The last few years have been a long continuum of changing circumstances in my life. Even if we enjoy the things that keep us very busy it’s easy to start to “lose the plot” and forget why you began caring for your health with a wellness routine in the first place. Since high school I’ve been an avid gym-rat and have lifted weights five, six, or even seven times a week, sometimes multiple times a day. This habit was much more feasible as a teenager and now I’ve scaled this back to accommodate for my work schedule and to enjoy the parts of life that make life worth living.
For me, this means still lifting heavy things often, just with the bigger picture in mind. Passing your old personal strength or conditioning records is an ecstatic feeling and an incredible ‘natural high’ but it’s important to remember that if we take our journey gradually it can last into our later years. For me, this looks like lifting every other day and adding in lots of variety – dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, bodyweight, cable machines, bands, sandbags, stones, and sometimes even odd objects found on trails or in state parks. The goal is to try something I’ve never done before. This can mean not only increasing repetitions or weight lifted but also changing exercise tempo, rest periods, doing things in a different position, challenging under-utilized muscles, and so on. This variety means my strength increases without having a stall or plateau in progress and avoids “overuse injuries” from repetitive patterns.
The last year or so, I’ve also begun to walk daily. The goal is 2-3 miles a day on workdays, and on weekends it’s extremely restorative and healing for both body and mind to just get lost on nature trail or state park and walk without a goal – often this will be 10-12 miles for me, but the distance doesn’t matter as long as the intent is there. This can also be something of a walking meditation – notice the breath, tune in to the sounds of wind in trees and bird calls, and have my eyes “come back to the world”. At some points in our lives we all mindlessly drift through the work week(s) and these dedicated periods re-sensitize us to life and living here and now.
Probably the most critical portion of my wellness routine is to spend *less* time working out and more time reading books, writing, drawing, playing instruments, and spending time with loved ones. These help keep things in perspective and beyond their physical benefits from decreased stress, it’s just nice to have community and expression to underpin our life’s work. I think the best wellness routine is one that is able to adapt to the rest of our lives.