At true. Women’s Health, we want you to be confident in what is “true” about yourself and then make those parts stronger. That confidence will help you stay resilient and on track when times get tough. We want to help you stay resilient and strong in your quest, and there’s no better time to start this quest than a new year! We’re excited to announce true. Women’s Health’s newest program—a 12-week challenge entitled New Year, New You—aimed at helping our patients become their “true” selves.
What does that really mean? I don’t want this to be a trite “New Year’s Resolution” kind of thing, something we say we’re going to do every year but never quite get around to doing. However, I do look at the start of 2021 as an opportunity to reflect and to find a fresh outlook on life. I see the New Year, New You challenge as a time to recommit to your vision for yourself—something we call your Picture of Self (POS).
When I started thinking about the details of the New Year, New You challenge, I reflected on my own Picture of Self and how I developed that concept years ago. I have been using the term POS in my medical practice for more than ten years, and it’s something I discuss with nearly all my patients to help them age the way they want to age. Several different people in my past inspired me to be a better parent, friend, woman, and doctor. Here are a few of my personal examples of the people who inspired me along the way. I encourage you to use these examples and do the same exercise for yourself. This will help you create your own personal goal for a New Year, New You!
Dr. Bitner’s Picture of Self:
- When I was about ten years old, I read a series of books called “Cherry Ames,” about a post-World War II nurse living in a small town. She was cheerful and made everyone feel good with her calm reassurance. The nurse lit up a room when she entered and made people feel like everything would be okay. She inspired me to go into medicine.
- Professor Benson was one of my favorite profs at Central Michigan University. He was capable, knowledgeable, and caring. He noticed the small things and pushed me to trust myself in Chemistry lab—and in life. I wanted to be the kind of teacher he was—professionally and personally.
- My mom Kathy is the picture of unconditional love. She inspired me to be a better friend and parent.
- T. Berry Brazelton was the picture of centered, calm, and personalized guidance that I wanted to bring into my medical practice. He taught me to never tell a patient what to do. Instead, he said my job was to be a knowledgeable partner and address the fear patients have that shows up in passion or anger. Dr. Brazelton helped shape my Picture of Self as a doctor who would be willing to dig deeper and become a trusted guide to my patients.
As you can see, I happen to think in pictures. You might think in words, but the concept is the same. Think about different things in your past that you remember as important in your future vision. After you have completed the list of those memories, then think about a specific point in your future. It could be your child’s graduation from high school, your daughter’s wedding, or your 50th birthday. How do you want to look and feel at that time in your life? This will become your Picture Of Self—your personal health goal.
To help you get started, ask yourself the following five questions:
- Who did I want to be in middle or high school? What influenced me?
- What are my current habits? Am I doing my SEEDS® (explained in more detail below) every day? Make a list of each of the SEEDS® and see how you’re doing on each one.
- What is my milestone event, and how do I want to be at that event? How do I envision my Picture Of Self?
- What are my barriers to doing my SEEDS®? It takes planning and motivation to work around your barriers. You have to acknowledge them and make adjustments as needed.
- Will I commit to doing my SEEDS® over the next seven days and then recording my results?
Picture of Self
I used to think that everyone had a personal health goal, but I found that many of my patients didn’t have a plan or an image of themselves over the years. They would say to me, “I am just dealing with what is in front of me.” They would talk about their kids, parents, or challenges at work as issues to “get through,” but they didn’t have a sense of what they wanted to achieve in their family or work life.
I will never forget a patient who showed me how her POS changed her life. On a busy clinic day, I was rushing to get to the next room and almost ran over a patient. She said, “You don’t recognize me, do you? Last year, you asked me how I wanted to be on my 50th birthday. I kept thinking about what you asked, and I decided I wanted to be hot!”
To this patient, that meant she wanted to be strong, carry less weight, have more muscle, and be capable of running a 5K. She made a plan to make all that happen, and the vision kept her going, even when she did not feel like going for a run or was tempted to overeat. That vision of being “hot” helped her work through a difficult relationship and left a negative work environment. She had the image of herself firmly in mind and had committed to doing all she could to make that happen.
That patient inspired me to ask my patients the same question and was the motivation behind my creation of W*A*I*Pointes™, a program that looks at nine specific wellness areas. I thought how amazing it would be if I could break it down into the areas of wellness that matter for overall health and wellness. Here is the W*A*I*Pointes™ nine area of wellness that I created:
(A) Ability to be Active
(E) Ease of Coping
(F) Phase of Ovarian Function
(G) Good Bones
(H) Heart Disease
(I) Income Security
In 2007-2008, we began the W*A*I*Pointes™ pilot study and put the plan into practice. More than 100 women joined the pilot program, and over eighty percent completed five visits over six months. Each woman developed an overall Picture Of Self and one in each category, and then she did the work to make it happen. Each participant’s POS was unique, and each woman had her own reasons for her personal vision.
Defining and committing to your picture of self
Our New Year, New You challenge will first ask you to define and commit to your POS. But then comes the work—you need to have both motivation and a vision. It is nice to have the motivation, but it usually comes and goes with all the life challenges; a vision keeps us moving forward.
The next question is, what does it take to make the vision happen? I talk about the Seven Essential Elements of Daily Success (SEEDS®) in nearly all my blogs. I refer to the SEEDS® as getting back to the basics—a checklist to help you stay on track. Our pilot study showed that the more women did their SEEDS®—and the more SEEDS® they did daily—the fewer symptoms of menopause they experienced and the closer they moved to their POS. The SEEDS® work! You can download the SEEDS® e-book on our website. Our New Year, New You challenge will include 12 weeks of encouraging women to do their SEEDS® every day and helping our community support each other when barriers arise.
I know I’ve given you quite a bit to think about as you begin the new year. At true. Women’s Health, we want you to succeed, and we’re here to help you if you choose to join us in the New Year, New You Challenge. We have an excellent team and many resources to support you on your journey. Please join us at true. in our New Year, New You Challenge, and start living your “true” life!