Making Resolutions That Work: The Wellness Triangle


Dear fit-RVers-in-training, (…and btw we’re ALL in training…)

2019 starts tomorrow. Well, technically in 13 hours from the very moment I’m typing, but let’s not get hung up on details. I leave those for the nerd side of the FitRV, if you know who I mean.

Ahem…

I couldn’t let the New Year start without a little fit message for y’all so if you do anything good for yourself today, read on. You have the potential to make 2019 your fittest year ever, and that could start right now and right here.

Let’s start with the whole “New Year’s Resolution” thing. Research is bleak on the success of resolutions. A lot of the blame for our failure to reach our resolutions comes from setting too broad of goals without a game plan on HOW to get there. After all, right now it’s easy to say, “Well a YEAR from now I’ll lose 10lbs”, because Current You who’s saying it isn’t really the one in charge of the actual implementation. That’s left up to Future You, a version of yourself WAYYYY out there who miraculously will find the motivation and will be disciplined enough to meet Current You’s resolution. And yet year after year we continue to make resolutions, and year after year the majority of us fail at sticking to them.

Another reason for the failure rate is that when people look to set healthy goals for themselves, they tend to only look at diet and exercise. That’s great and those are huge areas in constant need of improvement, but there are SO many other areas of our overall wellness that we tend to neglect.

I want to introduce you to the Wellness Triangle; it’s a teaching tool I used back when I was teaching public school Health. I actually based my entire year’s curriculum around it, so you’re about to get the nutshell version.

 

This is something I constantly think about… this here triangle. I like to check in with it and assess how strong my wellness is. I’ll break it down for you, bear with me here because there is a point coming. But it’s REALLY important you get the triangle first.

Physical: Our physical side is the one that gets most of our attention, and it’s not only nutrition and exercise. It’s also our sleeping, our medical conditions and injuries, and how we care for our bodies. If you smoke, do drugs, drink too much… all that affects this part of your triangle.

Social: No surprise here, our social side involves our relationships with others. This is more important than you think. Research shows older people who have strong social support networks have 50% better survivability rate than those who do not. There are also actual positive physiological, stress-busting changes that happen within the body as we interact with people we care about. Science-backed data shows health and longevity improve when one has loving and caring relationships.

Mental/Emotional:  This one encompasses so much. How stressed are you, and what are you doing to relieve your stress?  How inspired are you and are you taking the time for travel and new experiences? What about hobbies, do you have regular hobbies you engage in? Are you allowing yourself to experience the discomfort zone? Experiences that make us uncomfortable lead to neuroplasticity in the brain (the ability for the brain to change), which make us stronger and more resilient to life’s challenges.

If you’re not upkeeping any one of these areas, you are negatively affecting your health, and even shortening your life.

So, what I like to do is every so often is take a look at my own Wellness Triangle and I’ll check in with myself, finding my current weak areas. I’ll be totally honest here, one of my ongoing weaknesses is the whole “Discomfort Zone” thing; part of my Mental/Emotional triangle side. While some people are naturally adventurous, for me I have to consciously work at it. My default mode would be spending the afternoon cuddled in the van under a blanket watching Netflix… and if I didn’t value wellness so much I could see myself slipping into that on the regular. It takes effort for me to don the bike clothes and spend the day out riding with James.  It takes effort for me to go to the party where I don’t know anyone. It takes effort for me to take a roadtrip to somewhere new and unknown, not sure what to expect. But here’s the thing. After I put myself into these uncomfortable situations that I know are good for me… I NEVER regret it. There’s a personal pride that I overcame my Comfort-Default-Mode and I feel just a little titch stronger for it. So the point with this whole tangent is, you can use the Wellness Triangle to identify your own areas of weaknesses, and then you set goals to target them.

Now back to the whole New Year’s Resolution dilemma. Here’s what I propose.

 

Set Mini-Resolutions.

Instead of monolithic year-long resolutions that pawn the responsibility off on Future You, make them shorter.

 

Set Resolutions For One Month.

Say you looked at your triangle and decided you need a hobby, which is one part of the Mental Health side of the triangle. You could set a goal that in the month of August, you’ll RV to Canada and spend the month at a woodworking school you’ve always dreamed about (JAMES DID THIS!!!).

 

Make Them Specific and Focused.

If you want to amp up your exercise, you could set a month long goal that you’ll walk say 60 miles by the end of the month. If you want to work on improving your social health, you could commit to attending that RV rally you’ve long been hearing about in July.

 

Use The Wellness Triangle To Identify Them.

Just because someone LOOKS lean and fit doesn’t mean they’ve mastered overall wellness. When setting goals for improvement, don’t forget about the other sides of your wellness triangle, too.

 

Why Should I Set Mini-Resolutions?

Working on self-improvement for 4 weeks at a time makes the goal the responsibility of Current You and doesn’t pawn it off on a version of yourself down the line. It’s not a lot of time so it makes it more achievable, AND YET! It’s just on the cusp of enough time to create a habit. If you set a resolution to give up soda for a month and you’re successful, chances are you’d have an easy time continuing for another month since it’s now a new habit you’ve just formed.

 

My Fit-RVers Challenge To You:

Scroll back up and revisit the Wellness Triangle. Identify one of your weak areas. Spend the day thinking about it and HOW  you could work to improve that area within a month’s time. Once you come up with a specific resolution and a plan for implementation, WRITE IT DOWN. Tape it somewhere visible, and even tell people about it… that solidifies the commitment even further… heck, come tell me down in the comments! I’d love to hear about it and be able to cheer you on! After you’ve got it identified and written down, get yourself prepared for it and then make it happen.

All 3 triangle sides happening: exercise, socializing, and engaging in a hobby. Take that, Life!

Oh look at that. The New Year starts in 12 hours now, looks like it took me an hour to write this.

 

Y’all, as we ring in the New Year, I just want to wish you the BEST EVER year ahead. May 2019 be kind to you, packed with wonderful adventures, excellent health, and tons of laughter!

 

Here’s to 2019! A New Year to be a New You!

I’ll be rooting for you!

xoxo, Stef



Stef spent 15 years as an educator in both the public K-12 setting and at the University level in Special Physical Education before making the leap to her true passion… the fitness world. She’s currently a personal trainer and wellness coach with a specialty in working with people with medical conditions and injuries. Stef has been a running enthusiast her entire adult life, and shares James’ love of cycling. She feels lucky they have a shared hobby in bicycling that enhances their RV lifestyle.


    6 thoughts on “Making Resolutions That Work: The Wellness Triangle

    1. Gregg Hershberger

      Thanks for the article. You inspired me. Woke up this morning and started the New Year with a 12 mile bike ride in Pennsylvania. You are right, it would have been easier to get on the stationary bike, but once I got used to the cold it was great. Have a Happy New Year.

      Reply
      1. Stefany - Post author

        THIS IS AWESOME!!! I always tell people if we could just bottle those post-workout feelings, or have some way to remember that elated, satisfied, proud feeling… there’d be no problem getting workouts in; so do your best to try to remember the way you’re feeling! Let it keep you motivated for many more morning bike rides to come! Super proud of you Gregg; you just set yourself up for a great day. Happy New Year! xoxo

        Reply
    2. Garnetta Mallory

      It sounds very simple but my mini resolution is to substitute one glass of water for my diet soda per day after one week I hope to increase it to twice a day. But I will start with one. And that one is a HUGE step for me. I don’t care (like) water.

      Reply
      1. Stefany - Post author

        The simple ones are the best ones. Change shouldn’t be complicated! I LOVE this mini-resolution and especially like how you’re breaking it down even further to a one week trial that you’ll re-assess at the end of the week before amping it up. Best of luck, Garnetta! I know you can do this… that first week will be all about discipline, just doing it whether you want to or not. Stay strong and I’d love to hear how it goes! xoxo

        Reply
    3. Erin Laine

      Good thoughts Stefany. As a retiree my weakest area of the triangle is the social part. It’s easy to just do things with my husband and our dog. I cycle with a small group of friends, but I need to expand my social horizons. Thank you for this reminder and the idea of monthly goals.

      Reply
      1. Stefany - Post author

        As a wellness coach, when I work with someone who struggles socially, one of the mini-goals I encourage is “reconnection.” So, you choose 5 people, maybe old friends or maybe family… people you like but are bad about staying connected with. You spend a month making effort with them. Calling them, texting, if they’re close by doing lunch or going for a walk, etc. Perhaps this would be a good goal for you, too Erin! Give it a thought, and best of luck! xoxo

        Reply

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