Local Physicians Stress Wellness, Healthy Lifestyle to Ward off Serious Illness – Mega Doctor News

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Mega Doctor News
HARLINGEN – As communities throughout the Rio Grande Valley continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, local physicians are encouraging residents to take stock of their personal health and take steps to live a healthier lifestyle.
Dr. Christopher Romero, Internal Medicine specialist, said that the Rio Grande Valley has been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our Rio Grande Valley has been so heavily impacted by COVID-19 throughout the last two years, and it has been heartbreaking. So many of us are still mourning the loss of family, loved ones, and colleagues to this pandemic,” he said. “Cameron and Hidalgo County were in the top 10 counties in Texas as far as mortality is concerned regarding COVID-19. The sad truth is that this pandemic has brought to light health issues that have been impacting our community for decades, and the rates of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and chronic illness has made our population more vulnerable to this horrific disease.”
Dr. Jamil Madi, a critical care physician and Medical Director of Valley Baptist-Harlingen’s Intensive Care Unit, said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made abundantly clear the link between chronic health issues and the risk of serious illness or even death associated with infections such as COVID-19 or influenza.
“The patients we’ve seen in our hospitals who are often the sickest with COVID-19 are usually those who have co-morbidities — the most common one being obesity. When you add other common co-morbidities such as hypertension, lung disease, diabetes, and others, it compounds on itself and causes a very serious health situation,” he said. “While age can be a determining factor, we’re seeing these co-morbidities across the full spectrum of ages. These co-morbidities suppress the immune system, making it much more difficult for the body to fight serious infections, whether it’s caused by a virus, bacteria, or even cancer.”
Madi said that for individuals looking to live a healthier lifestyle, there is no better time than the present, and that even simple changes can add up to a better and healthier quality of life.
“Changes to diet and exercise are the most important ones you can make, and they can start small. Exercise could include something like just walking 30 minutes a day. Anything beyond not sitting on a couch is activity and it can make a difference,” he said. “In terms of diet, it’s best to just get anything that’s considered an unhealthy snack out of your pantry and out of your house. Try to eat at home instead of going out every day, and don’t forget to hydrate yourself well. Anything you do for three weeks becomes a habit, and a habit will ultimately become a lifestyle.”
Romero said that local residents looking to embrace healthy change for 2022 shouldn’t be discouraged by starting their fitness journey slowly.
“The good news is that for the most part, many of the issues I referenced are modifiable – they can be changed, they can be improved,” he said. “We can all work to address some of these chronic issues that we’ve been facing for a long time and work to make 2022 our best year.”
Both Romero and Madi said that in addition to discussing any lifestyle changes with your physician, it is important to approach change with longevity in mind, and both agreed that the path to finding success in lifestyle changes is one of a marathon, not a sprint.
Here are some tips for success:
·         Find your why. Look deep inside, maybe even talk with your family about what is that thing that really motivates you to want to make the change this year and make that change stick. Whether it’s being there for your grandkids being able to be more active in your community, or just feeling good when you wake up in the morning. You have to find that thing that’s going to get you over those rough days where you don’t want to eat well, where you don’t want to exercise, but you’re going to do the right thing anyway. 
·         Set a goal. If you don’t have something you’re working toward, it’s going to be hard to reach it. Those goals could include signing up for a race or picking a date that you want to have a specific health or wellness goal achieved by. Having those benchmarks will help you actually get there and sustain that change that you’re going to be able to enact this year. 
·         Talk with your doctor about the health changes you’re planning on making, whether it’s embarking on a new diet or starting a new exercise routine. It’s important to have that partnership with your physician. First, they’re going to be excited for you and they’re going to be motivating you as well. Second, they’re going to be able to guide you to see if there are things they need to watch out for or if you have pitfalls to avoid as you make 2022 your best and healthiest year. 
·         Make a plan. It’s going to take hard work, but it’s also going to take some organization. There are a lot of amazing resources available online. It’s important to actually set up a plan ranging from what you’re eating the next few days to what exercise activities you’re going to participate in. 
·         Let your friends and families know your goals, your vision, and what you’re planning on achieving. You will be pleasantly surprised about how much motivation you will get from them, and they’re going to be your cheerleaders. They’ll work with you and help hold you accountable in a great way to do the right thing to make those positive changes in your life. 
Madi said it’s important to remember that lifestyle adjustments in the present can set the stage for a healthier future.
“The changes you make today are positive results you’ll see tomorrow. It’s never too late to make changes to your lifestyle with exercise and diet,” he said. “It can make all the difference in the world and you can even reverse some of your illnesses, including hypertension, vascular disease, and diabetes. Simple changes can transform your quality and quantity of life tremendously.”
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