Healthy resolutions for the most wonderful time of the year.
Happy new year! Yes, we’re still a few flips of the calendar page away from December 31st. But, hey, let other people look forward to watching the ball drop four months from now — if you’re a parent, you know the real new year starts the day your kids go back to school!
Before the chaos of sports practices and chorus rehearsals, spirit weeks and state testing kicks into gear, take a moment and appreciate the promise of a fresh start. This is a great time to sketch out goals and plans for the whole family and set some healthy checkpoints on your calendar to keep you on track until next summer.
Mom Goals Exhale.
That sound you hear is the sweet music of silence. With the kids on the bus, you can finally spend a little time thinking about yourself. After all, you know that if you’re healthy and happy, the rest of the family will have a good shot at being healthy and happy, too. Getting some basic medical appointments on your schedule will help you feel ready for the months ahead. Make a few phone calls – or, even easier, book appointments online – and set up an annual physical, a well-woman check, and a mammogram. (Throw a spa appointment in there, too, or a long overdue haircut. You deserve it.)
Your family doctor can look at your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol and take measures to get them in healthy ranges. “Your kids’ report cards are important, but so is yours,” says Kirk Hutjens, MD, a board-certified Internal Medicine physician in Winter Park. “Sometimes it takes only a small adjustment in lifestyle or medication to make a huge difference in your long-term health, but you won’t know if you don’t track the numbers. And studies show that the healthier you are, the healthier your kids will be.”
Is it football season, yet? Sit down for a minute and celebrate another successful summer. You’ve been lugging pool floats and beach coolers back and forth for three months. If you find yourself feeling exhausted, needing a vacation from your summer vacation, you’re not alone. But if that exhaustion creeps into the fall, talk to your doctor about it. It’s possible that you, like millions of American men, have undiagnosed sleep apnea. This common condition makes it impossible for you to get a good night’s rest (if you snore, it’s impossible for your partner, too), and can have tremendous long-term health consequences including heart attacks, strokes, depression, and daytime sleepiness that can lead to impaired driving.
“There are solutions available for sleep apnea that can change a person’s life,” says Dr. Hutjens. “If your doctor doesn’t ask you if you’ve felt unrested, bring it up. This is something that sometimes gets missed for years. Men start thinking that deep fatigue is a normal part of aging and it’s not.”
You’ve washed out your last sandy swimsuit for a while. What now? Take time for yourself: Parents need play time, too. “Whether you make a date night together, or every once in a while, go out separately, you’ve got to schedule in some you time,” says Dr. Hutjens. Work these regular breaks into your routine now to keep your stress level down. School Year’s Eve!
- SCHEDULE A PHYSICAL: Figuring out your healthy ranges isn’t nearly as hard as deciphering your kids’ ‘new math’ homework, but it’s just as important.
- TALK TO YOUR PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN ABOUT A PROSTATE EXAM: men over 40 are at increased risk for prostate cancer
- SET AN EXAMPLE: Thirty minutes of brisk walking a day is a great start towards fitness for the whole family. Make it a daily activity for everyone by scheduling family walks.
- PLAN MEALS LIKE A BOSS: Obesity medicine experts say a meal plan is essential for family health. Choose healthy short-cuts like steam-in-the-bag vegetables and lean meats with low-salt marinades.
- DON”T SKIP FAMILY FLU SHOTS. The flu showed up early last year and was widespread in Central Florida. “The flu is a very serious illness for kids and adults,” says Dr. Hutjens. “Flu shots are your family’s best defense.”
- SCHEDULE A MAMMOGRAM: According to the American Cancer Society, all women age 40 and older should get annual screening mammograms.
- SCHEDULE A PAP SMEAR: Cervical cancer is highly treatable and beatable if caught early.