Are You in Control of Your Health?
If you look around the world today, it’s easy to see that there is more focus than ever on healthy living. Organic foods and clean eating are becoming standard parts of our lives. The internet is full of coaches and trainers and alternative medicine specialists who want to help us take back control of our bodies. Tips for improving our health are everywhere, but do those things actually work? How much control do you have over your own health, really?
As someone who has battled health issues for most of my life, I decided that I needed an answer to that question.
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Living With Stomach Ulcers
I was only 11 years old when I was diagnosed with stomach ulcers. I got them via bacterial infection, but almost two decades later, they’ve never gone away. I’ve gone through phases where they were manageable, and phases where I couldn’t keep food down for months at a time. Most of my life has been a battle against my digestive system.
I’ve tried every prescription medication on the market, but all of them come with nasty side effects. I’ve tried herbal supplements that helped manage the worst of my issues, but still never made me healthy. Nothing really changed for me until I got married. My husband loves vegetables. He’s not quite a vegetarian, but he’s pretty darn close. Eating with him caused me to change the things I eat. After several months of a mostly plant-based diet and very little processed food, I noticed something insane: my ulcers barely bothered me.
It’s been five years, and I’m healthier now than I’ve ever been. Diet has turned out to be the most effective method of managing my ulcers. I’m healthy now, but staying that way requires constant vigilance. If I’m not careful about the things I put into my body, I will suffer the consequences. It may take days, or even weeks, to set in, but I will inevitably pay for it if I’m not careful with what I eat.
How I Use Health Trackers to Manage My Life
I know what I need to do in order to stay healthy, but it’s so easy to get busy and set those things aside. When I have ten minutes for lunch on a workday, it’s the simplest thing to grab a cheeseburger instead of a salad. Lack of sleep is another huge trigger for my ulcers, but it’s really easy to sacrifice some rest in order to make time for other things I want to do. It’s easier at the moment, but I always suffer the consequences.
I knew I had to focus on my health in order to take control of it, which is why I started using health trackers in my bullet journal. Tracking healthy habits like eating right and getting enough rest forces me to be aware of them. It helps me see patterns in how my behaviors affect my overall health and wellbeing.
My Monthly Set Up
Each month, I set up a two-page spread dedicated to my health. Down the left-hand side of the page, I create a sleep tracker. Each day, I mark the hours I slept the night before. This doesn’t just help me see how much rest I’m getting each night. It also reminds me to get my butt to bed at a reasonable time.
Next, to my sleep log, I have a bar for tracking headaches. I’ve suffered from chronic migraines since childhood, and I use this bar to track them. I’ve color-coded each day to record when I had no headache, a headache that was mild enough not to require medication, a severe headache that did require meds, or a full-blown migraine. As I’ve tracked this over time, I’ve discovered that lack of sleep is a huge trigger for headaches and migraines. I need to sleep enough in order to be healthy, and that’s powerful knowledge to have.
The other thing that triggers my migraines is dehydration, which is why the whole spread is topped by a hydration tracker. I fill in a block each day with the amount of water I’ve had. I might miss a day here and there–I’ve never enjoyed drinking water–but it helps remember to prioritize hydration.
On the second page, I have another bar where I track my stomach ulcers–days when I have no problems, days when I have some stomach pain, and days that I experience nausea and vomiting. Right next to that is a food log where I record what I’ve eaten each day. Through this process, I’ve seen that bad eating will always catch up with me. Surprisingly, shame has been a strong motivator here. I don’t want to let myself down by recording “cheeseburger” for the tenth day in a row, so I’m more likely to make better food choices.
How Can You Use This Technique?
Not everyone suffers from stomach ulcers and migraines. Even those who do might have an entirely different set of triggers. I’m well aware that these particular health trackers are unique to me, but the principles here can be applied to anyone with any health concern.
What do you struggle with in regard to your health? Perhaps you have digestive problems of your own. Maybe you suffer from a lack of energy. It’s possible your health concerns are mental rather than physical. Whatever it is, our health is dramatically affected by what we put into our bodies or what we put our bodies through.
Tracking your health concerns and their triggers can give you clarity and control. Even if you’re not certain what your triggers are, health trackers monitoring possible causes can help you see patterns you might have missed.
By using daily health trackers, I’ve discovered that I have much more control over my health than I would have believed. That’s not to say there won’t be exceptions. Sometimes I’m sleeping enough and eating right, but I’m just plain stressed out, and my body reacts to that by rejecting food. It happens. However, as long as I’m conscious of the choices I’m making and the effects those choices have, I can stay in control of my own health.
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