Healthy Life Begins With Individual Changes

With the federal health reform bill inching closer to becoming a true law, it’s still up for debate whether it will even begin to put a dent in turning around our very confusing, disjointed, expensive and chaotic health care system.

The issue, of course, is that health insurance is not even the tip of the iceberg. Without reforming the innards of the health care system and giving people a system that they can understand and use more easily, it matters very little whether people have insurance coverage.

At the same time, true reform is less about any system and more about how people address their own lives and health habits. Even in a broken system, there are many things we can all do to improve our overall health and minimize our need to see doctors, be on prescription and nonprescription medications, and need medical procedures.

If we all applied ourselves to spending more time on the areas that improve our health for the better — such as exercising more, losing weight, addressing health problems that put us on medications — we’d all be better off, and our health care system would actually start to be unloaded and cost less, even in its current form.

This doesn’t just apply to adults but kids, too. Kids deserve to enter their adult lives as healthy as possible, so be honest with them about their health issues — whatever they may be. Help kids overcome health issues today so they can be more healthy tomorrow. Believe me, if your kids are overweight or dealing with some other medical issue, they know it and want help addressing it.

With the new year upon us, this is the perfect time to examine the habits we have that maximize good health and be realistic about the habits we have that put our good health at risk. For example, ask yourselves:

– What do I do for exercise?

– What do I eat and drink drink each day? (Keeping a log for a week can be very eye-opening!)

– How many packs of cigarettes do I smoke per week — or day? (If “none,” congratulations!)

– Do I have health problems I need to address?

– Am I on medications I’d like to be off of?

– When was the last time I went to the doctor for a general physical?

Sit down as a family and answer these questions together. Then work together on the issues that you all have in common and help each other with the issues unique to each person. By the end of 2010, you’ll all be more fit and will have kicked some habits you’ve needed to for a long time.

You deserve to live a healthy life, and that type of reform can’t be found in any health care law but starts with you and the changes you make in your life.

In fact, those are the only health care reform changes that really matter in the long run to you and your family, so start reforming today.

(Initially published January 2010)