Updated: Apr 21
As a lifelong learner, I embrace education in all forms. I did my stint with formal education: graduating from college in 2003; then going on, I collected many certifications related to health, fitness, and life coaching. But, some of the health & wellness concepts I have found the most fascinating weren’t covered in my formal education at all but, rather, were philosophies I have picked up simply through years of nerding out on wellness. Books, tutorials, articles, podcasts…whatever material I could get my hands on that matched my fascination with wellness, I was on it; because it is my life’s mission to not only live a healthy and empowered life but to help others find that, too. To that end, you are in luck, because I'm going to share three concepts that have helped me the most along the path to my best self and highest potential.
Dimensions of wellness. As the founder of a boutique fitness studio in Montana, I often talk about physical fitness, but the reality is that comprehensive wellness is much deeper than that. In order to manifest an empowered, purpose-filled life, it is important to pay attention to all seven of the generally recognized “dimensions of wellness,” which are:
Physical – Recognizing the need for physical activity, healthy foods, and sleep
Emotional – Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships
Intellectual – Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills
Spiritual – Expanding a sense of purpose and meaning in life
Environmental – Occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being.
Social – Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system
Occupational – Creating personal satisfaction and enrichment from one’s work
Financial – Feeling satisfied with current and future financial situations
Some dimensions may stand out as more important to you than others, and which dimensions those are may look different than what is true for your mother, sister, friend, or neighbor. But, you can foster an actionable route to your highest potential by regarding all of the dimensions as important and being attentive to each dimension in a degree that feels right to you.
Neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity refers to the brain's ability to shape and reshape neural pathways by repeated thoughts and emotions. This incredible capability means that the simple act of thinking happy thoughts makes it easier to think more happy thoughts. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true: thinking negative thoughts makes it easier to think more negative thoughts. I learned about neuroplasticity when I was studying depression and trying to pull myself out of a hole during a particularly challenging year. To elevate my emotional wellness, I decided to spend as much time as possible in the part of my brain that thinks positive thoughts. So, whenever I had a happy feeling, I tried to make it as big as possible by focusing on it and letting it linger for as long as possible. This concept is the reason why gratitude journals are so important. By writing down three things each night you are grateful for, you harness the power of neuroplasticity to guide you on your path to your best self.
In addition, you can leverage the power of neuroplasticity by up-leveling your vocabulary. For example, when someone asks you how you are doing, instead of saying “good,” try saying, “I am great!” Of course, there will be times when you don’t feel up to saying that you feel great. During those times, at least try to shift your mindset to believe that “I am better than I was last week” or “things will get better” or something similar. Selecting positive words to interact with the world is an incredible way to create paradigm shifts in your reality. Try it for a month and see how you feel, what do you have to lose?
Diet & Nutrition. No article about practices to help you on your path to your highest potential would be complete without mention of my favorite four-letter word: diet; because a well-balanced diet is important for more than just maintaining a healthy weight. It helps growth and repair, disease prevention, and improves mental health. But, there are so many diet plans! From Keto to Paleo to Intermittent Fasting to Gluten-Free and more, it can be hard to know which diet plan is the “right one” to follow. The answer is this: the right diet to follow is the one that works for you. Now I know you may be thinking (eyes rolling) “gee, thanks,” but it’s true! A diet plan that you can’t stick to will fail, so you have to be willing to experiment to figure out what will work for you. Intermittent Fasting might work great for you, or you might be ready to chew your arm off after 12 hours of no eating. Have a sweet tooth? You can find a substitute for sugary snacks to curb your craving with a little experimentation. Maybe a fruit parfait or a little bit of dark chocolate will suffice. Trial and error will help you figure out what works for you.
Personal experience has taught me that, since lifestyles change over time, the trial and error stage will need to be revisited periodically. Of course, I have diet suggestions stemming from my formal education, too. Since I work mostly with women, one recommendation I pay special attention to is that females should be particularly aware of iron intake (to replace menstrual losses) as well as calcium (to optimize bone mineralization) (Gladwin. Et al., Fitness: Theory & Practice, AFAA: 2010). For a formal evaluation of your diet, consult a registered dietician.
The bottom line is, you don’t need a bachelor’s degree in health and fitness to kick ass in life, you just need to do the inner work necessary and you can reach the destination of your best self and highest potential. I hope that these concepts will help you along your way.
Authored by Mindy Cochran. Mindy is a columnist for "Montana Woman Magazine." Her column "The Real Levitation Experience" shares expertise for elevating health & wellness that she has acquired through her certifications as a personal trainer, nutrition coach, and life coach. Mindy is also founder of Kalispell’s Levitation Nation Aerial Studio, where the catch phrase “fitness is fun” is embodied alongside a culture of movement & women empowerment. For more about Mindy, please visit: https://www.levitationnation.org/mindy.