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Wellness Triangle: Mental, Exercise, Nutrition

Nutrition, Exercise and the Mental Aspect of Wellness

exercise mental health nutrition Jun 18, 2024

Understanding wellness means that your focus is on more than the absence of disease. Lori describes it in her book Wheels to Wellbeing as “… a state of health in which you have both the ability and the energy to do what you want in life with relative ease. While it changes throughout the many seasons of your life, it is supported through your daily habits of nutrition, physical activity, sleep, and stress reduction.”

As a personal trainer and sports nutritionist, I have worked with hundreds of people over the years. Many of them are looking for some type of transformation, whether it be to lose weight or improve their strength, fitness, or overall quality of life. What I have found is that success comes from understanding the Wellness Triangle. It involves a three-pronged attack where you develop and execute three plans or dimensions of wellness. Those three plans are mental health/mindset, exercise, and nutrition.

Plan #1: Mental and Emotional Wellness

Understanding wellness involves strengthening your mental and emotional tools so that you can do what is required to achieve and maintain fitness. It includes

  • knowing what you are required to do to meet your goals.
  • understanding your beliefs: which beliefs serve you and which beliefs do not?
  • a willingness to change those beliefs that do not serve you, the ones that are getting in the way or sabotaging you.

Alvin Toffler said it best … “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, Unlearn, and relearn”.

It involves getting social support and “buy-in” from some important friends and loved ones.

Take Care of Your Social Wellbeing

As Lori wrote in Transform, sometimes “…it feels like the people in your life are sabotaging your efforts. YOu start a new diet and your co-worker shows up with bagels, brownies, or birthday cake. You are disciplined all week and your sister calls to invite you out for ice cream or happy hour. You start a cleanse and your partner decided to make your favorite meal of spaghetti and meatballs and homemade garlic cheesy bread. Those closest to you can be your biggest support or they can sabotage your efforts without even knowing it.”

Sometimes part of your mental well-being and social wellness involves building a new support group if your current support group does not understand and support your efforts … we call this surrounding yourself with “like-minded” people. Take a look at your social life. Do you have a majority of healthy relationships? Is your social network filled with supportive relationships?

A big part of your mental or emotional wellness involves using your mind to infuse positive thoughts and actions into your life that reinforce your efforts and goals.

While you are setting goals, make sure they are specific and have a deadline. Build in time to evaluate so you can pivot or build a new plan with corrections. And remember that success is not final. You can always begin again and go after new goals. In success, it is critical to understand what is working and what is not. To do this, consider two scales, both 0-10, one of importance and one of confidence.

  1. Understanding your commitment to your wellness journey where 10 means it is extremely important.
  2. Understanding your confidence that you can reach your wellness goals where 10 means extremely confident.

Based on the combination of these results, my recommendation is that your reach out for support and assistance if you are less than a 9 in either your commitment or your confidence. This can come in the form of a personal trainer, nutritional coach, or even a mental health counselor.

Your Success is Determined By Your Decisions

Your plans for change are made with your left brain or the logical side of your brain and your plans are executed by the right side of your brain or your emotional side.

Logic builds a plan, but your feelings execute it.

Safeguards must be put in place in the form of rules such as “I don’t eat that” or “I eat/exercise according to my goals” statements which are constantly and consistently reinforced with healthy lifestyle decisions.

Transforming your body is tough–whether you want to lose weight, gain lean muscle mass, or simply age more gracefully. Why? Because wellness in the fitness industry boils down to a triangle composed of exercise, nutrition, and mental strength. Good exercise and nutritional decisions are healthy habits and like a muscle, they require work and reinforcement in your daily life to develop and grow stronger. It’s all part of understanding wellness.

Plan #2: Exercise and Physical Wellness

Your physical health is the most common and recognized part of the dimensions of wellness. It involves aerobic and anaerobic exercise, flexibility, and activity-specific exercises.

Aerobic exercise (also known as cardio) is a physical activity of low to high intensity that depends primarily on the aerobic energy–generating process. It can be aimed at weight loss or cardiovascular fitness depending on your goals.

Anaerobic exercise is an exercise intense enough to trigger lactose formation. It is used by athletes in non-endurance sports to promote strength, speed, and power and by bodybuilders to build muscle mass.

Flexibility is defined as the range of motion of your joints or the ability of your joints to move freely. It also refers to the mobility of your muscles, which allows for more movement around the joints.

Activity Specific Exercises are sport-specific exercises aimed at increasing activity efficiency and activity performance. This includes economy of force aimed at the maximized output, reducing fatigue and unnecessary movements which can lead to greater performance and reduction in exercise-related trauma.

Sleep is a critical component of your physical wellness, including the number of hours of sleep you get each night. If your body is struggling to recover or lacks energy, consider whether or not you have a regular sleep schedule.


Healthy nutrition is the most critical plan if you want lasting results.

Food is Fuel. How we perform is related to the QUALITY of our FOOD. Our physical health is linked directly to proper nutrition.

Your ability to perform is directly related to having quality amounts of the nutrients that our energy is made from and supporting the systems that make it. Your body requires the proper amount of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats from high-quality sources to support performance. Also, exercise is oxidative stress, and having the essential nutrients required means your body will be able to repair and replenish itself.

Old School: An old-school concept is that you are what you EAT.

New School: The new school concept is that you are what you ABSORB. Nutrition only works if your body can break it down and absorb it to use it. This requires a healthy digestive tract and systems functioning efficiently, which will not only get the good stuff in but process the bad stuff out.

If your diet and nutrition suck, then your energy and performance will suffer. Crap in … Crap out! Are the building blocks of your body from quality nutrients or nutritional bankrupt foods? Do you really want the building blocks of your body to be fast, cheap, and easy?

Avoid foods produced in harmful ways.

I work diligently to set the highest standard for my foods:

Just Say NO To

  • GMO
  • soy
  • products treated with antibiotics or hormones
  • farm-raised or large wild-caught fish
  • denatured whey products
  • high sodium
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • hydrogenated oils, saturated oils
  • chemically enhance foods to preserve it
  • poorly processed food to increase its profitability
  • high glycemic sugary foods
  • artificial sweeteners

I also avoid doing business with food companies that do not honor my commitment to my overall health and well-being.

Say YES to

  • organic foods
  • free-range poultry
  • green leafy vegetables
  • supplements from companies I have researched and trust

Enjoy in Moderation

  • alcohol
  • caffeine

Final Notes on Nutrition


As athletes, the use of adaptogens or adaptogenic substances, compounds, & herbs results in the stabilization of physiological processes and promotion of homeostasis, an example being decreased cellular sensitivity to stress.

Weight Loss

For women, 80% of the effort for achieving and maintaining results lies within your nutritional plan.

For men, because of higher testosterone levels, your goals determine where on the spectrum of important nutrition is to succeed. Achieving your goals if they are weight loss is 60% exercise and 40% nutrition. But long-term success and maintaining weight loss is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise due to injuries, complications of schedule (life gets in the way), and most often seasonally driven.

For both men and women, the bigger your goals are, the bigger and more important part nutrition plays in both achieving them and maintaining them.

Success in the kitchen makes for success on the field of battle!

The biggest lesson I have learned from devoting my life to the fitness industry and helping gothers achieve their goals is this:

A rock=solid nutritional plan is important for achieving success and vital to maintaining success. I use the best! This wheel has already been invented. Find out what it is… get my nutrition

Other Wellness Dimensions

These are the three main dimensions of wellness, especially when it comes to the fitness and weight loss industry. There are plenty of other areas to consider when it comes to balanced wellness and a well-rounded, healthy life, including include spiritual wellness, intellectual wellness, financial wellness, occupational wellness, and environmental wellness.

  • Social Wellness = the quality of your relationships with individuals, groups, and communities. It involved nurturing and meaningful relationships, where you feel safe and respected.
  • Spiritual Wellness = is related to your values, beliefs, and faith. It involves being in tune with your inner self. It often shows up in prayer and meditation, and spending time in nature.
  • Intellectual Wellness = the involvement in creative and mentally-stimulating activities. It encourages learning and exploration and living in your curiosity.
  • Environmental Wellness = is all about the people, places, attitudes, and ideas that we surround ourselves with as well as the harmony we feel with the earthy.
  • Occupational wellness = comes from the personal satisfaction of your work life.

Your Wellness Journey

Regardless of where you are on your wellness journey, there is always room to find more balance and a better quality of life. In your exercise, nutrition, and mindset ask yourself, is this action or activity or food or belief moving me toward my goals, or away from them?

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