Expert Opinions — Article
January 28 2016 | by Amie Valpone
What wellness means to me.
As someone who recently healed from a decade of chronic illness and now works one-on-one with celebrities and others looking to clean up their lifestyle, I’ve learned that wellness is not just about feeding your body clean food. While food is a huge component to feeling amazing, overall wellness is far more than what’s on your plate. To me, a well-rounded healthy life is also about incorporating mind-body practices like staying in the present moment without worrying about the future or past and learning how to find quiet time to reflect on your life.
About eight years into chronic illness (when I thought I was finished with being ‘sick’), I had a major setback and it was by far the hardest two years of my life. But I’ve realized that setback was a blessing in disguise. For most of my 20’s, I wanted a quick-fix and I was focused on ‘getting better’ and looking for a magic pill or a doctor or book to tell me how to heal and how to get better fast.
But, of course, that never happened. No pill got to the root cause and no doctor or book ended up healing me. So, how did I heal?
I learned how to get my body working for me instead of against me and I addressed the underlying imbalances in my body—which meant self-care, self-love, yoga, deep breathing, and finding alone time more often, while saying “no” to things that exhausted me.
During this time, my entire perspective on wellness and healing shifted. I learned how to get quiet with myself, found time to sit in stillness, breathe and listen.
Before this setback, I never gave myself the time to focus on me and my well-being. Like many of us in this society who are stressed out and want an answer to everything “yesterday,” I was in ‘go-mode’ and never thought about taking care of myself spiritually and mentally.
And I was not alone. Many people that I work with are stressed out from work, deadlines, their kids, their parents, etc. and over time they feel burnt out and worn out. I remember feeling like this and how I just kept pushing and pushing my way through the pain and the exhaustion until one day my body just gave up on me and stopped working the way it should.
Since then, I’ve learned what wellness is really about. When I moved away from modern conventional medicine and into Integrative/Functional medicine, I learned that wellness is more “being” rather than “doing.”
It’s not about grabbing a green juice and going to a yoga class because you heard that’s the right thing to do. It is, however, about listening to what your body wants and needs. Some of us need more fat, while others need more carbs. Some of us need more sleep while others of us can run on 5 hours of sleep a night. We are all so uniquely different, which is why it’s so important to focus individually on what your body needs and wants on a daily basis.
Here’s to filling your life with nothing less than vibrant aliveness and wellbeing! Create an intention rooted in self-love and wellness for yourself for the New Year by treating yourself to a massage, cooking more meals at home, saying “no” when you don’t want to do something, and staying present in the moment.
It may all sound serious but having fun was another key part of healing for me and I recommend that my clients do something every day that makes them feel fully alive. Celebrate yourself no matter what and embrace your human-ness, because none of us are perfect. Learn how to be your biggest cheerleader and your smallest critic.
Remember there is no miracle cure—wellness takes time; love yourself through the process. You are enough.
This year, give yourself the gift of space—and slowing down.
Amie Valpone HHC, AADP is a Manhattan-based Personal Chef, Culinary Nutritionist, Professional Recipe Developer, Food Photographer and Writer specializing in simple Gluten-free, ‘Clean’ recipes for the home cook. She has continuing education certifications from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, Columbia University, and the Drugless Practitioners of America.