Thursday, November 29, 2012

Crazy as a Box of Frogs

Are you ready to take a guess at what this is all about? And, what does it have to do with wellness or well-being? Believe it or not, there is a connection.

Let’s start at the end with Box of Frogs. Can’t you picture it? These are cute little green frogs. Hundreds of them. They’re in the same box, and they’re hopping, climbing and squirming all over each other. You open the lid and you know they’re going to start hopping out, whether that’s what you intended or not. And, as fast and as many as there are, there’s no way you’re going to catch them all and put them back. That’s where the crazy part comes in (don’t even pretend to think about why someone would fill a box with frogs in the first place).

Some people might look at Crazy as a Box of Frogs to mean insanity, or even temporary insanity. But, what if we look at it as a place we’ve somehow gotten to, and one we want to “hop” on out of. We don’t like it in the box, we don’t want to be in the box, and the crazy part is staying in that box.
And, once we’re out of the box, then what? This is where wellness and well-being comes in. We don’t want to box ourselves in, or be put in a box, or have anyone else put us in a box (read, label us). We are each our own unique selves.

Who you are right now, or at any one moment of your lifetime, does not by itself define who you are as a person. And, if change is what you’re after in the broad scope of how you define yourself, you—and only you—can change your life today, and tomorrow, and each day after. You are out of the box!

Let the frogs out of the box. Taking charge of your health, wellness and well-being is a lifestyle choice.  Once you’re motivated, and determined to follow that motivation through, you’re not going to go back in that box. Obstacles can't stop you, problems can't stop you, and most of all other people can't stop you. Only you can stop yourself—and wouldn’t you agree, that would be crazy?

Monday, November 12, 2012

What Each Choice Can Mean

In case you don’t already know, each of us makes about 200 food and beverage choices every day.  That’s a lot of choices—and an opportunity—to make those choices count. And, they will count. Dr. Steven Lamm, Internist with NYU School of Medicine and Contributing Editor of the Best Life Magazine, points out that the foods we choose to eat on a daily basis contribute 80 percent to whether we will develop diabetes, heart disease, or cancer.

Whether you’re shopping for food, eating at home or eating out, what you choose to eat has the potential to lower healthcare costs. Fresh, home-cooked meals with plenty of natural ingredients, vegetables and fruits tells your family their health is important.

The next time you go to the grocery store, notice the aisles of chips, cookies, candy and soft drinks (including sports drinks loaded with sugar).  The frozen cases are filled with cakes, pies, cookie dough, ice cream, and more. Then there’s the check out with still more candy—right there within arm’s reach. It’s all there, spread throughout the store so you can’t miss it even if you try. 

Now, look at the aisles of packaged, processed, boxed, pre-prepared and ready-to-eat meals, with ingredients not many of us can pronounce. Too much sodium, too little nutrition.  Believe it, every choice you make, every dollar you spend sends a message about what is important to you. 

This might be a good time to give some real food for thought to making better  nutritional choices. Your own and your family’s health depends on each bite. Since they all add up anyway, why not make them count?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Are You a Prime Individual?

Answer this question, and you’ll know if you are indeed a prime individual, or if you’re headed in the right direction. Do you want to reach your full potential and gain control over your own achievements and success? If the answer is yes, then yes—you are a prime individual.

And now that you know this is who you are, it means you have decisions and choices to make. To be prime means you set your own goals and standards for your life. You know that the best way to make the world better is to make yourself better. You want to improve your life, and you work toward that improvement. You believe in your goals, and you know you won’t reach them without consideration, effort—and action.

So,  how does this relate to your personal wellness and well-being? Simply this—wellness goals are really no different from any other type of goal you may set for yourself. By identifying your own personal motivational triggers, whatever they may be for you, you can begin to make those lifestyle behavior choices that move you closer to your goals. By being honest with yourself, you can realistically consider what changes are possible within the context of your daily life—and challenge yourself to explore the almost endless opportunities you have to make those choices that are in your long-term self-interest.

Only you can decide if your health and wellness is worth the effort, and only you can make the effort required to achieve it. Your daily wellness behaviors have consequences. If you are a prime individual you understand the consequences and choose to make those choices that will lead you to reach your wellness and well-being goals.

Would you agree that these are indeed the same behavior lifestyle changes that change lives? Now, are you primed for success?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Happiness is Healthy

Remember the song—“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands . . . If you’re happy and you know it, your  life will surely show it . . .”  Harvard Business Review knows what happiness can do for your health. This year they devoted many pages (and a cover) to the topic. 

Yet, happiness isn’t just about being happy. It also taps into your overall wellness and well-being goals. And, you don’t have to block out any time during the day to create happiness. You don’t have to count calories or pay attention to portion size (although you should anyway) to create happiness. You do have to be aware, and you do have to make positive choices that cumulatively will lead to happiness.

There are many definitions of  happiness—feeling  or showing pleasure, contentment or joy,  feeling that something is right or has been done right,  a deep sense of inner stability, peace, well-being, and vitality that is consistent and sustainable. Happiness is important to your well-being because it provides endless and long-ranging benefits.  And, it’s much more than just the absence of negative emotions or feelings.

A few examples from the Harvard study . . .

As for health benefits—a 50 percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease, improved immune system function, adds protection against some cancers and slows the progression of disease. And here’s a surprise—happiness is s a greater benefit to increased longevity than quitting smoking.

Anyone following LoneStart Wellness and our  “Wellness & Well-being” Blog knows we are all about behavioral change. Behavioral benefits of happiness include some major personal plusses. You are more likely to make good decisions, you are more likely to be physically active, make good nutritional choices, and get an adequate amount of sleep.

For employers, and this is important, if your employees are happy, you can count on lower absenteeism, lower job turnover, increased productivity, lower healthcare costs, and even improved corporate citizenship.  What’s not to love? Doesn’t just knowing how great happiness can be make you happy?

True, you can’t just decide to be happy—but on the other hand, you can work towards happiness by changing those lifestyle choices that will change your outlook, and in turn lead to the satisfaction of knowing you are doing what you can do to be your best—be in your best health, giving and getting the most from your relationships, making those decisions in your best interests, and living up to your potential in all those areas over which you have control.  

If you have time (give it a 3-minute limit for starters),  how about a moment of reflection on what you have, rather than what you don’t have—and build from there. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Exactly Why Do We Eat? And, Why Do We Keep Eating When We’re Not Even Hungry?

We humans tend to eat a lot of food. A typical human eats over a thousand pounds of food every year. 

Remember Pavlov and his dogs? Pavlov rings the bell, the dog pushes his lever, starts drooling and is ready to eat its reward.  Guess what? Most of us are just as conditioned to eat when we’re not even hungry as those dogs. Unlike the dogs, we can identify those triggers that set us off—and defuse them—once we know what they are. 

Example. You’re at lunch with co-workers. It’s the super-duper Wednesday All-You-Can-Eat buffet at the Food Palace. Think back—you’re sitting at a table with 15 of your closest co-workers, and each of you heads to the buffet table, and then back, and then some go back again. Do you know a recent study found that when eating with only eight other people you are likely to consume almost twice as many calories as if you were eating alone?

And more—According to researchers at Harvard University and the University of San Diego, your chances of becoming overweight are tied to the weight of your friends. Nicholas Christakis, a physician and sociologist at Harvard explains this phenomenon in his book “Connected.” He calls it “sharing behavior.”

Next Example. A Yale University study found that snacking, calories consumed and watching TV were closely related. (Really?) This study found that TV viewers who saw snack commercials, which are hard to miss, were stimulated (back to Pavlov’s dogs) to eat, and not just the brand item from the commercial. They also found that the snacking was mindless, and had nothing to do with either hunger or fullness. 

And, One More Example. Have you ever noticed how even the smell or suggestion of food, certain words, and, much less the sight of food can trigger a real feeling of hunger? Even if you just ate an hour ago and aren’t even hungry. A University of Illinois study found that people consumed 54 percent more calories when exposed to posters advertising exercise, using words such as “active,”  than those exposed to posters without a workout theme. Where you eat makes a difference too. Brightly lit settings can result in faster eating, while soft lighting or candlelight can result in slower eating—both lead to over-consumption. 

While it seems that almost everything can lead to overeating,  and that just about everything can lead to weight gain, just knowing that this is the reality means you can adjust it.

It’s hard to change what you don’t know—but once you become aware of the signals around you, you put yourself in charge of your response. So the question is, how will you choose to  respond?