Does Wellbeing Mean Having To Compromise?

Question mark in EsbjergSo, this year I’m running an experiment on wellbeing.

In fact, I’m asking myself this question:

“What becomes possible for my life when I make wellbeing my first priority?”

I’m cooking a post for you right now on food and nutrition since that’s where I’ve focused most in the last few weeks. But meantime I just wanted to check in and share what I’ve been doing in general. Also what I’ve started to notice since I wrote that initial wellbeing post.

Organizing

A key thing I’m noticing is this: Honoring my commitment to wellbeing seems to require me to be much more organized than comes naturally.

Take food. I used to do food shopping on an almost daily basis, deciding what to eat in the moment.

Living in the now might be great for mindfulness. But I’m realising it’s not so hot for nutrition.

You know, I am not a bad eater generally speaking. (Or so I thought. More on this shortly!) But making it up as I went along was almost guaranteed to insure I either over- or under-ate. Or that what I ate was nutritionally empty.

Eating in a way that truly does support my health has forced me to rethink.

One of the things I’ve been doing is creating weekly food menus, and shopping accordingly.

A few discoveries:

  • First, it’s great to be spending less time in my local Marks & Spencers.
  • Second, I’m definitely eating way more healthfully, and…
  • Third, although I suspect I’m eating more than I was, I seem to be spending the same amount of money or even a bit less, because I have far less food wastage.

I’ve used this kind of organizing in my fitness work too. So, yes, I do use a gym, but it has been a bit random. I’d turn up when I wanted and do what I fancied. Which meant that, if I had a particularly busy spell work-wise, I would skip gym, or do less.

Then wonder why gym didn’t seem to do anything for me.

Since January, I’ve been planning three sessions a week in my diary to make sure I get there regularly. They are appointments, blocked in as solidly as if they were client sessions.

Then, to give my workouts some structure, I put together a heart rate training program for myself, based on an old Matt Roberts book that I have. Having some reason to turn up at the gym keeps my mind engaged in the session and I’ve found I’ve enjoyed it more and that it has gone in more quickly.

So far, although it has been tempting, I haven’t ducked out because I’ve been “busy”.

After only four weeks of tweaking the fitness stuff, I feel way better.

Prioritizing

I think one of the reasons my fitness sessions have stuck is that I’ve planned my working days around them. Which meant, in turn, that I’ve had to get real about what I could do the rest of the time. If I’m working out in the morning (which is my preference) I don’t schedule any kind of work till I know I’ll be back at my desk. If I’m working out in the evenings, I make sure I have a hard stop when I need to leave to get to the gym.

It might be easier, of course, if wellbeing was my only focus. But of course, as I’m sure is the case for you too, it’s not. It’s the foundation for the rest of our lives.

But committing to it has in turn made me really think about how else I spend my time.

You know, it’s weird. And it may well be in my personality to always want to do more than time will allow. So, it’s really quite tough to get honest with myself and consider, of all the things I could spend my time doing, which ones give me most leverage.

Having said that, I had this amazing experience one day when I just “knew” the few things that I needed to be doing, and have started to plan my working days and weeks around them. If something’s not on my list of few things, it’s not getting done at all.

Compromising

Even then, I’m already making compromises and trade-offs. Social media and content creation are two of the “few” things. However, even they have been squeezed more than I’d like to acknowledge.

So, it’s starting to look as if there are a few of the few things that are top priorities and they all seem to concentrate on high personal touch stuff. I wish I could be one of these 24/7 socially-engaging, content-generating folks. And I can’t pretend that it doesn’t provoke anxiety in me that I’m not. But for now I’m just noticing that I can’t be that person and be well.

So the core question that’s emerging for me is: does focusing on wellbeing have to mean compromise? Right now it seems that way, but I’m keeping an open mind…

You

If you too are focusing on wellbeing this year, I’d love to hear what’s going on for you. What’s working? What’s not? How does anything I’m saying hear resonate or contrast with you?

Next up more specifically on the food and nutrition front. Make sure you don’t miss it by subscribing to the wellbeing posts here.

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Comments

  1. Rachael 'Honest' Blair says:

    Hi Christine,

    I agree that eating well and exercising regularly does require compromise and in fact, it’s something I did very well before my son was born. However, having a child, particularly a pre-schooler, also requires compromise and one of the first luxuries I gave up was the gym. I only call it a ‘luxury’ because of the cost! I miss it a lot, although my son and I do yoga and a lot of running around together, it’s not the same and I wonder whether, instead of reading and commenting on blogs when I have a little free time in the evenings, I ‘should’ be going for a run! I did for a while but the weather (and darkness that goes with it, making it unsafe) has put me off. I know it’s a circle – I’d be less tired if I exercised more but if I dig a little deeper, I think perhaps for now, I am placing a higher value on ‘me’ or ‘down’ time, which I get very little of, and is also important to wellbeing. Maybe I’m prioritising my mental over my physical health for now…. Which is not such a bad thing but as we all know the two are closely related. I think for now I can most easily change my diet so I’m looking forward to your food and nutrition posts!
    Rachael ‘Honest’ Blair´s last blog post ..It’s the little things…

    • I think you make a terrific point here, Rachael, about the importance of down time. It makes me realize that that’s one of the things that’s key for me too. It’s all very well to go to gym, run, make sure we’re up to date on our favorite blogs, or whatever, but sometimes keeping all of that going, in the middle of an otherwise busy life, can be just another form of stress. And mental wellbeing is just as, if not more important than physical wellbeing.For me there’s a day by day choice to be made about what is best: sticking with a “plan” or taking time out. I totally know that time out, even if it’s just a half hour, is completely nurturing.There’s something too about, whatever you’re doing, to do it in consciousness.

      Interesting to hear how “compromise” affects you too. Increasingly it seems to me that, if I make one set of choices, or if circumstances change in a particular direction, it means almost by definition that other things have to be let go. And that’s just how it is. Any pressure to do or be anything beyond or more is just outside-in thinking.

      Your comment too brings to my awareness that I haven’t really defined wellbeing here. In fact it’s composed of many things. And what creates wellbeing will differ person to person.

      Thanks so much and stay well.

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