Words by Charlotte Samaroo
This year is probably pretty far from what anyone would have imagined. But amidst all the turbulence COVID-19 has brought there’s a silver lining to be found. Consider this... hidden in the doom and gloom newscast was an opportunity for many to create new morning routines, try meditation, maybe a long walk before working from home. All in all, maybe it was nice to feel you’ve gotten the rest you deserve rather than be overbooked every night of the week.
After 5 months of crushing home workouts, maybe you’ve built up the confidence to use that gym membership you signed up for at the start of the year. Or maybe you’ve created the perfect zen oasis at home and can simply roll out of bed and onto your yoga mat for your daily dose. Either way, the world is up and active again. Health and fitness goals are at a high as if yesterday was New Years, and oh what a feeling it is!
But have you factored these new habits into your long term goals? Are they sustainable and have an impact on your overall well being in years to come? Maybe now is the perfect time to talk about longevity.
WHAT IS LONGEVITY IN FITNESS AND WELLNESS?
Longevity is defined as a long individual life; a great duration of individual life. If you're training regularly, those endorphins have you feeling blissful and your body develops as a result of your “gains”, the idea is these gains will continue in steady parallel with your training. All seems great at the surface: but how much is too much, and is your schedule of training sessions or classes varied enough? These elements are the key to consistent and healthy fitness habits that truly lead to longevity.
As fitness and wellness continues to grow into the mainstream, we have perhaps more choice than ever when it comes to the form of exercise we opt for. It’s human nature to lean into aspects we enjoy and not necessarily doing what your body may be lacking. Weightlifting to gain muscle mass, using HIIT and Tabata to build endurance and burn more calories. And for what? To post on Instagram for #Fitspo?
Aesthetic change is typically the most popular incentive for individuals to be active, but all too often these fade as quickly as fads. How many of us make these changes with the intention to further our lifespan or be able to lift up our grandkids when we’re older?
WHY IS LONGEVITY IMPORTANT?
From a holistic perspective, true fitness and wellness is more than just adding more time to our tickers. Conscious choices we make in our early adult lives carry on to benefit us in our later years. That being said, there is such a thing as overtraining, and going too far in one direction.
Exerting the body through exercise is how one develops fitness, but over-exercising will only cause damage to joints and structures that are collagen dependent i.e. ligaments, fascia, etc. We want to put in the work now to benefit from it later. The last thing we want is for the body to break down prematurely.
As we know, physical activity allows for the secretion of ‘happy hormones’, and can help relieve symptoms of anxiety, but big workouts are far from the only way people can “get their mind right” through fitness and wellness. To this end, meditation and breath work can work wonders in creating an environment that promotes a positive mood will also heavily impact the other aspects of your routine.
MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT WELLNESS HABITS
The media markets enough ‘Get fit quick’ schemes and products daily. In my opinion, I think it best to ignore them completely. No specific diet, supplement or training regime is going to make you look like that model, because you aren’t them. Instead, focus on you and make self care a priority.
So far we’ve talked a lot about getting the balance of fitness and wellness right for a holistic approach to longevity. The truth is, there’s no one formula you can apply to equal wellness. Everyone is different, and you should listen to your body when it comes to what is working making you feel good.
HOW TO ACHIEVE FITNESS AND WELLNESS THAT LASTS
Create a clear mental space
There’s a lot of noise out there, make sure you can still hear your own thoughts. Try guided meditations, or take a walk without your phone or music. This will allow you to feel connected and grounded within your surroundings. It’s refreshing to unplug from the digital now and then.
Become an observer of your emotions. If you’re angry, ask yourself why? You may find the source of an intense emotion or feeling lies within one factor or choice that you have the ability to control. Identifying this can at times help us to avoid lingering in a negative headspace.
Make healthy, but not restrictive choices, and don’t go “cold turkey”
The body is the most advanced piece of technology, treat it as such. Societal norms have conditioned us to feel guilty when indulging in a high sugar, high fat, high carb food item but to put it simply too much of anything is not good.
It’s important to be motivated to make these changes, otherwise these healthy choices won’t stick as a habit. The biggest advice is to never go ‘cold turkey’ on any new goal. If you want to transition to being vegan, be vegetarian first, or start by only cutting out red meat and progress as your palate and body adapts. The smaller the transition the easier it is to gain ‘feedback’ from your body to learn what works for you. And only you.
Set intentions, however small
Setting an intention for yourself can strengthen manifestation of goals, help you hold yourself accountable for behaviour you may be trying to avoid. Intentions are important as they also help us avoid disappointment from the impossible expectations we are fed through the media, through setting our own expectations and intentions.
When setting intentions, make sure to celebrate the traits that you are most proud of, inside and out. You’re amazing and don’t ever be discouraged to think otherwise!
There are a lot of components to wellness longevity and ultimately living longer: nutrition, physical activity, mental health, predisposing health concerns, cultural and societal norms, just to name a few. Life gets pretty complex as we’re stretched to be all factor into longevity, and furthermore it’s constantly being argued that only certain circumstances are conducive to prolonging age. But the true secret is to strive for balance in all aspects of your life, your future self will thank you. I’ve got a mantra that keeps me grounded, maybe you’ll like it too:
Move my body
Feed my soul
Rest my mind
One day at a time