WTF is Wellness Anyway?


First of all I would like to apologize to my Mom for implying a curse word in the title of this article. Sorry Mom! For the rest of those who may feel offended by the “F” word sharing the same sentence as Wellness, I also apologize, but I truly did not intend to ruffle any feathers. For me there has been no other way to title this topic. Many times in the past when I ask for people to share their goals, a common response is “overall wellness”. And this is a frequent question that goes through my mind when I hear this. I am not trying to crap on anyone’s goals.  I am not the guy to even judge what is best for anyone. However, if we are going to work together on your journey for health optimization and happiness, I am going to need more details.


Lets look at what Wikipedia says on the word “Wellness”.

Wellness is generally used to mean a healthy balance of the mind, body and spirit that results in an overall feeling of well-being.”

It goes on to say that Halbert L. Dunn, M.D. (Unitarian Universalist Church in Arlington, Virginia, in the United States), began using phrases including the word Wellness in the 1950’s. He defined it as an integrated method of functioning which is oriented toward maximizing the potential of which an individual is capable.” (Some of you may have picked up that I LOVE that word “integrated”…)

There is more on Dunn that can be found at, if you wish to check it out. It is worth a look if you have a spike in curiosity from reading this article.


So let’s keep addressing these goals we have… Some other common requests, when I ask someone to share their fitness goals are also shared below.

  1. Body composition changes. (Losing fat or gaining muscle). That results in changing the shape and appearance of our bodies. Aka, “Looking good”.
  2. Strength. We all get a little dose of invincibility when we lift something we have never lifted before without putting our body at risk.
  3. Energy & Stamina. Often associated with endurance or work capacity, allowing us metabolic assets to perform more things in less time or for longer spans and distances. I call it, ‘having gears”.
  4. Stress Management. This is often undersold in the world of fitness marketing simply because it’s not as affective in a passing image, as a hot bikini shot or ripped abs.

Im sure there are more benefits to exercise then those listed above but quite often most of them land in the ball park of what is listed. And perhaps we could argue that some or all or of these can contribute to “overall wellness”.

I refer to these as SHORT TERM goals or targets. By short term, I mean they are trainable, fundamental, and can be effected in most people (without major health conditions), within the 1-6 month period of a well thought out, integrated program.

Bottom line. When the above targets are met, we need to start looking at what we intend to do with it. That’s where the long term vision comes in.

When I ask for LONG TERM goals or VISION, this is the opportunity we have to go deeper, but then we end up with the term about in question (overall wellness), OR upgraded versions of the short term goals. Details like, wanting to ‘maintain‘ fitness/strength/weight loss, or desires to continue to feel good etc. start to come up as long term goals. But I can’t help but feel like calling, “BULL $H!T” on those if it is not INSPIRED by a meaningful end-game or experience.

Please forgive my point of view, but I just want to push us to peel the layers a bit to get to the core motivators. We need to ask more questions.




Let’s attempt to define overall wellness?”

My inner voice again might say, “Please don’t quote something you read on a poster in Whole Foods or heard in a hot yoga class!”


What I am saying here is that most of the time what we think we WANT, may not match with what we feel we REALLY NEED. So let’s keep challenging ourselves to come up with a Vision that resonates enough to motivate the actions to create change.

If we (Domestic Athlete and Coach),  want to attack a goal together, we need to know ‘WHY’ so we can begin “weighing in” on HOW.


Until we all have our own definition of what wellness is, I invite you to explore the following;

“What does Wellness mean to YOU?” And I challenge you to state this in very actionable and measurable ways. Wellness may or may not mean lifting heavier weights. It may or may not mean run faster or longer. It may or may not also mean slimming down to under 10% body fat and getting ripped abs. It really comes down to what YOU will need to ask of yourself to be TRULY happy, on your own terms and applied in a functional and sustainable way. What are the goals, and how will they bring you to heath and well-being? Now that is Vision!

Yes we need to set SMART goals… But who wants to read another one of those articles? 🙂 … However if you don’t know what I am referring to, feel free to Google “SMART goals”.

So let’s get real here… I had to! I had to admit to myself in the past that I gave myself patellar tendonitis (jumper’s knee), because the football coach in high school said I was too short to touch the basketball hoop. I had to admit to myself that I tore a muscle in my back in junior high because I thought I could make it to the Olympics if I just kept long jumping in the back yard all day long. I had to admit to myself that I tore my pec in 2005, because I always wanted to compete at a National or even World level in powerlifting, even though my heart wasn’t in the sport as it once was. The list goes on… I am no different.

That’s what is so cool about this! The Vision evolves and changes over time, as does the motivators. So we need to keep checking in with ourselves on what will really make us do the work. If your goals aren’t driving you relentlessly, perhaps they need a mental “software” upgrade.

We can’t achieve new levels of excellence on old concepts that don’t hold the weight it use to.

As a result of my bumps, scraps and “gym fails”, I evolved to find my own (ever-changing), definition of Wellness. The term is FULLY LOADED, so be certain before you use it. Because I may just ask you to elaborate.

When we get real with stuff, it tends to sting a little bit. But it is better for us in the long run. I rather get real and call myself out, rather than to be called out by someone else. Results may even happen faster that way, when we CHOOSE to partake.

So let’s get real on Wellness! What the “F” is it for YOU?

Be Well! 🙂

Thanks for reading!