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What is a Wellfesto?

written by Marsha Seidelman, M.D.
on Sunday, 15th December ,2013

Recently, Thu came upon a blog post about ten things your daughter should know about working out. Although she doesn't have a daughter, it caught her eye because it stressed the importance of exercising because it makes you feel good, for the health benefits, and for many other reasons, but not for the goal of fitting into a particular dress.  It piqued her interest so she perused the website Wellfesto where it was posted and passed it on to me.  Written by Brynn Harrington, it explains that a wellfesto, or wellness manifesto, is "…a public declaration of intent, aims and actions designed to optimize well-being now and in the future." Here's the link to what Brynn sees as her wellfesto, which perhaps will encourage you to write your own.

Just by thinking about writing one, you acknowledge that your own wellbeing is something that deserves to be a priority. As life gets busier with work, family, and other activities, unless we are proactive and insistent on reserving time for ourselves, our own wellness ends up being last on our 'to-do' list. And we all know, getting to the bottom of our to-do list rarely, if ever, happens. If you don't take care of yourself, who will? Throughout our LadyDocs website, we've stressed the importance of exercise, healthy food, adequate sleep and satisfying personal relationships. That's easy enough to say, but what in particular is important to you? If you feel like you're you're not accomplishing anything positive or like you're on a treadmill 24/7, are there some things you can set aside that don't help you fulfill your personal goals or contribute to your wellness, to leave more energy, time and focus for what's most important to you?

When I addressed this for myself, I realized that I can feel more satisfied, less in catch-up mode, and be more effective if I limit how many odds and ends I agree to do. Although I prefer not to give up some of the meetings or dinners that I go to, time devoted to them interferes with completing other tasks that I'm already committed to. There are certain things that are too important to me to give up - work, family, exercise, preparing healthy foods, trying to get enough sleep (a newer priority), and giving back, so I need to re-think what I do with the hours that are left in the week. Certain weeks, I'll need to exercise less to make up for cooking more, or vice versa, rather than doing more of both and having no time for anything else. I may need to limit myself to one meeting a week. It's always a tradeoff.

Part of this setting of priorities involves recognizing that there are only 24 hours in a day, no matter how much we'd like to change that. It's important to be flexible when things come up, but to make a conscious decision about what our priorities are for ourselves, so we can keep moving in that general direction. I readily admit that at times patients tell me about overwhelming situations and I have to agree with them, they have to put their own priorities on hold for a while and get back to them when things settle down.

And now, back to where we started - check out Brynn's post on how to encourage your children to exercise for healthy reasons. The smile on my daughter's face as she completed her first sprint triathlon today says it all! I'm so proud of her for her persistence in personal progress despite major orthopedic issues. Without actually writing a wellness manifesto, she has incorporated wellness principles into her routine.  When it would have been easy to sit back and say that she had too many problems to exercise vigorously, she figured out how to train thoughtfully, get enough sleep, eat well, study for her college courses and be involved in multiple other activities. We all have something that can sidetrack us. However, if we are clear about what our goals are, we can find other paths to reach them, or adjust the goals themselves -- we just need to stop and take the time to decide what we're aiming for.

Feel free to write to Brynn or me with your revelations as you prepare your wellfesto. Enjoy the journey!

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