Health means a lot more than maintaining your goal weight and getting a physical every year. It’s a holistic approach and nobody (not even natural body builders) are perfect. It’s kind of like medicine itself: Great health is a practice that evolves and can never be mastered. With that mindset, it’s suddenly much less intimidating.
It can mean many things from addressing your sleep apnea with a CPAP machine to focusing on your financial fitness. However, a lot of Americans tend to overlook the same red flags that are popping up like crazy. Just because “everyone does something” (like going to Starbucks every day) doesn’t make it normal or healthy. Have you been ignoring one of these warning signs?
You “need coffee” first thing in the morning
This can be a sign of two things: Poor sleep hygiene and/or a caffeine addiction. You know caffeine addiction is real, and yet it doesn’t have the same kind of stigma as cigarette addiction or alcohol addiction since few people die of caffeine overdose (although it does happen). Too much caffeine can wreak havoc on your system, and weaning yourself off or down is critical. Check out WebMD’s facts on caffeine addiction to see if you fall into that category.
You always get that afternoon slump
Contrary to popular belief, afternoon slumps aren’t normal and can be caused by many things. You might be one of the (many) people who benefit from a 20-minute power nap mid-day, you might not be getting enough sleep, or you might not be giving your eyes adequate breaks from the screen. Consider Nidirect’s tips on how to give yourself a break at work and you might better resist a vending machine run at 2pm.
You don’t get sore from workouts anymore
Light to moderate soreness is your body’s way of saying it was challenged during your workout and the muscles are growing (in other words, it’s a good thing). However, the body is both incredibly smart and stupendously stupid. It gets used to workouts quickly, and if you can’t remember the last time you were sore, you might just be going through the motions. You need to change up your workouts constantly.
You’re hungry more than you think is “normal”
Americans are chronically dehydrated and thirst cues are easily confused with hungercues. Aim to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water each day. If you’re trying to lose weight, drink eight ounces of water before each meal so your body can determine whether it’s really hungry for all that food or merely thirsty.
Your headaches are chronic
While it’s certainly normal to get headaches from time to time, there’s usually a root cause. It might be tooth grinding, stress you need to address, poor posture, dehydration, or any number of things. If you suffer from headaches more than once per month (or it just doesn’t feel right to you), see a doctor. Check out The Mayo Clinic for more ideas of what can be behind headaches, but don’t try to self-diagnose.
You feel down in the dumps every winter
Feeling “blue” year-round may or may not be signs of depressions (remember that feeling sad, happy and everywhere in between is a normal human spectrum), but if it really strikes in the winter you might be seriously SAD. Seasonal affected disorder (SAD) occurs when your body isn’t getting enough Vitamin D, which many people soak up from the sun. Get your vitamin levels checked, and you may be a good candidate for a Vitamin D supplement.
You check Face book first thing in the morning
Many people use their smart phones as an alarm clock, so it’s really easy to start checking your Face book feed or seeing who tweeted what. However, if you put off relieving your bladder or saying good morning to your spouse in order to check out social media, you might have a problem. Social media addiction is a very real thing, recently covered by CBS, and if you suspect you might have an addiction, it’s time to seek help.
Your urine isn’t very clear
Both your urine and bowel movements can be indicators of your health. “Healthy urine” is close to clear with a pale, pastel yellowish hue. Obviously if you just spent a few minutes in the steam room and haven’t had any liquids recently, your urine will be darker and will be “fixed” as soon as you re-hydrate. However, if you notice a stronger than usual smell or can’t seem to get that pastel, “Easter yellow” color, there might be a number of health issues at play.
You’re a woman whose menstrual cycle is all over the place
Unless you’re in the age range for menopause (which can happen as early as your 30s, so check with a doctor), your cycle should be fairly regular. All women should track their cycles to make sure they’re on schedule (and also so they don’t get any surprise visitors that destroy white pants and underwear). If you notice your cycle doesn’t fall within a four-day range on a regular basis, get a checkup. It might be a sugar imbalance, an issue with your weight (underweight or overweight), or some diseases can interfere with your cycle, too
You get “hungry”
It’s normal to be grumpy when you’re hungry, but if you feel like you need to eat “right now” seemingly out of the blue or you’ll pass out, that’s a sign of Type-2 diabetes. Of course, getting exceptionally cranky and hungry doesn’t necessarily mean you’re diabetic. However, it’s a clue that you should at least get your fasted blood sugar levels checked by a doctor (as should everyone on an annual basis as preventative care).
These are just a few of the times when your body might be telling you something’s wrong. However, don’t tread into hypochondriac territory just yet. The human body is a complex machine and sometimes things get wonky for no reason at all. The only way to stay on top of things is to regularly see your doctor and be transparent about your concerns.