Prior to my beginning to attend Midwestern University, I initially thought that the best possible kind of health status I could attain was a status in which I was free of diseases, illnesses and any problems that brought discomfort to my body. I did not seriously consider improving my health status so that I am not only free from disease, I ensure that my daily habits do not have me run the risk of falling ill. My preconceptions on what it meant to properly take care of myself changed radically after the ‘Health Behavior as Self-Care’ lecture, learning from the lecture about self-care, the transtheoretical model of change and its steps, motivational interviewing and microskills. Following the lecture, and guided by the Health Behavior Change surveys, the health behavior change discussions on Canvas as well as the Heart Matters workshop, I began to make changes in an area of my health that I knew I was lacking in.
That area of my health is my hydration. Despite being aware of the importance of drinking water regularly, I commonly chose flavored beverages like sodas, juices and energy drinks, commonly concentrated in sugars and additives. They did not prove to be acceptable substitutes for water when consumed on a near-constant basis; I could only go through so many instances of stomachaches, feelings of bloatedness, and expulsions of semisolid stool until I decided to reduce the amount of flavored beverages I consume, and substitute water in their places.
So I began drinking water; bottled water, at least one bottle a day, with meals. Initially I saw no merit in drinking water, not being a fan of its tastelessness. The only times I would drink water were when I sought to remedy dehydration-related illnesses like the aforementioned stomachaches, bloatedness and semisolid stools, and I found that I felt better after consuming water. These experiences led me to think that regular water consumption meant that I would not have to deal with these illnesses for extended periods of time, if not have to deal with them anymore for good, and from then I began to change my drinking habits, starting from home. In the presence of bottles of flavored beverages, I would opt for a bottle of water to drink with my meals instead, because it is in abundant quantities. When eating out, if on a budget I would order a bottle of water instead of a flavored beverage not only for the health properties; it is also lower in price than the flavored beverages. As I continued to choose water over flavored beverages with my meals when given a choice, I adjusted my drinking habits more to align with my daily lifestyle. For mornings in which I could not eat a meal before leaving the house, I still drank a full bottle of water before leaving, not using the absence of a meal as an excuse to relapse from my behavior. I have maintained this behavior change for several weeks since the lecture, and have noticed a drastic reduction in the frequency of dehydration-related illnesses I experience.
Based on my motivations to drink more water daily, and the changes I have experienced since increasing my consumption of water, my health behavior change has been successful. I succeeded in this change because in spite of occasional relapses or instances where I forget to drink water before leaving the house, I capitalize upon opportunities to make up, such as when I eat out. My success in this health change behavior is also from not consuming water with every meal I eat, because I knew that if I did I would quickly bore of the change, and relapse back to old habits (the drinking of flavored beverages over water every chance I had). So I set up a rewards system; a system in which I reward myself when I meet my health behavior change goals1. For this health behavior change, when I drink at least one bottle of water per day for every weekday in a week, I can allow myself to drink a flavored beverage during the weekends.
I have found this health behavior change, along with the health behavior change discussions on Canvas and the Health Behavior Change surveys, highly valuable; thanks to these experiences, I have properly re-evaluated the health behaviors of my life that need changing. I have realized that the best possible level of health I can attain will not be attained if my attitude towards health behavior is a stagnant one, and that health behavior change should be constant, if I wish to not only reach the level of health I want to attain; my health behavior change should be a constant, ongoing process whose results meet the expectations of me and my parents. The experience of this health behavior change has also been valuable because it allowed me to relate my health behavior challenges with the health behavior challenges of others, and discuss possible methods to overcome the challenges, demonstrating to me that there is a network of people and resources I can utilize whenever I feel that my own personal challenges are too overwhelming for me to deal with on my own.
Before my attendance of Midwestern University, I did not think much about my current health behavior, and assumed them to be fine the way they were. However, after the ‘Health Behavior as Self-Care’ lecture, talking with others about their own health behavior challenges, and gauging my own health behavior change with both the Health Behavior Change surveys and the Heart Matters workshop, I made changes in the aspects of my health that I knew were lacking but did not address them, beginning with increasing my water consumption in a day. Performing this change, and experiencing the results as I maintained the change have been rewarding for both my academic life and my personal life.
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