You-Centric Approach to Wellness
What are YOUR guideposts? What are those lessons-learned, principles, values, those things that help you determine which way to go when you’re at a crossroads or simply needing help on your current path? In my first post, I talked about changing directions and setting sail on a new course. You can hop on over to Post 1, to learn about how I have been driven by the power of human curiosity. But in order to change directions, there’s gotta be something you’re moving towards.
This makes me think of some of the best tours I’ve been on, one of which was to the Grand Canyon when I was super pregnant with the twins. We weren’t sure how it would go, or what we would be able to see and do – we just knew that we wanted to go to the canyon. Our tour guide was so good, so knowledgeable in every step and with every question that we’ve been dreaming of returning since the moment we left! Changing paths or changing the way you trek on your current path may not always be clear at first, HOWEVER, if you’re fortunate to have a guide (or in my case, 4 of them for Free Well!) then it’s likely going to go smoother with clearer views because you’re in good hands.
My principles are like really awesome tour guides. They have been there, done that, weathered it all, and know exactly what to say to create the most fulfilling experience – no matter your starting point.
The Road To My Tour Guides.
Years ago, I received my Master’s in Diagnosis and Intervention, specializing in qualitative research. I held a variety of different jobs, ranging from jury research, journalism, leading a leg of a nonprofit, teaching, to creating e-learning materials, and helping the startup gain investors. At one point, I ended up moving to Poland (yes, the country) to pursue work with another startup, this time a school. When I wasn’t traveling around Europe, I was teaching, creating structure, and implementing it. When I returned to the states, I spent years as a Research & Innovation Consultant and then later as an Account Director serving some of the biggest brands in the world. I was immersed in literature, techniques, and experts from all backgrounds from creativity, neuroscience, branding, innovation, consumer insights, and more. It was AMAZING! Fast-forward to diving all into my passion for innovating within our own lives and what makes wellness, I became a certified integrative health and nutrition coach (oh yes, and a mother of 3 and ALL the steps in between). As I said in my first post, I changed careers, but not really. I’m still rooted in research and curiosity, and the same tools and principles that have guided my life and career.
Ready to meet them? Allow me to introduce you to the best damn tour guides for your wellness!
4 Principles That Place YOU At the Center Of Your Wellness.
01. INTEGRATIVE HEALTH & GENTLE NUTRITION.
An integrative approach combines two or more things to form an effective way of moving forward.
My approach with Free Well emphasizes a holistic approach to wellness and considers the whole person (physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional). The approach is more about experimenting to find what’s right for you, versus one “right” way of doing things. I rely heavily on lifestyle changes, noninvasive remedies, improving overall flow, and acknowledging one’s own power.
Integrative health and gentle nutrition are perfect principles to guide us in creating personal wellness – let me explain why. I have ALWAYS been about seeing the bigger picture and knowing in order to really make sustainable changes, you have to consider multiple elements. This is a HUGE reason why I became a qualitative researcher because I see so much value in the nuances, the areas that are not so black and white.
Have you ever had that feeling you were misjudged? Misunderstood when someone only considered one fraction of you versus the whole you? An integrative approach seeks to see the whole you!
At the heart of the integrative health and nutrition program I studied there is:
- “Primary food” (the non-food items like relationships, environment, etc) and “secondary food” (all food and drink).
- Primary food is actually just as much if not more important than secondary (the food we eat!)
- In other words, you can eat all the kale in the world, but if you don’t pay attention to other parts of your life you truly won’t be creating sustainable, lasting wellness!
Integrative health and gentle nutrition recognize what might work for one person may not work for the next. While I studied over a hundred dietary theories, the idea of “gentle nutrition” was really first introduced to me through mindful and intuitive eating practices. These practices take a non-specific diet approach to eating and instead encourage one to really be in tune with their body in order to best satisfy and honor hunger and overall needs. Lastly, I’ll say one of the biggest influences on why I selected integrative health and gentle nutrition is linked to my relationship with my husband and our two very different but joined paths (more on how those paths crossed here).
Empathy is the ability to understand the thoughts and feelings of another (and I would add, of yourself!).
When I worked for a market research and innovation company, we regularly trained client teams on empathy and how having a deeper understanding of their customers allowed them to better serve, whole-heartedly (instead of surface-level). The blending of an empathic understanding with research and innovation instilled in me a deep knowing that for true, sustainable change to happen empathy has to be present. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to change or create a product, process, or something within your own life – I believe each will be a lot more successful if empathy is present.
When it comes to wellness, empathy for ourselves and for others is critical.
My love of empathy runs deep because I can’t separate empathy from questions and stories. I LOVE them and how they connect and teach us, adding life and context to topics that are never as black and white as they seem.
Here’s why we need empathy:
- Empathy allows us to absorb information deeply. There’s a Native American quote that says “Tell me a fact and I’ll forget, tell me a story and I’ll remember.” Empathic stories are my style of sharing, learning, and connecting in life and especially within wellness coaching and education. It can be difficult creating new habits and wanting change, but if we can truly learn and feel what it is we are going after then it’s more likely to stick!
- Empathy rooted in stories at the forefront of our wellness journey will remind us that we are human. It can be easier to have empathy for others on their wellness journey but I want to encourage greater empathy for ourselves as well.
- Empathy is about cultivating connection and understanding, not judgment. Free Well is about learning more about ourselves and our bodies so that we can create a wellness all our own. It is not about a right vs wrong approach.
- Our wellness journey needs connection. Our wellness journey needs empathy.
Creativity is the use of imagination or original ideas to create something.
Free Well is bringing creativity into personal wellness to encourage people to be their own artist and innovator – mold your wellness as you wish! Health and wellness can seem like such an uphill battle at times, or so far out of reach we feel defeated before even starting. When it comes to our bodies and lifestyle, we can get very caught up in the comparison game. Thinking too much about “Well, if I just do what that other person is doing, then I will be healthy and happier.” But we know that doesn’t get us very far.
When we create for ourselves, versus forcing ourselves into a box that was not made with us in mind, the comparison game becomes obsolete. When we create for ourselves we are at the center – not someone else.
Yay! Can you imagine no comparison game? No comparison scroll? Can you imagine the confidence you would feel knowing your wellness was 100% made for you? That is what creativity in our wellness can do for us. Creativity can help us imagine what life could be like and bring it into reality.
Autonomy, the freedom to act or function independently.
Oh mama! This is my personal fav! I know we are not supposed to pick favorites, but Autonomy, She is my favorite tour guide – she’s the guide that keeps me coming back again and again! And if there’s any place we need to come back to regularly it’s our personal wellness. Fun Fact: I take pictures of my feet. My feet in the sand, my feet waiting for the subway, my feet on a walk, my feet resting, my feet in the air at a park (as seen above). Why? Because this simple image is a reminder to me that I am in control of where my feet land and where they will go. I get to choose. That knowing gives me comfort because if I don’t like where I am at, well, I can change.
Autonomy is smack-dab in the center of Free Well.
Free Well is a You-Centric and powered well(ness) approach. That means you get to be in the driver’s seat. You gotta be in the driver’s seat if you’re ever going to make it to where you want to be – and be able to get around once you’re there! But Dina, what if the vehicle I was given is holding me back? Of course, our beginnings and our surroundings play a role as well, but we can have an impact on our circumstances. So often we forget about our own power to choose, even in the midst of tough circumstances, we have the power to seek out people and things that will fuel our desires.
When you approach your wellness holistically, with compassion, creativity and a sense of ownership, your wellness and all the many facets of your life seemingly work as one.
So just to make sure we’re all clear…
- Free Well is where the things that make our lives uniquely our own (empathy) intersect with our creativity, our free will (autonomy), and our wellness (integrative health).
- I like to think of the approach as coming home. Coming home to yourself, to your body, to your mind, to all the little things that make your life YOUR life and tuning in.
- You’re turning up the volume and learning to listen more to everything so you can create something true for you.
Integrative Health + Empathy + Creativity + Autonomy = EXPANSIVE WELLNESS (made for you, by you!)
To begin, take a deep breath in and let it out.
Take each question in, then think about it and what it means for you. There are no wrong answers, but your answers. Lean into those.
- Which of the 4 principles comes more naturally to you? Why do you think that is?
- So often we think of empathy as something we just have for other people, but in our wellness journey, we really need it for ourselves too. How do you try to understand yourself more?
- I like to take pictures of my feet planted. What kind of things remind you of your power? Of your autonomy? If you don’t have anything that comes to mind, what kind of things could you incorporate into your day/life to help remind you of that power?
- Could you use more autonomy, more empathy, more integration, more creativity in your wellness? Do you feel excited about what those principles could bring to your life? Write about it, and if you feel so inclined let me know – I’m starting to schedule fall clients and would love to chat about what this could mean and look like for you!
If you feel comfortable sharing any thoughts or questions that sparked for you I would love to hear – so write them below in the comments. We can learn so much from seeing how others interpreted something, questions that arose, and community support and conversation. That is my hope for the comments section.
Thanks for being here and holding space for you and me.
Medical Disclaimer. The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only.