Total Wellness, A Program You Can Live With

Terry Lieb Living out your Faith, Total Wellness 4 Comments

I really appreciate all of you who have signed up to receive my blog each month. A special thanks to those of you who take the time to share your reflections and in some cases make suggestions. One suggestion that keeps coming up again and again from people who have attended one of my wellness workshops or for whom I was privileged to serve as a wellness coach is that I do a series of blog posts on my Total Wellness model.

I actually began developing this program over 30 years ago when it became clear that many of my patients were consciously or unconsciously exhibiting various levels of inability to take charge of major aspects of their life. This often led to a sense of failure, hopelessness, anger, a poor self-concept, etc., eventually creating fertile ground for depression, anxiety, and, too often, self-medicating with alcohol and drugs, street or prescription.

The Total Wellness program was designed to help people get off “autopilot” and give them a clear, do-able path toward a more healthy and balanced life. Unlike many self-improvement plans, there are no quick fixes or dramatic turnarounds, just small incremental changes that build new habits across the full spectrum of dimensions and which can be integrated into your life long term.

The most recent person to suggest this total wellness series attended a workshop I had done several years ago at a resort near Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  She has been following my blog for a few years and emailed me responding to a recent post. Her husband of 21 years had died about a year prior to the workshop, she was in therapy to deal with the loss and identify unresolved feelings her counselor felt she needed to address in order to bring a healthy resolution to her husband‘s death. One major discovery during treatment was her anger at her husband for his “horrible” self-care.

“It not only affected his quality of life but it definitely impacted my quality of life and basically eroded our marriage. He was a brilliant recluse with limited social skills and a growing number of serious health issues and no motivation to really acknowledge or address them. As his health issues escalated he began to self-medicate with his drug of choice: scotch!”

Following her husband‘s death, she vowed to never marry again.

“Then after I attended your workshop I invested 100% in your total wellness program. The concept of your model not being a ten-week fix but rather a gradual transition to a totally different lifestyle made sense to me, especially considering what my marriage was like!

“About a year later while biking with a friend I met a gentleman who offered to help repair my friend’s bike tire. Following an interesting conversation while he repaired the tire we agreed to meet again a few days later to bike on the trail. This turned into a biweekly bike ride together.

This began to give me a taste of what relational wellness might be like.  I actually looked forward to being with him and he seemed to appreciate qualities about myself nobody recognized before, including myself.

sunset-couple“We then began meeting for lunch prior to the bike rides. He invited me to a creek cleanup day his church was doing and explained how strongly he felt about caring for our environment. This fit with the ‘environmental’ aspect of wellness that I had always felt but didn’t have a partner to share it with. Then I fell into the creek while reaching for some trash which led to a splashing and laughing event like I never experienced before! I recognized this as what you had labeled as ‘funal’—full of fun! I think this is difficult for some of us to fully grasp until you actually experience it. Letting go of my inhibitions has been challenging!

“Our relationship gradually progressed and, seeing how much I got out of it, he began working on the total wellness program also. Eventually, I reneged on my commitment to never marry again and I agreed to spend the rest of my life with him!

“Each of us has our own individual action plans for the total wellness program but we also have a joint action plan which stretches our relationship and helps us grow as a couple in ways we never imagined! Our present shared focus as a couple is on the communal component which has tied in with several other areas of your program. I don’t know if you still do wellness workshops or coaching but I do hope you will consider writing a series on your Total Wellness program for your blog?”

This email certainly caught my attention! Still, I resisted, mainly because I felt committing to a series would stifle my ability to spontaneously respond to whomever or whatever I came across on a day-to-day basis. On the other hand, I knew that people who seriously incorporated the wellness program into their lives reported significant improvement in their overall health and a higher quality of life. The potential for making a positive impact was there.

I was still trying to make up my mind as I settled on our patio to begin writing the next post. First I took a few minutes to do morning devotions and check a few of my uplifting email subscriptions. That’s when the “Nice News” informed me that it was International Self-Care Day! Some folks would consider this a coincidence, but I have come to understand these “coincidences” as Sneaky God nudges! That settled it; Total Wellness it is!

You might ask what a wellness program is doing in a blog about practical spirituality. To begin with, there are a couple of common misconceptions to clear up. First off, wellness is not simply physical. There are actually 10 areas, and only one of them is physical. The others are spiritual, emotional, mental, relational, vocational, financial, funal, environmental, and communal.

Secondly, while the 10 areas are presented separately, they are, in fact, interconnected. And spirituality isn’t just one of the ten areas; I have come to understand it as foundational and the “Godly glue” (stronger than Gorilla glue!) that binds our total wellness journey together.

I believe making a commitment to one’s own wellness and self-care is acknowledging, celebrating, exploring, cultivating, and caring for all the awesome gifts this Sneaky God has given us. This does not replace or take priority over our investments in others and to the world but instead makes them more possible.

With that said, I hope that over the next few months you will consider joining me on a journey toward your own total wellness. This opportunity does not require that you purchase any unique equipment, special meals, or an expensive membership plan, just a free subscription to my blog!

Each month I will be introducing a new area of wellness. Most of them you will no doubt be familiar with, but I will perhaps be presenting a somewhat different and broader understanding than you may have been exposed to in the past. Some (like “funal”!) might be brand new.

For each area, you choose to focus on in your initial Total Wellness action plan (while most folks eventually explore and invest in all 10 areas, starting out with a few areas is advisable), try to follow the 10 guidelines below as you consider the new habits, practices, and routines you would like to incorporate into your life journey:

Ten Guidelines for Total Wellness

Your action plan is not meant as a “once and done” exercise, but as the first step of a lifelong commitment to continual positive transformation. Even at age 74, I am constantly revisiting and revising my own Total Wellness plan. Life is in constant flux, and over time parts of the plan may become outdated, impractical, or just stale and ready for a reboot. And no matter where you are, there is always room for improvement.

Will you join me on a quest to see how much farther you can go on your wellness journey?



  1. Do you see self-care and a commitment to your own wellness as part of your spiritual journey? Why or why not?
  1. Have you tried any self-improvement plans or resolutions in the past or currently? What was your experience? Has it created lasting, long-term improvements in your life?
  1. How do you feel about your current level of overall wellness? Without even knowing all 10 aspects of Total Wellness yet, are there areas you know you struggle with?
  1. Looking over the 10 Guidelines for your Total Wellness Action Plan, did you incorporate these into your past efforts to change? How do you think they would help?
  1. If you were to invest in Total Wellness, what do you imagine your life would look and feel like? How would it be different?
  1. Are you ready to commit to a lifelong wellness journey? Why or why not?
  1. Is there someone in your life that you could approach to join you on this journey?


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September 3, 2022 12:41 pm

1st let me say how much I do look forward to your blog postings. Always an enlightenment and/or soul searching of some kind. And for that I am grateful. I look forward to your guidelines as this thing called “retirement” has me a bit baffled at times.

September 3, 2022 5:53 pm

COVID has changed my habits, concerns, challenges, and overall sense of well-being.
I’m not sure I want to commit to taking a big step, but I like the blogs I’ve read from you.

September 4, 2022 8:17 pm

That is an interesting challenge. As with so many other people, my life and relationship with others has been so affected by events over the last 2-1/2 years dealing with results of the pandemic, how I am affected by the negative divisions in our country, and how I yearn for a sense that people will once again work together and join hands for the betterment of our society.

James Buskirk (Jim)
James Buskirk (Jim)
September 5, 2022 11:03 am

I really look forward to these monthly blogs from you. I think your decision to cover wellness thoroughly is a wonderful idea. I like the idea of breaking it up into smaller pieces that you can get your arms around. I would benefit from a brief definition of or sort of the boundaries of each of the 10 elements.
Thanks again for your efforts in producing this blog.