Happy birthday America! We are celebrating freedom, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, courage, sacrifice, family, and all the other things America stands for.
I’ve asked on my Facebook page this week what types of things people are praying to be free of. (Sorry for the lousy grammar). Answers varied, but most of them revolve around behaviors that impact health and well-being.
What freedoms would I wish for my patients, family, friends and followers? I think I’ve figured out 3 very important ones.
1. Freedom from cigarettes. Smoking is the number-one preventable cause of death in the world. One of every 5 deaths in the USA is caused by (or contributed to by) smoking. It increases the risk of lung cancer, heart attack, stroke, COPD (emphysema and chronic bronchitis), leukemia, bladder cancer, cancers of the upper respiratory and GI tracts (oral cavity, throat, larynx and esophagus), and a host of other illnesses. It also increases the risk of cervical cancer, but scientists aren’t sure of the reason why. The CDC website has much more information about the health risks of smoking. Be free! Don’t smoke!
2. Freedom from overweight and obesity. Overeating and eating the wrong foods is a very big cause of health complications. Diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, heart disease, breast cancer, colon cancer, arthritis, liver disease and many other serious illnesses are more common in people who are obese. Freedom from overweight and obesity are a process, not an event 🙂 Every day you can make healthier choices to eat better and be more active. The past is gone, you can’t change it. You CAN make good decisions today! If you need help you can call my office at 440-582-1484 and make an appointment to discuss weight loss, I’d love to help!
3. Freedom from stress. It is estimated that 80% of primary-care doctor visits are directly or indirectly related to health consequences of stress. Depression and anxiety, stomach ulcers, headaches, high blood pressure, obesity, insomnia, the list goes on! We live in a very stressful world and often we get overwhelmed by it. We do things to soothe the stress that aren’t very healthy (like overeating, drinking too much, and smoking or using other drugs).
So what should we do if we’ve decided to be free from the above problems? First of all, DECLARE YOUR INDEPENDENCE! Make a conscious decision that TODAY I am free.
Second, RALLY THE TROOPS! Tell your friends and family members about your decision to get healthier. Tell them you’re going to quit smoking, lose weight, reduce the stress in your life or correct whatever else is making you sick. Make an appointment with your doctor for extra support.
Third, PREPARE FOR BATTLE! Anyone who has tried to quit smoking or lose weight knows that it’s an ongoing struggle. Do a self-check and try to identify the weaknesses in your defenses. When do you REALLY want a cigarette or an unhealthy snack? (See my post about combating cravings for more info.) Pencil in some down-time to relax or read or do whatever gives you pleasure. Delegate some responsibilities if possible.
Fourth, CELEBRATE YOUR VICTORIES. The quest to be healthy is a long, grueling war. Every little victory should be celebrated. You are surrounded by media messages and temptations all day long, all telling you to take the easy path and contributing to your stress. Every time you resist an unhealthy message and make a healthy choice, you should give yourself a big pat on the back and celebrate it.
The Founding Fathers didn’t have cheerleaders, but you do! I’m right here, always ready to help you celebrate and to encourage you when you’ve had a bad day. Like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter if you haven’t already. Send me an email at email@example.com if you’d like, letting me know about your successes and asking for help when you struggle.
HERE’S TO FREEDOM!