It’s both empowering and intimidating to know that we can control—or at least strongly influence—our current and future health and wellness. To know that our actions today directly influence whether we get heart disease, diabetes, suffer from certain cancers, or are able to move easily without pain as we age is freeing. It is up to us and we can decide our physical fate, at least to a certain degree. On the other hand, it’s a lot of responsibility. It means every choice we make about what we eat or how we spend our free time adds up, every single day.
With changing habits, it’s easy to say, ‘I’ll start tomorrow’ or, ‘I’d rather live for today.’ If that’s the exception and not the norm, you’re probably fine. No one can make the right choices all of the time. You will have a donut now and then. You will skip a chance to exercise. We recommend taking a kinder, gentler approach: rather than rewriting your entire list of daily habits, start with one or two. Here are some simple ways to begin.
- Give up soda and other sugary drinks
“If you change only one habit for your health, start by replacing caloric drinks with water, including soda, juice and alcoholic beverages. People don’t realize how many calories are in a simple drink and how cutting way back will help you maintain a healthy weight,” said Dr. Rick Ray with the Prowers Medical Center Clinic.
Try alternatives like water with a splash of juice or lemonade, flavored sparkling water or skim milk, almond or coconut milk versus whole milk.
“Maintaining a healthy weight helps avoid a slew of health problems, from heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, chronic pain, depression and even mental illness,” said Dr. Margaret Loewen with the Prowers Medical Center Clinic.
- Get health screens when recommended
As you reach the milestones of ages 30, 40, 50 and above, your doctor will recommend certain health screens. Get them. Catching chronic diseases and cancer early means you’ll avoid serious problems and unpleasant treatments.
“Since we don’t have cures for most cancers, the best defense is early screenings. It’s much easier to get a screening than receive treatments. Catching cancer early means you’ll likely survive,” Dr. Loewen said.
- Swap Facebook time for exercise
It’s easy to think you don’t have time for exercise, but it can happen in the time you’d take to watch a sitcom or surf the Internet. Instead of hauling yourself to the gym, take 20 to 30 minutes and walk around the neighborhood or go through a quick routine in your living room of good, old fashioned sit ups, push-ups, squats, jumping jacks or running in place.
“Find what works for you. Some people like to get up early and exercise, while others get motivated by keeping a journal of their workouts. Many have success making it a social event with a friend, family member or neighbor,” Ray said.
- Understand your health issues
“I’ve noticed that when my patients understand their health conditions, treatments and medications, they have better outcomes. After all, patients know their bodies best,” Dr. Loewen said.
It’s important to not only know what medicines you take, but why you take them. When you know their purpose you’re more likely to take them consistently—and you’ll get better results.
- See your primary healthcare provider regularly
Having a regular healthcare provider that knows you and your health history is valuable because they can spot when something changes, keep you on top of health screens and know what to watch for—bettering the chance that symptoms won’t be missed. It helps you be proactive, rather than reactive, with your health.
“Many people think they don’t need a doctor until they are sick, but if they had a primary care provider guiding them they might not get sick in the first place,” said Dawn Watts, Clinic Practice Manager.
Just a few changes today can improve your health tomorrow. Prowers Medical Center is dedicated to wellness—for their patients and their Team Members. Prowers Medical Center’s worksite wellness program is alive and well with a current focus to help individuals set and maintain their health and fitness goals for the New Year.