Authority Magazine
Published in

Authority Magazine

Joanne Papadopoulos of Teenacers: “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Can Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”

Walk it out. Take a soul walk. Smell something. Touch something. Make eye contact with someone. Say hello. Pet a Dog. Sit on a bench. Avoid music or podcasts for a first half. Listen to your thoughts. Feel your body. Notice your pace. It’s not a race.

  1. Disheartenment. Diet culture, fads, and trends. The culture of “programs,” lose 30 lbs in 30 days” and the culture of “shedding for the wedding,” “biggest loser,” and all other messages that we are inundated with regarding “thin is always in.” The insidious messages that are bodies are broken and we need to fix them. Or that they are “projects” that we need to keep a constant eye on. Goals have become deadlines. Exercise has become a means to an end. Rather than seeing movement as natural and enjoyable, we have associated it with calorie burns, plateau breakers, routines, etc. We have lost touch with our inherit nature and beauty; that our bodies know when we need to eat, move, and rest. Many of us are locked in a cycle of regiments, even though we know that we can’t sustain it. We get disheartened, and then fall back to old destructive habits, out of shame or feeling like we have lost the game, once again. Solution? Listen to your body. If there is one relationship we need to rebuilt, is the one we have with ourselves. They have been through a lot and we need to regain our own trust.
  2. Time. Life events and transitions require us to shift focus. Sometimes, work requires more of our attention. Sometimes, it’s our family. Sometimes it’s our health. We struggle to find balance, and when we don’t, these elements start to fall apart with emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual ramifications. We also feel guilty, if we prioritize our wellbeing over others, failing to realize that when we aren’t “good” we can’t do “good.” Some of these narratives are cultural and are deeply engrained in us. When we struggle to find a way to integrate some basic health, it is a good point to meet ourselves where we are and ask “why?” Do you like the way you nurture yourself? Do you like how you feel? What are some basic changes you can make to feel good about how you take care of your body? What is something you can do now, and sustain over time?
  3. Extremes. Black and white type thinking, or all or nothing type of thinking. We want results and we feel like if something is not extreme, or removes entire food groups out of our diet, or is limited to simple tweaks, it won’t work. “It can’t be that easy,” we tell ourselves. So then, we embark, on yet another journey of extreme dieting, some that actually restrict fruits and vegetables, in order to get us to our arbitrary “goal.” We end up feeling deprived, depressed, confused, and mad at out bodies, saying things like, “why isn’t this working?” The truth is, our bodies are working on overdrive in order to save our life and not starve to death, hence why they slow down all metabolic actions. With this type of thinking, our world becomes smaller; we avoid gatherings, dates, or any food triggers. We limit our entire being. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that we all need to binge all day long. Even if you were to do that, you’ll soon come to realize that you simply can’t! When we give ourselves permission to eat, we will soon start to actually get in tune with what our body needs. Sometimes that is pizza, and sometimes that is a fresh, perfectly ripened peach. There is not one food that makes anyone unhealthy, or healthy, for that matter. We need to avoid extremes and regiments that makes us abdicate our ability to nurture our bodies to others.
  1. Find the difference between your purpose and your passion. Purpose is to help others grow. Passion is to help yourself grow. When we are not living our lives in alignment, with either one, purpose or passion, we will experience imbalance that will manifest in emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical drawbacks. For example, if you are working a job that is serving others, but not necessarily allowing you to pursue your passion, make an effort to either look at your work as a way to fund your next career move, or find a side gig that will fuel your passion. This type of thinking will empower you to make a change, or lift your spirits, because you now have an outlet, or a platform, or an inspiration to express who you are.
  2. Narrow down your goals. Focus on the top 5, most meaningful, important, fulfilling goals. If we spread ourselves too thin, we end up putting less and less energy in more and more goals. This only results in burnout and us feeling disempowered or out of steam. If your goal is to work on improving your business, work on your fitness, eat better, publish that book, and spend more time with your partner, then rank these from 1–5, with 1 being your top priority, and 5 being your 5th priority, and then break up the time in your day based on your energy levels. If publishing that book is number 1 on your list, wake up early and spend your best writing time on that book. If fitness is number 1 on your list, spend your early hours working on that. We naturally have more energy during the early hours, so, spend your best energy hours on the things you have prioritized.
  3. Investigate when you say ‘no’. This can take some time. When I started investigating my “nos” I soon came to realize that most of my “nos” were around social gatherings that involved food, alcohol, dressing up, and being photographed and seen. Over the years, my disheartenment around my body and my failed diets, left me isolated. I was two people, one whom my students and friends adored and admired, and another that came home in shame about not looking like they do. The impact this has on our relationships is immense. It leaves us, and others, feeling helpless. It also distorts our reality, thinking that life was “easier” when we looked a certain way, when it clearly wasn’t. It can take a long time to figure out what do we say ‘no’ to because of the way we feel about ourselves. How can we reconcile this? How can you still live parts of your life without feeling like you are being scrutinized, when you’re clearly not? How can you still experience love and intimacy when you feel that you are unworthy of being seen, literally and metaphorically? Spend some time looking at all these patterns in your life. Do you date when you’re not “ready” body-wise? Do you feel like you need to look a certain way to feel worthy of love and acceptance? Where do you say “no”? Do you feel alone in your struggles, when you’re clearly not? How many of your life goals are on hold by the “if only mind?” Work towards changing the images you are inundated by and focus on reading about how we can decolonize our body; who are you comparing yourself to? How do you correlate your body to your self-worth? Does this impact how you treat yourself and your relationships? Investigate your “nos”.
  4. Select people you surround yourself with very carefully. Your energy is very precious. Who leaves you feeling wiped out? What conversations trigger you? Where do you “leak” energy? When do you walk away from a conversation feeling like you didn’t grow, felt heard, respected, or acknowledge? Is it an opportunity to act? Ways of acting can include, having a conversation where you have a chance to express how you feel, without placing blame or judgement, setting boundaries, or ending that relationship. Sometimes we might feel like we “overshared,” because our concerns or thoughts were not reciprocated or validated. These are all opportunities to engage in a conversation with important people in our life. When you spend some time reflecting and finding your voice, you’ll feel in control of how you are allowing others to treat you. This self-compassion and self-respect will move into other areas of your life.
  5. Learn how to apologize and how to accept an apology. First of all, apologize to yourself. Apologize if you’ve allowed yourself to be mistreated, disrespected, and for the negative self-talk. Then, make an effort to learn how to apologize to others. It is fascinating how much of our wellbeing is held in these feelings we have been holding on; the heavy burden we feel is literally holding us back and used are armour. Also, learn how to accept an apology from others who have hurt you. This is healing. It is also healing for others to find the courage to apologize and be acknowledge for this act. Say things like, “Thank you, I appreciate your apology, and I receive it.” This doesn’t mean instant forgiveness. Forgiveness, takes time and compassion, whether that is towards others, or yourself. The effect of this is not about letting go. Some people in your life will never apologize to you. That doesn’t mean you can’t express how you feel. There is a difference between expressing your hurt and demanding an apology. Your peace is found in expressing where you are at, in finding your voice.
  1. It moves your emotions. New Age, or “New Cage,” as Jeff Brown has coined the term, has placed emphasis on stillness and medication. Although there are benefits to meditating and stillness, we tend to use it as a means to bypass what we feel. If you’re like me, certain yoga poses, or meditations, can trigger emotions. Sometimes, we need to be still or practice yoga, but sometimes we need to move our stuff. We need to work out our wiggles, like a student of mine says. When we get up for a dance, walk, stretch, house work, we notice that our energy has changed. That is what our goal needs to be. To use movement to manage emotions. Become aware of what arises. Our bodies store memories and trauma, particularly in the lower back and hips. This negative energy can have an impact on our wellbeing. We also need to let these emotions rise to the surface, not bypass them. Begin with movement that feels natural to you, whether that is walking, swimming, running, or dancing. As long as it helps you connect to your body and helps you heal, you will begin to see the mental benefits that will support other areas of your life.
  2. Connect with your body. I have felt so disconnected from my body that I had come to feel like it is a vehicle that moves my brain from point A to point B. Our lifestyles require so much of our mental focus that we tend to feel disconnected with the rest of our body. Even if it is breathing exercises, gentle core strengthening, stretching and flexibility, or light weight lifting, it helps our bodies reconnect with our brains. It creates new neuropathways and helps support our physical and mental health. Exercise your mind. Sometimes your mind is hungry, or your soul is hungry, or your heart is hungry. It needs nourishment. Aside from moving your body, listen to music, talk to yourself, perform what Jeff Brown calls, “barking dog yoga,” shout out when you need to. Be yourself. Love yourself.
  3. Self-esteem. If we are working on self-esteem, the shortest, most effective route is to do something physical. Self-esteem is a verb. We can say we are going for a 30 minute walk, or a 30 minute dance off, or a 30 minute stretch, to esteem ourselves. What you are doing, as Caroline Myss states, is you are spending 30 minutes a day feeling good about yourself. If you feel good, you get more energy, you do more, then you move that energy into another area of your life, and you go from there. We don’t have to exercise for hours during the day. We start with something we can manage, sustain, and enjoy. Self-esteem comes from you keeping your word to yourself. It is the relationship you have with yourself you are working on here. That is how we cultivate a cycle of wellness.
  1. Walk it out. Take a soul walk. Smell something. Touch something. Make eye contact with someone. Say hello. Pet a Dog. Sit on a bench. Avoid music or podcasts for a first half. Listen to your thoughts. Feel your body. Notice your pace. It’s not a race.
  2. Work out your wiggles. Focus on natural, everyday movements. We are not made, nor have evolved for extreme exercise. Our ancestors lived pretty low key lives, besides walking, try running, swimming, and lifting weights, but maintain natural embodied movements.
  3. Stretch it out. Work on core and flexibility. This need not be extreme core workouts. Yoga instructors will attest to this. A physiotherapist can suggest movements that support your core and back, that don’t even require you to get out of bed. They require concentration. Especially if you have old injuries.
  1. Baby steps. 15–20 minutes spurts are the best way to improve your movement and reap the benefits of in increased heartrate, if you are to implement a morning and mid afternoon routine.
  2. Learn from the best. Hire a trainer. They know how bodies work. They watch you move and they know when and how to challenge you when you’re ready. They know how to space out plans.
  3. Listen to your body. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for you to listen to your body as well. You, and only you, know your history, your injuries, your weaknesses, and how it feels when you have pushed yourself to the limit. You will know when you can go for that extra rep. Have faith in your body and what it’s telling you. Workout culture has engrained in us that we can’t trust our bodies and can’t be left at our own devices, and we need to keep pushing through. Our bodies will signal us when we need to recover, and good workout plans will have this built in.
  4. Less is more. In order to get started, and feel confident in what you are doing, begin with embodied natural movements, when you are starting out or taking a break. If you don’t treat an injury, you are going to suffer from it as you age.
  5. Set realistic goals. Become aware of predominant body types and respect your own beauty and shape. Try to make your goal something other that extreme weight loss. Weight cycling has been proven to be more harmful than living in a bigger body. Consider this a lifestyle shift, rather than a short lived program. Keeping these points in mind will help you stay the course and prevent injury.



In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Dr. William Seeds

Board-certified orthopedic surgeon and physician, with over 22 years of experience, specializing in all aspects of sports medicine and total joint treatments