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Who will fight for your health in 2015 if you won’t?

1228114-new-year-iStock-600The coming of the New Year is marked by pulling our holiday decorations off the mantel, car buying season and of course the ceremonial testimony of “New Me!” However old you are, that is likely near the number of “New Me” statements that have passed your lips at the stroke of midnight.

Swiping through Instagram, I came across a post which reads: “Looking back on 2014, I’ve got two days to get skinny, quit smoking, save money, learn French, and most importantly un-drink 987 bottles of wine.”

Funny and partially true for some, this post captures the temerarious and sudden change in behavior which quite often lacks sustainable success. The old adages, “biting off more than you can chew” and “slow and steady wins the race” comes to my mind.

Let’s be honest, the likelihood of creating a “new you” is improbable, unless the National Institutes of Health recently funded research I am not aware of. With those odds, why not make a fundamental switch in how we think about the changes we seek each year.  Let’s go with “Healthy Me, Better Me.”

Among the many resolutions available to us: saving money, traveling more, finding a better job and even spending quality time with family. None of those matter or will be worthwhile if your health is in question. As health equity leaders, we fight for the health of others. But who will fight for your health if you won’t?

My hope, we all take an honest look at “Mind, Body and Spirit.” Evaluate areas that can and should be better. Ultimately understanding that in large part our health outcomes are a direct result of the choices we make, daily.

Last year I talked about how to keep New Year resolutions, setting bench marks during the year to attain success. Now, I simply urge each of you to prioritize your health.

If you demonstrate diligent behaviors regarding the scheduled maintenance of your vehicle or even your external aesthetic needs. Why not make sure your health, diet and fitness needs are met.  Heck, why not even schedule them with the same ferocious focus?

Here are three steps you can take to make this year a healthier one:

1. Schedule an annual health exam. The benefits far out way the waiting room visit and possible time off from work. Understanding your health fitness and potential risks provide power and a dance side step of deleterious consequences. I find a quality annual exam as a time and place to strategically plan your dietary and fitness program. No, your doctor will not be giving you work out programs full of number of sets and repetitions. This visit and conversation can likely give you the perimeters that you are able to work in to reach and maintain optimal health.

 2Take ownership of your health. Your New Year Resolution should be centered on active planning and execution about your health. For example how and what you eat. How much and the type of physical activity.  Drastic changes are generally not necessary; and frankly are unrealistic.  I suggest using a small magnetic tablet, the type that groceries are listed. Title the tablet “Healthy Me, Better Me.” Make 10 bullets-points, that’s all you need. Just ten. You will be surprised how quickly you reach ten. Put the tablet on your refrigerator.

3.  Share your goals with someone to help keep you accountable. You can also share these goals with your doctor. When you are heading to your physical exam bring this list of specialized bullets and share them with your medical practitioner. I bet the look on his or her face will be priceless and the conversation will likely be one of your better experiences with your provider. I’ll bet my next meal on it.  This is all about you, be selfish with your health and body.

Happy New Year!


Image credit: iStock Photos

About Raye Mutcherson

Raye J. Mutcherson II, Ph.D. is genetic researcher, public health advocate, teacher, and soon-to-be clinical research nurse. Connect with Raye on twitter. Learn more about Raye here.

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