I’m a Mayo Clinic and National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, Forbes Columnist, National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition and Wellness Consultant with American Fitness Professionals & Associates, speaker, and author with three books on the shelf—but I can’t tell you what “health” or “wellness” should look like in your life. I can’t tell you what gets you out of bed in the morning or what gets you fired up either. Those things are yours to define and pursue, in your own distinctive way.
I can't give you the answers, but I can give you the tools to figure out what you want and how to act on it.
I’ve spent nearly twenty years talking with people about their priorities and ambitions, identifying what gets in their way and how to move past those challenges: fatigue, anxiety, work, stress, loneliness, poor body image, systemic barriers, chronic aches and pains, sleep and digestive problems, distraction... the list goes on.
There is no magic bullet, but we all have easy access to a definitive, much-neglected source of intelligence: our bodies. We have remarkably attuned central nervous systems that send consistent messages about the decisions we make and the ways we move through the world. Our bodies offer all the information we need to thrive, but we're so busy demeaning and trying to control them that we can't hear those dispatches from central command. They offer a rich, productive data set, and, if we can give ourselves a break from the incessant judgments for a minute, we have countless opportunities to respond with healing reinforcements—microdoses of time, community, daylight, movement, and air.
We all have the same basic needs for sustenance, shelter, and connection, but the goals we want to achieve and the motivation we use to get there are as unique as we are. Human beings do amazing things—by that, I mean everything from astrophysics to sustainable agriculture to chocolate fudge brownies. We invent things because they fill a need or fascinate us. We get excited or curious. We light a fire and head out in search of safety, comfort, relief, excitement, exploration, and pleasure. That's how change happens.
Pushing the boundaries around who we are doesn’t have to feel like hard labor.
It can feel like coming home.
My mom is an epidemiologist, and my dad is a theologian. I grew up with a split personality between science and philosophy, but I landed in the arts. I was a theater kid who became a cocktail waitress and office temp with an eating disorder and chronic depression. I’ve also been a street mime, a singer/songwriter, a fruit wholesaler, and a magazine columnist. In 2003, I went back to school part-time at UCLA to study nutrition, physiology, and eastern philosophy. I became a personal trainer not to conquer my body, but to make peace with it—and I’ve been working on that riddle ever since.
To escape the uneasiness, I tried, first, to manipulate my body… then to accept it, then to nurture it, and finally to listen to it. On my last book tour, I spoke about recognizing our bodies as agents of change, but over time, talking with people on the road, I realized that to affect any kind of lasting change on a personal or global scale, we have to be present first—whole—not just in our bodies but in our ambitions and peculiarities too. You know better than anyone else where you’re headed, and you probably have some ideas about how to get there.
My new book, The Habit Trip: A Fill-in-the-Blank Journey to a Life on Purpose, is an interactive storybook based in behavioral science, with mythical creatures and a talking dog, because why not? We’ve tried all the grim, draconian ways to change (and the perky, hyper-vigilant ones too), and those haven’t worked out all that well. Maybe we just need a little playtime to dance around the edges of what's possible and why it matters. This book is a sun-bleached roadmap through ten areas of life to help you identify what’s working, what’s not, and what you want to do about the areas that aren’t.
In the end, we’re headed home—to our bodies, our instincts, our intelligence, and our collective pursuit of something worthwhile. If we can get our act together and recognize our value, we can get a whole lot of good done in this world.
I don’t know about you, but I’m about ready to get my swagger on.