Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Culture of Wellness

After reading this article written by James Strohecker (, I found it necessary to implement it into the structure of my blog. It is a topic I am very passionate about and I feel that if more people were educated on the topic we could find resolution to this chaos. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did.

Creating a Culture of Wellness

The Wellness-Illness Culture Wars
We are currently experiencing a wellness crisis in our culture, what some may call a wellness culture war. This crisis that has two faces. One face is a culture that approaches health through a focus on disease management rather than teaching the fundamentals of healthy living. This culture has led to health care costs spiraling out of control as it glorifies and promotes unhealthy lifestyle practices, immediate gratification (the quick fix—a pill for every ill) and the consumption of chemical-laden foods and toxic products through slick media advertising; a rapidly deteriorating level of public health with epidemic levels of obesity, diabetes and heart disease is the result. Sadly, this culture has seemingly unlimited resources and controls our major media.

The other face is a smaller but growing culture that looks to the fundamental principles of healthy living to lead us to a higher level of personal health and well-being. This culture creates services which are rarely covered by our health insurance system; promotes consumption of organic foods grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides and lifestyle products which do not contain harmful or carcinogenic chemical additives; displays a higher level of health and well-being; and suffers less from the epidemic lifestyle and stress engendered illnesses than the members of the “illness culture.” This culture has had limited financial resources and difficulties in getting their message out through our major media.

The first culture is focused on illness. The second culture is focused on maintaining wellness. The illness culture is a very modern phenomenon, growing rapidly since the advent of the pharmaceutical drug industry into our current “medical-industrial complex.” The roots of the wellness culture are very ancient. The systems of ancient Chinese, Ayurvedic, Greek, and Islamic medicine (Unani) viewed health as a state of balance and illness as the result of not living in accordance with natural laws—what I to refer to as “the human operating system.” In these systems good health and longevity were the primary focus of medicine, and the secondary focus was returning people to good health when they became ill.

Moving to a Culture of Wellness
To bring about an expansion of the “culture of wellness” in our society where it becomes the prevailing culture will require a new type of leadership from our federal government, the medical industry, and corporate America, that looks beyond the limited vision of special interests that are not in the common public interest. Our government must put out a clear and positive message about health and wellness and take the food, medical, pharmaceutical, and other industries to task when their products present a public danger and threaten public health.

Corporate America needs to step up to the plate and begin to direct their R&D efforts toward creating products that support health and wellness and do not increase the strain on our overtaxed health care system. Corporations must recognize that their advertising campaigns can either enhance the emerging culture of wellness or support the culture of illness—fast food, alcohol, cigarettes, sugar, processed foods, and chemical additives that lead to epidemic obesity, diabetes, heart disease, fatigue, and stress-related illnesses. For an average individual to pursue a wellness-based lifestyle in the midst of a culture of illness promoted through TV, radio, print, and Internet advertising, it is an uphill battle.

Although there has been some positive movement at government and corporate levels, it is far more realistic that we will begin to see more support occurring on the grass roots community level—in churches, YMCAs, hospitals, employee wellness programs, yoga centers, and fitness centers—since the whole community can directly benefit from a higher level of health and wellness of its members.

The real focus of change, however, will need to be on the individual level, as the increasing level of motivation from upwardly spiraling health care costs and failures of our health care system will lead people to continue to take more and more responsibility for their own health and well-being.

Making a Long-Term Wellness Strategy Medical insurance premiums continue to rise beyond the affordability of ordinary consumers, and today a family may spend $1,000 per month in health insurance. Over five years that equals $60,000, a sizeable investment with little to show for it. A good question to ask is this: What does this $60,000 buy me? Will my general level of health and well-being improve or diminish in 5 years? Am I basically buying emergency protection and still having to pay out-of-pocket for most medical services?

Here is a new idea. What if we were to create a five-year plan to improve our general level of health and well-being? If we explore this idea, it might look something like this:

Commit to Working with a Wellness Coach Wellness coaching has made great strides in the last year and appears to be poised to play a prominent role in the new culture of wellness. A wellness coach will help you determine the areas of your lifestyle, attitudes and behaviors that you are most motivated to change, help you create a wellness action plan to create the necessary change, and then motivate you and keep you accountable for reaching your goals of increased health and well-being.

After you have worked with a coach and feel a level of comfort and compatibility, explore the idea of setting up a long-term coaching program. If you are ready to make an investment in your health, consider a five-year program for high-level health and well-being. The program may call for more intensive work at the beginning of each year (January–March) with two coaching sessions per month. After that time you may choose to have one session a month or one every six weeks. The idea is to create the framework that enables you to receive ongoing coaching to help you reach your health and wellness goals. (To find a wellness coach, contact

Use an Online Wellness Program Many wellness coaches are now working with the Wellness Inventory program, a whole person assessment program designed to help individuals gain personal insight into 12 dimensions of physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness in their life. The program offers guidance and tools to transform this new awareness into lasting changes in their lives through use of the personal wellness plan, my wellness journal, e-mail reminders, and the wellness resource centers. Working with a wellness coach who can keep you motivated and accountable for your agreements to reach your wellness goals amplifies the power and effectiveness of the Wellness Inventory many times over. (To experience the Wellness Inventory go to: and enter the promo code “totalhealth.”)

Practices to Promote Health and Well-being Your personal wellness plan may include a range of lifestyle and mind-body practices to support maintaining a higher level of health and wellness and it will change over time to focus on the areas of your life you are currently most motivated to change. Some of these practices carry little or no cost, while others carry heavy costs. For example, paying attention to how you breathe, move, eat your meals, process your feelings, communicate with others, and taking daily walks, carries no costs. Other practices, such as yoga, Pilates, qigong, tai chi, and some fitness routines, can first be learned in class and then later practiced on your own (or with video instruction). These have small up-front instructional costs and sometimes some ongoing costs if you enjoy the class environment.

Finally, there are practices with heavy associated costs, such as fitness club memberships and dietary supplements, as well as trips to your massage therapist, acupuncturist, nutritionist, energy healer, naturopath, chiropractor practices, or holistic physician to help monitor your state of health and wellness and help bring you back into balance if necessary. Most of these costs will be in the first 12–18 months of your plan as you are learning and choosing the wellness practices that you would like to integrate into your life.

The beauty of this approach is that you are investing time and money in your health and well-being by creating a longterm, strategic wellness plan which allows you to see the holistic health practitioners you most trust to guide you to a higher level of health and well-being, and to pursue the wellness practices which address the areas of your life you are most motivated to change. Your greatest reward will come from the wellness practices you pursue on a daily basis until they become part of the fabric of your life.

The idea of a five or ten-year wellness plan may first seem extreme to some—a six month plan may seem more reasonable. However, as health care costs and insurance premiums continue to rise out of sight, the wisdom of taking our health and well-being into our own hands through enlightened selfcare, wellness practices, and holistic health care may prove to be the most prudent investment we make in our lives. Health is your greatest wealth, and it is worth cultivating. - James Strohecker

What would be the first change you would like to see take place within the health-care industry?


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