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couple stretching

5 Ways To Personalize Your Journey To Wellness

Posted on March 18, 2016 by Kimberlydawn Wisdom MD

Historically, the medical system would give each patient a standard prescription to ward off disease: Eat healthy, exercise, get enough sleep, avoid toxic substances and find effective ways to manage stress. Do those things, and you’ll achieve wellness. Trouble is, health is not one-size-fits-all.

Sadly, not everyone has the opportunity to make healthy choices in their lives. Your culture may influence how you eat, move, recreate and manage stress. It also plays a starring role in certain genetic predispositions (African Americans are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than Caucasians, for example). So the key to wellness really lies in creating healthy daily routines that fit in with your personality, surrounding environment, cultural and religious traditions, and most importantly, your personal beliefs. Here’s how:

  1. Find a health care partner. Selecting the right doctor goes beyond reviewing resumes and checking physician-rating websites. Instead, the goal is to identify a provider you connect with, someone who is not only knowledgeable and experienced, but who understands your culture and you feel comfortable having honest conversations with. Any doctor can write a prescription. What you need is someone who can help you create change in your life—someone who takes into account your culture, your beliefs, your behavior and your lifestyle when delivering medical advice.
  2. Know your risks. Health care is complicated. Depending on your race, culture, and of course, lifestyle habits, you could have a greater or lesser chance of developing certain conditions. For example, African American women are less likely to develop breast cancer than Caucasian women, but they’re more likely to die from the disease if they’re diagnosed. Why? Because they typically don’t catch it early enough. When you discuss your risks with your doctor, together you can develop an appropriate health screening plan that takes into account your race, family history and lifestyle factors to help you prevent disease.
  3. Speak up. Many people hear their doctor’s recommendations and nod their heads “yes,” but inside they’re thinking, “There’s no way I can do that.” The end result: They feel like a failure when they don’t do what the doctor suggests, so they don’t visit the doctor again. A better approach: Start a negotiation. If your doctor tells you to walk 30 minutes daily, but you don’t feel safe walking in your neighborhood, speak up. Then together, you can discuss what’s realistic based on your personal goals and situation. Maybe you could walk in the mall or drive to a safer neighborhood. Or you might skip the stroll altogether, and do a workout online.
  4. Take action. While you can’t change your genes, you can change the way they impact your life. If you have a high risk for diabetes, for example, you may prevent or delay the onset of the disease if you work on staying lean and trim. Whatever your individual risks, work with your doctor to come up with a plan to avoid them. If necessary, recruit the whole family to support you. Start a nightly tradition of doing push-ups and lunges together, or enjoy an evening game of hoops or tag. It doesn’t matter which healthy activity you do as long as you have people who will hold you accountable.
  5. Create a culture of change. Historically, medical professionals worked hard to treat patients equally. Today, our goal is for health care equity. Equity means that no matter what your unique risks are, your health care team can make adjustments to help you overcome them. At Henry Ford, providers ask because they care. When we ask you about your race, ethnicity, language or country of origin, we’re not asking to know your business. We’re asking because it will help us take better care of you if we know what your preferences are and what could be driving certain behaviors.

The goal of health care today is to start the journey with you when you’re healthy. If we join forces when you’re feeling great, there’s a better chance we can help prevent future problems. So instead of visiting a doctor when you’re sick, consider scheduling an appointment for a well visit, so a doctor can coach you on how to manage stress, boost your energy level, even live longer.

Wellness is a lifelong journey that everyone can experience. It’s not a destination for only a few. Together, we can help you achieve your greatest health. After all, your health is your greatest wealth!

To find a doctor at Henry Ford, visit or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936).

Categories : FeelWell

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