Dominique Gummelt, PhD by Dominique Gummelt, PhD

A new year is the perfect opportunity for a new beginning. Many people enthusiastically jump headfirst into new ambitious fitness routines and health behaviors, but these are often abandoned as quickly as they were started. The enthusiasm fades, and frustration and dissatisfaction set in quickly because they aren’t able to stick to the new plan. Unfortunately, this pattern is often repeated year after year.

Having had the privilege to coach and train a lot of people from different walks of life and places, I have noticed a common thread. While most people say they care about being healthy, their practical approach to living healthfully is usually focused solely on a particular outcome goal. In other words, the value is solely placed on the end result. Commonly, specific numbers are attached to these goals, such as losing a certain amount of weight, accomplishing a certain number of reps or running a marathon, and the list goes on. Additionally, many people have an all-or-nothing attitude that allows them to throw themselves fully into a new regimen, but when “life” happens, all is abandoned.

Fortunately, there is a more effective, inclusive and sustainable way of building a long-term healthy and fit lifestyle that is not plagued by constant ups and downs. What if you changed your mindset and approached health and fitness as a way of life and not a program? What if you changed your goal-setting to focus more on process instead of outcome?

Based on my experiences through coaching, training and education, I have assembled six key principles that seem to have had the greatest impact on my clients’ overall well-being. These principles have transformed lives and helped my clients maintain a healthy lifestyle and achieve long-desired goals.

Starting today, I challenge you to start transforming your life, one day at a time and one behavior at a time. Focus on making healthier choices in each area below every day and positive outcomes will inevitably result. Be patient, stay focused and know that you can do it.

6 Key Principles for Achieving Optimum Wellness

It is worth noting that there are many positive behaviors that will add to transformational living, but these six are likely to have the greatest impact.

  1. Move More, Sit Less
  • Sit fewer than three hours per day.
  • Accumulate at least 10,000 steps.
  • Be intentional about redesigning your environment to prompt more activity.
  • Inspire your family, co-workers, and friends to move more with you.
  1. Exercise Regularly
  • Cardio: 3–5 days/week, 20–60 minutes, moderate-to-vigorous level
  • Strength: 2–3 non-consecutive days/week, all major muscles
  • Flexibility: 5–7 days/week, all major joints, static stretching
  1. Rest Regularly
  • Sleep 7–8 hours per night.
  • Take mini-breaks throughout your day.
  • Set aside one day from your regular routine to rest every week.
  • Take regular vacations in which the focus is rest and relaxation.
  1. Eat Minimally Processed Food
  • Eat a mostly plant-based, non-processed diet.
  • Eat 3–5 servings of vegetables/fruits per day.
  • Ensure that a majority of the grains you eat are 100% whole grains.
  • Limit/avoid simple sugars, saturated fat and salt.
  • Control your portions.
  • Eat regularly (especially a healthy breakfast).
  1. Connect Regularly and Meaningfully
  • Take time for self-reflection on a regular basis.
  • Make a point to connect with family and friends outside of social media.
  • Connect with strangers and the larger world (be a global citizen).
  • Get in touch with the environment by spending time outdoors.
  • Connect spiritually, whatever that looks like for you.
  • Give back and be kind to all.
  1. Cope with Stress
  • Set priorities.
  • Manage your time well.
  • Manage your space well (stay organized).
  • Plan ahead.
  • Meditate and be mindful.
  • Set boundaries.
  • Take control and take responsibility.

Note: Adopting all these principles on a daily basis will assist with disarming your chronic and acute stress.

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