With the midterm elections less than a week away, I figured to pull out a classic political campaign slogan for this week’s Staying Healthy article. There are three reasons I chose this slogan; ‘Change We Can Believe In’. First, it is a reminder that everyone should vote. Second, it is a positive slogan which we need in this current culture of negativity and tearing each other down. Finally, it can be related to healthy lifestyle changes in many ways.
As a dentist, one of the biggest challenges is finding ways to motivate patients to change habits. Changing from poor to healthy habits is often difficult. Whether it is eating healthy, exercising, quitting smoking, or brushing and flossing - change doesn’t come easy. There must be a ‘why’ to motivate change.
The ‘why’ can be positive or negative. Both can be motivating, but to be effective you must believe in the reason why. Negative motivators for healthy life changes often involve a doctor giving you bad news or warning you about a potential adverse outcome in your health. This is often seen in diagnosis of diabetes in which people are able to change lifestyle to eat better, exercise, and lose weight. Heart attacks and other acute events are often effective motivators.
Positive motivators are harder to come by. We live in a society of instant gratification and not long term delayed gratification. Most people would rather skip flossing because they don’t feel like it because they don’t worry about the negative consequences that occur years later.
Writing with my dentist hat on - I encourage everyone to be positive and believe that you can make a difference by taking care of your teeth and gums. Once you experience negative dental consequences it is often be too late to avoid pain, discomfort and costly treatment needs.
I would like to shift this article to discuss exercise with my runner hat on. I have been a runner since middle school and it is just part of who I am. Not everyone is built or motivated to be a runner, but I do believe there is some sort of exercise for everyone.
So back to our theme, change we can believe in. I encourage everyone to think positively about themselves and consider the benefits of exercising. In many ways you will be healthier, often times requiring less health care and prolonging your life. Added benefits are increased energy and self-esteem. Yes, it can be a challenge to get going, but if you believe in yourself, it is possible. There are many resources available to get started ranging from simple apps on your phone such as the ‘Couch to 5k’ all the way to getting a personal trainer or joining a gym.
Finally, time for a little promotion with my race volunteer hat on. In a few weeks Orange City will host the 5th Turkey Trot 5k walk and run on Thanksgiving morning. Whether you are up to running or walking, it is helpful to set a goal and work your way to completing the goal. A race like the Turkey Trot is a great goal with a good cause. The funds raised are being split between youth missions and Hunger Free Kids Sioux County. Also, it is a great excuse to eat all you want on Thanksgiving after completing a 5k. More information is available at www.orangecityturkeytrot.com. Hope to see you there.
Originally written for publication in the Capital Democrat Staying Healthy Column November 2018