I don’t have time. I’m too tired. I don’t want to fail. These are the most common excuses people make for themselves. We all have to face different hurdles— tight budgets, full schedules, competing goals, you name it. There are some things that fall through the cracks. For me, no matter how many other priorities I have, the one that always stays near the top is health.
As a former college football player, my world revolved around my health. Every man on the roster knew they were one play away from losing their spot or worse, their scholarship. If you’re not strong enough to make the tackle, or too slow to keep up with an opponent, or too winded in the fourth quarter, everything you’ve worked for could be in jeopardy.
It’s easy to live a healthy lifestyle when a sport is your job, but even though my playing days are behind me, I’m here to say it’s crucial no matter what you do. Dedicating more time to your wellness will accelerate your success. Mental clarity as a result of meditation can lead to better decision making. Getting enough sleep leads to higher productivity. Our health is one of the few things we have control over. Anything within our power that affects our success is something we must take seriously.
We read stories and watch interviews about how our favorite personalities obtain success. They talk of working long hours into the night and forgetting to eat meals. Although you do have to change what you spend your time on and habits, your health should never take a back seat.
Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders once said, “If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good.” So take care of yourself, and you’ll get that big payday.
With the constant influx of health news and ever-changing lifestyle recommendations, it can be tricky to know whether your daily habits are actually healthy. But there are a handful of tests you and your doctor can do that will indicate whether you are doing the best for your health or whether you need to improve. As usual, 6.5 to 8.5 hours of sleep each night, a healthy diet and frequent exercise are crucial. You should do strength training twice a week and eat a diet chock-full of vitamin-rich foods such as salmon, walnuts and berries.
You know all that. You try to do all that. You look good and feel OK. But how healthy are you, really?
To know for sure, the Mayo Clinic recommends that you always have an annual physical. A yearly visit to your primary care doctor is excellent because not only does it allow your doctor to detect your health patterns year over year, but it also lets you learn about the latest health trends and get advice from your doctor if you’re looking to change your exercise regimen or medications. Plus you’ll be able to track your status relative to the most important measures of health. Make sure these baseline numbers are in check at your annual appointment.
Cholesterol. LDL cholesterol (the bad one) and triglycerides should be less than 100.
Blood sugar. Your fasting glucose level should be less than 107—under 100 is even better.
Waist circumference. This should be less than half of your height in inches.
Bone density test. Harvard recommends that women should have this test around menopause and men around age 60. If everything is normal, the test should be repeated every five years.
Mammogram. This should be done every two years for women after age 40. Women who are at a higher risk for breast cancer can start the tests earlier.
Colonoscopy. This test should be done for men and women beginning at age 50 and then every 10 years.
Eye exam. No matter your age, get this test done at least once every two years.
Hearing exam. The first hearing test should be done at age 65 and then every year after at an annual physical.
Dental exam. Couple this with a teeth cleaning once a year.
Stress test. Get this done once at age 50 as a baseline and then every five years until age 65 or if symptoms develop. Once you turn 65, every other year is ideal.