Vail Dear Doc column: Are you healthier than you were a year ago?
December 11, 2012
Christmas miracles happen. Waking this morning to a fresh blanket of white was simply wonderful. Thanksgiving passed in a rush and we have less than two weeks of shopping days left. Soon I will be writing about New Year resolutions. Today though, I would like to look at the moment at hand.
Looking in a mirror, how is your health today? Are you better than you were this time last year? Did your 2012 New Year’s resolutions stay true? Advent is here and Christians are preparing for the birth of Jesus. Hanukkah has begun celebrating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. No matter your faith, we are reminded that God will not give us more than we can handle with His help and grace. The real challenge is in recognizing the help before us and having the strength to accept it.
Advice from a friend, a hug from someone close to you and those brave young men and women who serve to keep us free are all part of His help. We can listen and see, understand and act, or not. I could go on philosophically, but that would be too easy. As they say, actions speak louder than words. I hope your actions have made you a healthier person.
It all starts with the basics and I would encourage you to start there. Simply, health starts with a good diet, regular exercise and a restful night’s sleep. It sounds so easy! A good diet means eating the right foods, at the right time, in the right amounts. Regular exercise means something aerobic, which raises your heart rate and keeps it elevated for at least 20 to 30 minutes five days a week. A restful night’s sleep means maintaining a consistent rising time, which sets your internal clock, and getting at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep. If you are younger than 18, add 2 or more hours to that.
Now that the basics are covered, Dr. George Engel’s biopsychosocial model comes into place. At the core of family medicine, it looks at our physical health, psychological health and social health, which includes our personal and family relationships, as well as work and play. Each is inseparable from the other. If one area is unhealthy, the others eventually suffer. Are you working to improve your physical health? If what you are doing is not working, are you looking to make a change? Are you successfully managing the day-to-day stress we all face? Do you have selfish time, just for you?
How healthy are your family and personal relationships? Those are the people you share your best times with or turn to when the chips are down. Are you able to both give as well as receive? It is true that our health doesn’t happen by accident. It takes work, but nothing is more important. Before we can look forward though, we need to look back. Are you healthier than you were a year ago?
Every journey starts with a first step and I would encourage you to start small and make a little change. That success will foster the next and so on. The most important thing is remembering where we started. God will never gives us anything we can’t handle. Don’t think you need to go it alone. Look for help and be strong enough to receive it. Your doctor is never a bad place to start. During this special season, I hope that you, like me can also look to a higher power and not be afraid to ask God.
May your health be its very best. If not, you know where to turn!
Dr. Drew Werner is a medical staff leader at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, a family physician at TotalHealth Care and the Eagle County health officer. He lives in Eagle with his family. Email comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.