The Bettie Page Fitness Body-Positive Wellness Plan!

Forget all the complicated diets and scary exercise regimens. Stick to these tried-and-true basics for optimal health.

  The building blocks of the Bettie Page Fitness Body-Positive Wellness Plan! Do as many of these as you can on most days, and don’t beat yourself up when you can’t.

The building blocks of the Bettie Page Fitness Body-Positive Wellness Plan! Do as many of these as you can on most days, and don’t beat yourself up when you can’t.

BY TORI RODRIGUEZ, MA, LPC, AHC

[This info was the basis for last year’s Bettie Page Fitness Health Challenge. We will be doing the challenge again this November. To sign up, enter your email when prompted by the popup box when you enter this site, or shoot us an email at info@bettiepagefitness.com.]

As a psychotherapist, wellness coach, and health journalist with expertise in food and body images issues among others, I often find that when people want to improve their health or other areas of their lives, they feel compelled to make big, sweeping, fancy changes that are either impossible or unsustainable (not to mention joy-sucking and boring). What I’ve also learned throughout my many years of professional and personal experience is that the most effective approach to getting and staying healthy is to simply focus on the tried-and-true basics. This sometimes doesn’t appeal to people who are ready for things to be completely different RIGHT NOW and want that shot of hope that comes from planning to radically overhaul their lives (uh, diet culture, anyone?)

But the letdown when you realize it isn’t doable is more painful than the initial fleeting feel-goods. Diets don’t work, and you don’t need any complicated plan to make major, lasting changes. If you’re ready to give up those quick fixes that quickly fizzle and want to create sustainable changes that actually feel good, then focus on these 6 key areas and just do as many as you can on most days. Make a commitment to yourself to keep it judgment-free and weight-neutral, and keep your inner perfectionist out of it! This is about building a strong, healthy foundation and learning to listen to yourself and make decisions about your health based on what your body tells you instead of what any diet plan, magazine, fitspo page, your mom or friends, or anyone says. (That includes me – which is why these are all suggestions that you should adapt to your own needs.)

  Love this bo-po illustration… Does anyone know who the artist is?

Love this bo-po illustration… Does anyone know who the artist is?

This solid self-care approach will help you start shifting your thinking from an externally-focused viewpoint (based on calories, pounds, societal messages) to an internally-focused one based on how your body feels and what you know it needs. Note: You don’t have to love your body to improve your health; you only need to be willing to take care of it or at least to start working toward that goal.

♥  THE PLAN

The basic goals are summed up in the Bettie collage at the top of this post. You might want to save it to your phone or print it out so you’ll have a quick reminder of what you’re going for.

{Each day, thank your body when you wake up.}

♥ Be mindful. As much as possible, avoid distractions when you eat. Fully experience and enjoy your food. Same with exercise: Instead of just trying to get it over with, notice how your body feels as you do it, and appreciate all the countless cells and many systems working in your favor to allow your body to move.

♥ Listen to your body. Aim to pay attention to how it feels before, during and after eating and exercising. You might also start simply getting in the habit of asking your body, “What do you need right now?” even if you can’t recognize the answers yet. 

♥ Eat 5-9 veggies & fruits daily. Eat mostly plant-based (veggies, fruits, nuts, legumes, grains) whole foods – in other words, ones that aren’t overly processed – including at least 3 vegetables and 2 fruits daily, more if you’re already there (9 is the daily amount recommended by the USDA). Eat organic as much as possible, but don’t stress when you can’t. Your protein sources, of course, will vary based on whether you’re vegetarian or vegan or neither. Healthy fats are essential for everyone.

Drink at least eight 8-oz glasses of water each day, more if you’re very active. Coffee and all kinds of tea are generally great for our health, unless you have a particular reason why you're not supposed to drink them - so enjoy in liberal moderation (in other words, unlimited coffee still isn't a good idea. Well, only in theory.) This isn’t a diet plan; these are concrete actions you can take to improve your health. Don’t frame foods as “good” or “bad, and don’t be restrictive with your eating. Loving limits: Yes. Rigid rules: No.

♥ Move daily if you are able – whatever kind you like. The Bettie Page Fitness videos are great options for strength, cardio, and yoga, especially when you can’t make it outside or to the gym. Some days you might only have time for a 10-minute walk or quickie strength workout… and that’s okay. Bring your full attention to it and make it the best 10 minutes of your day! {Thank your body when you finish.} If you can’t manage any physical activity, do some extra rounds of breathing exercises to create internal movement – you’re still vastly improving your health by increasing oxygen and detoxing your cells, soothing your nervous system, increasing endorphins, and lots more.

♥ Relax. Be sure to carve out time regularly to do literally nothing, laze around with friends or your lover or dog, or whatever makes you feel relaxed. Even when we’re working on self-care, we need regular breaks from focusing on goals or it takes the joy out of it. If being with other humans rejuvenates you, then your relaxation time might sometimes include socializing… also a key component of optimal health, though some need more or less people-time than others.

♥ Sleep at least 7 hours each night. Most of us really do need 8, some need more and some less. But given our current global sleep crisis, a solid 7 each night is an excellent starting point. {Before you sleep, thank your body for getting you through another day.}

*****

Now here’s the part that can be most challenging for many of us: Try to approach all of this with non-judgment, self-compassion, and curiosity instead of the fear and perfectionism that health plans can evoke. If you have days that you can’t meet all (or any!) of your goals, seriously don’t waste a minute judging and criticizing yourself for it. Let this be a truly healthy experience, and don’t bring any of that kind of dread and anxiety to this process. Instead, use that time and energy constructively and put it toward figuring out what might work better next time.

The main thing I want you to do is pay attention – to whatever thoughts and feelings may arise as you work toward your goals, any barriers that get in the way, and what seems to work well for you or not. Ideally, you will also take at least 10-15 minutes for self-reflection each night to record (in whatever format works for you) these observations in addition to noting how/what you did toward your goals that day.

When you’re done reflecting, do a breath-based or guided meditation for 2-5 minutes to sort of reset. Here’s one of my simple faves: Set a timer and do a 4:2:6 breathing pattern – Inhale deep into your belly for 4 counts, hold for 2 counts, then exhale completely over 6 counts. Just pay attention to your breath as you go, and when your mind wanders, gently return your focus to your breath. If you want to try different breathing techniques, check these out: https://bit.ly/2xxz7ug

At the end of each week, set aside more time for focused reflection to assess your progress, notice any patterns, and adjust your goals or strategy if needed.

That’s the basic blueprint! Tweak as needed to make it work for you. Stay tuned to this site and explore previous posts for more tips and articles about health, fitness, body image, Bettie (of course), and more!

Best of luck and warmest regards,

♥ Tori