Thursday, June 19, 2008

Living Your Priorities

I saw a patient today who was tearful over her current predicament. She is overweight, has high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and is now pre-diabetic. She broke out in tears stating she felt “she had failed herself.” She felt sad that she had just let herself go over the past several years and now must fight to prevent diabetes and heart disease. How many of you have felt just that way?

In my practice setting, I am often the first person who tells patients they are diabetic, pre-diabetic, have high blood pressure or that they are obese with increased abdominal fat– all of which will lead to diabetes, heart disease and poor health if they continue their current lifestyle. Please note, this isn’t the first patient to become tearful or sad over her current situation. In fact, both grown men and women experience this same emotion. The key point to remember here…and as I tell my patients….this is NOT about where you have been…But it is about where you are going.

Starting right now at this very moment we will make our health a top priority. Yes, this means making changes. Some changes might be a little uncomfortable and you may be on unfamiliar ground at times. But, not only will you add years to your life by making positive lifestyle changes; you may find a better quality of life too. Here are some basic priorities to healthy living and tips to incorporate them into your life.

1) Complete some type of exercise on a daily basis.

You can’t wait for the day to begin because you get a chance to exercise today. (That’s the spirit!) Change your way of thinking. Change your life so this is a priority.

If you are taking your children to baseball practice or piano lessons, etc, put on some walking/jogging clothes and exercise while they are completing their activity.

Instead of meeting your friends to “catch up” over dinner or after work for a few drinks- meet at the local community center, join a class together and see each other weekly. If you can’t afford a class… meet at a park and walk/jog together.

It will not happen unless you MAKE the time.

Additionally, you will surprise yourself how many people will see you as a role model and work exercise into their lives too…all because you did.

2) Choose to eat healthy today.

Get protein for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eat 4 fruits and 4 vegetables daily. These are the basics of healthy eating. This is your priority for your daily diet. Don’t go for the bagels, English muffins, candy bars, chips, etc…until you have had the basics. In most cases you will not feel the need to eat so much of the other non healthy food choices once you have had the basics. If you are still hungry you can have all the vegetables you want. Then, utilize Joan O’Keefe’s Three Bite Rule from her current blog.

3) Get 6-8 hours of sleep daily.

I know it is difficult some nights to get an adequate amount of sleep due to demanding schedules. But it should be one of your daily priorities, as an adequate amount of sleep contributes to our daily health.

These are 3 basic interventions to healthy living. Make them your priority. Your life and your loved ones are depending on it. My parents often stated, “Don’t lose sight of your goals or priorities.” It is so easy to do in this world today-so much hustle and bustle and so many distractions. It is important that you take the time to make the best decisions for your health on a daily basis. Your health today is a reflection of your past decisions, but your health tomorrow is a reflection of your decisions today.

No matter what our backgrounds are, our troubles, failures or successes in life…we all have the same inner guidance to change our lives and change our health for the better.