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.



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