Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Take Control

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What’s your first thought when you face a health care decision? Do you even recognize that it is a health care decision? Too often, we fly through life making choices while focused on the wrong outcomes, or without realizing the health choice we’ve just made. We choose “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” instead of healthier oils (olive, canola, peanut) because it costs about a quarter less. We choose margarine instead of butter because the TV told us to. We choose the fried, greasy, processed food biscuit from the drive through for breakfast instead of a piece of fruit. We choose potato chips instead of nuts. We choose to hit the snooze button one more time instead of getting in five minutes of stretching. Our decisions throughout each and every day determine our expression of health. Our priorities guide the decisions we make. So… what’s your priority? Do you focus on positives or negatives?

For example, when they begin to “come down with something,” such as that viral illness going around the office or your kid’s school, I teach my patients that the first thought through their mind should be, “How can I boost my immune system to help fight this off?” The old adage of focusing on solutions, instead of problems, goes a long way here. When we focus on problems, we worry about the many negative ways this crisis can affect us. “Will I miss time at work?” “Will it get worse?” “Maybe this is something serious.” Etc. Negative thoughts, and negative energies bring about negative results. However, time and again, it has been seen that positive thoughts and positive energies bring about positive results. Focus, instead, on the solution to the problem. “I’ve been exposed to a virus, what can I eat that will help me rid my body of it?” “What actions will make the virus stronger?” “What can I do to increase the activity of my immune system to make me better?” If you’re just more motivated by the negative aspects of a situation, focus the negative on not doing the right thing. Ask yourself, “Will it get worse… if I eat this sugary doughnut?” “Will I miss time off work if I don’t get the extra sleep my body needs tonight?” “Can this become something serious if I don’t drink enough water?”

Achieving a positive state of health is easy… if your priorities are in the right place. It’s easy… if you’re willing to learn. It’s easy… if you have an open mind. It all comes down to decisions. With every decision regarding your health, you have an opportunity that will lead to positive results… and one that will lead to negative results. Soda or tea? Fried or steamed? Boiled or raw? Lift with your legs, or lift with your back? Go for a walk, or watch another episode? Sleep or play on the internet?

Do you see how most all of your decisions can be related to your health? Set your priorities where your health becomes more important to you than the television. Your health should be more important to you than the instant gratification you’ll gain by eating that chemical soup-on-a-bun at the fast food joint. Start to ask yourself different questions, and get your priorities straight. Recognize that you are responsible for your own health and nobody is going to make good decisions for you. Take control.

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