A trip to the gym isn’t just about toning your legs and flattening your stomach so that you can look your best.
If you really want to get fit and healthy, according to Shadé Simmons-Wolffe, you need to consider all aspects of your well-being, from your physical condition to your emotional state and personal relationships.
Ms Simmons-Wolffe, a physical fitness trainer who runs DaybyDais Fitness at Elite Fitness in Pembroke, says your holistic health is your best way of coping with all the stresses and demands of today’s challenging world.
“It’s about your overall wellbeing,” she said. “It’s not only your physical appearance, but your mental spirit and social wellbeing.
“It’s about being more connected to who you are as a person.”
In short, holistic health is about caring for the whole person, and understanding that being unwell in one aspect of your health affects you in others. A mental issue such as stress, for example, can cause physical symptoms like headaches and tiredness; research has shown time spent with good friends can lower your blood pressure.
Getting exercise does far more than simply keeping you trim.
“It helps to reduce stress and the chances of disease. Being active will also increase your productivity in your personal and professional life,” Ms Simmons-Wolffe said.
“I know that when I work out, I feel better, mentally and physically. I feel that I’m getting stronger both in my mind and my body.
“When you are in a good space, your productivity usually increases. You can function better.
“When I feel overwhelmed with stress, the first thing I say is let me work out or go for a run. After that, I feel ten times better. It just helps me to feel peaceful.”
The gym can also act as a therapy session.
“We create a bond with your clients so they feel comfortable enough to use us as therapists,” she said.
“Some clients call me to say they’ve had a stressful day and they know working out will make them feel better.”
Dr Jasmin Caines, a Bermudian internal medicine consultant, says holistic health works synergistically with traditional medicine to prevent illness or disease.
Dr Caines practises what she preaches by doing full body workouts and weight training at Elite Fitness.
“Training with Shadé has improved my overall health significantly,” she said.
“I am much stronger and I definitely have more energy for simple day to day tasks. I am also much happier and manage stress better.”
Physical exercise, of course, works best in tandem with a healthy diet – which is not always easy as you race about your busy life.
“What you put in your body is going to affect you,” Ms Simmon-Wolffe said.
“People go for convenience. You go for something that’s quick and fast. Say you work at Boyle’s on Queen Street. The food options around you are fast food and you may only have an hour for lunch, so you might go to KFC or Mr Chicken.”
The minutes you save buying convenient food, however, can be outweighed by the time lost due to your ineffectiveness in the afternoon.
“After eating you might feel tired and need a nap. You need to eat healthy foods that will give you enough energy, rather than foods that will make you feel sluggish.”
One of the leading causes of poor holistic health in Bermuda is alcohol.
“You can go out and have a drink, but don’t go full crazy. Be mindful and maybe just have a glass of wine,” Ms Simmons-Wolffe said.
“I created a ban for one client, and told her you can’t drink alcohol for two months. She stuck to it, and afterward said how she felt better, had more energy and wasn’t sluggish.”
You can improve your overall wellbeing by creating time for yourself and trying to think positively.
Ms Simmons-Wolffe said she had recently decided to become more in tune with herself emotionally and spiritually, which included listening to uplifting podcasts on the way to work.
“I created certain habits through my day to help become more conscious of myself,” she said.
“You can use terms like ‘I can, I am, I will’. That puts it in your mind that you are going to have a good day.”
If you’ve spent many years not really thinking about your holistic health, habits like these might seem a long way off.
“You have to think of your future self,” Ms Simmons-Wolffe said. “The way you live today will affect you five years from now.
“If you are going out partying, drinking or eating unhealthy food, you give yourself a higher chance of getting diseases. Not having a balanced lifestyle will affect you in the long run.
“You want to feel good when you’re older. You want to feel strong. You want to run up and down with your kids, or later with your grandchildren.
“You want to be able to move around without using a cane.”
So how can you motivate yourself?
“Just start, even if it’s just going for a walk for 10 minutes out of your day. After that, you can increase it to 30 minutes.
“You can start doing light exercise like walking and build up to jogging. Create a plan and stick to it.
“Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a session. You might find you can’t do this by yourself. Reach out to family members to see if they want to join. It’s nice to have someone help you along the way.
“It’s not just looking for a quick fix. It takes time to get where you want to be. Give yourself enough time to learn how to feel your body.
“The longer you wait to achieve optimal health, the more you will regret it later in your life.”