6 Ways Wellness Goes Beyond Diet + Exercise According To A Functional Medicine Expert


Wellness goes way beyond diet and exercise. It’s also about what occupies your mental space. In my telehealth functional medicine clinic, many of my patients experience the negative side-effects of unhealthy relationships and general stress to a profound level.

After seeing this firsthand for so many years, I have redefined how I see wellness. No longer is it solely scientific. There is actually an art to wellness unique to each individual and something I aim to explore deeper in my new podcast, The Art of Being Well. This is how I’ve begun to expand my mindset of what wellness can look like:


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1. Sometimes wellness is realizing that your worst enemy is your memory. Quit holding onto your past. Let that sh*t go.

In life, we ebb and flow through different seasons that no longer serve the next level of ourselves. And part of that ebbing and flowing is embracing when it is time to fully let go of your past - including any negative, ruminating thoughts - and close that door.

Tip: Next time you feel any negative thoughts creep in, write them out on a piece of paper, tear it up, and move on with your day. 

2. Sometimes wellness looks like not letting people who are at war with themselves influence your energy

All of us exchange energy during the day whether it is in-person, through text, via email, or in social media exchanges. And not all of these interactions are positive, which can quickly drain our energy reserves and put us in a sour mood.

Tip: Even though you can’t avoid all negative interaction - especially with the constant stream of news, social media, and internet trolls -  you can set up healthy boundaries for how much time you’ll spend with certain people or on specific platforms that you know drain your energy.

3. Sometimes wellness is not taking criticism from someone you wouldn’t take advice from.

As you get older you realize everyone has an opinion. And it seems like everyone likes to share those opinions with you on what your life should look like. Now, advice isn’t a bad thing and we should seek out wisdom from others - just not from anyone and everyone. 

Tip: In order to filter out whose opinion deserves weight in your life, ask yourself these three questions:

  • Does this person truly know me?
  • Does this person have my best interests in mind?
  • Are they familiar with my past wins and losses?

These questions help you step outside of the moment, put those opinions into perspective and see the bigger picture.

4. Sometimes wellness looks like not attending every argument you’re invited to.

It’s not necessary to attend every argument you’re invited to. Our words have power to either build up or break down. And oftentimes, very little comes out of an argument other than mean, hurtful words and even broken relationships.

Tip: While you might have the best intentions when stepping into a conversation, ask yourself if anything productive will come from it. There’s a difference between a healthy exchange of differing opinions and a full-on argument. Which one are you accepting the invite to? Most of the time, sitting in silent positivity will say more than your words ever will - and save your energy in the process.

5. Sometimes wellness looks like honoring that person for the lessons they brought you, but now is the time for cutting the toxic sh*t out of your life because that lesson is learned.

Relationships come and go and look different throughout your life, but who you keep in your  inner circle is the most important. These people are who you spend the most time with, influence your energy, and whose opinions you give more weight too. But just like a concert, not everyone can sit in the VIP section.

Tip: If there’s a toxic person in your life, try setting up boundaries to see if that helps eliminate the toxicity they are pouring into your life. However, if those boundaries aren’t enough, be ok with saying goodbye for good.

6. Sometimes wellness looks like staying home, doing nothing, drinking tea + googling random questions like “how long do manatees live?” JOMO life(joy of missing out) 

There are a million things that you can occupy your time with and say “yes” to. From work to social events to more work, you can always be on the go. But next time you feel your FOMO creep in, schedule in some time to just be still and cultivate the most important relationship of all - the one with yourself.

Tip: Make an effort to schedule in regular time to be still with yourself. It doesn’t have to look the same for everyone. My JOMO time is spent at home with a cup of tea and a nature documentary but yours can look like:

  • A massage or spa day
  • Reading a book
  • Spending time in nature (which also has some powerful health benefits)
  • Playing with your pet
  • A coffee shop date with yourself

Let these be a reminder to you that wellness can be practiced many ways. While diet and exercise are no doubt important, there are so many facets of well-being that can’t be overlooked - including your mind, heart, and soul.

As one of the first functional medicine telehealth clinics in the world, we provide webcam health consultations for people around the globe. 

Photo: unsplash.com

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Dr. Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, DC, leading functional medicine expert, consults people around the world via webcam and locally in Pittsburgh. He received his doctorate from Southern California University of Health Sciences and post doctorate education and training in functional medicine and clinical nutrition. He specializes in clinically researching underlying factors of chronic disease and customizing a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. Dr. Cole was named one of the top 50 functional medicine and integrative doctors in the nation and is the best selling author of Ketotarian and The Inflammation Spectrum.