TRAVIS AND RYAN
BOOK REVIEW: Travis and Ryan’s
How to Achieve Enduring Health and Vitality
Liberty University Online
In the Wellness Workbook: How to Achieve Enduring Health and Vitality by Travis and Ryan, a whole person holistic approach to coaching clients through their wellness goals is examined. If a coach is interested in supporting their clients holistically and maybe even themselves, then they may find this workbook to be enlightening, informative, and extremely useful. Overall, the Wellness Workbook specifies 12 interconnected areas that a person can explore to achieve their wellness. Travis and Ryan also explain that wellness is a continuous journey where one is either moving forward towards high-levels of wellness or backwards toward pre-mature death; they are never standing still. Additionally, the readers are provided with an index that allows them to assess their own levels of wellness as they journey through the information provided. This paper briefly addresses the 12 areas of the wellness wheel, provides a personal response, and applies this knowledge to the career this author aspires to have as a life and wellness coach.
BOOK REVIEW: Travis and Ryan’s Wellness Workbook:
How to Achieve Enduring Health and Vitality
The word wellness suggests many definitions: “A choice-a decision you make to move toward optimal health.”; “A process-a developing awareness that there is no end point, but that health and happiness are possible in each moment, here and now.”; and “The loving acceptance of yourself.” (Travis and Ryan, 2004, xvi). In the Wellness Workbook: How to Achieve Enduring Health and Vitality, Travis and Ryan (2004) share their thoughts and philosophies on wellness. Their ideas include taking care and maintaining our bodies, clearly expressing emotions, building and nourishing relationships with others, and being aware of our psychological and spiritual presence. Travis and Ryan (2004) provide a great example: they explain that a person who is in top physical condition does not necessarily mean that they have achieved high-level wellness. They could be overwhelmed and full of stress in their home and/or work environment; they are most likely facing premature death on the wellness continuum. If a person is suffering from an illness or is dealing with some type of disability and are working towards having the best life possible, then they are most likely facing high-level wellness on the continuum. This wellness theory is easy to understand once one practices and spends the time to do it.
The theory of wellness that Travis and Ryan (2004) created includes 12 interconnected areas that they believe balances a person’s life. A balance must be achieved for complete wellness to occur. These 12 areas include: “self-responsibility and love, breathing, sensing, eating, moving, feeling, thinking, playing and working, communication, sex, finding meaning, and transcending” (Travis and Ryan, 2004, p. xxxi). The 12 areas are illustrated through a wheel, showing individuals that wellness is a journey as we are always moving towards something in our lives.
In the introduction of the workbook alone is quite extensive. The reader is presented with many resources; the wellness index, which can also be found on its own online and in an abridged version where an individual can complete a health and vitality self-assessment. The authors strongly encourage readers to complete the index prior to reading the book, as this helps whatever questions they may have about the chapters. It also helps the reader relate and understand the information better, making the workbook more applicable and meaningful. Moreover, the authors propose to the readers that they should complete the wellness index again, six months after their first index to see if there were any changes.
Next, the authors explore and describe the 12 areas explaining that each of them are based around the concept of energy. Life itself is in continual emotion, dancing, evolving around energy (Travis and Ryan, 2004). The first area, self-responsibility and love is “the first form of energy in the Wellness Energy System” (Travis and Ryan, 2004, p. 1). Self-responsibility and love involves identifying and understanding our own personal “physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual processes and patterns” (Travis and Ryan, 2004, p. 1). It is important to note that we are experts in knowing and understand ourselves, which solidifies that we are all unique.
The second area is breathing, which is the same as living. Breathing is also the first energy input into our wellness energy system; this is described as “prana, or life force” (Travis and Ryan, 2004, p. 27). The third area on the wellness wheel is sensing. This area is created by the information we receive from external stimuli like: light, sound, color, smell, movement, and/or touch.
The fourth area is eating. Travis and Ryan (2004) explain that eating is an energy, as our digestive system obtains energy from the food we eat. The workbook even spends time describing the USDA Food Guide Pyramid, discussing the minerals and vitamins that are processed out of the various foods we consume.
The fifth area is movement and is the first energy output in our wellness energy system. The authors mention that movement is the most basic expression we have of energy output. It is also the foundation for more involved actions including work and play, communication and sexual intimacy. Everything within our bodies is moving, and as a result change is happening in every moment of our lives. The sixth area is feeling and is also the second energy output. Feelings, originated within our limbic system, they activate our thoughts and actions.
The seventh area is thinking, it is also the third energy output within the wellness energy system. Thinking is activated by feeling as the two are closely connected. Thinking, needs and uses energy from all three of the energy input sources mentioned above: breathing, sensing, and eating. The eighth area is playing and working, it is also the fourth energy output. The authors explain that playing and working have strong impacts on our wellness and is commonly found out of balance making it a source of stress and tension. Our connections with others whether through a work or play environment is based on this area.
A fifth energy output is communication, making it the ninth area on the wellness wheel. Communication is the result of feeling and thinking, also energy outputs. The way we communicate is based on our culture, it is how we share thoughts and ideas with others. Communication This energy output is how we share ideas and thoughts with others. It is important to note that communication can be both verbal and nonverbal.
The tenth area on the wellness wheel discussed by the authors is sex. Sex is described as “an expression of the vital life force, the élan vital, or in Eastern philosophy, ki or chi” (Travis and Ryan, 2004, p. 240). Sex is an attempt to unify oneself with another. Finding meaning is the eleventh area on the wellness wheel and is a culmination of all previously discussed energy forms. Finding meaning is discovering your purpose, what you are meant to do in your life time. The twelfth and final area on the wellness wheel is transcending. This is where all the energies unite together; however, they must have all been experienced separately before they can join as one.
I really loved the idea of interconnectedness. All the twelve areas of wellness should be explored even more. The terms “energy” and “transcending” can be words that give one pause, especially as a follower of Christ. These terms are usually associated with metaphysics and new age religion but I can see how these words can be related to my faith, my Creator, and how he created me. We are made up of energy, it is important for bodies to be in sync and in balance. I viewed transcending as one being the most authentic and truthful person they can be. I seek that through my relationship with Christ. Furthermore, anything a person seeks to gain more knowledge through should be approached with caution, we should not just accept every piece of information given to us.
I found this presentation to be very helpful and enlightening. Honestly, I was surprised positively to see this material presented within the confines of a Christian University. I do wonder what other students thought, I can imagine some thought it was inappropriate. The concept of the balance to achieve wellness is worthy of more in-depth research.
As an aspiring life/wellness coach, I did complete the wellness index and was not really surprised by the results as I have been exploring my own wellness in depth for the past year before taking this class. I also think it is important as a coach to know where you are mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, it is the only way one can know where to start for coaching others. I really appreciated the theory presented within the text and liked the presentation of “energy.” I am careful to make sure that I can discern these things as it is easy to slip into a realm that one is not comfortable going into John 10:10 tells us that “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy: I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (NIV).
Having clients complete their own wellness wheel is something I would strongly recommend and encourage. I would need to explore each area in depth more so that I can be more confident in my recommendation. While I have no desire to seek any other god, force or energy for healing and balance in my life I do believe that the theory could be used if applied through the premise of Christ. Seeking Christ for direction before I assist any client is the way I would always approach each session because having the guidance of Christ along with other factual knowledge is vital.
Travis, J. W. & Ryan, R. S. (2004). Wellness workbook: How to achieve enduring health and vitality. New York, NY: Ten Speed Press.