By Jane Whitfield
As we ring in 2016, most of us have made one or two New Year’s resolutions. Lose weight, exercise more, stress less, declutter, get more involved in our local community. We all have that list that nags us and each year we resolve to change. Often with great fanfare, and occasionally fueled by a little champagne, we exclaim “this will be the year I do better!” I am no exception to this tradition. In fact, I started my resolutions early, in December, claiming with great conviction that I would lose weight prior to our upcoming beach vacation. This was a tall order, given the holiday season, so I reached out to a friend asking for her moral support, which she freely gave. Living healthy is no easy task and does not exist in a vacuum. We should not have to do it on our own. We have a collective responsibility to each other to create an environment where good physical and mental health is the norm. Through our own actions, and through our investment of time and resources, we can make a difference in the overall health of our community. We can all be leaders.
In return for the effort, we could be helping our local economy thrive. Healthy communities, where people can buy healthy foods and have safe places to be physically active, are good for business. Poor health and chronic disease are bad — costing businesses across the country about $73 billion a year. A healthy workforce helps local businesses save money on healthcare costs, lost workdays and productivity. Community health efforts also build our neighborhood infrastructure and the local economy. Instead of shipping food in from out-of-state or out of the country, we can eat local foods, from local farmers, prepared right here in Rappahannock County. Bike paths, walking trails, and the addition of a local transportation system can make it easier and faster to shop at local businesses, eat at local restaurants, and attract economy-boosting tourism. Our local businesses deserve the extra boost that a healthy community will bring. Perhaps even more importantly, we will be helping our neighbors live happier and more productive lives. Healthy eating and physical activity is proven to reduce rates of diabetes, heart disease and other preventable chronic conditions such as depression.
With only one week to go until vacation, I have only lost one pound. However, I still see this as a victory as I did in fact lose weight and did not gain weight. Now that I have all of you, my community, to help me succeed, I am expanding my resolution to not only lose weight but also to feel better, and to help others feel better, too. Next time you see me at Tula’s ordering my favorite french dip, you have carte blanche to suggest I order the salmon instead. If you are my neighbor and see me on my evening walk, come join me. I invite all of you to help our community and each other to live healthier and happier in 2016.
Jane Whitfield is president & CEO of Whitfield Consulting Group, a leadership consulting firm serving the corporate, philanthropic, and nonprofit community. She was formerly president & CEO of the PenFed Foundation, a national nonprofit serving veteran and military families. She lives with her husband Sal Abbate and their dog Wesley in Amissville.