Ep. 69 | Game Changer Sneak Peak: The Three Wellness Levels


This episode shares one of the audio lessons from the Game Changer program.

I spent a lot of time trying to solve this puzzle:

If being healthy is supposed to make us feel good, why are so many people avoiding or exhausted trying to get healthy? Why is it so hard?

This is what I’ve realized:

There are 3 levels when it comes to a wellness journey, yet our society makes it seem like there are only two. Level 1 (I’ll Do It…Tomorrow) and 2 (The Bandwagon) are both unappealing and uncomfortable, so it's no wonder that the norm is to be sick, overweight, and/or unhappy!

If you don't know and believe that Level 3 (Life Boost!) is possible for you, then there's a good chance you'll think it's normal when your approach feels hard and uncomfortable. The point of being healthy is to feel BETTER physically and mentally, so if attempts at making healthy changes make your life harder of course it’s not sustainable.

One quick note: when I talk about health I’m not just talking about weight or nutrition. I am talking about your overall well-being: how you feel inside and out. Every aspect of your life influences your health and your health influences all aspects of your life. It’s impossible to focus on one thing without impacting the others.

I live a very healthy lifestyle and a lot of people make one or both of these assumptions:

  • I rely on a bucketload of discipline and willpower
  • I’m lucky that being healthy has always come easily to me

Neither of those assumptions are true!

In the past, I did try the discipline and willpower approach in Level 2 – many times, because I’m stubborn and I didn’t know Level 3 existed. 😅 I thought it was supposed to be hard, which is why I got sick like clockwork at the start of every vacation, had shingles in high school, injured myself running a marathon so badly that I could barely walk, suffered from random crippling stomach aches for years, and eventually reached the lowest point in my life when I regretted everything I had spent my life working hard for and felt exhausted.

I know Level 2 VERY well, which is why I now help others unchain themselves from it.

Living a healthy lifestyle does come easily to me now – but I wasn’t always this way. Almost everything I do now, I didn’t used to do. That means you can absolutely be one of those people who others assume has always been healthy because you make it look natural. By the end of this post, you’ll see why.

The Old Me:

I was a tightly wound up ball of anxiety, worry, and overthinking despite appearing calm on the outside. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t feel like everyone expected me to be the responsible, polite, good girl who gets perfect grades, so I followed all the rules. 

I grew up eating Eggos, Poptarts, and bagels for breakfast and my favorite thing to order at a restaurant was chicken fingers, fries, and a Root Beer. When I started to pay attention to my food and nutrition, I focused on the calories, feared fat, and believed restricting and ignoring my body was part of being “good” and “healthy”. I loved sweets so I had small meals so I could justify a bowl of low fat frozen yogurt every night and whatever other sweets I felt like my restriction and exercise had earned for the day.

I went from hating running to doing long distance running on top of intense workouts like Insanity because it was the only thing that helped to calm my anxiety and there was a part of me that feared if I didn’t workout all the results I had achieved would immediately disappear. Things like yoga, walks, journaling, and meditating “weren’t for me” and I kind of loved that I was the type of person who “didn’t like to slow down”.

I always worried about what other people thought about me and when I looked in the mirror I would focus on all of my perceived flaws regardless of how small or fit I was. Despite all of my achievements, it never felt good enough and I was always sacrificing rest and enjoyment in order to achieve a future goal I thought would make everything better. 

Me Now:

Now I look forward to waking up at 4:30 in the morning, because I've intentionally created a life that's aligned with what's truly important to me. My morning routine starts with meditating and journaling followed by a workout that supports my energy and strength and a quiet walk. I eat a bowl of sardines, veggies, and avocado for breakfast, and I do those things because I want to not because I think I "should". Regardless of what's on my plate or if I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, my morning routine helps me to feel grounded and ready to conquer the day.

My tastebuds and relationship with food has totally changed. I trust and listen to my body and the nourishing, real food that I eat leaves me satisfied and with a happy heart. When I started eating real food (and enough), my evening ice cream ritual and sweet tooth disappeared simply because I no longer wanted or craved sweets.

Despite encountering the inevitable stressors and challenges that are a part of life, pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, and being seen in ways my previously ultra-introverted self never would have dreamed of, my baseline stress level is very low. I've learned how to partner with my nervous system, listen to my body and heart, and protect my energy and sanity. I'm proud of who I see when I look in the mirror. 

None of that happened overnight, it was a process (which I'll walk you through). While the change you want may look totally different from mine, the point is that big changes in your physical and mental health are 100% possible for you regardless of what your brain may be telling you right now. The first step is to understand why things have felt hard and to start allowing yourself to be open to the possibility that Level 3 is possible for you.

Here's what you need to know about the Wellness Levels:

Level 1: "I'll Do It... Tomorrow"

In Level 1, life feels overwhelming and your idea of what "healthy" will entail seems too intimidating or exhausting. Level 1 feels safe, but uncomfortable.  Safe because taking on anything new feels like too much. Uncomfortable because you don’t feel good in your body and you always have a nagging underlying thought that you "should" be taking better care of yourself. To feel better, you promise yourself you’ll start tomorrow or as soon as ____”. You're afraid of failing or disappointing yourself.  

In Level 1, there’s so much pressure that it’s holding you down from being able to move forward. Your energy tank is empty.

Level 2: "The Bandwagon/Pressure Cooker"

In Level 2: "The Bandwagon", you're proud of all the things you're doing, but it feels really fragile. You rely on discipline and willpower, and you're motivated by self-judgement. You feel on track and successful, but it’s also exhausting and never enough. External things like the number on the scale, praise from others, or how much you accomplish in a day determines how you feel about yourself. "Cheating" on your healthy habits helps you to stay on track, because sometimes you need a break from "being good".

Level 2 is like a pressure cooker – you carry around the pressure as it builds up inside of you. You can’t stay in Level 2, because there’s only so much pressure you can carry and trying to contain it is exhausting, so there are 3 options:

  • You try putting up with the pressure until something in your life that was adding pressure has to give and you go back to Level 1 (since there is so much pressure build up this results in a big release like not wanting to go anywhere or do anything, overeating “bad” food, outbursts, etc.)
  • You use discipline and willpower to stay in Level 2 despite your body’s warning signs that it’s too much pressure. Something in your body eventually buckles under the pressure in the form of injuries, weird signs in your body, burnout, etc.
  • You recognize the pressure building and release and let go of unnecessary pressure to uplevel to Level 3

Level 3: Life Boost

The good news: there’s a Level 3! 

At Level 3, your healthy lifestyle feels natural. You live a healthy lifestyle because you WANT to, not because you feel like you should. You can never imagine going back to the way things were before – you feel more alive and fulfilled than ever. You no longer seek external validation, because you have a strong sense of self-worth, love, and compassion for yourself.

In Level 3, it feels like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders and you can breathe again. You’ve released the pressure from the previous thoughts, beliefs, and rules that were weighing you down and holding you back so that you feel lighter physically and mentally.

In Level 3, the way that you navigate and experience life changes so that when you encounter challenges and stressful times, you have confidence and resilience knowing that you have your back and that you can make it through to grow and be stronger on the other side. Level 3 is empowering and GIVES you energy.

Now that you’ve been introduced to the 3 Wellness Levels, can you see how the problem isn’t you? It’s a pressure problem.  

The pressure comes from beliefs and rules that our society and your life experiences have conditioned you to believe are key to your success. But remember, our society acts like there are only 2 wellness levels! The thoughts and rules you’ve been taught are for Level 2 – the level that exhausts your energy instead of boosts it. That is why the normal approach to health and well-being is so deeply flawed. That is why it’s not normal to thrive.

Levels 1 and 2 are guided by what you think you SHOULD do. “Should” creates pressure and pressure is trapped energy. Think about it…

How does it feel when you tell yourself:

  • you should workout
  • you should eat better
  • you should be better at your job
  • you should say yes when you really want to say no

Notice the pressure you feel and the energy zap. There’s a lot of judgment behind “should” and it doesn’t feel good.

In order to move forward, you need to release some of the pressure first so you can get some of the energy back. You will know when you are moving towards Level 3, because you will feel a weight lifted off your shoulder. Level 3 is guided by ditching the “shoulds” and replacing them with what you WANT.

Here’s where to start:

Create a pop-off valve for the pressure. Pressure creates a lot of stress. Start by releasing some of that stress with anti-anxiety tools. Put your hand on your heart to reconnect with yourself. Take a moment to think about all the pressure you have been putting on yourself for so long. Have compassion for that part of you. Practice one of the anti-anxiety tools you've learned any time you’re feeling overwhelmed (more to come!).

Anytime you feel stuck and trapped in the “shoulds” and pressure from commitments and expectations, hang out at this step. Allow yourself to feel any emotions that come up that may have been bottled up inside you. Did you know the biochemical reaction of an emotion only lasts for up to 90 seconds? When you allow yourself to feel the full emotion, you can release it instead of holding it trapped in your body.

Your brain is likely coming up with lots of reasons why things in your life that are causing pressure are never going to change. That’s totally normal, and it’s also not true.

Note that there will always be unavoidable things in your life that cause pressure and drain your energy. That’s what makes life interesting! But the key is to be aware of the pressure and where it's coming from so that you can create balance.

When something in your life is creating a lot of pressure or draining energy, that means you need to look for somewhere else in your life that you can release some pressure or boost your energy. 

With the 3 Wellness Levels in mind, take some time to reflect and journal on these questions:

  • What level sounds most familiar?
  • Why do you think your previous wellness attempts weren’t sustainable?
  • What has your self-talk been like throughout your wellness journey?
  • What has been your primary motivation to get healthy? Were those motivated by self-judgement, punishment, or not feeling good enough, or were they motivated by love and self-respect?
  • Do you believe Level 3 is possible for you? What do you think it would take to get there?

P.s. Check out "Life Boost with Amelia" podcast Episode 57: Unleashing Your Inner Unstoppable Bad-Ass. Around minute 28 there's an exercise with a guided mental rehearsal/hypnosis to help you to start unchaining the things that have been holding you back. 


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