“Know thyself “
- An ancient Greek aphorism that appeared in the Temple of Apollo in Delphi and was also inscribed-in Latin- over the Oracle’s door in the 1999 film “Matrix”.
- A maxim that has been attributed to ancient philosophers.
- Benjamin Franklin wrote: "There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one's self."
Understanding our self, our feelings, our emotions, and what motivates our behavior is or should be an important goal in life. But what does it practically mean in the areas of health, wellness and prevention?
Knowing how our body works helps us understand what is important in keeping it healthy. In order to keep our arteries healthy and avoid heart attacks and stroke, for example, we should care about what we put into our mouth (diet), as this stuff is absorbed by our gut and enters the arteries and heart circulation, with potential salutary (fruits and vegetables filled with antioxidants) or destructive effects (frequent intake of red meat, fast food or cold cuts, filled with unhealthy fats). A healthy metabolism supports healthy arteries and its pillars are a combination of healthy diet and near-daily exercise, including both cardio- and muscle building through light weights. As another example, knowing that one of our immediate family members has type 2 diabetes means that our own pancreas cells that produce insulin are probably not very durable, so we better watch it and avoid becoming obese or eating too many cookies and desserts, or else!
Listen to your body -- once you know it well enough, you can pick up on its cues.
As it is true that no one can know our feelings or emotions better than ourselves, we can also be the best barometers of our physical health. Many times we know when something is “out of whack”, without being able to pinpoint to the exact, precise cause or details. Such knowledge or “gut feeling” may prompt us to make changes in our lifestyle or even visit our doctor. Speaking about doctors, there must be the right “chemistry” between us and our health care provider.
There are several ways to advocate for yourself.
Ask question’s - It is ok to arrive at your doctor’s office with a list of questions. The better organized you are they better it will be for you and your health care provider.
Second opinion - It may be appropriate to get a second opinion. That is why when it comes to YOUR health, you are allowed to talk to several medical professionals about the concerns you have.
Be honest - Feel comfortable telling the truth without hiding anything or fearing that will be chastised for doing so. The old saying Honesty is the best Policy certainly applies here.
Not the Right Match - In case we sense that our doctor is not the right match, we should not hesitate to find another provider.
Knowing our body will help us shape and keep our healthiest version of ourselves. Whereas the general principles of a healthy lifestyle may be, more or less, the same for all of us, the details of how to get there are different. This should come as no surprise as no two individuals are the same, not even monozygotic twins. We have recently spoken to a woman who joined a gym and felt pressured to take a yoga class, as her friends raved about it and she, herself read about its benefits. However, after trying it, she found that yoga was not for her. She did not enjoy it; she felt it was something like a chore she had to attend. As she was not getting the most out of it, she tried something else. She found that a toning class using light weights was more her style. What works for one person does not work for all.
We need not worry if we do not look like the supermodels in the magazines or that bodybuilder at the gym. Actually, this may be a good thing. Some supermodels smoke like a chimney, in order to control their appetite and eat less (smoking is worse than obesity) and many bodybuilders use anabolic steroid drugs that seriously undermine their health. Keep in mind that the weight we carry around our hips is not nearly as bad for our metabolism as our belly weight. In pursuit of a healthy diet, some may be able to follow a strict program and count calories, while others find it easier to just eat healthy. Remember that a diet is good only if we keep it in the long run. And that is okay to be different! If everyone was exactly the same - wouldn’t that make for a boring world?
Listen to your body and watch your body. If you see or notice changes, take action. In today’s busy society it is easy to put everyone else first: kids, spouse, job, even your pet! But YOU have to take care of YOU. Also, do not forget to reward yourself from time to time. Embrace your differences, and work to be the healthiest version of YOU that you can be!
Here’s to your Health!!