Friday, May 27, 2011

Wellness Champions

As part of my mission to help 1 million people take good care of their own health, I've been working on an idea I'll call "wellness champion." I want to enable and encourage each individual to become their own wellness champion and learn how to make decisions and choices to improve and maintain their individual health. This is not to say each person is out there on their own without support. This is to stress the importance for every person to take charge of their health. Said another way, each person claims the job of their own primary care provider.

Too often, perhaps, we look for something "external" as an excuse for our weight gain, lack of exercise and inattention to our health. Genetics, time, access, resources are popular reasons. For some people, some of these are valid. For most people, they are excuses. I believe everyone can do something to better their health. The something can, and maybe should be small, to start. The small, positive changes can build over time and crowd out the negative choices.

So, what are the characteristics of being your own wellness champion? My top five:
  1. Empowerment. Each person should take a long, hard look in the mirror and say, "I am responsible for my own health and well-being." For extra reinforcement, write it down and read it everyday. It may sound like a silly, small thing but I think it is important to remember your mission - to take the best care of you.
  2. Individuality. What works for me and my body will likely not work for you. Understand everyone one of us is different; we have different nutritional needs, we have different exercise needs, we have different lifestyles, time, demands, responsibilities, etc. Stop trying to follow somebody else's plan. Learn what works best for you, in your life, at this point and time. Understand it will change over time. Yes, it is an investment but I can't think of a better one you'll make in your lifetime.
  3. Information. Weigh yourself regularly, track your own blood test results, create and maintain a personal health record, keep track of your eating and exercise (getting started requires effort; it gets easier over time). Gather your own data and understand your own information.
  4. Awareness. Learn the signs and signals you get from your body. Try different foods. Exercise at different times of the day. Get more sleep. Know your cravings. Drink more water. Shift your chair or stand up and work. Stretch more often. Turn off the TV/computer. Experiment and keep good notes. Your goal is to discover what you can do to feel your best.
  5. Community. Surround yourself with other people committed to their own health and wellness. If you have people around you who aren't ready to be their own wellness champion, be a leader and model good behavior. Even the smallest thing like drinking water instead of soda, can have an impact on the people around you.
A small idea with a big impact. No matter the level of your health at the moment, there is something you can do, right now, to make it better. The idea is to grab more of those "right now" moments, learn how to make the best choice for you, and be ready to choose well again when the next moment arrives.

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