Part 7: Maintaining Good Health Should Be a Top Priority
Our discussion this week will focus on healthy living. As I wrote about in my personal retirement blog a couple of weeks ago, if you lose your health, you really do lose your wealth. Once your health is gone, it doesn’t matter how much money you’ve saved or how many plans you’ve made. We’ve got to make taking care of ourselves one of our most important priorities.
Before we get started on this week’s topic, check out the topics we’ve covered so far:
Part 1: The Gift of Time – How will You Use it?
Part 2: Planning for the Gift of Time
Part 3: What Really Matters?
Part 4: Freedom to Choose Your Best Life
Part 5: Social Connections Matter
Part 6: Living Our Best Lives
As we’ve done before, we’ll start with an overall assessment of how you perceive your overall health habits. On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 is poor and 5 is excellent) rate how well you feel you’re consistently practicing healthy habits in each of the following areas based on discussions with your doctor or health provider:
- Eating a healthy diet (appropriate portions, limited processed foods, sufficient fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, etc.)_____
- Drinking sufficient water each day_____
- Avoiding the use of tobacco_____
- Not drinking excessively/ limiting the use of alcohol_____
- Actively managing weight_____
- Avoiding sitting for prolonged periods of time_____
- Routinely scheduling medical examinations (including dental and vision)_____
- Routinely doing strength exercises_____
- Regularly stretching_____
- Regularly working on balance_____
- Engaging in regular cardio workouts (as approved by your doctor)_____
- Getting regular, sufficient, restful sleep_____
- Practicing regular meditation or other stress management activities, as appropriate_____
Were there any areas where you feel like you need to do a better job of managing your health? If so, now is a good time to come up with a plan.
For myself, I know that I gained some weight over the past couple of years that I didn’t want to acknowledge. I even hid my scale, thinking I could get back on track without looking at numbers that I wouldn’t like. I kept hoping I’d be able to drop some weight with a little more effort. However, wishful thinking is never a plan. I now have a plan and am starting to slowly (very slowly) drop some of the extra weight I had gained.
I like to use a measurable action plan rather than writing down goals or creating a to-do list. A measurable action plan identifies a range of performance. By doing this, we can not only track our progress, but we also avoid the ‘succeed or fail’ mindset. If we break a goal like improving our overall exercise down into specific measurable aspects, then we can also see what we’re doing well and where we can improve. Here’s an example:
|Area||Achieving Goal||Maintaining the Status Quo||Struggling|
|Distance walking per week||28+ miles||15-27 miles||<15miles|
|Strength training per week||2+ hours||1-1:59 hours||< 1 hour|
|Stayed within calorie limit each day||7 days||5-6 days||Less than 5 days|
To use this type of measurable action plan, create a table with the areas you want to track and print a copy out each week. Circle the most accurate description of your progress in each area. Once you are on track with the areas you’ve identified, then you may wish to add other areas.
Now that we’ve assessed and possibly identified one or more areas you might want to work on, let’s consider ways you can reinforce a healthy lifestyle in an enjoyable way:
Are there any new health-related opportunities you want to take advantage of that might appeal to you like taking a healthy cooking class, joining an exercise group, or hiking with a friend?
Finally, do you have any health concerns that need to be addressed as you look at the years ahead? If so, what steps have you (or will you) take to monitor or manage these concerns (including talking with your health care provider)?
When we were younger, we may have ignored our health or didn’t see any reason to make changes. We can no longer ignore our health. Here’s to your good health!