Good morning guys! It seems as if the sporadic blog upload continues. Since talking with you all last I had a birthday, here’s to 36!!

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I spent many days leading up to my birthday reminiscing birthdays of past. The last five birthdays were either spent prepping for a show, or reversing out from a show. Competing was such a major part of my life. For many years, it was the primary center of my life. It was a great experience, it allowed me to meet a lot of people and it taught me stringent discipline- but somewhere over the last year there was a shift.

When I began my fitness journey so many years ago, my intention was to become stronger, fitter and happier. I became stronger, a lot stronger. I became fitter and I became happier- but, sometime, somewhere along that road I allowed the aesthetics of fitness to drive me rather than the dimensions of wellness. Do you know what I mean by that? Let me explain. When I first entered the world of weightlifting my primary focus  was the weight on the barbell, not my weight on the scale. I noticed immediate changes in my physique as a result of training, not because of restrictive eating and endless amounts of cardio.

As time continued, training became a chore and my diet was solely for fat loss, as opposed to eating foods because they had certain antioxidants that battle cancer, or because they were optimal for recovery. I was training merely to chase a certain physique. Don’t get me wrong, a nice set of Glutes and abs will always be a major motivator, but loving your body through the process is just as important. 

Achieving optimal wellness means achieving your fullest potential in the following dimensions: physical, social, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and environmental. Wellness is becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. Wellness is more than being free from illness, following a strategic meal plan, or looking good naked; it is a dynamic process of change and growth.

At some point we all get sidetracked and deviate from our path, and sometimes we may not even know our path- Either way it’s OK. Adjusting our visions are just part of growth and improving. It’s important to rememberer to occasionally take a moment, reevaluate your goals and check your path. 

Perhaps I sound like a new-age hipster, but I recently introduced new techniques into my daily routine that I feel are contributing greatly to creating personal renewal, and finding harmony. We are all worthy of the best care possible.

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If you are interested in the dimensions of wellness, I have given you my personal interpretation of each below:

Physical Wellness: Improving physical wellness means a number of things to me. This means focusing not only on maintaining, but improving physical health through resistance training, flexibility and mobility, and improving cardiovascular output. Physical wellness not only means exercise but it means adhering to a healthy diet, consuming responsible amounts of alcohol, abstaining from tobacco and all substances that forge depression, anxiety, or disease.

Social Wellness: Reaching optimal social wellness means that you are fulfilling interpersonal relationships. These are relationships with family and friends, as well as everyday people you meet in society. To enhance social health you must be willing to communicate with others. You must be reliable, honest and most of all, acquire the ability to listen attentively with an open mind and a closed mouth.

Intellectual Wellness: Mental stimulation is a major component to intellectual health. We should continuously strive to stimulate our thought process; it can mean finding ways to be creative, developing good study skills, practicing time management, challenge yourself to see all sides of an issue. Everyday is an opportunity to learn new concepts and expand our knowledge. 

Emotional Wellness: The greatest component of emotional health is the ability to not only control our behavior, but to better understand it. This means taking time to look at ourselves and acknowledge why we feel certain emotions; learning to recognize what brings on feelings of anger, stress, anxiety, or sadness, and those of hope, love, joy and happiness. Once you know what brings on these feelings, you are more equipped to dictate your emotional wellbeing. 

Spiritual Wellness: This is finding peace in knowing that you provide a purpose for existence. A person may find spiritual contentment through organized religion, volunteering, mediation, hiking; whatever fulfills your spirit and creates harmony in your life.

Environmental Wellness: We cannot always determine our environment. There are threats from our surroundings that can play a hazardous role in our everyday lives: people’s negativity, pollution, infectious diseases, crime, and the list goes on. This means taking time to do all of the extra little things that can add up to make a big difference: caring about your skin enough to apply SPF, wash your hands after public interactions, make an appointment at the doctor if you feel something isn’t right, get regular check-ups, and for God’s sake make time to floss. Minimizing the negative effects of environmental hazards is a major contributor to wellness. 

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Yoga is for everyone, athletes included. Yoga works on strength, flexibility, balance, agility, endurance, core, and overall strength, among other things. Any athlete could benefit hugely by adding yoga to her or his training regimen. Here’s more details on a few of the perks:

Strength: No amount of weight-lifting with free weights will give you the strength that consistently holding up your own body weight will.

Flexibility: Practicing yoga increases flexibility and ease of movement, therefore increasing range of motion. In particular, athletes in sports that require swinging action (tennis, golf, etc.) can benefit greatly. Flexibility in general also helps to prevent injury.

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Balance: Balancing poses in yoga improve overall balance in everything you do, preventing falls and injury.  When you learn how to be soft and go with the flow, you can more easily bend and are less likely to break or fall over.

Endurance: The endurance that the ease of yoga gives you lends to endurance sports like running, triathlons, and Iron Mans. When you learn to tune into your body and mind, everything can be a meditation—sports included. Yoga also helps you learn how to pace yourself: slow and steady, in it for the long haul.

Core: Almost everything you do in yoga works on your core strength. Strong core equals a healthy back and a healthy body.

Stability: Yoga helps strengthen all of the little stabilizing muscles that people tend to miss in other physical workouts and are vital in protecting your joints and spine (among other things) .

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Recovery: Yoga also helps put athletes back together after injuries. Again: You’re tuning into your body and giving it the care it wants and needs. Yoga also elongates all of the muscles that athletes spend so long contracting, so it is a great counter-action.

Most importantly, yoga changes the way you think and approach everything in life: When you learn to move with ease and stop forcing things, you will prevent injuries and your body will open with your mind, increasing your flexibility all around.