My first health blog- Let’s Mention Prevention
So, let’s start with the facts- I know a ton about preventive medicine, but very little about blogging. I hardly ever read blogs, and IT, in general, is not my forte. But prevention is something that I’m passionate about, so this is a great way to share my knowledge and experience.
In my opinion, preventative medicine is the foundation and most crucial component of good medical care. Of course, everyone wants top-notch treatment for a heart attack, cancer or stroke when they occur. But wouldn’t it be infinitely better if you didn’t have to cope with those ailments in the first place? In fact, you don’t: the latest estimates from national health organizations show a full 80% of premature heart disease, stroke and diabetes can be prevented. I see the truth of this every day in my practice. The vast majority of conditions I treat could likely have been prevented in some way, usually, through simple actions we can all do.
After 18 years of practice, I’ve learned that all prevention comes down to four things- sleep, healthy food, exercise, and don’t be stupid (ie. don’t drink too much, don’t smoke, wear a seatbelt, etc). It seems pretty simple, which it is. But the problem does not come from not knowing what to do, it’s not knowing how to get yourself to do it. Most people know what they should eat healthy food, but they just can’t seem to stop eating double bacon cheeseburgers, because they taste so good!
This doesn’t have to be your diet plan!
The most important thing to realize is that it doesn’t take much to make effective, lasting changes. Fad diets and intense exercise programs are a recipe for disappointment for most people because sudden, drastic changes are hard to sustain. Our brains steer us towards what we know and are used to, regardless of whether it’s good for us or not. A better formula is to choose one simple change you can make every day, then set a daily reminder to keep it going. It could be a ten-minute walk at lunch, having an apple instead of a muffin for breakfast, or a commitment to have soup and salad instead of a double bacon cheeseburger. Even a five-minute walk is better than nothing. Don’t be afraid to set the bar low- it’s better to hit an easy goal than to miss an aggressive goal and be disappointed.
So I challenge you to choose one simple action that you can change for the better starting tomorrow. Write it down and hang it on your refrigerator, stick it on your computer at work, or set a reminder on your smartphone. And remember, it has to be something that you are willing to do, not just should do, or it will never happen. Good luck, and good health!
L. Ken Zweig, MD