August 17, 2015

Are you proactive or reactive with your health?


For many Americans, the answer is the latter. Too often, we wait for disaster to strike to consider our health and wellness. That fast food cheeseburger seems like nothing when you’re cruising through a normal day, tackling activities and being productive at work and at home.

But when you come back from a doctor visit to find your cholesterol levels spiked and you’re at risk for a serious heart condition, that same greasy sandwich takes on a different life. A soda or a candy bar might not seem like much today, but if you found out tomorrow you were diabetic, how would you think about that same plastic-wrapped treat?

It’s this mentality that gets us in trouble. We only worry about disaster after it’s struck. Why not take control of your health now and avoid the complications later?

Recent research shows preventative care is widely available for insured citizens, but it’s important to recognize that there are some steps you can take at home, on your own, to lessen your chance of landing in the hospital in the first place.

Here are three things you can do today to help create a healthier lifestyle and reduce your chances of developing a serious health condition farther down the road.

  1. Don’t Dread Exercise

If you find it hard to muster up the motivation to hit the road or the treadmill for a walk, try this: play a sport you like instead.

Make exercise fun! The monotony of a walk or a jog can be incredibly relaxing, and some people love the mental and physical exercise of a long stroll. But for others, it’s boring and tedious, and forcing it to happen will only discourage exercise completely.

So try a sport. Do you like basketball? Tennis? Soccer? During a full-length game, you can run milesno, seriously—and you can have fun while doing it.

If sports aren’t for you, try hiking or kayaking. The point here is less about the activity itself and more about the end goal. Find something active you can enjoy, and you’ll want to get out and do it.

The health benefits will become a much appreciated byproduct of the primary goal: your personal enjoyment.

  1. Snack Healthier, Plan Better

Do you have a lunch break at work? Are you constantly on the move, ducking into convenience stores or fast food restaurants for a quick bite to eat?


AHF Mission Support Grantee Bayside Community Center promotes healthy eating, snacking, and living through the Linda Vista Community Garden.

For many people like you, poor eating choices follow, and why not? It’s so easy to grab a sugary treat or a bag of chips from a gas station, but making a habit of doing so can wreck your health.

Instead, make a plan. If you know you have a break or if you know you crave a snack in the middle of the day, make sure you have a healthy alternative on-hand. Nuts—particularly walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and cashews—carry immense health benefits, providing you with nutrients now while also protecting you and your heart in the future.

Switch it up with fresh fruit, fresh veggies, or a homemade trail mix with nuts, seeds, and dried berries.

When you eliminate the poor snacking choices and replace them with healthy alternatives, your health will benefit in remarkable ways. If you need a few more ideas for healthy snacks, this list provides a nice sample of the types of foods you should be turning to when you feel a craving coming on.

  1. Think: What Matters to You?

Physically speaking, most of us understand what’s healthy and what’s not. Aligning your mental goals with your physical goals, though, is the key to creating and sustaining health.

Take a minute and really think about your health today, right now. Think about your health tomorrow. Think about it in one year. In 10 years. Are you moving in the right direction? What do you need to do to change that? Why should you change that?

Think about the important people in your life, the places you want to see, the things you want to do, and keep them all in mind as you move forward. Make a checklist or print out reminders to post around your home and office to make sure you stay on track.

I know the idea of making a post-it note that says something motivational like “I’ll be healthier today than I was yesterday” might sound silly, but these reminders play a huge role in training your brain to think and act in a healthy manner.

When you convince yourself that being healthy matters—and it does—you will create a snowball effect where one healthy choice leads to another, and soon you’ll be living a lifestyle defined by health and wellness.

AHF-Alliance-Healthcare-Foundation-Nancy-Computer-SmilingWith these three tips, you can rely on yourself and the daily choices you make to create a healthier, happier life. Medicine is great, and our healthcare system can perform near-miraculous surgeries and procedures—but not needing them is even better.

What are your short-term health goals, and where do you want to be in one year? Leave a comment about where you want to go and how you’ll get there. I look forward to hearing your tips!  

– Nancy Sasaki, Executive Director, Alliance Healthcare Foundation

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