got to move your own body to enjoy prime health.  As wellness rock star Dr. James Hill said during the conference, “Exercise is the one proven thing you can do to fight aging.” The conference provided us with access to the state-of-the-art  Anschutz Health and Wellness Center and instructor-led stretching breaks between sessions.   How can you add more movement to your daily life?

3)      Connect. My favorite part of this experience was the camaraderie.  Spending time with lovely, like-minded souls in person nourished my spirit and mind. Instead of constantly pushing yourself to stay late at work or schedule an extra run, it may do you even more good to spend quality time with a friend. Kymberly from Fun and Fit and Tamara from fitknitchick blew off the evening exercise sessions yesterday so we could shoot the breeze and it was a blast.

4)      Share. Lots of friends from the healthy living community wanted to attend the conference and couldn’t make it this year. So our group decided to make this experience as inclusive as possible by tweeting frequently with the #FHBC12 hashtag. Yesterday morning, our conference was one of the top trending topics on Twitter. Make sure you share any tidbits of wisdom collected in your personal healthy living journey with others who would appreciate it.

5)      Rest. I bombed out on this last point Stayed up way past my normal bedtime talking to new friends while the early-riser internal body clock kept waking me up before the butt-crack of dawn.  With so many interesting things to experience and learn, I didn’t have a moment of downtime during the days either. Yet true wellness is also about knowing when to rest and recharge. So my next big priority is SLEEP.

Disclosure: ReFuel With Chocolate Milk provided me with a scholarship to attend the 2012 Fitness & Health Bloggers Conference. However, all opinions are my own!

How can you make your wellness more rounded? Have you implemented any changes or new practices  recently to bolster your healthy living journey?

My Recovery Discovery

When I hear the term recovery, several images pop into my mind. Like the time I listlessly guzzled chicken soup and water while cocooned in my dorm room following my all-time worst hangover in college. (Which involved way too many Long Island Iced Teas and dancing on a table at an Irish pub – don’t ask.)  Or any manner of interchangeable patients healing after an unconventional yet brilliant surgery performed by Dr. House or the staff of Seattle Grace Hospital. But now, with thoughts of wellness dancing in my head like buff sugarplum fairies, I’ve also learned that recovery is an important part of exercise too.

Let’s say you go all bionic in the weight room, hoisting heavy free weights and Kettlebells with gusto. Using good form, of course. To get the most out of that workout, you need to recover with the proper nutrition. “After a hard training session, it’s essential to eat within 60 minutes to provide your cells the nutrients they need for an effective recovery,” notes Cory Demuth, Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach in Los Angeles.  “Protein is a critical component of a post-workout meal.”

Taking this advice helped tone up my muscles and bolster my pre-workout energy. Most mornings, I chug a homemade protein shake featuring unsweetened vanilla almond milk, frozen blueberries and a scoop of vegan protein powder immediately after working with my trainer.  As a member of FitFluential planning on attending the Fitness & Health Bloggers Conference in June, I was also interested to hear about Refuel with Chocolate Milk. So now you get the yummy goodness of lowfat chocolate milk to make your taste buds and muscles happy? Sign me up now!

It’s also important to let your muscles rest following intense workouts. “Recovery is as much a part of your workout routine as anything else, but I’m a proponent of an ‘active recovery’ plan,” continues DeMuth. “Chose to take a day off from the gym and instead opt for an outdoor walk, a stretching session, guided meditation or a casual bike ride. Keep your body active without doing anything to ‘overload’ when you’re taking a recovery day, which should be at least once a week.”

Do you regularly eat something within an hour of working out? If so, what are your recovery foods and beverages of choice?  How many days a week do you take off to rest after challenging workouts?