Take Charge

Take Charge of Your Health

You have already heard or been told that your daily behaviors/habits impact your health. However, have you taken time to think about how your habits may be placing you at increased risk of chronic medical conditions like heart disease or diabetes? This is not intended to scare you or discourage you. It is however meant to be a wake-up call. The good news is that you can make changes and reverse your risks for developing these conditions.

Health was probably something you did not think much about in your early young adult life. Now that you’re middle-aged, you may have noticed some changes in your health or the health of your friends. This may include high blood pressure or increased cholesterol. You have probably attributed these health changes to typical aging, after all, they are common issues faced by the general American population.  Medication will be prescribed and will take care of the problem. That is the way it is, right?  The answer is a resounding NO. 

These chronic conditions are not a result of aging.  In addition, medication does not address the underlying problem or cause. Medication only addresses the symptoms and can give you other problems due to their side effects.  The bottom line is that it’s not about a quick fix and continue doing what you are doing.  

In order to avoid ongoing disease, you need to do a self-assessment. Look at what aspects of your health need to be adjusted. The first place you are likely to think about is your nutritional intake.  Limit processed foods and drinks which add unnecessary sugar, salt, fat and artificial additives. These lead to weight gain and obesity. Eating whole grains and complex carbohydrates, vegetables, fruits, protein, and quality fats are essential for your body. They provide you with the energy and nutrients your body needs. 

Next, consider the amount of physical activity you get. Physical activity is more than movement associated with the daily schedule of activities.  Physical activity includes aerobic and muscle strengthening exercises. Engaging in physical activity increases your oxygenation which can improve your ability to focus and concentrate.   It impacts your mood as it releases endorphins to elevate how you feel. In addition, it improves the quality of your sleep, your ability to perform everyday activities and your bone and musculoskeletal health. 

The next area to focus on is probably one that you casually acknowledge and sweep under the rug because it may not seem as important or just seems too hard to address.  The area is mental health. Mental health is a term that refers to how one thinks, feels, and acts. It impacts how you handle stress, relate to others and make decisions/choices. Let’s start with stress as it is common in daily life.  Short-term stress like being late because you were sitting in traffic is not impacting your overall well-being. Ongoing or chronic stress, on the other hand, does have a negative impact.  It causes feelings of irritability, anxiety and depression.   Chronic stress causes your body to produce excess blood sugar (glucose) to increase energy. It also causes you to have cravings for sweets. If your body cannot keep up with the surge of glucose it can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. Chronic stress can also result in digestive upset such as heartburn or reflux, diarrhea, constipation or nausea.  Increased muscle tension also occurs when you are under chronic stress. This can result in headaches, body aches, back and shoulder pain. This can cause you to stop exercising and turn to pain relief medication or even muscle relaxants. Remember, medications do not treat the cause, only the symptom. Other effects can include insomnia, menstrual irregularity, and weakened immunity.

Your outlook and mood are directly associated to the way in which you relate to others. If you are moody, irritable, and outwardly display a negative mindset, you are not likely to have a large social support system. However, you can have lots of relationships, but if you fear being vulnerable and keep those relationships superficial, your support system will also be limited.  In both situations, you are at increased risk of loneliness. Loneliness is the discomfort or distress experienced from a perceived gap between one’s desires and actual experiences for social connection.  Loneliness can lead to depression, heart disease, increased stress as well as other health issues. When you connect with others over common interests or goals, you will form bonds and build your own support network. Having the support of others can help you maintain motivation to achieve your goals as well as deal with the ups and downs of life.  Remember, you were NOT placed on this Earth to be alone. 

Daily decision-making is associated with the amount and quality of your sleep. When you lack sufficient quality sleep, it can result in moodiness, difficulty focusing, low energy, increased stress and impulsive decision making (i.e. grabbing a candy bar from the snack machine just because it is readily available). It is important to get 7 hours of sleep.   Try to create a sleep schedule targeting a specific time frame to go to bed, and the time you will wake up. It is also helpful to unplug from electronics at least 30 minutes prior to going to bed. This will help prepare your body and mind for sleep. 

Making changes can be overwhelming especially when you do not know where to start or when you try to make multiple changes at once. When you take on too much, it often becomes too challenging to maintain. As a result, you return to your old ways and continue doing what you were doing because it’s familiar, comfortable, and easy. Unfortunately, this does not get you to where you want to be.   If you are ready to make the commitment, invest time in yourself to make small changes and would like to have the accountability in order to consistently show up for yourself, then click here and let’s talk. 

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Diane Saulle, PhD.
Diane Saulle, PhD. is a certified Health Coach and Founder of Eat Clean Be Vital Inc. The demands placed on women today make it easy to prioritize everyone & everything before ourselves. This takes a toll on how we look & feel. I provide guidance, support & accountability to women looking to reclaim their health & well-being. Focus is placed on what to eat, physical activity & personal development.
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