Caroline Shugart column mug

In Logan, my household consists of hubby Robert, our 2 cats and me. I take responsibility for my family’s wellness. I practice what I preach and I encourage Robert to live well. Luckily for me, Robert sees the benefits of a good diet, regular exercise, stress management and keeping me happy. We are in this life for the long-term, and we hope to enjoy every bit of it. I support Robert, and he supports me along our wellness journey.

My children are grown and they are scattered to the winds, in Peru and Washington, D.C. However, I still take responsibility for their wellness at some level. No, I don’t micromanage them. I encourage them, and I provide this encouragement at all times. I’ve given them health club memberships, bike tools, pedometers and running shoes as gifts.

I gave my daughter a healthy food delivery when her schedule was completely jam-packed during finals (she’s finishing law school). I’ve personally delivered a package of brown rice to my son when he couldn’t find anything but processed white rice. But, perhaps more importantly, I don’t discourage them in any way, from being the active, healthy people that they are capable of being. I want them to eat well, exercise regularly and contribute to their communities.

For several years my daughter has volunteered with Back On My Feet, a running-based program for the homeless, promoting confidence, strength and self-esteem. My son, a Peace Corps volunteer, is dedicated to providing clean water for his communities. He also carries a machete when he goes on his long runs in order to prevent dog attacks … that’s a mother’s worry for certain!

My wellness journey is not just about me. I’m an advocate for community wellness as well. I promote healthy eating. I participate in community health-related events. I speak out against unhealthy activities and diets. I snub events promoted by fast food and sugar soda companies. I recognize issues regarding air quality and climate change as important, promote mass transit and cycling and have solar panels on my home. I’ve eliminated meats from my diet, which decreases C02 emissions and environmental degradation. I drink tap water to reduce the number of plastic bottles I use and try to purchase foods without packaging and wrappers.

But my interest in wellness goes beyond the borders of my community. My actions not only affect my health, but the health of others — people I don’t know and may never see. I accept this responsibility, and want to understand more about my life choices.

What about the products I use that are made in other states? Or in other countries? Do I have a responsibility for the wellness of the people making my clothing, growing my food, producing the electronic devices I use daily and for those who live near the mines and factories producing the products I use? Yes.

I accept that, when I buy something, I also accept some culpability for both its production and its disposal. These production and disposal systems have profound impacts on the health of people who may live thousands of miles from me. Is that T-shirt with the well-known logo and the cute slogan made in a sweat shop where workers are mistreated? Are those cheap plastic toys made with child labor? Does it make a difference if that dress was stitched together in China or Haiti by young women who work 60-plus hours a week under conditions that would be illegal in the U.S.? Does it make a difference if a critical component of my cellphone, tantalum, produced from coltan ore, came from war-torn countries and helps support soldiers terrorizing the local populace?

Wow. This is heavy stuff to contemplate.

I recognize that I shoulder some culpability for unethical or immoral practices associated with products I purchase. I understand that my choices affect the health and wellness of others. I must take the long view … my choices today affect my health, the health of my family and friends and the health of strangers from around the world. I intend to do all I can to share the wealth of wellness.

Be well, wherever you live. I support your wellness journey.

Shugart is a nurse, dietitian, and personal trainer. Email her at caroline.shugart@gmail.com

Caroline Shugart is a nurse, dietitian, and personal trainer. She can be reached at caroline.shugart@gmail.com.

Caroline Shugart is a nurse, dietitian, and personal trainer. She can be reached at caroline.shugart@gmail.com.