Personal health is something that everyone needs to be concerned with, but not many people are. I’ve noticed that in the recent months, my personal health has not been what it used to be. I’ve only come to this conclusion after starting to track a few health aspects in my life. The aspects of my personal health that I chose to track for a month includes nutrition, physical health issues, and alcohol use. I chose to track these three specific parts of my personal health because they are the most important to me.
Like most females my age, weight is very important, and trying to lose weight must be done through nutrition. Also, I have a few health issues, such as asthma, thyroid disease, and severe anxiety that I need to work on. Finally, being twenty-two years old, alcohol is part of my life. This being said, I need to monitor how many times a month I drink, and how much I drink when I choose to.
Since October fourth, I’ve recorded all of my food intake, alcohol intake, the medications I’ve taken, doctor’s appointments, as well as how I’ve controlled some of my health issues. Going over the information I’ve tracked has made me realize that I need to make major changes, and the information we’ve learned throughout this semester has given me ways to do so.
Eating well is a very hard thing to do when working two jobs as well as going to school. I chose to track what I eat because I am currently trying to lose twenty pounds, and obviously eating healthy is a must to achieve this goal. Also, by tracking what I eat on a day-to-day basis, I can see why I’m not losing as much weight as I’d like to be losing. After a month of tracking, I’ve found that I tend to snack a lot, and when I chose to snack is was usually a bag of chips, or a couple cookies. Also, I noticed that I tend to eat a lot worse on the weekends than on the weekdays.
Throughout the week, I don’t eat too much, and when I do it is usually grilled chicken or some type of frozen diet meal that my roommate or I have cooked. Overall, the main thing I’ve noticed is that when I start the day off by eating unhealthy or eating large portions, the rest of my day continues the same way. I can also say the opposite is true because if I started the day off with a healthy breakfast, I realized that the rest of my day usually followed with healthy eating choices and smaller portions.
My health has been a concern for a couple years now, but within the past month I’ve been diagnosed with asthma, and have also had to start taking different approaches with my anxiety disorder. I thought this was an important aspect to track because physical and mental health is extremely important. Within the month that I’ve recorded information, I had some type of medical appointment four different days. The first appointment I had was at an allergy and asthma doctor, which is when I was diagnosed with asthma and given steroids, as well as two inhalers to help control it.
The second was for blood work for my thyroid disease. The third and fourth were both at an urgent care center where I was diagnosed with strep throat the first time and given antibiotics, and then treated again the second time with stronger antibiotics. From tracking all of my physical and mental health issues, I’ve noticed that I am much better in managing my physical health. Throughout the whole month, I haven’t missed a day of medicine for my thyroid, I finished taking all of my medicines for asthma and strep, and used the inhalers just as I was told to do.
That being said, I didn’t handle my anxiety disorder well at all this past month. In fact, I missed more school and work than I have since I was diagnosed with the disorder four months ago. Over this past month, and even before I started recording this information, I’ve let my anxiety control what I do daily and it has caused me to be behind in class, and miss work because I was not able to drive to those places, or felt like I couldn’t get out of bed. Recording this aspect of my health was the most eye opening of the three.
The third health aspect that I felt was important to track was my alcohol use. This month seemed to involve more alcohol use than I feel usually is the case. This resulted from celebrating my birthday, two of my friends’ birthdays, and Halloween celebrations. I thought this was important to track because addiction runs in my family, and I’ve always been told to be wary of my alcohol use as it could lead to dependency.
This past month I’ve noticed that I drank every weekend at least two days. The majority of the time that I drank, I had four or more drinks. In my opinion, I think that is a bit excessive. I also noticed that there was at least two weeks where I would drink a beer or two one or two days a week. I usually try to only drink on the weekends, as I have responsibilities to tend to on the weekdays. I’ve learned that I need to really watch this aspect of health, as it seems that this could be a problem if I continue this way.
Learning what we have this semester has made me realize what I need to change, and has given me information on how to change the aspects of my personal health that I feel are most important. We have learned that the average American’s diet includes too much salt, refined carbohydrates and sugars, and saturated and trans fats. It is also recommended to consume more than five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
When reviewing my journal and the food that I consumed, it is obvious that a lot of the food I consume regularly contains too much sugar, refined carbohydrates, and entirely too much fat. While I do eat fruits and vegetables, there was not one day where I ate five or more servings of either. Another thing that I realized needs to be changed is that I need to consume dairy products in order to get calcium.
Calcium is one of the key nutrients that are usually missing in many people’s diets. This is true for me, as I have not had a glass of milk since I was about seven or eight. I’ve always been told I need to drink milk or have some type of calcium intake, but after this class and hearing recommendations, I’ve come to realize that I really need to make more of an effort to do so. Also, the book tells us that binge drinking for women is four or more drinks at one occasion. Since, on many occasions, I’ve noticed that I drink more than four drinks in one sitting, I could be considered a binge drinker.
Also, I learned that women have less of the enzymes that are used to break down alcohol, meaning that women have higher blood alcohol concentration levels for a longer amount of time than men. This shows me that I need to be more careful because women’s bodies are not as capable of breaking down alcohol, and if I continue to binge drink it could lead to major consequences. Also, when discussing mental illness, we discussed coping strategies and how to develop and use them.
The coping strategy that I think will help me the most now and in the future is: to change my thoughts or beliefs regarding the significance of the situation that makes me anxious. I learned that in order to do this I should focus on positive aspects and minimize the negative aspects while I’m in the middle of my anxiety or panic attack. I also need to really evaluate the situation in order to assess whether it is really as bad as I think it is. If I apply this coping strategy, it is possible that my anxiety will be decreased and I will be able to manage it better.
After reviewing all of the information I recorded regarding my nutrition, physical health issues, and alcohol use, I’ve come to realize that I need to put a health maintenance plan into action. First of all, I am going to continue using the health journal to track all aspects, but especially my eating habits. I will maintain a healthy diet by incorporating all necessary aspects of nutrition into my daily life.
Also, I will continue going to the doctor every six months to check my thyroid levels to make sure that my medicine is still at the correct dosage and still working. I will also continue keeping in contact with my doctors to make sure other aspects of my physical health are fine, and I’m as healthy as I can be. I think the main thing that I need to do to have my maintenance plan be successful is to record everything. This past month has been really helpful in recognizing what I need to change, and I am positive that the reason it has been so helpful is that I wrote everything down.
After this past month, I have made goals for myself that I will make priority. The first goal is to incorporate more water as well as fruits and vegetables into my diet. I also want to limit my snacking because that is where a lot of my daily calories are coming from. A goal regarding my physical health is to continue to monitor my asthma, so that I can report it to the doctor whenever I have to go back. I also want to start taking vitamins to keep myself healthier.
Also, since the main thing that I need to improve is controlling my anxiety, another goal I have is to write down the times and situations in which I feel most anxious and try to use coping strategies to better manage that condition.
Finally, I want to limit my drinking to one or less times a week and not binge drink when I do consume alcohol. I will write down these goals and keep them in all of the places I am frequently in. I am also going to involve my friends and family by telling them what my goals are and asking them to help me recognize when I have fallen off track, or stop me from making choices that would negatively effect my goals.
If I use the information I’ve learned throughout the semester, and make good decisions to achieve my goals, I will be able to successfully change the aspects of my personal health that need to be changed for the better.