What Really is Wellness?

Lake Como, Italy

The term "wellness" is such a buzz word right now, but what does it actually even mean? At first, I think I was guilty of thinking of wellness as working out 7 days a week and drinking protein shakes.
However, the more I'm on this journey of figuring out life, I'm realizing that I think wellness is figuring out how to live your best life and it isn't a one size fits all kind of thing. In terms of the health aspect of wellness, I see it as being able to nourish and move my body the way that makes me feel good. Going on a walk for an hour listening to a podcast feels better to me than trying to do 100 burpees every day right now. Although sometimes crushing some burpees feels great, just showing up to move my body still makes me feel my best. Eating a super yummy salad or a smoothie with spinach and chia seeds makes me feel amazing, but you know what else makes me feel amazing? Having 2 hour conversations with amazing new friends in Italy while sharing the most delicious pizza and wine. I love food, but I think I love the experiences that come with food more. Finding those amazing moments that light you up and making an effort to chase more of those moments are what wellness is really all about, in my opinion.

Quinoa Bowl at Sandwichez in Barcelona

Peanut Butter Toast at Nicolau Lisboa
I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that one of my biggest fears about studying abroad was the unknown of whether or not I would gain weight from eating unhealthy or not working out. Wtf right? The longer I'm here, the more it hits me: what a STUPID fear, Baigin. But hear me out. I was afraid that being put out of my comfortable bubble would rock my view of the role of health and fitness in my life and, I guess, in a way, it has. Like, is this really what I'm interested in and passionate about or is it a "passion" that has developed out of this fear of gaining weight or being "unhealthy"? When thinking about this, I tried to pinpoint when exactly I decided I was going to be a "healthy" or "balanced" eater (whatever that really means). It brought me back to when I was in 4th grade and I gave a presentation to my school's PTO about why we need to make our school lunches more nutritious. As a 4th grader, I was still innocent and social media didn't even exist to influence me to feel one way or the other; it was just something I was genuinely interested in as a 9 year old. As I've thought about it more, I think in terms of healthy eating, it's less about being passionate about the act of eating a healthy meal and more about being passionate about the way eating a healthy meal makes me feel.

I was listening to an Oprah podcast recently (click here to listen) where she asked her guest, "When are you your absolute happiest?" and the guy answered, "I'm happy in every moment I'm alive." Normally, I would hear that and laugh a little, but something really resonated with me in that moment. No matter what's going on in our lives, there's something we can choose to be grateful for, all it takes is a little shift in perspective. Being able to shift a moment of stress or anger and turn it into a happy, grateful one is wellness.

The best pizza and wine I've ever eaten in Milan, Italy
Worrying about gaining weight or not working out while living in one of the most incredible places in the entire world was a thought rooted in fear. Fear of the unknown of what this experience was going to be like for me and of being taken out of the comfortable bubble and routine I've always known. Trying to shift this perspective to one of gratitude for my experiences in every moment I'm here has lifted a weight off me and allowed me to feel joy and happiness literally in every moment. But you know that feeling when you're really sore from the best workout and even though it was amazing, you literally can't move? That's how my mind feels when I get into bed at night because I'm working muscles of my brain and heart that I never have before. Isn't that crazy? I have never consciously chosen joy in every moment. Of course, I'm not perfect. That's why "wellness journey" is in the tagline of my blog lol. Some days, I let that consciousness slip and am a total Negative Nancy about school or people or my body. The good feeling is in the process of learning and knowing that I tried my best at the end of the day. That's what wellness is, guys. Wellness is showing up for yourself every day to try to your best. We'll never be perfect and sometimes we have silly fears about things we can't control. If you're still reading my ramblings, I'm grateful for you! Let's choose in this moment to be grateful, trust the process, and be our best.


Barca Reflections + How to Choose Your Energy

At Castello de S. Jorge in Lisbon, Portugal.

I will admit, I have not been as good about journaling and blogging as I wanted to be in Spain... I can't believe it has been a month since my last post. I thought I would post a recap every week, but I have really been trying to focus on being present in the moment and not worrying about documenting every single thing on camera which has been really refreshing. I've mentioned my thought provoking morning walks a zillion times, but it has been my time that I absolutely cherish in the morning, by myself just listening to a podcast. I reflect every single day and I need to be better about getting those reflections in writing, so that's what you are reading today.

Both photos from Lisbon, aka my new favorite place on Earth.

Before I came over to Barcelona, I was really stressed on how I would be able to create a peaceful routine that was similar to what I had been trying to do at home. I'm a morning person so it's really important for me to set myself up for success in my morning routine. Thankfully, Headspace has changed the game for me and I am still able to meditate almost every day. During the week, I wake up a little earlier and sit in my bed in meditate and if I'm traveling, I can do it on the bus to the airport or on a plane. It changes my mood drastically and gives me space in my mind to focus on what really matters throughout my day. I highly recommend it.

Today in my meditation the idea was presented that anxiety and negative feelings are like dark clouds covering up a blue sky. The blue sky is always there, but sometimes the clouds are in the way. Similarly, I guess we can think of our dreams and the person we're constantly striving to be as our own personal blue sky. Some days are cloudy, but other days we feel on top of the world, sunny and 75. I guess the take home message here (for me anyways) is that the person that we want to be is who we already are, the clouds get in the way- our fears, self imposed limitations, etc. The difference between the weather and our lives is that every day we are faced with a choice: is it going to be a sunny day or a stormy day? We get to choose. A lot of times, my anxiety or negative attitude follows me because it's a habit that I can't kick. I'm used to feeling anxious and, although I'm uncomfortable, it's an easier and more comfortable choice. However, what we choose to feel every day is either revealing or covering up that blue sky.

Beautiful blue sky views from Castello de S. Jorge.

Time Out Market Lisboa

For me, my focus right now is finding peace. Being at peace in my mind, spirit, and body, but also with the negative energy that has come into my life in the past. Choosing a positive energy is quite simple if we allow it to be. Choosing to say no to negative people, situations, or energies is the way to move forward and get to a peaceful state. I know you have experienced some form of negative energy at some point in your life. You can feel it the second you walk in the room! But have you ever thought to yourself, "you know what? I'm actually going to say no to letting this into my life." It's something I recently realized on a morning walk and am incorporating that into my journey to finding peace. It seems crazy and maybe even a little silly to place such an emphasis on just saying no, but it's actually harder than you might think.

I posted about this on my Instagram story last week, but I was working on a school project with two girls that I had just met and their energy was so positive, it was contagious. It really lit me up and made me feel like I needed to share that energy and that kindness and joy to everyone. So often, we dump our problems on other people- it's normal and it's okay to a certain extent. But we all have that one friend or even those couple of days where we are the friend that is "the dumper": filling up someone else's time and energy with whatever negativity and stress is going on in our life. Unfortunately, I can think of a couple times where I've been a dumper.

Kind of similarly, something I've noticed since being away is that I let the thoughts, opinions, and actions of other people have too significant of an impact on my energy. Whether it's thoughts on my future career or my relationship or not getting some validation or credit that I think I've earned, it seems like things I can't really change are negatively impacting my energy. What's even more frustrating is that I'm not saying no! I'm the one that is allowing that into my life.

Snaps from my daily walk in Barcelona.

My roomie, fellow Gemini, and soul sister Jess. Seriously could not be more thankful that the universe brought us together.

Circling back to my main point here, after I met with those girls, I felt so inspired and energetic and really motivated to only be a positive energy for someone else. It can change someone's whole day to share your light and kindness instead of being a negativity dumper and I realized in that moment that that is exactly who I want to be. We have the power literally every second of every day to choose the blue sky. When we walk into room, we are choosing to either share a positive energy or a negative one. We all make mistakes, but being able to be aware of the present moment and check yourself is what counts.

Wow that was a lot! If you're still reading, you rock! I guess I've had a lot on my mind in the past month haha. While I share a lot about my life on my blog, I always try to think about what I want the takeaway to be and, lately, I think my focus is being able to share some positive energy. In a world where there seems to be so much negativity, my goal is to just share my journey to choosing to find the light and good energy in every moment.

Thanks for reading. xx