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015: Intentional Flexibility

Updated: Aug 18, 2022


Structure vs. Flexibility


Can you explain what you mean by “be intentional, but flexible?”

I believe most successful things in life, including nurturing our health, happen in shades of grey rather than black and white. The black and white paradigm is aligned with an all-or-nothing approach, which is really harmful when attempting behaviour change for the purpose of creating healthier habits. Whereas, the shades of grey paradigm is aligned with both intentionality and flexibility. The intentionality is grounded in the things we can control such as planning, organizing, directing our attention, taking action, etc. The flexibility allows for what we can’t control and provides a way for us to feel successful rather than defeated when we honour necessary adjustments.

For example, perhaps you had a goal to get more physical activity this past year. Maybe you even had a very specific action plan that you were initially able to execute to the point of it becoming a habit. All of this required a great deal of intentionality. You then became ill which affected your energy, you got behind at work, and you simply could not keep up the original plan. In black and white mode, you get frustrated and feel like a failure, in shades of grey mode you recognize it as an opportunity to respect what’s actually going on and be flexible. You recognize that rest needs prioritization on the physical activity continuum for now and then because you are present with your reality, you also recognize when your energy shifts and you need a little bit of movement, until you are eventually able to resume your regular exercise routine. If you continue to stay present, at some point you will notice your routine becomes mundane and you will need to be both intentional and flexible again. This is likely the case for most areas of your life, there’s a meandering, an ebb and flow, but what’s most important is to notice when you get away from yourself and gently find your way back.

You offer such a range of different coaching packages, including Intuitive Eating, Mindful Movement, Post Natal Wellness, Senior Personal Training and Wellness and Life Coaching. Which of these is the most popular?

Currently, Wellness & Life Coaching and Mindful Movement are most popular. I love the variety and in reality the coaching packages I offer are very fluid. I have laid out coaching ideas on my site, but you may come to see me intending to do Wellness Coaching, specifically getting your physical environment established in a way that is purposeful and invites calm, which sets the scene to then build some Mindful Movement Coaching into your sessions as well, or you may recognize that you are naturally more intuitive about your eating habits as the physical environment becomes more supportive and want to go deeper into Intuitive Eating core ideas. All this speaks to the idea of being intentional and flexible. I love being responsive to my clients needs both in general and for a given session and happy to move through a variety of areas. If you make an improvement in one area it will naturally impact other areas.

With a Bachelor’s in Lifestyle Management and over a decade of experience, you’ve been in the industry quite awhile! What have been some of the biggest shifts (positive or negative) that have occurred in the health and wellness space over this time? In general, are people getting better or worse at taking care of themselves?

I can easily identify a few shifts.

The first is more abundant and accessible virtual wellness offerings, both free and paid. Whether it’s a movement video on Youtube, an online course about healthy communication, or working with a coach virtually, such as myself, to improve your overall well-being. It’s important to keep in mind while all this is positive overall, it still ultimately has the potential to keep you tied to your device.

The second is continued assimilation of holistic approaches into mainstream culture such as meditation, Yoga, mindfulness, acupuncture, health at every size, etc. Wellness is no longer synonymous with having a gym membership or weighing a certain amount. It’s much broader and inclusive and encompasses almost every aspect of your life.

The third area that is shifting, but still not at a universal standard is worksite wellness. Individual employers prioritize the topic of caring for the well-being of employees very differently. I was lucky enough to have coordinated a worksite wellness program at a University in the States that was quite progressive, offering three hours per week of release time for employees to engage in wellness-related activities, comprehensive onsite wellness assessments and coaching, counselling services, and monetary incentives for participation. It would be nice if this was the norm, not just the gold standard.

In general, I hope we are getting better at taking care of ourselves. I feel the pandemic has provided an opportunity to turn inward, to check-in with ourselves and ask what we really value and what we are willing to do to take steps in that direction.

What do you see as being the biggest challenge to our overall health and wellbeing during modern day living, and particularly over the last two years as we navigate this pandemic?

I feel the biggest challenge to our overall health and wellbeing is distraction. It could be in any form, but if it draws your attention away from aligning with your core values, it’s very challenging to feel content. The distraction can show up in any form, your phone/device, the media you consume, the items you purchase, unclear boundaries, fear of missing out, or general lack of intention. If you wake up in the morning and are not intentional about your time and energy, you are likely to be caught up in a sea of things and experiences you don’t value, don’t need, and that don’t enhance your life.

You have so many amazing “Learn for Free” resources available, from meal planners to movement videos and even a free wellness e-book. It’s incredibly valuable material, what motivates you to offer this free of charge?

I genuinely enjoy creating content and I strive to help people beyond the demographic that can and will pay for coaching. I have had so much fun learning about the tech side of things over the past several years as I have built a satisfying business. Also, I don’t subscribe to the idea of withholding value. When someone chooses to pay me for coaching, what they are really paying for is a reserved space to show up for themself where they have access to my undivided attention and insights applied to their specific situation, not necessarily my general knowledge which is already accessible through my free content which can be found at healwithjill.com.

You’re a busy lady, with your own podcast and a blog too! How do you make sure you’re keeping on track with your own mental, physical, spiritual and social wellness?

In general, I plan and prioritize, I use a simple habit tracker, I take breaks, and I have the support of an amazing partner. I’m human so I also get impatient, frustrated, anxious, and burned-out and then have to realign my expectations.

For mental health I meditate most days, write in my journal, or draw. I also crave new learning so I almost always engage in some sort of personal development. Most recently it has been completing a Life Coaching course and a fresh Personal Training credential.

For physical health I enjoy a variety of movements including Pilates, Yoga, kickboxing, dance, walking, QiGong and more. I don’t belong to a gym currently and I prioritize getting outside in nature for at least one of my “movement snacks” each day and prefer a variety of shorter bouts of activity sprinkled throughout my day. I also really enjoy movement in my own cozy personal space.

For spiritual health I also need to connect with nature most days, whether it’s a walk on the beach, a visit to our local park, or a bushwalk. I also find taking care of my food needs a spiritual self-care act.

For social wellness I try to connect weekly with a close friend overseas as well as a weekly local catch up if only for a few minutes. This is the area I find the most challenging sometimes and really have to be intentional about reaching out. When I start to feel off it’s usually because this cup needs filling.

Overall, I feel these habits have made it possible for me to stay grounded during ups and downs. They are the backbone of my day. I feel held by these practices. They feel comfortable and supportive like an old friend and I enjoy helping others on their journey to create habits they feel supported by as well. So when life is unpredictable, as is often the case either globally or personally, there is something in the background saying, “everything else is just noise, these habits are what really matter, so yes, I will make an effort to be intentional and flexible.”

 

Yours In Health,

Jill Intuitive Eating


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