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Be your own Health CEO

Image of Sara Hodson, BHK, ACSM CCEP, is Founder and CEO of LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic
Sara Hodson, BHK, ACSM CCEP, is Founder and CEO of LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic

There is an incredible video starring actress Elizabeth Banks on the dangers of having a heart attack: What starts out as a normal day for a busy working mom, becomes comedic gold as she ignores each sign – sweating, losing her train of thought, chest pains, numbness in her arm. Finally, she slams into the fridge and collapses on the floor, still conscious but in denial, as her son searches “Signs of a Heart Attack” on her phone and tosses it to her on the floor. 

It is funny because it is true.

Forget COVID-19 and the dangers this pandemic has brought to our lives:: Heart disease is still the leading killer of women worldwide. Women are greatly at risk for ignoring not only the symptoms, but their declining health – often until it is too late. At LIVE WELL, one of the most common stories we see is an older mom, whose kids are grown, who has finally decided to take control of her health; too often, we have members come to our door after they have had a major health scare.

Why does it take a heart attack, a stroke, or a pandemic to make us realize that our health is the only thing that matters? Why do we put everyone else first and place our own health far down the totem pole? How do we finally see that we have to be our own heroes – we have to advocate for our own health journey? 

Your health should be your business – literally. Taking charge of your health – whether it is controlling high blood pressure, getting your regular blood work and tests, checking for lumps – has to rise to the top of your to do list. And, you wouldn’t run a business without a team – you need to get your VPs, Directors of Communications and HR personnel in place in order for your business to succeed. 

Here are three easy steps to building your health care team.   

1. First, engage your physician or GP in your health care journey. The rise of telemedicine since the pandemic began has made this even more accessible. Even prior to the pandemic, Canadians were embracing virtual health care – according to a survey by the Canadian Medical Association, over 90 percent of Canadians who had used a virtual health appointment reported being happy and satisfied. Ask your physician if you are due for blood work and/or tests that need to be done, and what else you can do to improve your health, including exercise.

            Why?

All research shows that 150 minutes of exercise at a moderate to vigorous intensity will help prevent non-communicable disease, such as Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, Hypertension, many types of Cancer and Mental Health. Fitness Industry Council of Canada is partnered with the Prescription to Get Active. in which fitness facilities across the country are connected with healthcare professionals to get Canadians moving, offering 30 days of free fitness. Exercise is medicine, so it’s integral that it’s included as the foundation of your healthcare plan.  

2. Build an accountability team, which includes skilled and trained professionals who are going to help you achieve success. This can include a health coach, a nutritionist, a personal trainer, a kinesiologist, people who are skilled and will guide you to eat well, exercise with proper form and technique, and map a health plan for you. It isn’t as easy as saying “go for a walk” anymore – although walking is an excellent form of low-impact aerobic activity. We need strength training and mobility work, particularly as we age. Fitness Industry Council of Canada reports that there are more than 150,000 Canadians employed in the fitness industry, serving 6 million Canadians – reach out to one near you.  

Your accountability team must also include your family and friends – not everyone is going to be supportive of your choices required to live a healthier life, so you want to surround yourself with people who are going to build you up, not tear you down. People who empower you, not enable old habits. Let them know you are taking necessary steps to change your health, and that means you are carving out time for you – to exercise, to prepare healthy meals, to go for walks in nature. Let them know that you might need company on a walk one day! 

3. Find a community of strength, support and love. The first thing you see when you walk into any LIVE WELL location across Canada is our “Win Wall” – where our members write down their wins of the week – if they have shown up for all of their sessions or are sleeping better, or can now get on the floor to play with their grandkids. The Win Wall is the perfect testament to why LIVE WELL works: We Show Up for Each Other. Many of our members report starting with LIVE WELL for the accountability and support and personalized programming, but staying with LIVE WELL because of the friends and community they have grown to love. 

Taking charge of our health is never easy. But, when we surround ourselves with the right people, it gets easier. The end goal might seem far away, but each milestone we accomplish – getting off blood pressure medication, climbing the stairs easier, a smile on our face more often, waking up feeling rested – makes it the most worthwhile journey we will ever take. 

As we start to come out of COVID-19 and look ahead, we must become our own health heroes- we must take charge. The importance of our health has never been more clear than living through a pandemic.  

Your health matters - your physical health, mental health and social health.  

Make health your business. In fact, make it the most important business of your life. You won’t regret it!


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