Ever wonder why, when you seek medical attention, they ask you some things that feel a little intrusive and strange? Well as a PA student–I too am learning to ask 100s of questions of my patients. I really started to perfect my questioning tact while training as a Paramedic. Learning to ask things like “Tell me about your breakfast this morning?” to “So, you stated that ________ is happening. How long? How many times? What makes it better or worse? On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the worst you’ve ever felt, where does ______ rate? What does it feel like?” etc. And that’s only the beginning of my question bank. However, do know–though some questions feel intrusive–we really are asking for a purpose. Our ultimate goal is to really capture a snapshot of your health and your lifestyle behaviors. I know it might seem like a waste of time when we ask you “Do you wear your seatbelt? or “Do you have smoke detectors in your home?” when your seeking medical attention and feel like total hell, but I promise it’s just to learn about the environment you exist in.

Here’s an abbreviated list of a few things you can do to lead a healthier lifestyle:

  •  Here’s an obvious one: Eat healthy. That means lots of fruits and veggies. Try to limit packaged foods and monitor your sodium intake. Lean proteins, a whole grain, and a veggie on your plate is ideal. Did you know that a serving size of meat is about the same size as a deck of cards? Makes you rethink those steaks at restaurants doesn’t it?
  • Be active. I have my B.S. in Exercise Science…so I’ll never give you specific activities you must follow. Instead–this is how I view exercise: do something you love and do it often. However–to get the best results and to keep on looking good, look to change the intensity (i.e. pace, incline, or say you like to walk? add at first 15 seconds of brisk walking to your workout every minute etc.) of you activity.  One of my professors in college said “Intensity changes body composition” and it has really stuck with me. So if you’re looking to lose weight–just walking around the block probably won’t cut it. Make sure your activity gets your heart rate up and is one that is hard to hold a conversation while completing. Try and break a sweat at the very least 3 times/ week. Your health will thank you–and I bet you will start feeling better every day.
  • Take control of the things you can. Things like: putting on sunscreen, wearing your seatbelt, reducing your exposure to secondhand smoke, washing your hands etc. The easy, quick fixes in your life.
  • Find a healthy way to manage stress. Stress has pretty taxing effects on your body. Did you know that certain stress hormones that are released during high periods of stress can actually cause your body to store body fat? Yikes. Finding a healthy coping mechanism is essential. Watch a funny video on youtube. Call a friend. Snuggle your pet. Find something that works for you. Mine–if possible–is often a power nap. It helps me reassess and feel rejuvenated.
  • Get regular checkups. It’s kind of a no-brainer. If you notice something going on with your health that you know just isn’t right, don’t hesitate and seek medical attention. Remember though, somethings you can’t see or even feel happening in your body can be damaging to your health–so it’s important to get regular checkups too.

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