Good morning, everyone.  All I’ve heard all around me this week are conversations like “Are you going to be eating healthy on Thanksgiving?,” “Do you try to cook healthy or do you just go all out for Turkey Day?,” and so on.  All great conversations, BUT…

…have you ever taken a second to really think about what being healthy actually means?  I’m sure you hear the terms “health” and “wellness” used all the time like I do.  In fact, we hear it now more than ever!  Companies are shifting focus to preventative wellness, wellness coaching is on the rise, and wellness centers are popping up all over the place.

And it’s not all just about diet and exercise.


The concept of wellness isn’t anything new.  In fact, the term wellness can actually be traced back to the 1950’s and 60’s when a physician and statistician named Dr. Halbert Dunn coined wellness as “an integrated method of functioning which is oriented toward maximizing the potential of which the individual is capable of functioning within the environment.”  [Source]

Think about that.  What jumps out at me there is the phrase integrated method.  A person’s quality of life or state of physical health do not exist as isolated events, and this is exactly the point Dunn tried to drive home as he described the interconnections between body, mind, and spirit in his book, High Level Wellness.  Aligned with the viewpoints of the World Health Organization, who first acknowledged this phenomenon in 1947 when they defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity,” Dunn stressed the importance of finding a sense of purpose in life and personal satisfactions.  [Source]

Just because your body is free of disease doesn’t mean you are healthy!

Dunn’s definition of wellness as a multi-dimensional process brings me to…

The Five Interrelated Dimensions of Wellness

Dunn said that the “total” person with a complete “zest for living”  is actually comprised of the following five interrelated dimensions:

(Study tip – remember the word SPIES!)

  1. Social:  Support systems, developing satisfying relationships
  2. Physical:  Physical / Physiological well-being, exercise, well-balanced diet
  3. Intellectual:  Open to learning, continuously expanding knowledge & skills
  4. Emotional:  Coping skills, being able to recognize and accept your feelings, dealing with stress (some put mental as a separate category from emotional)
  5. Spiritual:  Living in harmony, appreciating the meaning of life, strong set of personal values, beliefs

Other “dimensions” out there include environmental, occupational, financial, and so forth – these have grown since Dunn’s time.


When studying the wellness models and behavioral theories chapter the other night, I found myself really starting to think about all this.  I think I have a pretty good sense of well-rounded health.  If I had to choose one category I could improve in from the main five, it would be emotional, as I know I have a hard time dealing with stress sometimes.  But isn’t the fact that I just recognized those feelings a sign of good emotional health?  Anyways, I decided I wanted to ask around and find out what the terms health and wellness meant to my family and friends too.

I emailed several of you and also posted the question “What does being healthy mean to you?” on my Fitness & Feta Facebook Page.


Check out some of the responses below!

Healthy to me means being active and eating in moderation, not to say that I don’t enjoy some good cake from time to time!

Health to me means a solid balance between mind, body and soul, where all three are working in perfect harmony.

Being healthy does NOT include a scale!  For me it means feeling comfortable in my skin and clothes…neither should feel too tight or loose, but happy, relaxed and energized!

When I feel strong, not from a certain muscle but from the core of my self, I feel healthy!

Feeling strong, energetic and good overall.

Healthy to me means eating well, feeling strong and fit, being well rested, and feeling happy.  Some things are beyond your own control, like genetics, and life happens, but other things are within your control.  This is where you can try to manage your life to feel healthy.  I try to eat balanced food groups everyday and minimize sugars and carbs.  Healthy means fitting exercise into your life on a regular basis doing something you really enjoy.  Balancing your life between work and rest/recreation leads to a balance of mind and body.  When I eat well and exercise often, I feel healthy and confident.  Hopefully over the long-term, this outlook keeps me healthy!

Being healthy means taking care of yourself, body and mind; achieving a balance in the day-to-day and feeling good about the choices we make for ourselves on a regular basis.

Finding exercises you enjoy, eating healthy foods that make you feel good, spending time with people you love, sleeping a lot, and most importantly staying positive and being happy.

To me, being healthy means feeling good, both physically and mentally.  It is about positive energy and having an overall good balance across the elements of your life.

An equal balance of clean food, sleep, exercise, and chocolate!

Being healthy to me only having Burger King once a week.  Just kidding.  Being healthy is staying active is some form.  Whether that be going to the gym or playing a sport multiple times a week.  A big piece of being healthy to me is cooking your own meals.  That way you know what/how much goes into everything you eat. 

Being healthy to me is knowing that in the case of an emergency, I will be able to take the stairs without becoming out of breath.

Health is so much more than just food and exercise.  It’s the overall well-being of your mind, and relationships with others.

Looks like most of you already have a pretty good understanding of Dunn’s theory without even realizing it!  So for Thanksgiving tomorrow, sure – keep in mind that while it’s probably not the best to pile up three heaping plates of stuffing and dessert, it’s just one day.  And having strong minds and giving thanks for the beautiful things around you is just as important to being healthy too.

Question(s) of the Day:  Which dimensions of wellness do you think are your strong points?  Which could you work on?  If you haven’t already answered, what does being healthy and well mean to you?!

Special thanks to Sarah, Dan, Liz, Erica, Kristen, Georgia, Christine, Colleen, Erin, Joan, Tim, Geoff, and Slesh for your answers!!

Be Thankful Challenge?  I’m thankful for my health and well-being, in all aspects!

P.S.   Congratulations to Missy, the winner of my Naked Pizza Giveaway as commenter #16!  Missy wrote:  “Naked sounds so good. Also, I am 12 and giggle a little at the name. I would definitely get the pima. I’ve been on a spicy foods kick lately, so jalapenos for me!”  Congrats, Missy!  Please email me at to claim your prize.