Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Taking a Journey to Wellness -- Guest Post by Loretta Nunez

Some of you enjoyed Carol Williams' post so much, that you suggested I ask Loretta Nunez, the winner of our trip to St. Thomas, to share her story. Loretta kindly oblidged. (She's promised me a picture from St. Thomas that I look forward to sharing with you.)

jour-ney n. 1. The act of traveling from one place to another. 2. A process or course likened to traveling; a passage. The latest ASHA wellness program became a personal journey toward improved health and wellness for me and for my husband.

My wellness goal focused on integrating physical, spiritual and mindfulness practices to improve my physical fitness and lose 15 lbs. over the course of the three month program. My motivation for making this journey was an intention to be more proactive about preventing a family history of cardiovascular disease from becoming a reality for me.

Incorporating spiritual and mindfulness practices along with physical activity was a critical part of my journey for change. I sought to shift my focus from what I call the “mechanics of diet and exercise” to one of greater self-awareness and presence in the moment. Achieving greater awareness led to being more open to actions that brought about change in small steps. My “spiritual” activities included setting my intentions each day, practicing relaxation breathing, and meditating. To increase my physical fitness, I planned 30 minutes of physical activity 3-5x per week (e.g., yoga, bike riding, walking on the treadmill, workouts with weights) starting with activity that I already enjoyed (yoga) and expanding to other activities (bike riding) as my endurance and strength improved. To change my eating habits, I chose more lean protein and vegetables in place of higher carbohydrate meals and practiced being mindful of my food choices and portions at each meal.

I used a variety of informational resources to achieve my goals including what I learned from previous ASHA wellness programs. One resource that was particularly helpful for changing my thinking and attitude was a yoga book written by Baron Baptiste titled 40 Days to a Personal Revolution. In the book the author describes 12 laws of transformation. I focused on one principle per week for 12 weeks through meditation and journaling. Another key resource was maintaining a journal of my goals, action plan, meditations and physical fitness activities. The journal helped me stay focused on the big picture (my goal for wellness of my whole being) and also helped me see small changes that added up over time.

By the end of the 12 week program I had achieved my goal which in reality is merely a milestone in my health and wellness journey. My husband supported my efforts and joined me in making changes as well. We both benefitted by losing weight and eliminating the need for previously prescribed medications. Based on the medications that we eliminated, we saved ourselves about $800 and our health plan about $2,700 a year in annual prescription costs. These savings were an eye opener! We benefitted from ASHA’s commitment to wellness and prevention and experienced firsthand the personal and economic impact of making behavioral changes that are within our control.

While this journey in reality is endless, it now includes a planned stop on the island of St. Thomas thanks to the generosity of ASHA and others who sponsored this wellness program. My husband and I are grateful for the changes we made and all that resulted from this program. I must also give kudos to ASHA for its ongoing commitment to offering health and wellness programs in the workplace.

No comments: