Written by Amanda, Woodhall, MS, RD/LD
Wouldn’t it be great if there was one universal test that could determine just how healthy we are, warn us about potential chronic conditions, and provide proactive solutions?
Unfortunately, each of our unique identifiers makes a universal test impossible. Instead, we have to look at individual family health history, lifestyle, diets, activity levels, stress, and even sleep. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being – and not merely the absence of disease or illness.1
Common areas of concern for most include being overweight, being pre-diabetic, and having high cholesterol, and/or high blood pressure. Left untreated, these conditions increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or stroke.2 Therefore, you need to be proactive in your health management, starting with a true assessment of your current health.
We have a few ways to assess your health:
- Implement a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise routine, which are crucial to improving your health. It’s possible to manage many chronic conditions through lifestyle changes. Start by creating food, exercise, and sleep logs to help you, your physician, and/or your Registered Dietitian (RD) create a realistic plan and set achievable goals. It’s also essential to learn how to manage your stress. Let’s face it: We all encounter stress, but it doesn’t have to control you.
- Conduct regular blood pressure checks. Chronic high blood pressure can contribute to heart attacks and strokes. A target blood pressure range is typically lower than 120/80,3 and you’ll work with your healthcare team to determine the right range for you. Pairing your regular blood pressure checks with your log from Step 1 can help you and your healthcare team develop a treatment plan for high blood pressure.
- Measure the size of your waist by wrapping a tape measure around your waist, making sure to keep it straight, not too tight or too loose, and in line with your belly button.4 Research has linked excessive abdominal fat to chronic diseases, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, so it’s good practice to keep an eye on your waist circumference. Men should aim for a waist circumference size under 40 inches, and women should aim for under 35 inches.4
- Schedule your annual physical. I think most of us dread going to the doctor. However, your annual physical is essential and should be routine. “By getting the right health services, screenings and treatments, you are taking steps that help your chances for living a longer, healthier life,”5 according to the CDC. Your doctor can assess your health through lab work that may include a full lipid panel and Hgb A1c. These labs will provide data on your cholesterol, LDL and HDL levels, and triglycerides. Doctors use these tests to diagnose and evaluate your risk for heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes. Be sure to talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have regarding your self-assessment, current diet and exercise routine. Talk with your doctor to determine how often you should get lab work done. Before you go, be sure to check out what the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you prepare for your visit.
It is important to know that support and motivation are critical in achieving your goals. However, you don’t have to take my word for it. I have helped many members achieve their goals by providing personalized nutrition plans, including meal planning, monthly calls to assess progress, motivational messages, and educational materials.
“We did it! I weighed in this morning at 218.6. It was the coaching that made the difference!! I am very grateful for the guidance and encouragement you provided as I started my journey to wellness through weight loss. – GemCare Wellness Member
With all the nutrition information that is out there, it can get confusing. Registered Dietitians are accredited healthcare professionals who provide reliable and evidenced-based nutrition information. If you are interested in finding out more about services from GemCare Wellness, please visit https://www.gemcarewellness.com/nutravantage/. We would love to work with you!
Here are some great resources you should check out!
- American Heart Association – What do your blood pressure numbers mean?
- American Diabetes Association – Understanding A1C – diabetes identifier
- GemCare Wellness – Work with a Registered Dietitian