7 Key Health Goals

Wow.  What a week.  I’ve just come home after a week-long integrative medicine conference where I experienced amazing support, opportunities to connect and network with other health professionals, and a staggering overload of data.  I struggled to digest all this information into a few key concepts, which turned into 7 health goals.

Nowadays trying to live healthy is really a minefield.  Life in the USA seems to be designed to make us fat, sick, tired and miserable.  But there are ways to move towards a healthier mind, body and spirit.

If you can incorporate these 7 health goals, you will go a long way towards maintaining a healthy body, mind and spirit.  (Psst.  If you’re a patient of mine, you may see these 7 goals the next time you’re in the office.  Just sayin’)

1.  Eat fresh whole foods, organic when possible, mostly plants, and not too much

We eat processed foods, toxic foods, foods that AREN’T food, and too much of it all.  It’s clear that we eat WAY more meat and other animal foods than is good for us.  Adding colorful fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and healthy oils is a gradual process of shifting the diet away from processed foods and towards foods that are healthy for the body.

2.  Move your body in a way that gives you pleasure.

Exercise and enjoy it.  If you HATE a certain form of exercise, for Pete’s sake, stop doing it!  There are enough amazing ways to move your body that you can surely find one or more that you LOVE to do.  I love martial arts, yoga, running and Zumba.  (No, I can’t dance, and no, you can’t come watch me, LOL!)  Try ballroom or other forms of dance, fencing, horseback riding, agility training with your dog, or Frisbee golf.  Be creative, be adventurous and most of all, have fun!

3.  Avoid poisoning your body.

Yes, I know life is toxic.  Nasty stuff in our food, drinking water, and the air we breathe.  I’ll be talking in future posts about how to help your body process and get rid of all that nastiness.  But PLEASE do your best to avoid poisoning your poor body on purpose.  Stop smoking.  Don’t drink too much.  Don’t use drugs.  Work with your doctor to minimize the medications you’re taking.  Eat organic produce when possible.  For a list of the produce most commonly and heavily contaminated with pesticides, check the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

4.  Sleep enough, and sleep well.

Sleep deprivation makes you sick.  Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night.  Do you wake up still tired in the morning?  Commit to a 2 week trial of 8 hours of sleep per night, and see if that fixes the problem.  If not, see your doctor, there may be another cause of your fatigue.  Sleep deprivation depresses your immune system, makes your brain not work right, and makes you gain weight.  Lack of proper rest is one of the most common problems I see!

5.  Spend time with people who support and energize you.

You can’t completely avoid negative people that drain your energy.  You will find them at work, in your neighborhood, maybe even in your own family.  The problem is that you begin to resemble the people you spend the most time with, in outlook and attitude.  The good news is that there IS an antidote to the energy vampires!  The antidote is to spend more time with positive, upbeat people who support and energize you.  If you find yourself surrounded by negative people with a bad attitude, go where the positive people are.  You may have to actively seek them out.  You might find them at church or other religious organization, in an exercise class or gym, or a place where people make music or create artwork or crafts.  Where are people happy?  Go there,  you’ll find them.

6.  Seek God, Nature or the Infinite through religion and/or spiritual practice.

We all need to actively seek and connect with our deeper purpose in life.  This may happen through prayer, through meditation, or other spiritual practice.  The science shows that religion and faith and spirituality have a powerful positive effect on health and happiness.  If you have no background in religion, that’s OK.  Simply the act of reaching out and seeking purpose and meaning is the first step on a very powerful journey.  More on that in future posts too.

7.  Be happy.

Yes, this is a health goal.  A positive attitude is a very powerful predictor of health.  Is it your habit to look on the bright side?  Do you practice gratitude, finding things to be thankful for every day?  If not, now is the time to start!  Work on your negative past experience and negative emotions.  We ALL have them, but we don’t have to let them poison our joy.  If you really struggle with this goal, you may benefit from professional mental-health counseling.  You can also check out SuperSmartHealth.com, a website started by one of the speakers at the conference I just attended.

Are you going to wake up tomorrow and do all these goals perfectly?  No, of course not.  I suspect, though, that one of these goals is a real problem for you.  Pick one, and make a concrete, measurable goal (like eating one big salad with lots of colorful veggies every day).  Let that one goal work its way through your life until it feels natural, then make another one.

If you need help with goal-setting, and you’re in the Cleveland area, please feel free to make an appointment with me.  I’m going to be doing a LOT more of this with my patients.  It’s a big job, but it is critically important.  We can turn your life around, one small step at a time, one small course correction at a time.

You deserve it!

QUESTION:  Which of these goals do you think you’re already doing well with?  Which one is the biggest problem?

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One thought on “7 Key Health Goals

  1. This is one of those posts that captures your attention and really gets you thinking about your lifestyle. It’s what we should be doing, but don’t really want to hear. I cannot choose which is the biggest problem, but I can say they are all equally important to living a healthy life. There is room for change or improvement in all areas.

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