plateIn many states, when you own a car, it is the law to have it inspected once a year. Your mechanic reviews all the car’s systems and engine. He/she ensures your vehicle is running at it’s very best to get you the best gas mileage, best tire wear, but most importantly, longevity of your vehicle life. We get our car’s inspected because it is the law, but also because we need our cars. They get us to work, to school, to the store, and to the places we go for fun. Without them, we are hampered in accomplishing what we need to live.

Now, consider this: Your body is your vehicle.

Starting the new year out right involves taking a personal inventory of your health and wellness, in other words, an inspection. It is important to understand where you are in your own personal health, but also the direction you are heading. Doing an assessment of your health is vital to starting and/or maintaining wellness.

Where do you start?

Primary Care Physician – Your Mechanic

Just like having a trustworthy mechanic who you can call when you need them, it is important to have a health care team that you trust. Finding a primary care physician that you can see on an annual basis is important to your overall health. The physician will keep record of how your body is working year-to-year and can guide you through any challenges you may face. Your physician knows your body’s systems and what makes them work at peak performance. They are also there for those bumps in the road like colds and flu. If you already have a primary care physician, make sure you are scheduled to see him/her at least once a year for your annual check up.

Balanced Diet – Your Fuel

Fueling your body is just as important as fueling your vehicle. What to put in your body isn’t always as easy to figure out as it is to fill up your gas tank. At the filling station you usually have only three choices and it is something you do once a week, or every two weeks. When it comes to food and beverages for our bodies, the choices are endless, and it isn’t always easy to figure out which ones are the best for us.

The key to a balanced diet is to eat a wide variety of foods in the right proportions and taking in the proper amount of food and drink to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.

So, what does that mean? If you look at your plate, half of it should be filled with fruits and vegetables. The goal is to get five fruits and veggies each day. A quarter of your plate should be starchy foods like potato, rice, bread, or pasta. The important part is to remember not to load your starches down with butters, oils, cheeses, and the like. And go for whole grain when you can. The last quarter of your plate should be your non-dairy protein, in other words, meat, fish, eggs, or beans. Some dairy is important, but keep your portions in check and don’t choose the full fat varieties. Finally, the most difficult for most people, is limiting foods and drinks that are high in fat and/or sugar. Reduce or eliminate soft drinks from your daily intake. Steer clear of processed foods they are often high in fat and/or sugar.

Maintenance – Driving, Oil Changes, and Fluid Checks

If you leave a car sitting for months or years, it will start to rust, the gears won’t work properly. The same can be said for your body. Daily exercise is a must to keeping your engine running smoothly. That doesn’t mean hours in a gym, if that is not your thing. The minimum recommended exercise is 30 minutes per day, and the bonus, is that you don’t have to do it all at once, if you schedule is too busy. Ten minutes here and there all adds up throughout your day. Strength training is also recommended twice a week.

Just like your car, you need to check your fluids as well. Water makes up 60% of your body. If you become dehydrated your body won’t function correctly and can be damaged. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Getting your annual vaccines is also part of your body maintenance. For children, your physician will recommend vaccines at the appropriate times in their development. For adults, the flu shot and the pneumonia vaccine can be important and are highly recommended to help keep you on the go.

Just like you need  your car to get to work, school, and play, you need  your body even more! No matter what time of year your inspection is due, the important part is that you are taking time to evaluate your systems and make sure your are keeping your engine running for the long term.