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Finding Purpose

Fort HealthCare October 7, 2014 0 Comments General Health

Hey friends-Hard to believe we've reached the end of September, and in true Wisconsin fashion, a 30° temperature difference than yesterday.

I had the privilege to go to a Worksite Wellness seminar last week Thursday in Milwaukee (yes, my boss let me out). In addition to learning about techniques to engage employees with wellness programs, there was also a vendor fair, exercise demos, and dark chocolate at lunch! My favorite part of the day, however, was a presentation given by keynote speaker Victor Strecher. Victor began his speech talking about his career and some of his biggest accomplishments within the health and wellness field. He spoke eloquently of his wife and kids and of some of their best memories.

The tone of the presentation changed when he brought up his youngest daughter dying at age 19. His daughter Julia had contracted the chicken pox virus as a baby when the family was overseas and the virus attacked her heart and gave a grave diagnosis. She was placed on the transplant list and was fortunate to receive a heart transplant that saved her life. Victor and his wife decided to make sure she lived every day to the fullest as they didn't know what her future held. They traveled together, went on vacations, met people, and made each day an adventure. She passed away, 19 years old, in the middle of the night from a heart attack, while on a beach vacation. The night before, she said "I'm so happy right now I could die" and Victor wanted it to resonate with us that not everyone in that room could say the same thing at that moment. Victor went on to describe the unbearable loss of not only his daughter, but a life centered around a purpose-to make his daughter's life the best it could be. This was his focus, his drive, his life. Now that his focus had been taken away, he felt a loss of purpose.

The finale of the presentation was about Victor having to find a purpose for his life again and being able to find himself through this process. He was able to take a new view on life, his own personal growth, and pass along the message of purpose and self-discovery.

I thought about this message the rest of the day and into the weekend. If asked, what would my purpose in this life be? Would it be the cliché "I want to help people" or "to live life to the fullest" or something different?

I promise I won't make this blog into a big, philosophical write-up about changing your life, but I am going to challenge you to find a purpose-for your health.

I consider myself to be a healthy individual. I follow a low-fat and appropriate-calorie diet for my age and activity level; I exercise the recommended 30-60 minutes daily with a blend of cardio and strength training; I drink enough water; I watch my alcohol intake and cheer for the Packers. But, what is my PURPOSE with health?

Dictionary.com says purpose is:

  1. The reason for which something exists or is done, made, used
  2. An intended or desired result, end, aim, goal
  3. Determination, resoluteness
  4. Practical result, effect, advantage

Looking at that list, I would tell you my purpose for health is the desire to feel good about myself, aim to be medication-free, be an inspiration to others, and stay away from the path my parents and family members have taken with their health.

Now it's your turn to think about what your purpose for health is and develop one. Without a clear purpose or drive, you have no roadmap to where you want to end up. You go through the motions and those become stagnant and meaningless leaving you without change. Think of your values and all who will benefit from you becoming happier and healthier.

An easy way to get started is goal setting. Think: "What do I want to get out of the changes I make for myself?" Do I want to lose weight? Do I want to start an exercise program? Do I want to have more energy? Can I get to a point that I am off medications? Your goals do not have to be extravagant, but rather something that is meaningful to you and is attainable. These can be daily, weekly, monthly or a long-term goal for the end of the year.

Once you have a goal in mind, it's time to make a plan to work towards it. This is when you may need to pull out a calendar and pencil-in exercise, healthy cooking, meditation perhaps, and recognize these are immovable appointments. It is easy to find another ‘priority' that can easily take over the time you have set aside for your "health appointments" (laundry CAN wait), but make these times precious to you. I have found it to be beneficial to set up a ‘date' with a friend or significant other to work out and put it in my calendar, knowing they will hold me accountable. Tell your friends and family your goals so they can be supportive and help keep you on track.

It's ok to think outside the box and ask for advice/suggestions on different ways to incorporate new tricks into your health routine to make the process fun and not seem as much like work. Try a new fitness class, walk instead of drive to a lunch date, branch out, and cook a new recipe or take an extra lap around the grocery store...just don't linger in the ice cream section-sprint through that!

Now is the fun part-putting those changes into action and working towards your health purpose/goal. Expect some days to be easier than others, but never give up. Always keep that purpose in the forefront of your mind and know the work you are putting in is benefitting you in one way or another. If you fall off your plan for a meal or a workout, start back later that day or the next day. Change is an ongoing process and health is a lifestyle; they don't necessarily have deadlines. Allow yourself rewards with successes and learn from days that are more challenging than others. Adjust goals to better suite you but always, always, always keep moving forward.

Making sure you have your goals and your plan will help you to feel better, overcome life's everyday challenges, be in control of the changes you are bringing into your life, and be more in control of your life in general.

With a purpose, changes will seem more important and necessary and more of a priority.

See ya next time!