Happy New Year everyone!

At the 2014 NASPA Region 1 conference in November, Hank Parkinson, Becky Lindley and I presented on “A Journey to a Healthier You in Student Affairs” and shared our individual transformation stories. As part of the presentation, I shared our (almost) three year journey as an #SAfit community. Our stories built on the blog post that kicked off our commitment (new or renewed) to health three years ago, that we are continuing to grow this year.

It is no secret that our overall health (mental, nutrition, and fitness) plays a major role in what we accomplish over the course of time. When we are sick, we are no good to ourselves, much less the others that we serve.  Why is it then, in a support and advising profession like Student Affairs in Higher Education, that many of us often neglect our own health and well being?  Now, more than ever, we owe it to our students, staffs, family and friends to make sure we are as healthy as possible.

If you don’t believe this to be true, answer the following questions for me:

1. How much sleep do you average each night? (Rethink: Rest is the foundation of overall wellness. If you are not getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night, you may be sabotaging all the other efforts you are focused on while awake.)
2. When was the last time you had a “Mental Health Check Up?” {Rethink: Your overall health also needs to take its mental state into consideration.  By taking periodic stock of your mental and emotional well-being, you could help identify warning signs of common ailments like depression or anxiety that may be underlying issues connected to all of these points.}
3.  Eating Food vs. Giving Your Body Nutrition?  (Rethink: Do you eat to satisfy a craving or to give your body the nutrition it needs to fuel your daily routine? Use MyFitnessPal on iOS or Android  and start recording EVERYTHING you put in your mouth to find out for sure.)
4.  Are you addicted to chemicals? (i.e. sugar, artificial sweeteners, salt, fats, caffeine, soda, or alcohol?)  (Rethink: If you were to give one or some of these things up for a week and your body adversely reacts to it, chances are, you’re addicted. Watch the documentaries, “Fed Up“,  “Food Matters” and “Hungry For Change“, for some different perspectives.)
5.  How much water do you drink a day? {Rethink: Did you know these benefits of drinking water? Ever wonder why you had that headache, tired feeling, dry skin, constipation, or dizziness?  You may not be drinking enough water.}
6.  How often do you do some form of physical activity and for how long do you do it? (Rethink: When was the last time you got a good sweat from physical activity? While taking a walk is better than nothing, sustained change will not take place without 20-30 minutes of cardio exercise that produces a good sweat three days a week.)

Think about your answers to these questions.  Are you satisfied or can you do better?

Nutrition has always been the most challenging part of this equation for me, but since I’ve focused on eating clean as much as possible, it is not as challenging.  Am I perfect? Far from it, as I do allow myself one or two treats a week. That being said, I wanted to pledge to you all:

Pledge: In 2015, as a professional in Higher Education (Student Affairs), I pledge to focus on my overall health this year by making conscious choices about my overall nutrition, exercising at least three times a week, getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night, and talking with loved ones about how I am feeling. I will ask a friend, colleague, or family member to join me and keep each other accountable.

Will you join me in 2015 in starting/continuing/renewing this commitment? If so, sign the pledge here: 2015 Student Affairs Health Pledge and post the pledge as a status on Facebook or Twitter 🙂

If you join the pledge, also join our 2015 Student Affairs Health, Fitness, and Wellness Facebook Group to help stay connected and to keep each other accountable. This year, I will continue to focus on learning more about nutrition, diet, exercise and mental health to better inform and help others when asked for advice.  I’m calling on any nutritionists, personal trainers, and mental health experts to join and help us in our efforts!

In terms of the use of hashtags, I recommend using the following (subject to change, of course!):

  • #SAhealth: For conversations about student affairs folks discussing their efforts around healthy food choices and nutrition, including questions, comments, and support.
  • #SAwellness: For conversations about student affairs folks discussing their overall efforts around mental wellness, including questions, comments, and support.
  • #SAfit: For conversations about student affairs folks discussing their overall efforts around exercise programs, including questions, comments, and support.

We ALL need to do this, if not for ourselves,  for those around us.  I challenge you to be a role model in any of these areas in your ecosystems and encourage others to join you in your quest.

Your “health” is the most important thing you can focus on this year.  I invite you to join me in taking the proper steps to becoming healthier and happier in 2015!

How will you make 2015 your healthiest year ever?

Adopted from this post on the Student Affairs Health and Fitness Blog

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