Youth Focus

Youth Focus
Have you thought about why dieting may not be working for you? I like this latest newsletter from the Wyoming Extension. In a health-focused approach, individuals are important but so are their surroundings – for example, families, communities and the society. These surroundings are sometimes termed people's "environments," and these environments greatly influence the lifestyle options available. So health-focused well-being requires that we pay attention to both the individual level and the environmental level.

Lifestyles based on healthy attitudes and behaviors related to physical activity, food and eating, and body image offer many benefits, including improved psychological well-being and reduced risk for problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis. These lifestyles also can help people achieve a healthy weight.

A – actions and behaviors – what a health-focused approach to well-being seeks to change as opposed to a weight-focused approach, which emphasizes trying to achieve a specific body size, shape or weight.

B – body image – how we feel about our body can strongly influence our eating and physic activity habits – positively or negatively. BMI or body mass index is a calculation, based on an individual's weight and height. BMI is one indicator of health status, but, much too often, it is used as the only indicator and, inappropriately, to diagnose rather than to screen for possible problems.

C – communities – where we live, work and play helps shape lifestyles by providing (or not providing) healthy options. These options include opportunities for safe and fun physical activities where people show respect for body-size diversity. Consumerism – an approach to life in which buying goods and services and trying to achieve the image associated with those goods and services strongly influence a person's identity (that is, how a person sees him/herself) and the way a person experiences the world. This way of living requires individuals to spend considerable time and effort on their purchasing choices – the brand, the look, etc. The time required to make these choices decreases the time and energy available for self-reflection, self-care, and other important areas of a person's life such as citizenship, family commitments, and community involvement.

D – dancing – an example of an often overlooked physical activity many people would enjoy doing more often. Dieting – a big problem not a solution. For most people, dieting increases the risk of weight gain, and, for many others, it increases the risk of developing an eating disorder.

E – eating disorders – psychiatric illnesses, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia, that many females and a growing number of males develop in response to trying to achieve unrealistic body size, shape or weight. Enjoyment – one goal of health-focused well-being! Developing healthy habits by learning to value and enjoy a healthy lifestyle can be a challenge, but for most people, the rewards are well worth it.

Next week I will finish the rest of the alphabet. I think you will enjoy learning more about the health-focused approach to well-being. For more information, stop in at your local Extension Office.

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