Tips & Info

For Your Health: Sometimes the easiest choices to make are not the most healthy

I recently heard a colleague say during a presentation, “Nothing you say matters; everything you do does.”

These words really resonated with me as, during the same week, I also heard several other colleagues talk about the commitments they had made that weighed down their schedules and the lack of a sense of accomplishment that they felt. How often is this true for you?

Have you ever ended the day and had no idea where the time went? Do you promise yourself that you will eat more kale, get more sleep, spend more time with your children, do yoga and keep on track with everything at work? Be a better friend? Prepare the perfect Thanksgiving get-together? Then, do you beat yourself up when these things don’t happen to the level that you thought they should?

So why does this happen? It comes down to two things: intention and choice. “You don’t understand,” I can hear you say. “There is just so much to do and I am just too busy.” Or “I have good intentions but life gets in the way.” Intentions are defined as plans or goals; choice is defined as an act of selecting when faced with two or more possibilities.

How do we make sure that our actions and behaviors really match and reflect the words and commitments that come out of our mouths? If we say that a conversation with our spouse is valuable, why are we continually checking our cellphones during it? If we say we are too busy to spend the day with a friend, why do we manage to binge watch crime or zombie shows on Netflix? What do you choose? Exercising versus hitting the snooze button? Eating healthy versus vegging out in front of the TV after work with convenience food? None of these choices are wrong or bad but let’s make sure that our choices are made with purpose and intention. It is easy to get swept up in the challenges of everyday life. When we make deliberate responses to situations, it gives us the power not to fall back on automatic reactions.

The first step in making an intentional choice is to assess what is important to us. Some of the difficulty in making good choices comes with having options that are pleasing in the short-term but actually move us farther away from what we say is important to us. Sleeping in for that extra half hour instead of going to the gym is one of these. Eating that second dessert. Not scheduling your annual physical with the doctor. It’s easy to say that our health is important to us; however, sometimes the easiest choices to make are not the most healthy.

At the Verdant Health Commission, we recognize that making healthy decisions can sometimes be hard despite our best intentions. We have created classes and programs to help with these decisions. If you want to spend time with your children AND learn how to cook healthy foods, maybe make the choice to sign up for our hands-on cooking class for elementary-aged families on Dec. 8. Just sign up and show up! Want to meet new friends AND get support in making healthy lifestyle changes? Try our Healthy Living Coaching Group on Tuesday nights. Are you newly eligible for Medicare but find it too overwhelming? Come to our monthly Welcome to Medicare class. These programs are free to the public and are just a few examples of the ways we are trying to make it easier to make choices that meet your intentions. Most classes require advanced registration, though, so please do check our full events calendar at verdanthealth.org/events for details.

Hopefully by now you have received in the mail the most recent copy of The Canopy, the Verdant Health Commission newsletter that comes out twice a year. We have often said that the voice of our community helps to define who we are and drives the programming that we provide. We have intentionally set out to capture South County’s voice and memorialize it in the art on our walls as a constant reminder of the people that we serve. If you missed the article in The Canopy about this project, we would like to invite you now to come share your voice with us!

Stop by the Verdant Community Wellness Center before the end of November to contribute to our community art project. We provide the materials necessary, so just stop by and ask at the front desk. We are located at 4710 196th St. S.W. in Lynnwood from 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday (excluding Nov. 22-23 when we’re closed for Thanksgiving). We will provide paper and pens for you to write a word or draw a simple picture that represent “health” or “community” to you. We would love to include your voice in this project, which will be on display at Verdant starting in 2019.

–Robin Fenn, PhD, LICSW, Superintendent, Verdant Health Commission