Imagine a world where there are only two stores to shop at. One store is the healthy store. The other is the unhealthy store.
Between them, they sell everything. There isn’t a need for another store.
They both are very well branded, so people shop at and like both stores. Sales are strong. Consumer perception is positive.
That branding allows people to be aware of their decisions and what they mean for their health and well-being. There’s no secret to health and happiness, no complex decisions to make. You either shop in the healthy store or you shop in the unhealthy store.
A simpler choice could not be offered — to be healthy or not.
Some people shop only at the healthy store. Other people shop only at the unhealthy store. Some people do a little of both and go back and forth.
The outcomes of those decisions clearly are reflected in how long people live, how productive they are during their lives and how happy they feel.
Shopping at the unhealthy store doesn’t necessarily make people unhappy. But their lives are full of more worries that continue to grow over time as they find they are less able to accomplish what they want in their lives.
Perhaps the happiest and healthiest of all are those who mainly shop at the healthy store but every now and then allow themselves to enjoy some of the items sold in the unhealthy store. They are aware of when and why they go to the unhealthy store and are able to keep that in moderation.
The world we live in today is far more complex. We are not always sure what the healthy choice is.
There are many factors that can influence people’s health and well-being, including their home life, employment status, income, proximity to family and friends, race, ethnicity, education and more.
The Canyon Ranch Institute Life Enhancement Program, which is offered with Curtis V. Cooper Primary Health Care on Broad Street because of the support of Charles H. and Rosalie Morris, is a program that helps people better deal with the complexity of choices that can change their health.
The program lasts 12 weeks for each group of about 20 people. They experience the integrative health sessions, which include cooking, exercising, improving health literacy and helping people identify how they want to live their lives to get the most out of their experiences.
So far, dozens of individuals in the Savannah area have made changes in their lives because of the program and are benefiting from their choices.
People who thought diabetes was unavoidable are avoiding diabetes. People who thought weight loss was impossible are losing weight. People who thought sadness was a necessary part of life are finding joy.
The CRI Life Enhancement Program is a proven, scientific approach to help people identify and keep small changes in their lives that over time lead to big changes in their health.
Outcomes for participants have included improvements in important markers in their blood, like C-reactive protein, which is an indicator of risk for a heart attack and other chronic diseases.
People are losing weight — one person lost 55 pounds — exercising more, eating better, feeling less depressed — depression levels dropped by an average of over 50 percent — and better managing their stress.
And beyond that, participants in the Savannah CRI Life Enhancement Program are becoming more active and engaged in their community.
They are using their new-found energy to help spread the word about this free program and the power of integrative health, and they are working to make Savannah a healthier and happier community.
You can be a part of this effort — we call it the Canyon Ranch Institute Savannah Partnership.
To join us and help support the effort to make Savannah and the surrounding communities healthier and happier, email CRI@canyonranchinstitute.org.
In the meantime, make a few more visits to the healthy store and a few less to the unhealthy choices you may make. The benefits will last a lifetime.
Pleasant is the senior director for health literacy and research at Canyon Ranch Institute and a member of the Institute of Medicine Roundtable on Health Literacy.