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Managing your health: a 2014 resolution you can complete today

Happy New Year to you all.

By the end of February, most of the resolutions taken yesterday (learn a new language, spend more time with the family, lose weight) will lie disassembled on the floor, like a broken Lego model given at Christmas. 

The challenge of Resolutions is to break down their contributing elements into behavioural habits, and without the vitamins of resolve and planning, this seldom occurs.

But there is something you can accomplish today.

The 2014 challenge: Proactively manage your health.

Now, with this, I am not throwing down the gauntlet to exercise for 5 hours every day, nor am I preaching that you should become an ascetic and forgo your occasional devilish dietetic indulgence. But I do think you can achieve improved health by heading off the big malevolents before they get to the pass, and you can do this without anguish.

The reasons for proactively managing your health in 2014 are multiple, but these two alone should suffice.

  1. Wherever you are in the world, pressure to reduce health care spending will continue to increase. In countries where health care is ‘free at the point of use’, the fundamental problem of ‘demand side’ abuse will stress some services to breakdown. No politician will take this issue head-on (or at all), so ‘supply side’ tinkering will continue, and the timeliness and quality of services will diminish. Anything you can do (positively) to keep yourself and your loved ones out of the system should be considered.
  2. Our ability to lead others and care for friends and family is severely curtailed when we are waylaid with poor health. Chronic treatment distracts us from contributing, and acute treatment may dock it for considerable periods—perhaps permanently. It is in the interest of our organisations, our immediate dependents and ourselves for us to avoid a free fall into ill-health.

In addition to maintaining a generally healthy lifestyle, I will actively seek to manage my health.

In business parlance, to ensure I maintain my obligations as a leader, I will audit 4 leading indicators of poor health.

Specifically, my 4 tests will cover my:

  1. Tubing: The Insulin sensitivity test is a simple blood test (1 min) conducted after some fasting. You can find the details elsewhere but here is the headline.  If you lose insulin sensitivity you become highly susceptible to diseases which destroy vessel walls, chief among them are Type II diabetes and other cardio-vascular diseases. Caught early enough, these diseases can be reversed as demonstrated by Dave Snowden's slaying of his Type II diabetes. 
  2. Heart The Exercise Stress test consists of a 15 minute walk on a tread mill to determine how well your heart takes activity. An extremely powerful test which reveals the checklist of problems that might cause the ticker to stop ticking when least expected (or desired).
  3. Eyes: Specifically a dilated funds examination (10 mins) to look for early signs of glaucoma or growths
  4. Erm, plumbing: Enjoy a colonoscopy: 1 hour of procedure preceded by 24 hours of fasting. Minor discomfort (in the head more than the body) but a rapid and effective means for catching (and remediating) early signs of bowel cancer. I have seen the impact of treatment upon friends who have bowel cancer; the discomfort of investigation far outweighs the debilitation of treatment.

Before the year gets into full swing I encourage you to place appointments into your diary to take the 4 non-invasive tests which will give you the best insight into you personal health management in 2014.

Many of GP friends avoid taking these tests in case it surfaces a problem. Resist the fear of wanting to avoid the unknown. Shine light into the dark corners.

This is the one resolution you can do today which will repay you with a long and healthy lifetime—literally!

Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely
— Edna St Vincent Millay