With all the fuss about Healthcare Reform, perhaps we can shift our thinking to Self Care Reform. Would you make 4 lifestyle changes to avoid many of the major chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer, which in large part are preventable? “Healthy Living Is the Best Revenge”, a study published in The Archives of Internal Medicine in August of 2009 cites findings from a study, which are supported by many other studies. It’s no surprise that 4 lifestyle factors were associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Smoking, excess weight, poor diet and physical inactivity increase our risk. All of these factors are in our control.
It’s too easy to grab something processed that doesn’t spoil, sit at our computers or cell phones, smoking a cigarette to relax and being sedentary. It takes so little effort and our culture supports this lifestyle. It’s fast, cheap and easy at least in the short term. However the pounds can accumulate unnoticed, nutritional depletion builds up over time, our muscles waste, fat accumulates, fat releases inflammatory signaling molecules and the disease process begins. Entrenched in the habit of quick and easy, most people continue down this path until symptoms occur. The long- term consequences can be devastating, debilitating, and costly. Reversing the process can be slow and takes some desire and determination.
Small changes can make a big difference. For those of you ready and willing to start, make some changes. . Get up and go and get physical activity whenever you can, take advantage of smoking cessation programs which many insurance plans will cover, eat your fruit and veggies and lose weight if you need to. The most successful weight loss programs incorporate a Mediterranean style diet which is one of the healthiest given its composition of healthy fat such as olive oil and fatty fish, lean protein and preponderance on fresh whole and natural vegetables and fruits. For those of you who don’t find this very easy, seek the support of a health care professional who can guide your progress and help you move past obstacles. Studies have shown that making a plan, sticking to your plan and having someone holding you accountable increases your chance of success. You have to have some skin in the game to remain motivated.