What If Wellness Were Like Brushing Your Teeth?

Here’s my reply to a LinkedIn Holistic Health & Wellness Group post that asked how we can turn people from “toxic couch potatoes” into “committed health nuts.”

Let’s reframe the question without judgemental terms like “toxic couch potato” and “committed health nut.”

I, for one, don’t care if people turn into committed health nuts. I’d be happy if most people simply consistently upped their level of physical activity in whatever way suited them best.

Perhaps if we stopped demanding personal transformation and treated fitness more like brushing your teeth we’d get better results.

For example: We don’t demand that people turn into “dental hygiene fanatics” – yet daily tooth-brushing has a very high adherence rate among most U.S. adults.

That’s true even though most folks don’t find the process particularly rewarding. They’re not dramatically motivated by fear of an eventual possible cavity. It’s just one more of the tedious but essential daily tasks that pretty much everyone does without thinking much about it. Like doing the dishes, taking out the garbage, cleaning the catbox and so on.

If we can crack the code on toothbrushing, why not wellness? What would we do differently if we approached wellness like brushing your teeth?

Post your thoughts below (and your email stays private, always).


  1. LifestyleDoc says

    I agree. Treating fitness, nutrition, etc., like a holy mission and expecting everyone to “join the church” is totally unrealistic. You can see the results its gotten us so far.

  2. Brad_Barry says

    I like the idea of treeating it like an everyday thing instead of a big commitment, but the challenge is how to really do it.

    Maybe it’s like the Small Steps program that HHS promotes which is a lot like the various pedometer programs, but for nutrition and other aspects of healthy living, not just fitness.

    But businesses have to find ways to make money doing it, or it won’t happen. I just don’t think the government can do it. It’s not like anti-smoking where all you had to say and do was “stop smoking.”

    This stuff is a lot more complicated. Although in fairness we here in the industry also *make* it a lot more complicated, too. Sometimes I think we know *too* much for the good of our clients.

    We overcomplicate stuff and scare them off or intimidate them. They feel like they have to do it perfect or why try.

  3. Merridith says

    I just don’t think people hear enough positive messages about being healthy. Everything’s so “doom and gloom” about the awful things that happen if you don’t do this healthy thing, or do that healthy thing. No one likes being told what to do all the time. And then there’s all the media pressure with photoshopped celebrities that makes it seem like an impossible fantasy anyway.

  4. Sharron says

    With toothbrushing you only have to chooes hard or soft bristles, gel or paste. Then you’re pretty much all set. For being healthy, there’s so much information out there, our new clients always ask about conflicting advice they read in magazines and on the web. I just think it’s hard for people to know where to start.

  5. says

    I love all these points!

    Plus I think if you talk about (potential) clients as “toxic couch potatoes” that attitude probably comes through in how you work with members, clients, customers. Respect is subtle but really important, especially if you’re in a helping profession.

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