Behavior change is the concept that lies at the foundation of almost everything related to our health. It’s unfortunate but true that the default in the U.S. and many other developed countries is unhealthy behaviors. Poor diet choices, low activity and excess sedentary behavior, constant and overwhelming stress, and poor sleep with very little understanding of just how important it is for us is all too common. You can’t function day to day and address these roadblocks to health without paying conscious daily attention. This brings us to the key problem – most people already have too much on their plates before adding in shopping, planning, cooking healthy meals, 30-60 minutes of exercise, time to destress and then seven to nine hours of sleep!
We all fight the same daily battles. But in my job, I’m reminded every day of the consequences of not investing the time in these things. I see first-hand the ravages of the Standard American Diet (SAD), sedentary lifestyle and too much stress with too little sleep. It’s my job to work with people to help them make better choices. Sometimes that means fine-tuning their diet or finding ways to incorporate more exercise. And sometimes that means a lifestyle overhaul is necessary to get a person on the right track. Most of the time, it’s somewhere in between.
Addressing your health and wellness is not all or none – it’s a marathon that starts with a single step. Whether you are walking or running for that first step is up to you, but you have to make a commitment to take that first step, and the next and the next. You also need to understand a few backward steps is also part of the marathon. You will have setbacks, but how you handle those setbacks separates those who are successful from those who aren’t.
The definition of health and wellness is not simply the absence of disease – it’s a very personalized and individual definition. It won’t be the same for an 80-year-old as it will be for someone who’s 30, and it won’t be the same for me as it is for you. But working together as a team – with the emphasis on preventable diseases – we help you strive for optimal health. This is living at your fullest potential, physically, mentally and emotionally. It doesn’t mean a life without disease, but it does refer to a life without preventable disease and to maintaining the highest level of function possible throughout your lifetime and in the face of illness. In real life, that means having the energy and strength to the things you want to do and spend your time on your own terms.
Most of us live below our optimal level of health – not due to disease or illness, but due to the lifestyle choices we make. Not only do these choices keep us from feeling our best, for many, they will lead to early onset of preventable diseases like diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.
If you’re ready to make some big behavioral changes and take a more active role in your health, we’re here to help guide you. Whether it’s changes to your diet and nutrition, increasing your daily activity, addressing issues with sleep or more effectively managing stress, we partner with you in all areas of your lifestyle to help you live longer, keep disease at bay, and improve the quality of life in your years.
For more information about CHI Memorial Integrative Medicine Associates’ approach to health and wellness, visit chimemorialmedicalgroup.org. To schedule an appointment, call (423) 643-2246.