Wellness for the new year

Published 10:39 am Monday, January 8, 2024

Here we are in the new year. The longer I’m on this planet, the faster each time around the sun seems to go. The new year is a time to revisit my best intentions of making healthy lifestyle changes. And this year, 2024, I am determined to see it through.

How do you define healthy and unhealthy? I suggest folding a piece of paper in half, labeling side one as “healthy” and writing “unhealthy” on side two. On the appropriate sides, write down things you do that you consider healthy and unhealthy

Some define health as complete physical, mental and social well-being, and wellness as the optimal state of health. The National Wellness Institute defines wellness as “an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.” Now, that’s what I’m talking about. As you read the rest of this article, see if you have an opportunity to expand your list of healthy.

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According to the National Wellness Institute, wellness is considered a conscious, self-directed, and evolving process of achieving full potential. It is multidimensional and holistic, encompassing lifestyle, mental and spiritual well-being, and the environment. Wellness is positive and affirming.

In short, health is our goal, and wellness is the process of achieving it. So, how can we position ourselves for success?

A physical therapist told my friend, “At our age, it’s not about the intensity of our workouts, but the consistency.” That’s a profound statement that places the concept of wellness in a whole new light as it suggests behavior change. While doing something is better than nothing, doing something “consistently” can be a game-changer. We’re encouraged to set realistic goals for activities, and once that activity becomes a consistent habit, the activity level can increase. 

The same goes for our eating habits. Set a goal to eat fewer snacks in the evening and turn that goal into a habit. And when that habit is no longer a struggle, try adding healthier foods to your daily routine. Keeping sugar-filled snacks or chips from entering my house is half the battle. After a while, my cravings for those unhealthy things begin to disappear.

I love bread of all kinds, but carbohydrates don’t like me. As I work to keep my blood sugar under control, I’ve learned that I don’t have to eliminate this favorite from my diet but make wise choices and add to it. I choose whole wheat bread, add greens, a couple of slices of meat protein, a slice or two of cheese, top with avocado slices, and a touch of mustard. There is barely a spike in my glucose a couple of hours after eating that sandwich. 

I’ve become aware of subtle differences in how I feel day in and day out. I’m learning what foods translate into more energy during the day and which drag me down. Sugary foods are my enemy, and I have worked to remove them from my lifestyle. Making the right choices for wellness can be challenging. Although we know what is good for us, it’s easy to backslide to old bad habits. 

Wellness is a changing process, so don’t worry about perfecting it; get it going and find consistency to become the best person you can be in 2024. 

If you have a healthcare topic of interest or want to learn more about it, please drop me a note at fortunes0605@gmail.com. Also, please follow our local gem, St. Luke’s Hospital, on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn or visit StLukesNC.org.