October 8, 2011

Health Promotion Identity Crisis?

I swear by this, myself...but is it true?
Could it not be a vegetable a day that
keeps the doctor away?
Is it healthy to be thin? Is it going to kill us if we drink too many Cokes? Does it really make a difference if we breathe in second hand smoke? Does eating junk food and sitting on the couch really make a difference in the big picture of health?

As a health promoter, I'm having a major crisis of professional identity.

People are calling me, meeting with me, and commenting to me their desires to lose weight, look good naked, stop eating crap late at night and above all...make them into a better person. But they are good people already. Why do we put ourselves through the torment of "should'ing" all over ourselves (and all over me) when the reality is the change may never happen.

Perhaps it's just burnout or bitterness due to my vacation oversight.

Seriously, I got an email today asking if I do "weigh-ins" in my weight loss courses. When I answered that research doesn't support this practice for long term weight loss, my email pal replied..."Thanks, but I'll find someone who does."  It didn't matter that the success rate was slimmer, all that mattered was keeping her belief system intact no matter what. We continue to believe the scale is our most valuable weapon in the fight against flab........still!

I'm probably just tired.  Grieving over my poor cat has lowered my immune system function something fierce!

Is this the picture of health?
How do we know she isn't
going home to give her husband
the silent treatment. Maybe
she feels isolated or empty
inside.  These all have equal
importance to health..it's not
just about a flat stomach, a two
piece and a dumbbell.
At the moment, I'm seeing six clients all of whom want to lose weight. They come to me for the answers and for the result and I shoulder the expectation of success when I know I shouldn't. The change doesn't come from me, but from the person wishing to change. It has to come from within...nothing I can say can change anything.

Maybe I should just quit health promotion and become a barrista at Starbucks.

I know that the weight my clients are carrying is not a health hazard.  The self disgust they verbalize (consciously or unconsciously) is a product of our socialization within a culture of beauty that makes no sense.  I know that little to no research has shown that second hand smoke causes cancer, but I'm responsible for our workplace "9 meter" outdoor smoking policy.  I know that it is more to do with environment than lifestyle when we hear about cancer rates increasing (especially in young children) but I continue to suggest a correlation between lifestyle and cancer.

All this cognitive dissonance is giving me a headache!

The most challenging of all, is collecting this critical research, knowing that health is so much more than the physical, and having to compete as a small business in a sea of others who offer promises of quick weight loss (without thought to the individual as a whole). I guess all I can do is offer support, understanding, and sound education that will lead to success (and not bankruptcy) when that individual is ready to take over their own life and not leave it to the "experts" to provide the road map.

Did you know that research suggests an exercising smoker is equal or more healthy than a sedentary non-smoker? Put that in your pipe and smoke it (but be sure to be 9 meters away from any air intakes or doorways)
Change is completely possible, but let's face it, you are in charge of your own change (no one else can do it for you). What I can do is serve as a coach and counsellor when times get challenging and provide you with information that has years of research and practice to support it.

...but for now, I'm still trying to figure out who I am and what I do for a living.


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