I hear from people quite frequently that they are told by their doctor to lose weight or they have read about the next greatest fad diet or they have just joined the local fitness center and have the intention of losing weight. I’ll say it again, losing weight!
What I don’t hear is “my doctor said I need to improve my lifestyle and incorporate a healthier way of living”. I get it. Numbers are easy, your weight is this, and your cholesterol is that, your blood pressure should be in this range! We fill our clients and patients heads with numbers. Target heart rates, fitness scores, body fat, BMI and so much more.
However, what’s harder to do is convey “lifestyle”. It’s an all encompassing term which describes how a person lives. It’s not numbers on a page or test. Really, it’s not. Instead, it speaks to who we are, not just physically, but also mentally and spiritually. For many, this is difficult to convey. I mean how do you describe to someone a concept that describes who they are?
In my years in wellness, I’ve used the term LifeWay. I first read the term from a well-known researcher in the field of fitness and longevity, the late Ralph Paffenbarger (October 21, 1922 – July 9, 2007). Over the years I’ve attempted to define and tweak the meaning of LifeWay to be useful to my clients. When asked here’s how I describe it:
LifeWay is how you live your life. It’s how you engage your internal and external world, how you think and conduct yourself. How you care for yourself and all your relationships on a physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual level. It’s how you attempt to improve this caring as you grow older. When your LifeWay is in good balance it’s directly related to the joyousness you experience from this caring attitude you have toward your life. When you are experiencing discouragement and apathy toward your life; your LifeWay is not in balance.
So what does all that mean? In my years of working with people and watching them change, it’s a very rare thing when only one aspect of a person’s life is “out of sync”. But like a row of dominoes falling, over the years, one impacts the other and many have “fallen” in some way. This definition allows the person reading or listening to it to decide what’s important. Most of all it’s built on self-love.
Back to Losing Weight
Losing weight is a result of LifeWay. It’s that simple. It’s about living your life in balance. I was in Barnes and Noble and was looking at health books. I happened to be in the section for books on nutrition. I overheard a well-meaning worker attempting to help a women find a book about dieting. In the two minutes that the worker spoke with this woman she had informed her that the world no longer cared about fat intake and she would “only lose weight on a high protein diet”. That’s how she did it. The women looking for the book had a hard time explaining her problems. The worker got impatient and said “I can’t help you anymore” and left. Seeming overwhelmed, the women looking for the book simply walked away. Even though nutrition is important, I wondered what else the women needed to address.
I give kudos to the staff member for attempting to help. I thought about making a suggestion about getting help from another source. But I was busy and played “all” the possible scenarios out in my head. I let her walk way. After she left I felt an uneasiness about not saying something, one thing. Maybe it could have helped. In any case, I felt I did not attend to that relationship in the moment, my LifeWay was a bit out of balance. I learned and will move forward a bit wiser and improved from my awareness of my LifeWay.
As you attempt to lose weight; eat well, exercise, but most of all attend to your LifeWay, not just the numbers. I think you’ll be healthier for it.