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Before Anything Else: The First 5 Steps of Your Wellness Journey

If you’re here reading this, then you’re probably ready — or at least almost ready — to take your first steps toward a healthier, happier self.

As you gingerly set foot on this path of wellness, you could be on the precipice of a life-changing process…if you do it right.

Isn’t it a bit terrifying, that even the best of intentions can be rendered totally useless when it comes to our health and well-being?

In our age of digital clutter and despicable marketing tactics, there seems to be an abundance of directions to go in, each one promising total transformation (for just $499.99!).

So what’s an average person to do? Do you start with a heavy metals detox, quit gluten cold turkey, or take up beekeeping to regulate your nervous system? Or do you have your doctor run labs on everything from your thyroid to your big toe?

Spoiler alert — it’s none of that. (At least not yet.)

We asked Dr. Neal, holistic pharmacist of 20 years and wellness wisecracker, for his take on the very first steps. You know, where do we start?

And it should come as no surprise that his answer was a surprise: Transformation starts much closer to home than any of those expensive tests or tantalizing retreats would suggest. Keep reading to learn the essential elements of starting your wellness journey, and some down-to-Earth, practical tips to do this adventure right.

In This Article:

Move, Nourish, Rest, Etc: Take Yourself From Junk to Joy

We’d say that these 5 things are what everyone, even that wellness influencer you follow, needs to do, but that’s a bit reductive.

No two people are the same — biologically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, etc. — even if those two people are both launching their wellness practices for the first time. Not all advice will work for everyone, but we trust that you, dear reader, are clever enough to take what works for you and leave the rest.

That being said, these 5 things are pretty rock-solid starting points for most humans alive in our modern world. They’re short, simple, and sweet, and pretty intuitive, too:

  • Eat less processed food.
  • Eat more fresh, whole foods.
  • Incorporate regular movement.
  • Get better sleep.
  • Take everything in moderation.

That’s not so bad, right? We can do that.

These changes might seem small, but they can add up to a pretty big transformation with a little dedication. In fact, just prioritizing these 5 simple things puts us squarely within the first tier of the Wellness Pyramid.

And if you want to do more now, or down the road when these 5 adjustments have you feeling like You 2.0, there’s always room to grow.

Learn More: Wellness Practices 101

But wait, didn’t we imply that real transformation doesn’t begin in the material reality of veggies and yoga, but rather in the intangible reality of the mind? We did — how astute of you.

Setting the Stage for Success: Your First Five Steps to Wellness

No matter where you are in your wellness journey — from complete beginner to vitality veteran — there are some steps you just can’t skip. Unless you don’t mind wasting your time and money, that is!

When it comes to health and wellness, it’s a work smarter, not harder, kind of situation.

The practices and efforts you adopt to improve your overall well-being should actually work, first of all, and they should also be relatively easy to sustain (literally and financially) long-term, too.

So, for the sake of your health, follow these 5 steps to get started instead of getting swindled: 

Step 1: Myth Debunking

It bears repeating that, in this vast ocean of wellness information, it’s easy to get swept away by the seductive sirens singing the praises of miracle supplements and magical pills.

But these fishy marketing tactics target people who just want to feel better, healthier, and happier. They prey on the vulnerability that comes with feeling like crap and the desire to be revitalized

So, step one of your wellness journey is to cut through the babble and uncover what truly works. 

Educate yourself, re-educate yourself, and then educate yourself again, even if you consider yourself already health-literate. New marketing tactics (à la grass-fed) emerge constantly, but new research does too — so, empower yourself with data-backed knowledge, captain.

This is your ship after all.

Step 2: Shift Your Expectations

And now, because we’re continuing this extensive metaphor, it’s time to set sail on uncharted waters.

Whether you’re just starting out or revamping your health game, you’re going to have to shake off those old predispositions and embrace an evidence-based mindset. 

(The myth debunking of step one, while often exhausting and a bit horrifying, should lend itself well to this part.)

Because, here’s the thing, most of us are obsessed with quick fixes — ie, we take ibuprofen and our headache is obliterated in 20 minutes. It’s not just that we’re obsessed with immediate gratification though, we’re conditioned to expect it.

So here’s where the major mindset shift comes in: Wellness practices and supplements, which are the key to long-term wellness, just simply don’t work that way.

Rather than being a temporary, albeit instant, Band-Aid, their effect is cumulative. Setting realistic expectations, then, involves some major adjustments to our time frames. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and optimal health won’t be achieved overnight.

It’s Okay to Be Wrong, Too

Now, if you’re revamping your health journey, be prepared to let go of some cherished truths or beloved brands. As we dive into the depths of knowledge, it’s likely that you’ll uncover new insights that challenge your previous choices.

It’s okay to let go and embrace the better options that align with our newfound wisdom. (AKA, the most bioavailable forms of vitamins or bone-building wellness practices that aren’t a bunch of hokey.)

Step 3: Build a New Framework

Armed with information and a no-nonsense attitude, it’s time to say goodbye to arbitrary choices and wave hello to a strategic approach.

Y’know, like the Wellness Pyramid we mentioned above.

After multiple decades of clinical practice, working one-on-one with folks on their health journey, Dr. Neal put this simple, holistic structure together. Why? To cut through the chaos and give individuals the opportunity to reach optimal health.

The Wellness Pyramid is a data-backed, comprehensive approach that’s flexible enough to honor each person’s unique journey. It’s the scaffolding that provides a sturdy framework for health aspirations but still lets you decide how to decorate the walls.

Learn More: The Wellness Pyramid: Your Roadmap to Holistic Health

You don’t have to choose the Wellness Pyramid as your personal structure, though. You can pick what works for you, and we won’t be offended. Promise.

The important part is the picking. Without a strategy, you’re going to run into these unfortunate obstacles:

  • Wasted money — on supplements that are more fluff than a jar of Jet Puff.
  • Scattered efforts — like hyper-focusing on one area of the body while neglecting others.
  • Wasted time — waiting for noticeable change that’s never on its way.

Step 4: Take (Honest) Inventory

Hot girls get real with themselves. And that starts with a super candid, internal conversation about where you are, what you’re doing right, what you’re capable of currently, and what your long-term health goals look like.

But if that sounds horrible, don’t fret. Dr. Neal shared with us the three most common paths that people tread, in his extensive experience of guiding health journeys.

1. The “I’m doing nothing, and I want to be healthier” crew:

If you’re in this camp, consider yourself lucky! You can simply kick-start your transformation by focusing on the foundation of your health: diet, sleep, exercise, stress management, and lifestyle changes.

Optimize these straightforward lifestyle domains and witness your life and health take a turn for the better.

2. The “I’m doing everything, but I want to do it better” squad:

You’re already a health savant and you’ve got your eating, snoozing, etc., pretty much in order, but you’ve hit a plateau.

Take a good look at your lifestyle domains at the pyramid’s base, and fine-tune them to perfection. Then, shift your gaze towards optimizing your supplement game with the Vital5

Learn More: 5 Crucial Nutrients (Almost) All of Us Are Lacking

3. The “I have a specific health issue that I need to deal with” gang:

Sometimes, life throws a curveball, and you need to focus on a particular health concern. In such cases, the top of the pyramid may come into play, seeking conventional care tailored to your specific issue.

But let’s not forget the power of prevention. Remember, you can’t green-smoothie away everything, but you can arm yourself with holistic practices to safeguard your well-being.

Step 5: Commit to Making the Important Things Important

Here’s the hardest truth: it all comes down to you, baby. Are you ready to step up and commit to getting it right this time? 

You already started having an honest conversation with yourself in the previous step. All we’re doing here is continuing that larger, deeper dialogue.

Do you truly have no time for exercise, or are you making a mountain out of a molehill? 

Is breakfast really an impossibility, or are you hitting the snooze button one too many times? 

And let’s talk about that meditation practice — are you really too busy to find five minutes of peace, or are you easily swayed by the instant dopamine spikes of social media?

If you admit to falling for those easy distractions or not prioritizing the things that you know will make you feel better, don’t beat yourself up. You’re in good company! Our world is designed to lure us into quick fixes that drain our energy and our wallets.

But your secret weapons here are honesty and commitment.

Honesty will keep you on the path of what works for you, and when paired with commitment, you get to be one of the people who say: “I did this thing, and it worked!”

Because in order to get to the “and it worked!” part, you have to commit to doing the thing that will work — taking the supplement, changing your diet, going to the meditation retreat, optimizing your sleep, and so on.

Start Planning Your Health Journey

The best time to revitalize your life and focus on your wellness was (probably) 20 years ago, but, as they say, the second best time is right now.

If you’ve made it this far in this humble, gif-filled blog, then you’re ready to ditch the guesswork, make intelligent choices, and become your best (or at least healthiest) self. The path is clear, the tools are in your hands, and the adventure awaits. 

And, of course, your life depends on it. How’s that for motivation?

If you need a trail guide, we’re here, backpacks loaded and walking stick in hand — schedule a free Counterside Consult


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