June is my birthday month, so I always try to schedule my annual doctor’s checkup for this time of year. It’s my system so I don’t forget. Some people have asked me why I go to the doctor when I’m not sick. My annual doctor’s visit is one important way I stay on top of my health. Understanding my wellness metrics, provided at my annual exam, gives me a good idea of where I stand and what I need to be doing.
There are a few metrics that you should understand and personally track. Actively working to keep these numbers in normal ranges will go a long way toward preventing many types of chronic disease.
These health metrics are the easiest numbers to monitor. Some of these you can do at home. Surprisingly, you can get a lot of information from these simple measurements.
The body measurements that are important to track are:
These five simple measurements will give you a complete picture of your weight. Remember that one of the easiest steps you can take to maintain your health is to stay at a healthy body weight. And maintaining muscle as you age will help to increase your metabolism and protect your bones and joints.
There are important health numbers that are typically tracked by your doctor’s office. Some require a blood test. You have probably had these tests, but it’s really important to understand what the numbers mean and how actively improve them from year to year.
There may be other numbers your doctor wants to keep track of. For instance, my doctor measures my thyroid numbers because I have a family history of hyperthyroidism. Other common metrics include hormones, liver function, iron levels, and Vitamin D. If your doctor tests for a particular metric, make sure that you ask what it is, find out what normal levels should be, and follow recommendations for moving that number into normal ranges.
One thing that we recommend to all our clients is to keep a Personal Health Record. This record contains information like all your doctor’s contact info, medications, supplements, vaccinations, surgeries, family history, etc. One of the most important aspects of a Personal Health Record is to track your health metrics over time.
I use Evernote for my Personal Health Record, with a specific note for my health metrics. While I monitor my weight on a regular basis using the online platform LoseIt, I enter my annual weight into my Personal Health Record at the time of my yearly doctor’s appointment. I can see how I’m doing from year-to-year, which gives me an idea of how to tweak my exercise routine and eating as I age. A tool like Evernote keeps the information easily accessible. If I needed it in an emergency, it’s as close as my mobile device. (Helpful hint: I share this Evernote Notebook with Matt, so if, indeed, the information was needed and I couldn’t retrieve it, he would have access.)
The annual doctor’s visit is something that many people dread. I have worked with groups of professionals (high achievers) where less than 2% of the entire population had been for their annual screenings. Sometimes people just don’t want to face the numbers. Sometimes it’s just a matter of making time.
Here’s the rub. When you keep your health numbers front and center, you will have more motivation to choose healthy behaviors from day to day. Looking at those numbers, at least once each year, is important to maintain your health and productivity. You wouldn’t ignore your business metrics, hoping that everything was OK and that you were earning more than you were spending. Of course not! The same is true of your health.
If you haven’t scheduled your annual doctor’s appointment for this year, do it now! If you don’t have a doctor, find one. Annual screenings are indeed a gift that you can give to yourself.
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