I’m a Wellness Rock Star (Almost)

Since National Women’s Health Week, I’ve been working hard to upgrade my health style from healthy-ish to total wellness rock star. It hasn’t been easy — and there have been some bumps along the way — but I’m getting there!

Nicole GreeneWhat makes you a wellness rock star, you ask? I think it’s different for everyone. For me it’s when eating healthy and being active is something I’ve integrated into my life so much that it’s just part of who I am. I’ll know that I’ve reached rock star status when I don’t have to think about making healthy choices anymore — I’ll just make them because they’re part of my routine. I have some specific goals in mind: being at my best physically, learning how to de-stress in healthy (low-carb, non-wine) ways, and losing a few extra pounds. My real goal is regaining the confidence of someone who has set a goal, worked hard, and reached it. I want my mojo back!

It’s helped a lot to have my family rooting me on. On Mother’s Day, my son gave me a high-tech fitness tracker. That’s a pretty expensive gift for him, and I want him to know how much I appreciate it, so I wear it all the time and use it as much as possible. I’m not competitive by nature, but it turns out I love using the tracker to challenge my friends and family. It’s fun to see who can walk the most steps in a day or virtually “climb” to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro first!

The tracker has really kicked my walking into gear. Now I walk as much as I can. I take the subway to work and, as long as it’s not raining, I’ll get off two stops early and walk the rest of the way. I use the ladies’ room on the other side of my office building and walk back through different hallways. During conference calls, I put the phone on speaker and walk around my office. I’d love to get out of the office during lunchtime, too, but my schedule makes that hard. It can be frustrating to be stuck inside, but I do what I can when I can — and I’m learning to let that be good enough.

I do get to see the sun some days! I’m a fair-weather bicyclist, and I love to walk and people watch on the National Mall. Ever since I was diagnosed with Lyme disease, I tend to avoid trees and grass, but that hasn’t stopped me from breaking a sweat riding bikes with my younger son. With all the extra exercise, I’ve been stretching more to keep my muscles loose. Every little bit counts!

Starting new healthy eating habits has also been an important part of my journey. My family loves Italian food and eats pasta twice a week. But I’ve admitted to myself that I have a love-hate relationship with carbs — I love them, but I hate how they make me look and feel — so I’ve started sticking to the meatballs and veggies instead of the bread and rigatoni. I’ve also had to change the way I think about red wine. Instead of having a glass when I get home after work, now it’s a special weekend treat. We don’t even have wine in the house anymore! Between these changes and stocking healthier snacks at the office, I’ve noticed a big difference in how much energy I have and how I look and feel overall.

Learning to be a wellness rock star takes some effort and planning, but it’s so worth it. It helps to have family and friends on the journey with you to support you and challenge you to keep going, but co-workers can be another source of support. I discovered that one of my co-workers takes the same route to the office each morning, so now we get off the train early and walk together. Knowing that there’s a colleague with a similar desire to be healthier really helps on those days when I’m just not feeling it and need some encouragement.

One of the best things I’ve learned these last few months is that it’s okay if I’m not 100% every day. Sometimes life happens: You get sick, you forget your walking shoes, or you’re simply too busy to get all of your steps in. You just try again the next day. And everyone needs a treat sometimes. Life’s too short to beat yourself up about a cup of vanilla custard!

I’m still working toward my goals, but I can see them in sight. And thanks to my supportive friends, family, and colleagues, I’m having fun reaching them. If you’re on your own path to better health, I hope you’re feeling good, too. And if you’re still just thinking about making changes, what’s stopping you?

Rock star status, here I come!