Take Control of Your Health

Melissa Dyrdahl

I was talking with a woman the other day who commented on how I was one of those lucky, naturally fit and healthy people. She said it based on my current life style assuming that it’s how I’ve always been.

The truth is I feel better now than I ever have, not because I’m naturally fit and healthy but because of the choices I make.

There was a time when I didn’t give my health much thought. My eating habits were okay largely because I’d grown up eating vegetables and other healthy foods – no soda, fast food or junk – which is still my diet today. But I was busy focusing on work and my volunteer activities, and I didn’t really have the time or desire to exercise.

I did, at least, get myself in for regular check-ups. That turned out to be crucial. It was from an annual mammogram that I discovered I had cancer. Because I got that test, my cancer was caught at an early stage, which meant I had options regarding which treatment was best for me.

That’s when I realized that I also had options when it came to my overall health. I could choose to do nothing and increase my risk of having more issues in the future, or I could make changes.

I opted to make my health a priority. I realized it was up to me to look after myself; no one else could. It was something I needed to do not just for me but also for those in my life who care about me and rely on me. I wouldn’t be there for them if I wasn’t there for myself.

I knew I needed to exercise and found that I liked walking and that turned into hiking. Now, I spend time outside exploring the paths in the hills around my home nearly every day. I also discovered yoga and Pilates to build strength and maintain balance and flexibility, which is so important as we age.

While we can’t control all of what happens to us, we can make a difference for ourselves. It starts with recognizing that the decisions we make every day have an impact not just immediately but also on our future. Swapping out a salad for French fries or walking instead of driving a few blocks to the store may not seem like a big deal, but those small things add up.

yoga SF

Practicing yoga at Ella Health in San Francisco using a YogaForce mat.

My sincere hope for other women is that it doesn’t take a major health scare to get them to pay attention to themselves. I want to encourage and inspire others to take charge of their health right now. What are the health challenges you face? What can you do about it? What will it take for you to feel your very best? You have a choice. What will it be?

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