What do I mean when I talk about Healthful Living Practice?
Healthful Living Practice is a set of ways that a person strengthens and optimizes their individual health and wellness, physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. When you have a Healthful Living Practice, you create a positive influence on the health and wellness of your family, your community, your nation, and your planet.
Healthful Living Practice is different from changing one behavior. Through it, we influence our health and wellness holistically. Holistic means all of the parts, of looking at health comprehensively. Healthful Living Practice means to think about the totality of your personal wellness, so that the choices you make from moment to moment, with consistency, benefit your overall being. Healthful Living Practice supports the more focused changes you might want to make, in order to work on a particular health challenge, such as obesity, being sedentary, smoking, or anything else. Healthful Living Practice comes directly from the Healthful Living Model of Health and Wellness, my paradigm for how I, you, and the rest of the world function with regard to health. It is the result of more than a decade of studying health behavior models and theories. The most important parts of this model, for our purposes, are that our health and wellness have four dimensions, or areas:
and that these dimensions are intertwined with each other. That means that what we do in one of these dimensions affects how we are doing in of the others. An easy example of this is how being ill affects our ability to socialize, and not being able to socialize might make us feel lonely or sad, and keep us from being able to, say, meditate. This one thing we have going on—a bad cold or the flu—might affect our health and wellness in all four dimensions.
What this means for us—the beans of it—is that when we want to change or modify our health behaviors, or the things that we do to benefit our health and wellness, it is easier and more effective to use strategies that are tied to more than one of these dimensions. We can either use one strategy that has influence in more than one dimension, or we can use more than one strategy to influence more than one dimension.
When I say strategy, I am talking about the concrete things that we do, in order to live more healthfully. Adopting a whole-foods, plant-based diet is a strategy. Adding broccoli to three meals per week is a strategy. Meditation is a strategy. Staying away from tobacco products is a strategy. Walking one mile each day is a strategy. Some strategies may benefit more than one dimension of health and wellness, such as getting a group of friends together for a hike or having a plant-based community dinner in your home.
I think that when I mention physical health and wellness, mental health and wellness, and social health and wellness, these ideas are going to be pretty clear to most people. I feel that I should go into a little more depth about spiritual health and wellness, just so you understand what it is I am talking about. Although people who follow a particular faith and are religious could indeed have strong awareness of spiritual health and wellness, being religious is not what I am talking about. The faithful may engage in activities that create a state of spiritual wellness, but not necessarily. Atheists may do things for their spiritual wellness, and be fully, spiritually healthful. In this sense, in the Healthful Living Model, spiritual health and wellness refer to a sense of connectedness to people, to the environment, and to the universe around you; and to having a sense of purpose for yourself and meaning in your life. For a great many people, much of these come from their religious practices. But you do not need a religious practice or a set of beliefs about deity to have strong spiritual health and wellness.
When I adopted a whole-foods, plant-based diet, I used a multi-strategy approach to help myself change my eating behaviors, and more importantly, to help me sustain my new behaviors. I changed my diet, fully intending to stick with it until something better came along. But I had been there before, many times! The results were always that the “something better” was chicken wings, burgers, and ice cream, and they came along within a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks. I was not able to sustain my behavior change for very long.
What did I do differently, this time around?
The answer is that I used a combination of strategies that have been effective for me in the past, along with some new ones to counteract old, problem behaviors that I have seen over, and over, and over. I believe that each of these strategies had some degree of positive influence to make the overall process of creating better health behaviors a little easier. Note that I am not saying “easy,” just “easier.” Some of the strategies I used were:
There were others, but I think that you can see from this that what made this time around different for me was that I recognized that my physical state of (bad) health and (terrible) wellness was affecting me not just physically, but mentally, socially, and spiritually as well. Although I did not fully recognize it at the time, I made a choice to approach this problem by using strategies that addressed my physical, mental, social, and spiritual health and wellness.
All of these strategies worked together to help me through the toughest times. They helped me to be consistently mindful of what my priorities were and what I was trying to do. They gave me the edge that I needed to make real, significant change and progress. They saved my life.
I believe that you can do this, too. This is why I get so excited about Healthful Living Coaching, because as far as I know, this is the only program anywhere that helps people to work on their health and wellness goals from a truly holistic perspective. And whether you decide to be a Become Greater Healthful Living Coaching client or not, you can still think about and employ this method in your own Healthful Living Practice. When you live healthfully, consistently making better moment-to-moment decisions, you bring your health and wellness goals a little bit closer, every day.
What does my Healthful Living Practice look like?
One aspect of Healthful Living Practice, that takes, well… practice… is being aware of the impact on your wellness of what you are doing right now, at this moment. This means that one person’s Healthful Living Practice can get complex and detailed. But there are some key strategies that I strive to employ consistently to ensure that at the end of the day, the balance sheet tallies in favor of better health and wellness for me. And when my health and wellness are better, so is the health and wellness of my family, my community, my nation, and my planet. As I said earlier, each of these strategies has a positive influence on all of my health and wellness dimensions. But I am going to list them by where they predominate. These are a part of what I strive for. It is not what you have to do, especially if you are taking on a big change already.
Physical Health and Wellness
Mental Health and Wellness
Social Health and Wellness
Spiritual Health and Wellness
I do not, in any way, want to give you the impression that I am perfect or that I am perfectly healthy and well. Healthful Living Practice is not about that! And I have so, so far to go. Healthful Living Practice is not about a final goal, or about attaining a state of perfect health. It is about the process, the day-to-day, moment-to-moment decisions you make that move you toward the person you wish to be.
A good Healthful Living Process is something I am reaching for. Wherever you are in your life and in your health and wellness, you can also reach for a Healthful Living Practice. I can’t do it perfectly, and I don’t expect you to, either. I expect that we will both make progress in our Healthful Living Practices, over time.
If you are taking on some sort of powerful change for your health, such as starting a new way of eating, beginning an exercise program, or quitting smoking, then your Healthful Living Practice is about creating strategies across the dimensions of health and wellness that support this change. If you have progressed to making your better health behaviors into habits, then you could be ready for more. It could be one thing, or many. What is important is that you think about your Healthful Living Practice as something that brings you peace and wellness. It should not stress you out. It should not make you feel like you are cramming things into your day. It should make you want to do well for yourself and for others. It is your way of being. It is how you live your life.