What is good health to you?

Health is personal.

My definition of ‘I am pretty healthy’ will probably mean something very different to what ‘being healthy’ means to you. No surprises there.

When we’ve spoken with people about this topic it has been something of a surprise to hear people’s different definitions and how they describe their current health.

What I know for sure, is that my definition does not always agree with my physician’s view.

My regular doctor in the United States is great! But we do agree to disagree on my health status. Of course, he pushes me to lose weight (no surprises for most of us there), try to reduce my stress levels, improve my diet, do more exercise, take a statin, watch my cholesterol. I think you get the idea. At least I don’t get ‘you need to stop smoking’, as, happily, that is not one of my vices. But he is very vocal about how I need to manage my health and he has an array of measures that he is very happy to use to measure my relative health and progress towards a more healthy lifestyle.

But what we don’t agree on is, what good health is for me.

Because it’s not a number, or set of numbers (BMI, blood sugar level, A1C levels, all that sort of stuff) – clearly I don’t really know what the numbers are. But I do know what good health is for me and it’s a trade-off between what I want and what I am prepared to do.

I am OK to lose some weight. Yep, some weight. What my view of a healthy weight is for me, and it’s not what I weighed what I was 20 something.

But here is the thing, it’s my health. And this is important, because the healthcare system does not seem to take this into much consideration. If physicians and patients can agree on what the goals should be, from the patients perspective, then we have a chance of building an effective partnership between healthcare provider and patient to improve health.

Have you ever had this conversation with your doctor? I know when I first broached the topic with my GP we had a great discussion. We are still not agreed but at least he knows what I am prepared to do and what I am not.


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