Wednesday, October 31, 2012

November Physicals

November is my birth month so I look forward to another birthday on the 26th.  I've had quite a few birthdays and while I don't make a big deal about it my birthday is significant because that is when I usually schedule my yearly physical examination with my personal physician. When I played professional football I had physicals once or twice a year because it was important to not only me but to the Giants organization that I was physically fit to practice and play football.  When my career ended it was no longer an issue for the Giants but it had to be important for me to be responsible for my own health and welfare. It was at that time that I initiated monitoring my health on a yearly basis to make sure that I stayed on top of any potential medical issues.

I tend to be a creature of habit but I also want to be simplistic, so getting my yearly physical is one of those things that I know will take place on or around my birthday each year. For the last 20 plus years that has been etched in stone as far as I'm concerned.  It was after one of those yearly physicals that my doctor gave me a clean bill of health but then took an extra minute to ask me 'is everything else okay?' Because of a personal relationship with my doctor I felt comfortable enough sharing non-physical symptoms I was experiencing at that time. That extra moment ultimately lead to my doctor referring me to a specialist who ultimately made a diagnosis of a mild traumatic brain injury that I sustained from playing football.  That extra moment he spent with me to actively listen to my concerns eventually gave me a name to go with my neurological symptoms (Post-Concussion Syndrome). It was a wise move years ago to have establish that relationship and I look forward to the next examination later this month.

Unfortunately, on the flip side, I have friends I played football with in high school, college and in the NFL who have secretly shared with me that it has been quite some time since they've visited their doctors or have gotten physical examinations on a regular basis. One of the tragedies was a teammate who shared with me that since he left the NFL he had not seen a doctor in over 22 years. I was 'floored' and practically begged him to take advantage of a free program that was being offered to former players to check on their cardiovascular health.  Instead of listening and acting positively he was adamant about not going for fear that he would be told something he did not want to hear. Six months later he was dead from a massive heart attack. I often wonder if he had a personal relationship with a physician that he could have met with yearly he might still be alive today.

I want to encourage everyone (but especially all you men) to make an appointment for a yearly physical examination on your next birthday.  If you have apprehensions about doing it for yourself, do it for your loved ones you might leave behind prematurely.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Benefits of Moderation

I've focused much of my attention in past entries on getting up, exercising and being active.  But that can all be for nothing if we don't take our nutrition seriously. There is little benefit in making the time to burn off the calories and then have a calorie laden meal from some fast food restaurant afterwards.  To be serious about our health concerns, we really need to take charge and manage what we put into our bodies.

I am originally from the state of South Carolina. Growing up in the south on Sunday afternoons was comfort time for me because that day meant family dinner with foods like fried chicken, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, corn bread (or biscuits) and iced tea or lemonade on the menu. Top that off with one of my favorite deserts like banana pudding. My Sunday afternoons would always be welcomed with comfort foods that I love even today. But if I ate that kind of food on a regular basis after the most comprehensive physical workout, that time would have been wasted time.

When I was young and ate smaller portions and then played as I did after dinner I might have been able to get away with digesting all those calories. Off course that is not the case now, while I still enjoy foods from my days growing up the key now is eating everything in moderation as well as eating healthier options. I still love chicken but my chicken is more likely baked without the skin than fried. With a better understanding of the heavy content of sugar and calories in those drinks that I loved, my drink of choice now whether I'm at home or dining out is water with lemon.  I am much more inclined to eat healthier foods like salads, broiled salmon and sautéed spinach.

As I get older I know all too well that good health is the one commodity we have that we don't appreciate until it's gone. The best ways to preserve that good health is to live actively with exercise several times a week. That, along with eating foods in moderation that are low in fat, calories and sugar also helps tremendously.

Make good health your goal!