Wellness Is Not a Luxury

Friday, March 7, 2014

Last night I let someone walk on my back.

Kao Lee, massage therapist at Vitalogy Wellness Center
Yesterday at the Vitalogy Wellness Center Open House Party I got an Ashiatsu massage from massage therapist Kao Lee. The massage was so wonderful I wanted to ask Lee to marry me, but I figured my husband wouldn't like that very much.

At first I was a bit reluctant to try Ashiatsu, figuring that having an adult stand on my already aching back would be pretty painful. But Lee explained she wouldn't be stomping on me as if smashing grapes, but instead using her feet to make long, gliding strokes across all my aches and pains. Lee also   would not be using all her body weight. By holding on to bars in the ceiling, the Ashiatsu massage therapist can control how much pressure is used during the massage. 

And so I faced my fear and I'm sure glad I did. The tension in my back and shoulders melted away during the massage and the dull ache I'd had in my low back all day was gone. And I got these results without even having a full hour-long treatment!

I attended yesterday's Vitalogy Wellness Center Open House Party as part of the B-Metro Blog Team. It was our job to cover the event live through social media outlets like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

The B-Metro Blog Team having too much fun

Massage therapy is just one of the many services offered at Vitalogy Wellness Center, which opened in Homewood last month.

Dr. Farah Sultan, the medical director and founder of the center, said she opened Vitalogy hoping that it would be a place to inspire Birmingham residents to be more proactive about their health and wellness. In addition to spa services like facials and nail care, Vitalogy also offers fitness and nutrition programs. 

While talking to Dr. Sultan and touring the facility at Vitalogy I began to think a lot about the importance of self-care. 

We women are often not proactive about our health and wellness because we convince ourselves we don't have the time to do so. 

We say we don't have time to exercise; we don't have time to try the yoga classes at Vitalogy that begin on March 18. But Vitalogy yoga instructor Lisa Bridges said it was after the birth of her fourth child that she became dedicated to the practice. As a mother of four Bridges could have definitely determined she was too busy for yoga, but she says it was yoga that helped her relieve stress and balance the demands of motherhood. Today Bridges has 1,000 certification hours in yoga.

Vitalogy yoga instructor Lisa Bridges shows shows B-Metro blogger Lauren Lockhart a few yoga poses.
Photos by Kelli Taylor of Kelli + Daniel Taylor Photography

If you're interested in starting yoga but intimidated by the idea, Bridges can certainly help you with that. Through a program called Body Work, Bridges will meet with you to first evaluate your posture, strength, and flexibility and then will develop a yoga practice customized to fit your needs and teach you how to continue this practice at home and even how to take these methods and modifications into group yoga classes. 

Oh no! Lauren and I need to detox!
We tell ourselves we don't have time to eat right. At the Vitalogy Open House Party last night I took a quiz that would help me determine if I needed to detoxify. 

According to the quiz you should consider a detox if you answer "yes" to four or more questions on the survey. I answered "yes" to nine! 

Personally, I've always been against detox diets as they often require you to starve yourself and drink disgusting concoctions. But Karen Bishop, the registered dietician who helps with Vitalogy's nutrition programs, informed me that when you detoxify with Vitalogy you are not asked to fast. Instead they focus on helping you replenish your body with the nutrients you need and they help you learn to make healthful eating a lifestyle, which, of course, is much better than trying some fad diet. A detox, Bishop said, shouldn't make you feel sluggish and sick. It should make you feel energized. 

When I left last night's event I had one thought reverberating in my mind: Self-care is not a luxury. 

As I've written before, yes, I do believe exercise is a privilegeIt's a privilege to have a body that can move about. It's a privilege to be able to afford yoga classes and even fitness DVDs. And these days it's a privilege to have access to healthy foods. We who have these privileges should not take them for granted. 

But don't misunderstand this to mean that wellness is a luxury. It is not. Wellness is something we all need and deserve. And the key to wellness, I believe, is self-care. 

So take the time you need to exercise. Do what you must to change your diet. And if you can afford it, pay someone to walk on your back. Massage, Lee said, can not only help relax your mind and muscles but can even boost your immune system. 

Remember you can't take care of your loved ones if you don't take care of yourself first. 


  1. I hear you! So many things in my life as of late have shown my that my health and abilities are a privilege. It's humbling, but oh so important to be reminded.