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What Does Wellness Mean to You?

UW Health Center for Wellness: Woman in the sunshine


What is wellness?


Free Wellness Intake


Take your first step toward wellness by requesting a free wellness intake with the wellness experts at UW Health at The American Center.

Answering that question, says UW Health primary care physician Lisa Grant, DO, is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you can say what wellness means to you, you've taken a step toward wellness.


"It seems like one of those things that you know it when you see it, but it can be hard to put into words," she says.


Dr. Grant is trying to help people find the words that define wellness in her new role with the Center for Wellness at UW Health at The American Center. The program offers an evidence-based, multifaceted approach to health that draws upon the varied resources available at The American Center to create wellness plans that hone in on what program participants value most.


Changing the Conversation


"Health care needs to take into account the whole realm of experiences," Dr. Grant says. "To do that means to change the conversation we're having. We need to move from 'What's the matter?' to 'What really matters to you?' The answer is important because it informs us about what motivates and sustains you."


To start that conversation, Dr. Grant uses a personal health inventory that evaluates the Wellness Center participant in reference to "domains" of health - lifestyle factors the World Health Organization has identified as essential ingredients of a healthy life. These include proper nutrition, regular exercise, stress management, rest and recovery, and social connectedness.


"Each of the domains affects the others," Dr. Grant says.


Participants are asked where they think are in relation to each domain, and where they want to be in the future. Disparities indicate points of emphasis for Dr. Grant, and she helps participants prioritize areas of need and formulate a plan to address them.


That plan is education on how to live a healthy life and support in making the changes you want to make. Wellness consultations at The American Center are partnerships with trajectories illuminated by common goals. 


“It’s participatory medicine”, Dr. Grant says.” We want to discover ways to teach people to find their own capacity for health."


A Building Designed for Wellness


Many of those things can be found on-site at UW Health at The American Center. The building and its tenant programs were designed to make a wide variety of health services easily available under one roof. Those services include traditional Western medicine as well as exercise options one would find in the local fitness center, more contemplative practices like yoga, mindfulness and meditation, and even cooking classes organized by a chef who is also a registered dietitian.


“We have a building with unique, fun places to learn,” Dr. Grant says.


Does your wellness plan involve boosting your energy by starting an exercise routine? You could try a Beginning TRX or Aerial Yoga class in the Wellness Studio space, or dip a toe in the warm water pool during Aqua Exercise in the Aquatic Center.


Do you want to find your spiritual center and establish a calm space for reflection in this frenzied world? You could try a meditation class or enroll in a mindfulness-based stress reduction seminar.


Or perhaps you’d like to refine your diet to include foods with fewer calories that are no less savory. The Learning Kitchen offers instruction on delicious, healthy dishes that emphasize the pleasure inherent to preparing and eating a great meal.


For Wellness Center participants, the American Center offerings embody the difference between telling and doing.


“There are so many hands-on opportunities for learning,” Dr. Grant says. “That’s important, because for many of us there is a disconnect between knowledge and wisdom. You can move from one to the other through experience.”


And, because Dr. Grant and her Wellness Center colleagues espouse participatory medicine, that experience is revealed by the person’s individual conception of wellness and the assertion that she is more than a list of symptoms that need to be cured.


“We're more than just physical bodies,” Dr. Grant says. “We're minds and spirits and members of a community. We want to know what’s important to you. What gives you meaning and purpose?”


At the Center for Wellness, the answers to those questions are the first step on the journey to wellness.


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Date Published: 03/03/2017

News tag(s):  healthy living

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