Prior to the release of the U.S. Surgeon General's report on the terrible state of health in our nation in 1996, wellness was not a common subject matter. There were very few difference makers working to help others realize that their lack of exercise was detrimental to their quality of life and health.
The Old Way Was All About Looking Better
Sure there were health clubs, but health clubs at that time, as with many today were geared completely toward looking better through exercise. There were very few difference makers working to help others realize that their poor dietary regimens were also detrimental to their quality of life and health. Sure there were weight loss centers, but weight loss centers at that time, as with many today were also geared toward helping people look better.
Dr. Elrick was trying to get the medical profession to look at daily exercise and proper nutrition as a 'prescriptive intervention' to address the scores of ill effects that result from poor habits in exercise and nutrition.
It was shortly after the release of that report that the unflattering, but easily understandable term "couch potato" entered our vocabulary.
The 1996 report was like a wellness wakeup call for more people to get involved and become difference makers for people who needed to change their lifestyle. The failure to change their lifestyle for many would result in catastrophic illness and even premature death. That need is still there today.
Prior to the Surgeon General's landmark report there were only a handful of committed individuals trying to effect a change and "wake up" at risk individuals to the need for lifestyle modification related to daily exercise and healthier eating habits.
We can age optimally. Dr. Harold Elrick was one of the first medical doctors to recognize that optimal health and wellness requires a new mindset by the medical community.
The alarm had been sounded by The Surgeon General, but even the medical community at that time was oblivious to this serious issue. Not only oblivious, but the most part simply rejected the concept of lifestyle modification as an effective intervention for at risk individuals.
Dr. Harold Elrick, of The Foundation for Optimal Health and Longevity, Rises to the 'Challenge'
In 2001 when I preparing to launch two lifestyle modification programs in San Diego called The Wellness Wakeup and The Executive Wellness Wakeup Challenge, I was looking for someone to serve as Medical Director for these two campaigns. I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Harold Elrick, of The Foundation for Optimal Health and Longevity located in Bonita, CA.
As I spoke with Dr. Elrick about my plans I was amazed at the commitment and passion he had to helping people change their lives. He agreed to serve as my Medical Director and I learned an incredible amount of information about the medical implications of what I was trying to accomplish. The campaigns and Dr. Elrick were featured in The San Diego Union Tribune by Jack Williams in a column entitled,
"Sedentary types: Take the challenge"
The Early Roots of Wellness
After meeting Dr. Elrick I did even more research into wellness concepts and their earliest roots. Dr. Elrick appeared to be far ahead of anyone else who committed their lives to educating and serving those who needed positive lifestyle change.
In fact, he had essentially walked away from the medical profession back in the 50's since he was trying to get that profession to look at daily exercise and proper nutritional intake as a prescriptive intervention to the scores of ill effects that result from poor habits in exercise and nutrition. The medical community completely rejected his forward thinking concepts and he ventured out on his own to try to change a country that was not ready for his message.
I have seen several people use titles for themselves in ways such as "The Father of Wellness", but I would say that if there truly was someone who could hold that title, it would be Dr. Elrick.
The Epitome of Humility
Why hasn't everybody heard his name? The primary reason is that along with his commitment to changing peoples lives, Dr. Elrick is also the epitome of humility. I have never met a person that has done so much or worked so hard to be a difference maker in the health of people's lives that is as humble as he.
He has written books, had medical papers published, worked with scores of individuals, has had others do news stories on him (Sue Landry - "Take Two Walks and call Me in the Morning"), has been featured on local television news stories and has spoken to audiences about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.
Running Marathons in His Eighties
Another thing about Dr. Elrick is that he also lives the lifestyle he preaches! While in his 80's he continued to run marathons and exercises daily.
One of Dr. Elricks well written papers, that was very telling for me, compared what our society has established as "normal" parameters for health guidelines and points out that those parameters are usually based on what is a minimal level. The paper goes on to state that the "norms" should be replaced by "optimal" parameters which would then encourage people to move beyond goals that focus on minimal health and work to attain optimal health instead.
Dr. Elricks has had a powerful message about wellness since the 1950's. He has positively changed thousands of people's lives in San Diego County. He is the Father of Wellness. If you want to change your life in a positive way, do a little research on Dr. Harold Elrick, MD, FACP. He is a wonderful example of what one difference maker can mean to a community like San Diego!
About Geoff Hampton
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