Beware Health Tip ‘Snippets,’ Stick With The Basics
By Peter Weiss, MD // November 27, 2013
YOU NEED AN INDIVIDUAL PLAN TO LIVE HEALTHY
I’m tired of seeing and hearing “health tips” everywhere. I’m sure that you know what I mean. It seems that I can’t pick up any popular health magazine or visit a web site without seeing titles like these – “7 Hints For Good Health,” “20 Ways To Eat Your Way Thin,” or even “12 Tips For A Better Butt.”
These articles represent the culture we live in now – a culture of information snippets and sound bites. We don’t need health snippets. We need to think more deeply.
It’s not that the tips themselves are wrong. On the contrary, the individual tips or hints usually represent sound advice. But a collection of short, one-size-fits-all “tips” is not the same as a good plan. The advice is shallow. You know it when you read it. To quote the old TV commercial, “Where’s the beef?” Perhaps, like me, you have also found them amusing for a minute or two but not really helpful in your life.
You need a solid plan to be healthy – an individual and unique plan – one that you’ve carefully thought out which incorporates elements suited to you and your life. Tips can’t do that for you.
HEALTH TIP OVERLOAD CLOUDS THE BIG PICTURE
Think of it like building a house, perhaps your “dream home.” Naturally you would want to do this right. You’d probably start with explaining your dreams to an architect who would create the plans. Then you would carefully select a contractor who would design and oversee the construction, selecting materials and coordinating their arrival on the job site. Finally you would begin construction from the ground up – first laying the foundation, followed by erecting the walls, adding the roof, and so on.
Trying to build your health from tips is like trying to build your dream home from individual contractors dropping off “helpful materials” on your lot. Supposing different suppliers came by and begun to drop off construction materials – concrete blocks, bricks, asphalt, wood, carpet, doors, roof shingles, nails, screws, paint, etc. Pretty soon your lot would be covered with items.
Yes they all might be useful in building a house. But are they useful for your dream house? Do they all go together? Can you use them out of order? How can roof shingles be helpful before there is even a foundation? A lot of the material will just be in the way, actually impairing the construction activities.
START WITH THE BASICS
Building your good health is more important than building your house. Start with the basics. Focus first on the main principles of health and wellness – healthy eating, healthy moving, emotional balance, relationships and the like. Assess where you are and where you’d like to be. Then develop an overall plan to move you in that direction. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You can change it over time, but having a plan will keep you on track and improving.
Begin to implement your plan, starting with the basics to create your foundation. Now you are ready to read any magazine article offering “8 Ways To Trim Your Thighs.” With the house, you’re able to decide on paint, carpet and other interior furnishings after knowing the floor plan and style of the home. So too with your health, once you have a plan, you have a framework for evaluating any tips. Could that fit into my plan? Would it work well with everything else I’m doing? Do I want to try it? Or, is that something that might work for others but not for me? Then the tips may become helpful.
You might even want to save the tips that aren’t useful. Things do change, and your plan will need to evolve over time. Perhaps there is a nugget that you may be able to incorporate in your regimen later, but always remember to focus first on the overall plan.
YOU CAN DO IT!
Let me assure you that you can do this. You can change your health for the better. Sure it takes time and requires some effort. But you’ve done a lot of things in your life that were harder and less important. So take action. Ask for help from others, make your plan and get going. Start building the foundation of the new you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Peter J. Weiss, MD FACP, President of Concert Health Plan/Florida Hospital Healthcare System, is a physician, healthcare executive, author, speaker and health coach with a passion for helping others to health and wellness. He has recognized that traditional medical care doesn’t always help people to become well, and has focused on helping to empower individuals to manage their own health. His book on personal health, More Health, Less Care, has drawn excellent reviews: “The most practical book I have ever read about personal health care.” – Allen H. Neuharth, Founder, USA Today. “One of the most valuable self-help books you will ever read.” – Joseph S. Alpert, MD, Editor-in-Chief, American Journal of Medicine.