I know it's the middle of January, but despite tradition, it's never too late to start your resolutions. Here are my recommended resolutions to get your decade off to a healthy start.
1. Decide to prioritize your health and your wellness
Anything that you prioritize, you invest your time, your energy, and your money in. It'll be hard to move forward and do any of the other health resolutions if your health and your wellness isn't a priority. So that's step number one.
2. Find a primary care physician and a gynecologist
Sometimes this can be the same person, but it's basically someone or people who are going to identify if you're healthy, if you're well, if there's anything that's going on in your body or health-wise that you need to work on or needs to be addressed. This is someone that you need to feel comfortable talking to about all those things that you may not share with anyone else, someone that you will trust to give you advice and, of course, someone who you feel comfortable seeing you naked. These are the people that you need to seek out this year. If you're finding it challenging to find doctors who look like you, you can check out Health in Her Hue, a digital and IRL (In Real Life) platform that connects Black women to culturally competent healthcare providers, and offers health information and content that centers Black women’s lived experiences.
3. Schedule wellness exams
Once you have found your primary care physician and/or gynecologist, then you can move on to resolution number three: Scheduling wellness exams. Wellness exams or wellness visits are when check-in with the doctor, who performs certain tests to see if you're healthy, if you're well, what things need to be worked on this year. This includes screening tests like pap tests, blood pressure testing, weight testing, cholesterol testing, and diabetes testing. These are things that you want to do to make sure nothing is going on with your health that you might not be aware of. Your doctor will tell you if you need further screenings such as a colonoscopy or a mammogram.
In addition to screening tests, you want to figure out if you need any vaccinations, that your blood pressure looks great, and that your weight is what's healthy for you. All of these things are what happens in a wellness visit. Wellness visits are a great opportunity to discuss all these things and any other health concerns you might have with your doctor. It should help you understand what it is that you need to do to stay healthy and well this year.
4. Discuss family planning and family health history
Family planning is figuring out what your goals are for your family: Do you want to have kids? Do you not want to have kids? Do you want to have kids now? Do you want to have kids later? Do you want one kid? Do you want a whole bunch? Now, you don't have to have an exact plan, but you want to think about it because you want to be able to be intentional about it.
If you don't want to get pregnant at all or just not right now, discussing birth control with your doctor is very important. Deciding what type is best for you, what type you feel most comfortable with, so that it will best help you achieve that goal.
If you do want to get pregnant, it's important to know if there's anything you need to do to be healthy for pregnancy. You might want to work on blood pressure, weight, diabetes, getting exercise, etc. You should also know if there are any genetic conditions you need to consider when you're thinking about getting pregnant. This means you have to learn about your family health history. I often find that patients only have a vague sense of their family history, and I have to encourage them to uncover more specifics. Some patients will say, "I know my auntie/uncle/mom had cancer," but they don't know what type of cancer. It's important that you discuss the specifics of family health history with your relatives so your doctor can help you plan around a family history of diabetes, cancer, heart conditions, etc. Even if you're not planning on having a child anytime soon, these conditions have a genetic component that impacts your health as an individual.
5. Decide to treat your body well
I'm talking about your physical body. This involves paying attention to what you're putting into your body and what you're doing with your body. I'm always on the run busy and it's so much easier just to go to the fast-food restaurant or the drive-through, but those are not the things that are going to be the best for my body and keeping me healthy. I find it helpful to take a step back and realize that food is there to keep me healthy and to maintain my health and making sure that I'm having a balanced diet and I'm eating what's best for my body. I'm not saying that you can't ever eat a burger and fries, but just make sure that your diet as a whole is very balanced.
And remember to exercise. I know this part is hard with busy schedules and expensive gym memberships getting in your way, but there are a number of ways to just stay active, like taking a 30 min walk during your lunch or choosing the stairs over the elevator. Little steps like that can build into an exercise regimen that makes you feel like you're treating your body well.
Check out the video version of this blog post below or on IGTV @kliithealth