"Wellness" has been a catch all phrase for every half baked health idea from anyone selling a diet or exercise books. My eyes glaze over when my vegan or vegetarian friends feel obliged to lecture me. Worse, much of the early "wellness" stuff was fringe health food store propaganda that had little substance and changed every week. I need more than that. The word "wellness" comes with baggage but describes an important strategy for the life in Christ.
Our Annual Conference of Churches is committed to a program where pastors are invited to a 6 hour retreat to talk about, plan and execute that plan for better health. Weight loss was an issue but not the only issue. Burnout and ineficiancy in the pastorate are running wild because I and we don't feel well. Here are some things I learned.
First, rather than a gym or a treadmill, I was issued a stretchy tube with handles along with a routine to follow. It cost $15, fits in my briefcase, and I feel better already. I already have a stretching routine and the retreat's trainer bumped that up too. Never mind that I look ridiculous, no one is watching. It is very effective. One of the spiritual disciplines is to simplify. This is simple
Second, I already know how to eat, I just don't always do it. My blood chemistry numbers, BP and blood sugar are excellent but I am getting older. By setting down specific goals in writing and a do-able weight goal I already feel better and the weight will settle down in time. The chart showed that I needed to weigh what I did in Jr. High. That isn't realistic but a 10% reduction is. Following the low fat, less processed, more vegetable diet has improved my energy and attitude AND I haven't had a GERD attack from my stomach since the retreat. Mind over matter? Maybe, regardless, I am sleeping better and down to one prilosec per day instead of 2.
Third, I tracked my sleeping for two weeks. I thought I was getting enough but am under 6 hours per day average. By turning off the TV at 10:30 and packing up my computer, I am around 7 and noticing the difference.
Finally, It all has to come with a plan, a written plan for intentional living. You don't need to pay a life coach but it is nice to have some accountability. Absolutely no one is going to do this for you. Write down your SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time Sensitive. Again, this is nothing new but I needed to be reminded, maybe you need it too.
This is an online article from an MD that was facing burnout. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/get-energy-tips_b_925003.html . This isn't particularly religious but realistic. One of his greatest energizers was hugging his family and learning new things.
I have a lot of responsibility with my wife's health problems, a 24 hour job and a lot of people count on me. I would bet your life is like that too. Exercise, healthy eating, enough sleep and bathing the waking time with prayer makes for burnout resistance, less anxiety, more energy and a better attitude. The obstacle get smaller and the victories bigger when you feel well. This is God's will and God's gift for us.
Balance is the word. Smart balance. Thanks to the Methodist Wellness folks and the Center for Clergy Excellence for a great program. You can find a lot more on their website: http://www.methodisthealth.com/wellness.cfm?id=35411 . The health library section is pretty cool too.
Note: Three months into the program and I have lost 18 pounds. Still no GERD and the goals are holding. Slowly this is becoming a life rather than a diet. I haven't had a donut since the first of August and now pass the table without any unseemly urges. Made it through Halloween. Now on to Thanksgiving and Christmas.