Together, we have journeyed through some of the strangest and most stressful years many of us have ever known, and while the year of 2022 brought back some semblance of “normal”, the world is still recovering from years of anxiety, sickness and division. One thing is for sure: our emotional, physical and spiritual health has been on a roller coaster ride. In the coming weeks, as we enter into a new year, I want to take some time to reflect on our well being, considering what 2023 may bring, and how we can support our emotional, physical and spiritual agility in the year to come.
We are beginning this series on health in 2023 by focusing on maintaining and building physical health. The new year is always a good time to reflect and set some (realistic and achievable) goals. Also, after a busy month full of family gatherings, holiday parties and Christmas ham and eggnog, we might be feeling a little sluggish.
Why do we struggle with maintaining physical health?
Some people are really good at keeping commitments to themselves in this arena. Others struggle. In fact, over 70% of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, with a population obesity rate of nearly 40 percent. Last year, I compiled a list of some of the reasons people struggle to prioritize their physical health:
- Negative experiences
- Pre-existing conditions
Why is physical health important?
The advantages of being healthy from a purely physical standpoint are obvious: a healthy body lives longer, feels better and is capable of much more than a body that is not being cared for. A healthy body decreases the risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes and even some forms of cancer.
However, the benefits of physical health extend to all areas of well-being:
Financial: Many of us have faced medical bills at some point in our lives, and we all know how shockingly expensive a trip to our physician can be. Health and Wellness Coach, Gina Reinecke, shares this statistic: “The average annual medical costs for those with obesity are over $1,400 higher compared to people in a normal weight range.”
Mental: Good physical health helps us to be more alert and less weary throughout our day. Our brain relies on healthy foods to stay sharp.
Emotional: Exercise is a great natural way to combat stress, depression and anxiety. Building routines involving movement will alleviate more emotional negativity than you realize.
Spiritual: God wants us to be the best versions of ourselves, and this includes our physical health. We become better friends, partners, co-workers and people in general when we are happy and healthy. It is also easier to focus on God’s mission for us when we are feeling our best.
This is not to say we all need to become bodybuilders or runway models to experience well-rounded health, nor is it to shame anyone for skipping the gym or helping themselves to an extra slice of cake. Feeling good inside and out can help us live the lives that God wants for us.
Find ways to help you maintain and prioritize health:
- Find activities you enjoy
- Take baby steps–like walking your block–and then increase gradually over time
- Take a health assessment with a health coach
- Find a buddy to do activities you both love to do together
- Remove one thing in your diet you are confident is causing you trouble
I am also a big advocate for the Stop-Challenge-Choose tool. This is a very simple tool that was introduced by Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen, Co-Founder of OptaVia. This allows us to reflect on specific actions and habits in our lives and consider how we can change for the better:
STOP: What do you need to stop doing?
CHALLENGE: What specific actions can you take to achieve different results?
CHOOSE: What new behavior, technique, or mindset changes will you adopt immediately?
Used with permission from Dr. A’s Habits of Health (pgs.133-137) by Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen
7 coaching questions to help guide a physical health journey:
It’s one thing to tell a person what they need to do–it’s quite another to help them discover it for themselves. Here are some coaching questions that can help:
- Can you describe “why” it is important for you to focus on your physical health? Your answer(s) might be:
- play with your grandchildren
- go on a hike
- outlive a parent that died prematurely
- In what ways does your “why” compel you?
- What does success in your health look like?
- Identify your greatest challenges?
- What changes do you need to make in order to reach your goal?
- Who do you know that can help you on your journey?
- What is one simple thing you can do that will help you get started?
Do you have a goal related to your physical health in 2023? I would love to know what has worked for you in the past or what you may be doing differently this year!