Who remembers 1976, the bicentennial of our country? My mom redecorated our family bathroom in red, white, blue, and gold. We had a claw foot bathtub, which got red paint. The feet got gold. Mom’s patriotism could be another article by itself (watch for the upcoming publication, Silent Victory by Marcia Joy Hudson), but 1976 is worth reflecting upon as we look at the circumstances surrounding our self care today, and what must change in our mindset to catch up, over 40 years later.
The year 1976 was one significant turning point that created new challenges to individual well-being. As many areas of research were thriving, our knowledge base and potential to connect increased. Food research and manufacturing trends* were moving forward quickly, affecting our food supply and taste preferences. Specific technological developments were also poised to significantly affect our access to information, ideas, and time spent sitting. In August 1976, the very first electronic message was successfully sent from a picnic table behind a beer garden in California to the Stanford Research Institute in Boston, essentially linking two networks for the first time.** We were about to become people compelled to be digitally present almost always, to “hold down the fort” of our IP address.
Like someone who unwittingly inherits a storefront, we seem obliged to be there when someone “comes by to call,” email, Facetime, text, Twitter, Snap, etc. And response time is now measured in instants rather than hours. Unlike the store proprietorship, electronic requests do not contain themselves to tidy store shelves or a hand-written monthly order to a supplier in the nearest city. We’re on call, each of us, every moment of every day, responding, sifting, prioritizing, sorting, delegating, deleting, and processing the world’s information as it zooms by yelling “Do something with me or you may miss vital knowledge that could keep you and your loved ones from falling behind!”
To really take you back, here’s a photo of my sister gearing up to that bicentennial summer. It’s not exactly the photo I wanted to find, in which she wore hip-hugger, lace-up-the-front, red white and blue bell bottom pants. She was languidly sipping a Coke through a straw stuck in a small, skinny glass bottle. But you get the idea! And see that huge old oak tree? We actually had time to watch it grow from our front porch (shout out to the old neighborhood on Harrington Ave.).
A Turning Point for Personal Health
Sitting on our front porch in the late 70s, maybe we could have also noticed the slow, creeping effect of the following kinds of trends on our health and well-being:
- an ocean of foods that appeal increasingly to our taste for sugar, salt, and fat**
- incrementally added layers of personal responsibility for information technology. Remember how it started with schooling in elementary levels of computer programming? That later morphed into a reluctant, haphazard stewardship of our personal computers and printers. Next came the straddling of paper and electronic records; and now, the job of staffing our virtual stations in both our professional and personal roles as that “Almost Always Open” store proprietor***
- volumes of (confusing, contradictory) research results from the field of wellness, nutrition, physical activity, preventive health, and health promotion, etc. that result in a popular market filled with supplements, fitness gadgets and trends, gym memberships, and any number of devices to help us strive to stay human in an otherwise stressful, sedentary life.
So here we are, fantastically paused in the Summer of 1976 looking ahead at these coming factors. I don’t think we would bemoan that we’re about to grow and learn. I’m not even sure we would pine after simpler days. We’re about over that, yeah? But let’s recognize that we do have to keep up with ourselves. We humans have the potential to live a long time. It’s just that we don’t tend to consider the role of our thinking, mindfulness, and daily behavior. We need training in order to avert common psychological, social, emotional, and mental overloads.
Time to Catch Up with Yourself
According to the 54th volume of Better Homes and Gardens of 1976, a routine annual physical examination took about half an hour and cost $30. On September 1, 1976, the Chicago Tribune reported a range of $30 to $500. Today’s annual physical costs an uninsured individual $199 or, with insurance, $10-50. I’m not an economist or an expert in health insurance, but given that price plateau, is it possible that the format for an annual exam has not evolved much? We now also need lifestyle health assessments to stay well. Enter personal health coaching for everyone. At L&G Health, we promote the usual preventive screenings and regular medical examinations. But we add a sort of “catching up with yourself,” self appraisal, quick and focused education on relevant elements of well-being, and assisting clients in setting some simple goals.
The personal health consultation process takes a total of 2 hours a year, based on our experience with hundreds of participants so far. If you’re not ready or still questioning, of course that’s okay. We’ll be here, staffing our station, Almost Always! ; )
Thanks so much for reading!
*Sclafani, Anthony & Deleri Springer, “Dietary Obesity in Adult Rats: Similarities to Hypothalamic and Human Obesity Syndromes,” Psychology and Behavior 17 (1976): 461-471
**How the Internet was Invented. (In 40 years, the internet has morphed from a military communication network into a vast global cyberspace. And it all started in a California beer garden.) Ben Tarnoff writing for The Guardian. July 15, 2016.
***Moss, Michael. 2013. Salt Sugar Fat; How the Food Giants Hooked Us.