By Wendy Bacigalupi-Bednarz, Editorial Contributor
Staying healthy over a lifetime is a marathon, not a sprint. And like most marathon runners will tell you, crossing the finish line takes planning and commitment. Good health also requires a long-term strategy — the long view — to help you reach your future goals and stay there.
Your healthcare team (doctors, dietitians, specialists) are experts in creating long-view plans for all ages and life stages to help reduce your risks of getting sick and improve your odds of staying healthier through the years. Think of your healthcare team as your marathon coaches.
Investing in Health Wealth
What is the long view? It’s a plan that focuses on goals set over time (running a marathon) instead of instant results (running a sprint). With the long view, you build your healthcare strategy beyond today and tomorrow. You might be well today, but why not plan for a healthier tomorrow? Much like investing money to secure your financial future, you make long-term choices to build your health wealth.
You can focus your healthcare long view on any problem or situation you have now or may have later. For example, think about food and nutrition. “When we think about food, we think short-term,” says Ashlee Wright, a registered dietitian with Orlando Health. “What’s for dinner today? What do we need from the grocery store this week?” Wright suggests taking a long-view approach to eating for the future by making wise nutrition decisions that can reduce risks of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer and type 2 diabetes.
The Buddy System
Working with healthcare partners such as your primary care doctor also can help you set long-view goals and stay on track with strategies such as how to stop smoking, lose weight, control alcohol or drug use, or manage stress and anxiety. Your primary care doctor also is a great resource if you need to make a course correction.
“There may be times when a strategy or a goal needs to be modified,” says Dr. Todd Sontag, family medicine physician with Orlando Health Physician Associates. “Your healthcare team can work with you to make adjustments and restructure the plan to ensure you meet your long-term objectives.”
Using the long-view approach (remember the marathon?), your primary care doctor can improve the odds that you’ll cross the finish line and succeed with your healthcare goals year after year.
6 Long-View Tips for Long-Term Health
- Forget about age. You’re never too old or too young to start your long view. Whether you’re in your early 20s or your golden years, plan to run your long-term health marathon with small, sustainable steps. Just take that first step.
- Apply the long view to any health situation you choose — to lose weight, stop smoking, eat more veggies — whether it’s breaking bad health habits or beginning good ones.
- Look at your health goal on a deeper level. If you choose to follow a healthier diet, focus on more than just weight loss. Think about how you’re getting stronger and reducing your risks for serious health problems in the future.
- Your plan will change over time, just like you. As you age, fitness and nutrition needs change, too. Learn about the right foods, vitamins, minerals, supplements and exercises to evolve with your long view.
- Think of your health as an investment plan for health wealth. The more you put into it, the more you’ll get in return. But remember, the long view is long-term. Focus on better health benefits over time, not just today or tomorrow.
- Don’t go it alone. You’ve got ready-made partners like your primary care doctor, dietitian, fitness instructor and so many others who are trained to help you navigate and succeed in your long view. All you need to do is ask.
Looking for more healthy lifestyle strategies? Check out OrlandoHealthBlog.com.