The 2014 Student Affairs Health Pledge by Ed Cabellon

Now that 2014 has arrived, thousands of student affairs professionals across the country and making decisions on what they want to focus their energies on to help them be better in the new year. Last year, I wrote a blog post that kicked off a commitment (new or renewed) to health and this year is no different.  It is a 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 helping / advising profession like Student Affairs in Higher Education, do 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 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 LoseIt 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, “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 the 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 most of the time, I found it 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 2014, 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 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 2014 in starting/continuing/renewing this commitment? If so, sign the pledge here: 2014 Student Affairs Health Pledge.

If you join the pledge, also join our 2014 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 2014!

How will you make 2014 your healthiest year ever?

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