A million different measures of health, the greatest wealth.

I’ve started about 10 different blog posts since my last one but always end up sidetracked or get lost researching different information (urban gardening, composting, What Cat’s Making for Dinner Tonight and then failing to take pictures…you know).

So instead, today I’m going to philosophize a little about health related stuff since I just got back from my first actual physical in 2 years, and since I can claim to Actually Know A Little Bit About Health Related Stuff, being a nurse and all. But it doesn’t mean I’m a better patient or a better person, (in fact probably a WAY WORSE one than I would be if I Didn’t Know Better By Now).

I was really in fear of this visit: diabetes and heart disease run in both sides of the family and I admit to avoiding thinking about these things most of the time. I admit to having difficulty with dietary control and I also admit to spending most of my early adulthood completely and totally neglecting my health including avoiding acknowledgment of depression that at times was crippling. However, the changes I’ve made in the past 2 years have paid off! My labs were GREAT compared to what I expected, only my cholesterol was slightly into the borderline range, when 2 years ago it was officially high, and everything including my fasting blood sugar was NORMAL. I almost couldn’t believe it. And since the reason for my visit was to see where I was at and where I need to focus changes, I feel really good about going ahead and getting it done before it reached a crisis, which is what most people usually do. The Past Me included.

And yet, health is a confusing and emotionally charged subject, especially lately. Politics aside, every practitioner advises from their own experiences, recommends different techniques, chemicals, changes, meds. And every person has their own philosophies, their own experiences, their own chemistries, their own fears. It can be really frustrating for someone not in the medical field, navigating the information and more often the MISinformation that comes our way in bits and pieces every day. I think most of health promotion can be boiled down to one word: moderation, and the rest is just details that pertain to each individual. I see so many patients and families get bogged down in the details to the complete and total disregard of the big picture, which leads to a sense of failure. And that feeling of failure can snowball into a whole world of feeling like your efforts don’t matter, when that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Its what we do every day, our habits, that make the most difference. I wish people could see that clearly. There’s no magic pill, no superfood, no combination of movements that will guarantee Perfect Health. All those changes in my labwork, that 20 lbs I removed (forcibly), it was 99% exercise: from sedentary to active in 2 years. Slow and steady, I’m so glad I got that in check when I did. Just changing one thing can make such an impact! There are more ways to measure health than the numbers: on a scale, where you fall in the range on a test, the amount of meds you’re on, your BP. Details. I’m a scientist, I LOVE DETAILS, but details aren’t that important for most people. Also, as a realist, I’m fully convinced we are all part of the same species and therefore the basic rules apply to us all the same: eat less to weigh less, do some activity to raise your heart rate every day, don’t smoke, for example. I hear so many excuses people make for their health status and most of it seems to be “I can’t (do exercise, eat vegetables, quit smoking etc.) because I (am “special”, am a freak of nature, or more commonly and not verbalized: afraid).

If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you will continue to get what you’ve always had, the only thing you have to fear is fear itself, and on and on. Sounds easy, but we do all know its harder than it seems on the surface.

So I’m tightening up the food stuff and starting on some fish oil supplements, and going to try to take my exercise to the next level. And even with a good knowledge base, its still hard to make the best choices and not get bogged down in the details (eat more protein! but more ecologically produced protein! and not soy protein exclusively!, same with sugar/corn syrup: yeah, I know to avoid excess, but I also refuse to use sugar substitutes, so damned if you do and if you don’t.) Moderation.

In that way we *are* all unique and special. Because its all about setting goals, finding the right tools, and finding balance in what works for you to make your life the best it can be. However you get there is better than not ever getting there at all.

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