Adopt a Shelter Dog

Posted on: March 9, 2020, by :


I heard a few interesting quotes recently. One said “If you do not make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness.” The other said “Your health is an investment, not an expense”. No matter how your phrase it, the point is that many diseases are preventable, at least to a certain extent. Obesity, in particular, can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, sleep apnea, certain types of cancer, gout, and osteoarthritis. Don’t even get me started on smoking! Modern medicine has made it so that there is a drug for everything that ails you. Literally every disease state and every symptom can be treated with yet another prescription medication. This fact is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because when all else fails, there is most likely a medication that can help treat the particular disease and hopefully extend your life. Some are safe and easy, and some cause even more problems. The curse, however, is that since you know there are medications readily available, you simply accept the fact that one day you will have to take them and you don’t try to prevent any diseases from taking hold in the first place. As a pharmacist of 26 years, I have seen where this road leads and I, personally, don’t want to be on that bus! Although there may come a day where I have to take 20+ meds a day to survive, I am going to fight getting to that point every step of the way. Now, I completely understand that we will all leave this great earth someday. But that shouldn’t stop any of us from being an active participant in our health journey. So here are 5 tips to help get you started on a healthy path:

  • THE FIRST STEP IS THE HARDEST. TAKE IT ANYWAY…Every successful person started somewhere, such as the CEO whose first job was in the mail room, or the Olympic gymnast who used to fall off the balance beam. “Health” is one of those things that you can’t always see. You can see weight loss, but most likely you can’t feel your A1C (diabetes marker) come down. Dr. Martin Luther King once said “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase”.  I urge you to have faith and take that first step, whether it is being more active, eating healthier foods, or seeing a doctor for the first time in years. You can thank me later.
  • HAVE REALISTIC GOALS…How many of you started a New Year’s Resolution in January only to forget it by February? I commend you for wanting to make a resolution to eat right, exercise, cut carbs, lose weight, stop smoking, and be a better person. However, sometimes trying to change everything about your lifestyle ALL AT ONCE is just setting yourself up for failure. Add in work and family stress and suddenly you are completely overwhelmed! Instead, try tackling each of these things one at a time. After a month or two of success with one thing, add another. Personally, this approach has worked the best for me and I have to remind myself often that “Rome wasn’t built in a day”.
  • STOP MAKING EXCUSES…I adopted a dog recently. I have been telling myself for a few years that “my zoo is full” because my husband and I already have 2 older dogs and 3 cats. I love animals and felt like my heart has had a hole in it ever since my beloved Lexi Lulu passed away in 2017. So, we went to an adoption event sponsored by the local shelter and a one year old, 28-pound, sable colored little girl stole my heart instantly. My life will never be the same! Did you know that scientists have found that dog owners were likely to live longer than those who didn’t have dogs? In fact, dog owners had a 24% risk reduction for death from any cause, according to one study. The main reason for this is that owning a dog increases your physical activity. You have to go outside and walk the dog! Secondly, when dogs and people interact, they both experience an increase in oxytocin (the “cuddle” hormone). These facts, among others, leads to a happier and healthier person (and dog). Maeve has already brought so much joy and increased activity to my life! In fact, I was even experiencing writer’s block until adopting her inspired me to write this installment of The Dancing Druggist. Even if you can’t adopt a dog, get out of the house and walk around the block. You don’t need to join a gym to exercise or be active. I know you’ve been thinking about taking control of your health for a while now. Stop making excuses and refer to the first bullet point.
  • USE TECHNOLOGY TO YOUR ADVANTAGE…On the one hand, the “screen” via TV, computers, and tablet/phone has made our society more inactive and less healthy than we have ever been. On the other hand, we now have more tools at our disposal to help us manage our own health in a way that wasn’t even imaginable decades ago. Gone are the days of spending hours at a library trying to figure out the Dewey Decimal System just to find a book or article about a particular subject. In addition, technology and research has given us so much more knowledge about preventable diseases nowadays, most of which is easily accessible on the internet. While there are reputable resources to be found online, there is also a plethora of misinformation floating around, so I caution you about consulting “Dr. Google” too much. There’s a reason Medical school takes so long. The same could be said for nursing school, pharmacy school – you get where I’m going with this. The internet is great as a starting point and for a basic understanding of the topic, but nothing else. In addition, your smart phone can be a great tool for taking control of your health! There are literally apps for everything including ones for weight loss, calorie/macro counting, fitness tracking, exercise programs, medication reminders, exercise programs, etc. etc. etc. … Find the ones you like and use them to your advantage.
  • 80/20 RULE…Nobody is perfect. I certainly am not! I have had ups and downs just like the rest of the world. I have had periods in my own life where I was very overweight, had no motivation to be healthy whatsoever, and felt depressed and defeated. But there have also been times when I prioritized being active and eating healthy, dropped a few pounds, and felt like I could conquer the world. I know I’m not alone. People have constant ups and downs. That’s life…as Sinatra would say. The key to a healthy and happy lifestyle is realizing that you can’t be perfect all the time. So just keep on keeping on! Keep trying! Remember the Little Engine that Could and say to yourself “I think I can, I think I can”. Sometimes you will do your best and will succeed. Other times you will fail because you didn’t feel 100% that day. I am here to be your cheerleader and say that it is OKAY. If you can do your best 80% of the time, you are doing better than most and should be proud of your accomplishments!

Now pat yourself on the back because by reading The Dancing Druggist today you have already demonstrated your desire to be healthier and more informed, so I commend you. Hopefully, I will be able to continue to inspire you through future installments. Now go adopt a shelter dog!

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