Welcome to the Start of Great Health- PART 1

Welcome to the Start of Great Health- PART 1

“True health means living a full and abundant life —

it’s about living more.”

They say the hardest part of change is actually making a start.

The good news is that by choosing to participate in this health course you are well on your way!

Congratulations on having the courage to learn more about your health and make positive changes to your lifestyle as a result.

The most successful health outcomes are those that focus on all aspects of health: food and nutrition, exercise and fitness, mind and heart.

This is whole person health, and is crucial to living well.

WHAT IS HEALTH?

True health means living a full and abundant life, free as much as possible from the burden of disease— it’s about living more.

The World Health Organisation agrees stating, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”1

Health is an underrated gift which we often take for granted, or worse still neglect or destroy it.

That is, until we lose it.

WHY SHOULD I LEARN ABOUT HEALTH?

There is widespread agreement on the significance of good health, and improving the health of populations continues to be a major concern at local, national and international levels.

So if we know we should be healthy, how do we start?

Many people know the behaviours that signify good health—physical activity, healthy food choices, avoiding smoking etc., yet still find it difficult to implement those activities into their lives, all the while knowing better.

There are many influences on our health: behavioural, environmental, socioeconomic, genetic, and social.

If knowledge is power, and this course is designed to assist you in making informed choices about your health, then it is up to you to take charge.

Once you are well equipped at an intellectual level to understand whole person health, the choice of whether or not you apply that knowledge to your daily habits and choices is completely up to you.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MY HEALTH?

This question is quite straightforward, and the answer is you—you are responsible for your own health.

This is not to lessen the importance of supportive health professionals, nor the influence of our genes or unfortunate life experiences on our health—but ultimately, each day is influenced by the choices we make.

Everyone can step closer towards health and happiness regardless of where they begin on the health journey.

Ultimately, this gives us the ability to help control our quality of life.

Many people take the responsibility off themselves when it comes to their health.

Sure, this is easier to deal with, but it is counterproductive.

Seeing a medical practitioner when you are unwell is very important for treatment, but it may not help address the cause and prevent future occurrences.

It is important to change your way of thinking from “It is the doctor’s job to fix me” to “What can I do to help prevent this happening again in the future?

At times this may not be appropriate, but more often than not there are some simple strategies that may help prevent illness occurring again.

When you take the responsibility of your own health into your hands, you will boost your feeling of wellbeing, satisfaction, and enjoyment of life.

There needs to be a greater emphasis on prevention of lifestyle diseases, rather than treatment when they are diagnosed.

These diseases often occur as a consequence of a series of lifestyle choices and decisions that result in damaging your health.

We live in a world where “A large burden of modern disease is currently being imposed by potentially lifestyle causes.”2

Examples of lifestyle diseases include heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, lung cancer and type 2 diabetes.

Lifestyle medicine focuses on recognising and treating the causes of disease, not just the symptoms.”2

It is a different way of looking at health.

This course will not only give you information about chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes etc., but it will also address lifestyle factors such as healthy eating, exercise and emotional wellbeing.

Whole person health.

AM I READY TO CHANGE?

Making significant changes in life is not easy.

When you weigh up any decision, most of us will look at the cost and benefit of the choices we can make.

This can result in confusion, as there are normally both pros and cons to making a sustainable health change.

Values are the leading principles that guide and motivate us as we move through life.

Values are statements about what we want to be doing with our life, about what we want to stand for, and how we want to be.

We all live our lives by some kind of value system.

However, the fact is most of us rarely sit down and take time to think about what is most important to us.

We need to have our values clear in our minds so that we can be in control and make important life decisions.

Clarifying your values gives a sense of freedom and is both an empowering and driving factor towards developing health goals and deciding on change.

Research indicates that success is correlated with where you sit along the continuum of readiness to change.3

Use the Stages of Behaviour Change model on page 10 to think and reflect on this for your own health goals.

Goal Setting

Anyone can set goals, but unless these goals are in line with your values then they are ineffective.

Goals need to be SMART: 4

SPECIFIC Defines what has to be achieved, by when and to what standard.

MEASURABLE Tells you how far you are away from your goal and when you achieve it.

ACHIEVABLE Provides a realistic path to achievement.

RELEVANT Relates to the objective.

TIMED Allocates sufficient time to progress and achieve your goals.

Once you have developed some goals, in order to take charge of your health it may be helpful to look at formulating some action steps and start thinking a little more about making your goals practical.

Think about how you will remember to make the changes, what sort of things might get in your way, what your backup plan is, and who could support you as you work toward your goals.

Make sure you are ready and supported at all steps before you begin.

Stages of Behaviour Change

The Stages of Change Model was developed early in 1983 by James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente at the University of Rhode Island when they were studying how smokers were able to give up their habits or addictions.5

According to the Stages of Behaviour Change model, the following five steps make up the complex process a person uses to change their habits and behaviours and integrate changes into their lives.

PRE-CONTEMPLATION

People in this stage are not interested in change, nor can they see the need to change.

They have no intention of doing anything differently.

They may also defend their current behaviour and will not be persuaded otherwise.

CONTEMPLATION

People in this stage acknowledge that there is a problem but are not yet ready or sure of wanting to make a change. Sometimes there may be a trigger event that will place them in this stage, such as a parent getting sick. This is the time of weighing up the pros and cons as mentioned above.

PREPARATION

People in this stage are in the process of getting ready to change. They have usually realised how serious their situation is and have made a decision or a commitment to change. This is typically a period of transition. It is not seen as a stable time and is usually quite short in duration.

ACTION

People in this stage have made real and overt changes or modifications to their lives and are starting to live their new life. While the chances of relapse and temptation are very strong, there is also openness to receiving help and support.

MAINTENACE

People in this stage are working to consolidate any changes in their behaviour to maintain the new status quo and to prevent relapse or temptation. The former behaviour is no longer desirable and a number of coping strategies have been put in place and are working.

HOW CAN I WORK TO IMPROVE MY HEALTH?

Goals provide fuel for our tank as we journey towards our optimal healthy lifestyle.

Goals are the why behind the what of healthy lifestyle habits.

Living well

Achieving good health is actually quite simple.

Once you have accepted responsibility for your own health, understand your readiness to change, and have set out goals to improve various facets of your health, you are better equipped to achieve good health.

The rest of this booklet introduces you to the crucial areas of health discussed over the remainder of the series.

Click to download a PDF copy of this lesson

Click to download a PDF copy of this lesson

REFERENCES

1. World Health Organisation. Basic Documents, Supplement. In: Organisation WH, ed. New York: World Health Organisation; 2006:18.

2. Egger G, Binns A, Rossner S. Lifestyle Medicine: Managing diseases of lifestyle in the 21st century: McGraw-Hill Medical Publishing Edition Australia Pty Ltd; 2011.

3. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series,
No. 35. Enhancing Motivation for Change in Substance Abuse Treatment – Chapter 4, From Precontemplation to Contemplation: Building Readiness. Vol 35. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 1999: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/ NBK64968/.

4. DiClemente CC, Schlundt D, Gemmell L. Readiness and stages of change in addiction treatment. Am. J. Addict. Mar-Apr 2004;13(2):103-119.

5. Prochaska JO, DiClemente CC. Stages and processes of self-change of smoking: toward an integrative model of change. J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. Jun 1983;51(3):390-395.

6. Booth FW, Gordon SE, Carlson CJ, Hamilton MT. Waging war on modern chronic diseases: primary prevention through exercise biology. J. Appl. Physiol. Feb 2000;88(2):774-787.

7. Mann J, Truswell AS. Essentials of Human Nutrition. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press; 2002.

8. Roth T. Sleep duration, insomnia and longevity. Sleep Med. Dec 2009;10(10):1071-1072.

9. Tucker M, McKinley S, Stickgold R. Sleep optimizes motor skill in older adults. J. Am. Geriatr. Soc. Apr 2011;59(4):603-609.
10. Stickgold R. To sleep: perchance to learn. Nat. Neurosci. Oct 2012;15(10):1322-1323.

11. Wolff AE, Jones AN, Hansen KE. Vitamin D and musculoskeletal health. Nat Clin Pract Rheumatol. Nov 2008;4(11):580-588.

12. SANE Australia. Facts and Figures About Mental Illness. 2013; http://www.sane.org/information.