Taking Control of Your Health- It Can Be Done!

Our health is likely one of the most valuable assets that each of us has, yet many don’t often contemplate this fact.  For some, their health is a constant factor in their mind while for others, it doesn’t come up in a thought until a major problem arises.  According to the National Health Council, over 50% of adults contend with a chronic health ailment.  Additionally, over 60% of Americans are on at least one prescription medication.  Yet, less than 3% of Americans live a ‘healthy’ lifestyle.  Likely, based on my experience, if you asked that 97% that didn’t live a healthy lifestyle if they did have control over their health, a large percentage would reply ‘no’.  Considering the asset that our health is to each of us, we need to realize that control is within our grasp.  Changes can be made with minimal effort, which can reap tremendous benefits in the short and long term.  

Older Woman Boxing and Exercising
Older Woman Boxing and Exercising

Change.  It is not something that we, as a general population, like to hear or do, no matter the subject matter.  In many cases, this change is out of our hands, as in the case of politics or regulations in our business industry.  When it comes to our health, though, change is something that is within our grasp and fully under our control.   In order to make a change, first you need to realize that there is a problem. Then, the ultimate question comes as to whether or not we want to make that change?

Do you struggle with a chronic health condition?  If you do, you are not alone, as 5 out of every 10 Americans report a daily struggle on some level.  This condition can be physical or mental, but for those individuals that are impacted, their daily lives can be a real challenge, costing them emotionally, physically, and financially.

According to the CDC, the top 10 chronic health conditions include: (in descending order)

  1. High blood pressure
  2. Alzheimers and other dementias
  3. Heart disease
  4. Depression
  5. Arthritis
  6. Osteoporosis
  7. Diabetes
  8. COPD
  9. Cancer
  10. Stroke

Where do you fit in?  Do you feel like you have control over your health or do you feel like life is a constant yo-yo of events?  One minute healthy and then the next back at your physician’s office?  Again, you are not alone in this circle of events!  A high percentage of chronic health condition sufferers report ongoing health problems despite prescribed therapies.

Control of Your Health- It’s not an illusion

Many would say that they don’t have control over many things in their lives, if not most things.  For those individuals, they may suffer from one day to the next, waiting for the next thing to happen to them.  In reality, it is all a matter of how you look at the events in your life.  You may not have control over politics or new rules or regulations imposed upon you, but you do have control over how you respond to those events.  When it comes to your health, in reality, you are 100% in charge and in control whether if you realize this or not.  The only true being that can ‘heal’ your body is yourself.  A physician can prescribe a medication, but that medication is not a ‘cure’ but just a means of helping your body to mend.

As the saying goes ‘The doctor applies the bandage, God (the person) heals the wound.”

When it comes to our health and mindset, there are different types of people.  There may be the individual that is care-free, throwing all caution to the wind, feeling that things are what they are, no sense in worrying about them.  Then there is a second group that may be more proactive, seeking health complementing therapies, diets, and exercise with full knowing and control.  Finally, there is a third group that believes they are not in control, know that likely what they are doing is incorrect for their condition, yet believe that only another person can truly help them.

Which category do you fall into?  Did you know that outcomes for many chronic health conditions are greatly improved when the patient has a positive attitude and believes they are truly in control? According to Johns Hopkins, people with a family history of cardiac disease that maintained a positive outlook were 1/3 less likely to have a cardiac event in a 5-25 year period of time, when compared to those with a negative outlook.  Even in families with high risk factors for cardiac disease, a positive outlook reduced their chances of a cardiac event by 13%.  

Why is this, one may ask?  First, a positive psychological state generally is associated with an increased acceptance and implementation of therapies, diets, and exercise regimens.  The patient feels more in control of their health and perceives benefit in those approaches.  On the converse side, a depressed, anxious or generally negative person fails to truly engage in these opportunities to benefit their health.  This mental status, positive or negative, can greatly influence the outcome for the patient.  It can either create years of suffering or years of enjoyment.

One cannot forget about the power of the mind, and the mind-body connection!  The mind is a very powerful tool that can be used either for or against your health.  Those with positive mindset change those parameters within their bodies, altering hormones, and even reduce inflammatory markers.  This then contributes immensely to their long term survival and quality of life.  All this with just a thought, repeated and instilled mentally every day!

Knowledge and Information is All Around You

To know something is one thing, yet, to experience it is something totally different.  You can read about the benefits of specific foods or diets, exercise regimens, herbs, or meditation, but that is just acquiring knowledge.  To be honest, most people will acknowledge that likely their current diet is not optimal, and that eating more fruits or vegetables would be ideal, but not many actually implement it.  The ones that do are the less than 3% of Americans that live a healthy lifestyle.  The remaining ones just take in the information, acknowledge it, but fail to take action.  That is the difference between knowing and experiencing.

You can read this article, or one of our many others, or even surround yourself with a library of books on healthy lifestyles, but this is just information.  The question comes as to what you do with that information?  Do you just keep seeking?  If so, when do you finally stop seeking and instead, actually implement some of the concepts that you have learned?

A person with type II diabetes can be told by their doctor to increase their exercise and eat better, or maybe they read about it in a magazine.  In either case, most fail to heed that advice for some reason. Then, there is the group of type II diabetics that not only read and listen, but implement into their daily lives.  Those changes may be a struggle, at least initially, but over time, new habits are formed and those people often enjoy the fruits of their labor.  Their health improves, energy improves, body weight is more manageable, and many times the need for medications is greatly reduced.  It’s all a choice and once one step is initiated, over time, many others are implemented.  It can become a positive cycle of events.  That is the difference between knowing something and experiencing that same thing.

Your Health- It’s all a Matter of Choice.

The health you enjoy or don’t enjoy is completely up to you.  No physician, pharmaceutical company, or even Yoga master is going to give it to you.  They can certainly show you the way, but they cannot do it for you.  You have to make a choice to either participate or not.  You are either a victim or a victor.

Making a change is something that most of us do not like to do, but knowing that change is possible is often the first step to success in anything.  Creating that change takes baby steps, which is fine, as first we must learn to crawl before we can walk.  The main point is that you recognize that change is possible, and then implement those initial steps to help you achieve your goals.  Each little step that you take leads to bigger and better things!

Either you are the effect of your experiences or you are the cause of your experiences.  It’s all a choice!  Which one do you choose?


Author:  Tom Schell, D.V.M., CVCH, CHN

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