How healthy are you, really?

Monday, December 12, 2011 - 3:36pm

By Tina McPhee and Deidre Taylor

Pamela White was always active and never worried about her weight. Then some things changed in her life, and she gained 40 pounds in four years.

“Because of my health problems and other reasons, I had gained some weight and had a lack of energy,” said White, a resident of Spryfield. “This stopped me from being physically active.”

It led her, however, to becoming one of the first people to complete a personal wellness profile with Capital Health’s Chebucto Community Health Team in Halifax’s Spryfield neighbourhood. That in turn led her to take part in some of the free health and wellness programs available to area residents through the health team in the new Community Wellness Centre in the Spryfield Shopping Centre, located off Herring Cove Road.

“I feel great – just like I’m 40 all over again!” White, now in her 50s, said 10 months after completing the wellness profile. “This report showed me that I have choice when it comes to my health. I now know the areas that I should focus on for improvement. The personal wellness profile was a great experience and very thorough.”

A wellness profile helps to identify factors that may put a person at risk for health problems. The profile is based on a range of information, including personal and family history of illness, medical condi­tions, lifestyle habits and physical measurements, for example, fasting blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure and waist measurement.

After completing a profile, an individual receives a personal report that gives an overall wellness score as well as scores for: coronary risk, cancer risk, nutrition status, fitness status, stress status, substance use and safety status. The profile also provides recommendations on where a person can start to improve his or her health.

“The Personal Wellness Profile is helpful for the average person who is trying to improve their health but has no idea where to start,” said Caroline Carr, Team Lead at the Chebucto Community Health Team.  “It also tells people who are on the right track what they are doing well already in terms of their health. Everyone should do a profile to give them a sense of what they should be doing to improve their health. The report gives them an idea on what they should focus when starting to make changes in their life.”

A wellness facilitator at the health team helped White complete the lifestyle survey for the profile and measured her cholesterol, blood sugar, body fat and waist circumference.  Participants complete the profile as part of a two hour group session, which includes an educational component and a review of the results in each wellness section of the report

“I was trying to get back on track prior to getting a personal wellness profile done at the Community Health Team,” said White. “The information that I received from my report really gave me the motivation that I required to lose the weight.”

“I was shocked when I got on the scale. I knew I had gained some weight, but I didn’t really realize how drastic it was. The assessment sure was a real eye-opener.”

After reviewing her report with a wellness facilitator, White started taking some of the free programs offered by the Chebucto Health Team, to improve her health based on her identified risk factors. She has since lost about 30 pounds, resulting in four inches off her waist and five per cent less body fat.

Community Health Teams focus on the promotion of health and wellness in the community. They are led by Primary Health Care at Capital Health in partnership with IWK Primary Health.

For more information on personal wellness profiles or the free health and wellness programs offered by the Community Health Teams, visit

The Chebucto or Dartmouth Community Health Team can help you get started with your own Personal Wellness Profile. Find out your risk factors and learn about ideas to improve your health.

It’s free for those who live, work or have a family doctor in Dartmouth or the Chebucto-area communities of Fairmount, Springvale, Armdale, Purcells Cove, Spryfield and around the Sambro Loop.

Wellness navigator Karla Moore takes Pam White’s blood pressure.