This January, why not focus on wellness instead of weight loss

IT’S that time of year when we feel the need to change how we look and lose weight.

This can lead many of us into the familiar pattern of over-doing it, with strict exercise and diet regimes which for many isn’t sustainable.

So, we go back to under-doing. This leads us to feel guilty and so we are motivated right back into a weight loss regime again.

At the root of our dissatisfaction with how we look can be a general sense of feeling not good enough in some way.

For women, other than the weight loss – weight gain cycle, this can present itself as giving too much of yourself to work, family, and friends so that you don’t have time to look after yourself. Or feeling overwhelmed with a never-ending list of commitments.

Maybe you are not feeling fully yourself and not feeling fulfilled in general.

So what can we do?

Addressing this root feeling of “not good enough” brings many women to look deeper and focus on their wellness. They are ready to go beyond quick fixes and want to work towards long-term and balanced health.

Consider looking at your Wellness through four lenses: Physical, Emotional, Spiritual and Mental. These four areas are all interconnected and so working on one area will have an impact on the others.

1. Physical Wellness:

This involves looking at our eating behaviour, our sleep routine and movement. Our biggest tip here is to start small and progress your new habits slowly if you want to make it sustainable.

This sounds in theory very simple, but it is so difficult when someone is so used to over-doing when they start something new with regard to their health. We get it, because we all get the urge to surf the wave of motivation but that wave never lasts. Consistency does last however, and this is backed up by neuroscience.

So if you are not currently consistent with exercise and moving regularly, then starting with something small such as a 15 minute walk on every lunch break. Resist the impulse to make it too big as we want to make it habitual and easy.

After a few weeks, you can decide to increase the time or the intensity of your walk or maybe you add in another form of movement somewhere else.

2. Emotional Wellness:

This can revolve around acknowledging emotions and creating space for them. When we avoid emotions they can seep out in ways we dislike such as snapping at a colleague. For some, emotional wellness can include setting boundaries with themself and others. Here the person may work on understanding what their needs and wants are and how to express them.

One simple thing that can be very beneficial here is to journal. This doesn’t need to be pen and paper, some like to use a voice recorder for example. There are many ways to approach journaling, one way might be at night time to reflect on the day by asking the question “Is there anything sticking with me from the day?”

Here you can give space to whatever needs attention, for example it might be a small interaction with someone, then ask yourself “What feelings do I have around this?”. This quick exercise might be enough to let go of something from the day and have a better night’s sleep. While most people will also need support from a psychotherapist, counsellor or qualified coach to explore their emotions.

3. Spiritual Wellness:

This is essentially to enhance your quality of life, to feel connected to yourself and a connection with others. It is so unique to each person and a really great healthy way to get to know oneself better.

Spiritual wellness can include for example keeping a personal diary, listing out daily the things you are grateful for, meditating, your own unique faith, spending time in nature, gardening, noticing the seasons as they change, walking, reading, listening to music, spending time on your own, volunteering, focusing on your interests and hobbies, being part of a community, focusing on a collective group goal.

Through focusing on your spiritual wellness, it can help to feel more at ease within yourself, to have compassion for oneself, to feel more fulfilled and to find inner peace and hope. An example is mindfulness; to take a step back in any given moment and to focus your attention on your five senses; what you can see, hear, touch, smell, taste; this small practice can help you to feel calm, centred and connected in that moment. It is a mindfulness tool that can be practised at any time.

4. Mental Wellness:

This is seen as a positive state of mental health; it includes a feeling of wellbeing; to feel good about yourself, and to live your life in a way that creates positive thoughts, feelings and actions. It comes from feeling balanced, connected to others and ready to meet life’s challenges. Knowing and rediscovering your unique qualities, strengths and passions is a great way to lift your mood and to feel more positive in your daily life.

There are a number of important factors that can support your mental wellness; these include talking to someone after all a problem shared can be a problem halved and with a trusted person together you can seek solutions, maintaining supportive relationships/friendships, following a healthy routine, staying active, following your passion, coping well with stress, prioritising sleep and rest and having healthy boundaries.

An example of maintaining your mental wellness is to show yourself some compassion through engaging in an activity that brings you joy such as singing, breathing tools/techniques, recalling a fond/happy memory or a time when you felt confident and achieved your goal.

Would you like the opportunity to connect, share, support and be supported to develop your own unique wellness with like minded women?

Both Cork-based coaches Sinead Kelly and Emily Daly, will be facilitating ‘Women’s Wellness Wednesday’, a monthly small group starting January 18 in Bru Columbanus, Wilton. More details at: or email [email protected]