August 2017                                              

How do we make truly lasting changes that improve the quality of our lives? We often have to get to the point where something we are doing becomes UNACCEPTABLE.  It may be as an individual, family, community, business, organization, or even a state or country. There are numerous examples of how impactful this can be. 
1. Use of Tobacco Products
A few decades ago, 42% of the U.S. population used tobacco products.  With awareness of the multitude of harmful effects and a massive organized educational effort, smoking in public places was prohibited.  In fact, smoking became socially unacceptable.
The Result: Behaviors changed.  Most of us would be surprised, if not shocked, if someone lit up a cigarette around us. In the U.S., we are down to 15% of the population smoking. While that's still too high, it's a great example of what AWARENESS and ACTION can accomplish. 
2. Teen Pregnancy :
Here's another great example. The peak of teen pregnancies in the last 50 years occurred in 1991 with over 531,000 births to teens that year.  Educational efforts were put into place in schools, churches, and other institutions across the country to instruct our youth on the consequences of sexual activity and the difficulties of having a child as a teenager - for the child, the parents, and our country. 
The Result:  With these immense efforts, teen pregnancy began to decrease, consistently and dramatically over the last 25 years.  In 2016, there were 211,000 births to teens. That's a 60% reduction! The number of teens having abortions has also continued to decline and is at an all-time low.  It took AWARENESS and ACTION.
3. Prescription Opioid Narcotic Epidemic :
This is an example of a change in the making. The overprescribing of narcotic pain killers by healthcare professionals over the past 15 years lead to millions of Americans, especially women, becoming addicted and a quadrupling of drug overdose deaths.  Guidelines to curb prescribing of powerfully addictive pain medications have been put into place across the country in the last couple of years resulting in a dramatic reduction of prescriptions for these substances. 
The Result: An awareness of the harmful prescribing practices and promotion of other successful means to treat physical discomfort is changing the landscape of pain management.  Once again, it took AWARENESS and ACTION.
What About You?
The same is true of our individual efforts. We must get to a point where something is UNACCEPTABLE in our lives. We must have an AWARENESS of things that we are doing that are harmful to us and those around us. We then must take ACTION. 
It may be one of the common five harmful habits in American that are literally killing hundreds of thousands each year including:
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive unhealthy food consumption
  • Use of tobacco products
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Illegal drug use
Or, it may be something that is interfering with the quality of our life, reducing our happiness such as:
  • Inadequate sleep
  • Overspending on nonessential items leading to credit card debt
  • Spending hours a week on social media or TV taking away precious time that could have been used on improving our wellness 
  • Stressing out over the actions of others rather than working on our own problems
  • Worrying about things which we have no control over (or am I the only one that does this!)
W hat is going on in your life that is UNACCEPTABLE. Something that is within your power to change. Don't wait for a government national campaign to make it unacceptable. Start your own campaign by Living WELL Aware!

Thanks!  t o the 130 women who attended the Day of Reflection in West, TX on July 15, 2017. The evaluations were amazingly positive. My sincerest apologies to the 30+ women we had to turn away due to lack of room.  We hope to conduct a similar event in the future for those who missed this one.

Thanks! to the 172 incoming medical students of Texas A&M University College of Medicine.  My husband, Jeff and I were honored to conduct the Living WELL Aware conference during your orientation last week. The best to you as you begin your amazing journey into become physicians.

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