Well-being: a habitually dissatisfied tradition?

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As we make our way towards another year end, we are presented with an idyllic time for reflection, correction, and jubilation. As we reflect on the triumphs and tribulations, successes and failures, and wins and losses of the past year, we are given every opportunity to alter course and better the outcomes expected for the following year. Better known as New Year’s resolutions, they come and go as quickly as Rex Ryan’s winning record (Here we go Pats!). These New Year’s resolutions tend to be recycled and reused year in and year out despite the habitual nature of concretely capturing them on a legal notepad or the inner workings of our mind. It would seem as though the writing of said resolutions would be motivation enough to reap the desirable, sustainable change we are looking for. Unfortunately, just as knowing does not necessarily equate to doing, transcribing such resolutions does not necessarily equate to attainment. Irrespective of the kind of resolutions we are aiming for (i.e. weight loss, stress management, fiscal freedom, etc), there tends to be certain roadblocks- motivation for one, understanding our why for another-that halts the integral process of knowing to doing and past failure to success. Although disappointment and frustration can follow suit after several unsuccessful trials and errors, there is still hope to change course and better the outcomes for 2017.

Unlike traditional, lengthy New Year’s resolution checklists, focusing on lifestyle management and mindful engagement strategies this New Year can make a world of difference in obtaining desirable health and well-being goals. In contrast to New Year’s past, integrating lifestyle management and mindful engagement strategies requires a more than superficial perspective on our current lifestyle practices. This deeper, more personalized look at our current lifestyle practices (i.e. smoking, sedentary behavior, lack of sleep, chronic stress, etc.) helps us capture what may be helping or hindering our attempts at leading and living a sustainably healthy lifestyle.

Lifestyle medicine strategies have the potent and rewarding ability to add quality years to life and life to years without the compromising side effects associated with pharmaceutical interventions. From reversing some of the most prevalent chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, type II diabetes, and early-stage prostate cancer to lengthening our telomeres and changing the expression of our genes, effective and life-saving medicine needs no prescription refill or surgical intervention. Likewise, we need not waste time in seeking what has already been found: a cost-effective, low technological solution for better, healthier and optimal quality living. One of the core principles of the True Health Initiative embodies just this: “The pursuit of public health knowledge we do not yet reliably have should not occur at the expense of applying the knowledge we do.” As such, healthier and more frequent application of our feet, forks, fingers, and minds can positively change the course of our health future and expression of our genes. IT IS JUST THIS-APPLICATION. We must frequently apply our feet, forks, fingers and minds towards health-promoting behaviors, those that add quality years to life and life to years. This frequent application of lifestyle medicine solutions releases the potential power of knowledge we hold to be true about lifestyle medicine. We KNOW what to do. It is now a matter of DOING what we know because without action, knowledge is futile. In this particular instance, bliss does not proceed ignorance to the power of lifestyle medicine. Much rather, pain, discomfort and, potentially, premature death may ensue if embody such ignorance to life-saving medicine.

In this New Year, different than years prior, we want to be more mindful of the forest (i.e. the bigger picture, long-term objectives) rather than just the trees (i.e. short-term objectives). In other words, rather than solely pursuing healthy living as an acute response to short-term occasions or events such as birthdays or summertime beach outings, altering our strategy for healthy living for more positive, long-term outcomes is best. We want to recognize that optimal health and longevity provides a powerful and permanent array of solutions for long-term “disease-proofing” behavior and happiness (1). These various solutions that make better use of our feet, forks, fingers, and minds can positively impact our health and longevity year in and year out, not just during special milestone occasions.

Although lifestyle management and mindful engagement strategies will vary from person to person the same foundation applies whether in one combination or another: better knowledge and frequent application of strategies involving f3M (feet, fingers, forks, and minds). However, in order to fully embrace lifestyle management and mindset engagement strategies, allocated time for self-reflection is needed. In order to do this, understanding the answers to some of these questions will begin to create a roadmap towards optimal health and longevity:

 

  • What lifestyle practices are you currently embodying to reach your desirable outcomes?
  • Do your current lifestyle practices provide a solid foundation for success or a molded boardwalk for failure?
  • Are adequate resources available to support such lifestyle alterations?
  • Why do these lifestyle management and mindful engagement strategies matter to you? What is the sole purpose of such strategies?
  • What makes this year’s attempt at commitment different than others?

 

The intent behind such questions is not to derail you from your current (and potentially previous) paradigm of New Year’s resolutions, but rather, in contrast, have you dig deeper in hopes of being truly successful in achieving your 2017 objectives. Taking a step back from your list to really unfold, reveal, and understand your reasons for coming up with the list in the first place will enhance your power in making better and more healthful decisions. Once you fully understand your “why” rather than charging ahead blindly into a rote list of resolutions, you can then begin to delve into sensible solutions and find workable HOWs that support your why. This can help you define your New Year’s objectives a bit better or allow you to just plain start from scratch to find viable and achievable goals. And remember, new starts and fresh beginnings are not reserved solely for January 1. Reinventing and redefining your health and wellness goals can happen throughout the year. So, perhaps by going deeper into your why, you can make this year a year for sustainable change rather than habitual tradition. Here’s to healthful living and a successful year ahead!

 

Best in health and happiness,

Colleen M. Faltus, MS, CWWS, CPT

 

References

1) David L. Katz, M. M. (2013). Disease Proof: The Remarkable Truth About What Makes Us Well . Hudson Street Press.

 2) Pledge Of Support For Core Principles. Retrieved from True Health Initiative: http://www.truehealthinitiative.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/TrueHealthInitiative_Pledge.pdf

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Colleen M. Faltus

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I earned my BS degree in Applied Exercise Science from Springfield College (2008) and MS degree in Nutrition and Health Promotion at Simmons College (2015). I currently hold certifications through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and National Wellness Institute (NWI) as a certified personal trainer and worksite wellness specialist. Additionally, I am a member of the Worksite Wellness Council of MA as well as an active committee member for their annual conference.

Colleen has experience writing and speaking about lifestyle medicine at both the individual and population health level. My expertise also lies in the design and implementation of people-centric health and well-being programs, with previous experience in both the commercial sector at Sports Club LA and Equinox as well as corporate sector at Google and State Street Corporation. My knowledge and expertise in the development and implementation of individual and population-based health and well-being programs embodies the significance of lifestyle medicine solutions for sustainable, positive health outcomes.

Specialties: organizational health and well-being program planning and implementation, lifestyle medicine practices and solutions, disease and stress-management, individual and population-based exercise prescriptions