Mansmith and Fielders Inc. CEO Chiqui Escareal-Go and I have spotted some key consumer trends; one of the recurring themes has been wellness. In 2014, we wrote about aging consumer segment resorting to the 7S’s to be in control of their youthful health, these 7S’s are spring water, sugar-free, spa, sleep, skin, stem cell, and surgery. In early 2015, we wrote about the primacy of self and well-being where, among others, we spotted cycling as the new golf and the increasing popularity MAMILS or middle-aged men in Lycra shorts. In this interview, former Health Secretary and wellness advocate Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan shares his insights on the real score of promoting wellness.
Question: What is Wellness?
Answer: Wellness is the state of equilibrium, balance, harmony, and synergy of a human being’s physical, mental, social, spiritual, emotional, environmental, financial, and occupational well-being.
Q: How is technology improving or affecting wellness?
A: Technology is helping improve in measuring wellness. There are so many ways of scientifically measuring various aspects of wellness — all types of apps and gadgets are easily downloadable, convenient, and affordable for many. Technology is also assisting in research of healthier products. There are more ways of making products “healthy” now. With the numerous tools available, technology also aids in the awareness of the self — socially, intellectually, and mindfully. People are now more informed and aware. Social wellness — connecting with people has become easier, especially people who are away from their loved ones. In terms of gaining knowledge, there’s a wide array of podcasts, e-books, video blogs, etc.
On the other hand, technology is negatively affecting wellness as evident in the processing and refinement of food. There are now more advanced technologies for creating artificial foods, steroids, hormones, antibiotics. Another concern is as a result of too much information online, people tend to self-medicate and skip the usual process of consulting a specialist for their illness. Many also resort to just sending a text or calling their doctor instead of making time for a personal visit which is often necessary.
Q: What are the most difficult barriers for wellness?
A: The most difficult barrier is the self. There is always a struggle with the lack of discipline, the strong will, and decision to be truly well. Often, many people do not make time to accept and internalize what wellness truly is. It often means giving up what people have deemed convenient and pleasurable.
Two other barriers are (1) peer pressure or influential people in one’s environment that causes one to choose everything that goes against wellness. This includes society’s demands, what the world dictates is not always good. Each person must discern well based on research and credible pieces of advice that will help him/her decide accordingly. They cannot just settle for whatever other people tell them; and (2) culture. For example, in certain cultures, people are trained to want more and that makes them want to work more. As a result, wellness is not given importance because the output seemingly matters more. There must be a good balance!
Q: Some people wake up early to go to the gym daily. Does this count?
A: It depends on the reason why the person goes to the gym early. What does he/she do in the gym? What is his/her mindset/motives? There are people who go to the gym but take a lot of steroids, hormones, artificial body building supplements, or those who go to the gym so they can eat more. The reason should be really for fitness, seeing the value of exercising as part of having a balanced lifestyle.
Q: How can people start having better wellness?
A: People are in various stages of their lives when it comes to wellness. But whichever stage they are in, it is essential to understand what wellness is — the benefits of practicing it and the consequences of not practicing it. The person has to understand that it is a holistic and transcendental change. One may start by evaluating his or her current state of wellness. He or she may begin addressing one aspect in the beginning but eventually he or she needs to be committed follow through with the concerns of all the other aspects. When one deems something valuable, one becomes more mindful and careful about what he or she takes in. Everyday, there is conscious effort to make better choices.
To jumpstart one’s wellness journey, one must have realistic and specific goals that one sets out to do each day. It starts with the physical. For example, if one is used to drinking 5 cups of coffee per day, it is recommended to cut down by drink just 1-2 cups per day. Another must is to drink 12-15 glasses of room temperature mineral or standard alkaline water. Proper hydration is essential but is often taken for granted. Gradual cutting down of usual portions with food and drinks is also very helpful. It is best to give up something unhealthy (eg. processed, oily, fatty) and replace it with something healthy each day. The key is to eat food and drinks that have high nutritional value. For example, if you usually take white sugar, it would be best to replace it with coconut sugar or stevia. It also helps to have a “wellness buddy” — one who is responsible and accountable because there will definitely be challenging times in the wellness journey.
It also helps to regularly detoxify since we inevitably take in a lot of “waste” in our body. You may either go through a fruit and vegetable juice cleanse, a coffee enema, use an ion-cleanse machine, take a high-fiber diet, among many others. Consult your physician for recommended way of detox for your state of health. Most people make it an excuse that they have no time to prepare or that they are too busy to make an effort to eat healthy. As I have said, if one makes it a commitment to start eating healthier, one’s choices and preferences when it comes to food and drinks will also change. The quality of the food and drinks highly depends on how it is made and where the ingredients are sourced. Physical wellness is just one aspect but it is imperative to take this first step that will eventually lead to working on the other aspects of wellness.
Q: What about time-starved executives. What can this segment do?
A: First is to review priorities. What usually make the schedule complicated are the many activities you try to do given the limited time we have. There will always be things to do but it really depends on how you manage what needs to be done. When wellness becomes the priority, everything else will be adjusted according to that. It also helps if the executive leads by example and encourages his or her employees to practice wellness. In this way, the once toxic culture can slowly evolve into a healthier one.
Q: As a believer of alternative medicine, why do you think some mainstream physicians push treatments? And on a related note, why do they also have trouble accepting prevention, or avoidance as a means for wellness?
A: Most doctors of medicine are trained on curative medicine. Doctors are rarely trained in prevention. In the medical curriculum, only a few hours are devoted to studying preventive medicine, nutrition, and promotion of health. The training and orientation is the barrier. The medical program itself is geared towards curing and not preventing. The mindset is reactive, not responsive. I’m currently calling for reforms in the medical education curriculum to devote more time for training doctors to have a balance of both mindsets, preventive and curative.
Doc Jimmy’s website is www.docjimmygalveztan.com