Vanessa Barthelmes: 5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing
Create a classical conditioning habit. We all remember Pavlov and his dog that would salivate every time he rang the bell. We can condition our body to want to do things through triggers. For instance, I light candles and turn the lights off at night to do my stretching routines. This shift in the atmosphere gets me in the right mindset every time.
As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Vanessa Barthelmes, an aerial & yoga instructor, author and creator of the fitness blog www.jadorevanessa.com.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?
I first got started with fitness when I started to have lower back pain from sitting in an office chair all day. I decided to take up yoga at the gym across the road to see if it alleviated my back pain. Turns out it did and I was addicted! I started my yoga teacher training not long afterward.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
In aerial, you can’t make mistakes because it ends in broken bones.
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
Not everyone knows how to look after students performing stunts in the air. I would say my main area of expertise is in dynamic flexibility. I see so many instructors that overstretch students before they go in the air. This is so dangerous because you don’t want to open your joints before putting a great deal of force on them. My book Dynamic Flexibility: The complete guide to splits goes into great detail on how to improve your dynamic flexibility. This is flexibility and strength put together.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My very first circus teacher Sally Shaw. She inspired me and is a wonderful instructor. Sally believed in me and she has such a warm and fun presence about her. If it wasn’t for Sally I don’t think I would have fallen in love with circus arts.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
I believe the three main blockages are desire, self-control and unrealistic expectations. If you keep relapsing into old habits then your desire to eat healthily and exercise is not as strong as your desire to not do these things. I always say find something that you love and you will never have to exercise a day again. You simply get to play and live a healthy lifestyle. For instance in Sydney Australia you see the ocean packed with surfers before they have to get up and go to the morning grind in the city. Do you think they are up at the crack of dawn because they want to exercise? No they love it. I belive once you start exercising your desire to eat healthily comes naturally.
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”?
1. Find something that you love! I was never a gym girl I wasn’t motivated to go. Then I found yoga and aerial arts. Yoga became a part of my everyday life and aerial arts was my passion. Being upsidedown with adrenaline plus the instant gratification of learning something new always has me coming back.
2. Flexibility comes first. In order to have a healthy body that has a good range of motion it a must. If your muscles and joints are tight you will create pain and dysfunction in the body that will begin to impact other areas around the source. I like to stretch at least three times a week. This is especially important for cross-fitters. A friend of mine stop stretching and tore her hamstring. If you don’t make time to stretch then your body will eventually slow you down to a point of injury or painful dysfunction.
3. Create a classical conditioning habit. We all remember Pavlov and his dog that would salivate every time he rang the bell. We can condition our body to want to do things through triggers. For instance, I light candles and turn the lights off at night to do my stretching routines. This shift in the atmosphere gets me in the right mindset every time.
4. Think of food as fuel and not as a treat. A healthy body needs healthy fuel. I like to question myself this each time I eat: “Is this meal nutritionally dense or not?.”
That will generally give you the answer as to whether you can eat it or not. For instance spaghetti, I would skip because it is empty carbs. I would rather eat sweet potato as that has nutrients. One of my favorite family meals are Greek yogurt with berries and almonds.
5. Commit to making a habit. Plan time in your schedule and commit. It takes 21 days to break a habit and 66 to create one. Make a time table that you can stick to and reward yourself at the end of 66 days!
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?
- Increased range of motion in the body. Tight muscles feel awful they turn into knots or areas of the body that can no longer perform the correct range of motion.
- People who exercise and have a healthy diet are less likely to suffer from disease in the body. Type two diabetes can be avoided with diet and exercise.
- You may make some new friends!
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
Anyone that makes you feel good. It could be a walk along the beach with the fresh air, or taking your dog to the park. It could be playing an active game with your children. Think lifestyle not exercise. Then your mindset will shift from a burden to fun.
In my experience, many people begin an exercise regimen but stop because they get too sore afterward. What ideas would you recommend to someone who plays sports or does heavy exercise to shorten the recovery time, and to prevent short term or long term injury?
Unfortunately, pain is part of the game in the beginning unless you are doing circus and its always painful. Just remind yourself that the pain is only short term while your body is conditioning itself to the new exercise regime you have started. Take hot baths with Epsom salts and get acupuncture. It is a lifesaver for erasing all knots in the body.
There are so many different diets today. Can you share what kind of diet you follow? Which diet do you recommend to most of your clients?
I follow a high nutrient-rich diet. I like to ask myself before I am eating something is it nutrient-rich or not? I skip a lot of empty carbs like pasta and opt for potato or sweet potato as it holds more nutrients. It is a better fuel choice for my body.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
Gandhi’s story is truly inspiring. It allowed me to think big and know that change is possible.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would influence adults to play more. We get so much joy from playing when you are a child it doesn’t need to end now. Think dance, surfing & ninja warrior courses.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Gandhi.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-) President Nelson of the church of Jesus christ latter day saints. He has a beautiful presence and is very close to God. I would love to experience his presence and knowledge.
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