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Take a Health Audit this Tax Season

Posted by Mike Gales on

Hey there fitness enthusiasts,

It’s April once again and we all know what that means. Of course spring is in full bloom and the nice weather will soon be upon us but April is also Tax season. Every year at  this time most of us are frantically gathering our paperwork and receipts so that we can prepare our tax forms. We often spend a few hours meticulously dotting every I and crossing every T in hopes that we don’t get audited by Uncle Sam.

This year I urge you to take a step back for just a moment and try to gather some perspective. We spend so much time and energy worrying about our finances but all of the money in the world is useless if you are not around to spend it. Imagine if we just spent a fraction of that time every year and we took an audit of our health. 

I am not even talking about going for a doctor’s visit, how about taking a mere half hour once a year to answer a few questions and make a few observations using some tools that you probably already have in your home.

Completing your Health Audit is easy, here's what you need.

  • Paper
  • Pencil  
  • Scale
  • Tape measure
  • Cell phone 
  • 5 minutes the next time that you are near your local pharmacy.

First, take a few measurements:

  • Weight: Step on your bathroom scale and record the number. Yes actually write it down.
  • Height: Use a pencil to mark a spot on a wall and measure with tape measure. Write that number down as well.
  • BMI: After you have recorded both your height and weight you can then use those measurements to calculate your Body Mass Index. A quick Google search will bring up a ton of free online calculators or you could use the formula (kg/m^2) which is your weight in kilograms dived by your height in meters squared. If you have a BMI of over 30 then you fall into a category of being obese which places you at a much higher risk for many health complications.
  • Circumference; All of you looking to gain new muscle could take measurements of your arms, chest, thigh etc. to chart your progress but most people should pay particular attention to their Waist to Hip ratio because that seems to be a great indicator for an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. For simplicity’s sake use a tape measure and record the circumference around the height of your belly button (for your waist) and around the widest part of your bum (for your hips). A ratio greater than .85 for women and .90 for men could be indicative of future problems.
  • Hear rate: Place your first two fingers horizontally across the wrist of the opposite hand and feel for your radial pulse below the base of your thumb. Use the timer on your cell phone for 30 seconds as you count your heart beat and then multiply that number by two to get your beats per minute (BPM). There are apps for newer cell phones that can use the phone’s camera to take your pulse. Normal while resting is between 60 and 100 bpm.
  • Blood pressure; You may not have a blood pressure machine at home but these days most local pharmacies will have a BP machine that is free for their clients to use. 120/80 is considered normal. I wouldn’t worry too much if your BP is lower than the norm unless you are experiencing symptoms such as feeling faint. Yet if your number is high, you may want to investigate this a little further as high blood pressure can result in a multiple health problems such as heart disease, stroke and kidney failure.

Take notice of a few things:

  • What has your energy level been like? Very low levels of energy could be due to a lack of sleep, stress, a poor diet, anemia, or even a problem with your thyroid gland.
  • How have you been sleeping? Perhaps you suffer from sleep apnea (pauses in breathing) or a mental health issue such as anxiety or high levels of stress. Mental health issues are often dismissed but they could manifest themselves physically, especially if you are not sleeping.
  • Going to the bathroom very often? If you find yourself going very often, you may want to get checked for diabetes just in case. If you are a man then perhaps you may want to have a prostate checkup just to be safe.
  • The color of your urine? If you have very dark urine then you may be dehydrated and you may want to increase your water consumption. If you continually have very foamy urine then you may be leaking protein and should get it checked out. if you have blood in your urine then you should make a doctor’s appointment right after reading this article just to be safe.
  • Check your skin: This is such a simple thing that most of us never take the time to do. Lightly swipe your hands across all of the surfaces of skin that you can reach. Take note of anything out of the ordinary like any sort of lumps or bumps, especially in the area of the breasts for women and the testicles for men. Also check for any skin growths like a new mark or mole. If you do notice a mole then make note ACBDE. Asymmetry (if you draw a line through the center, do both halves match?), Border (is the border of the mole raised, rough or uneven?), Color (are there multiple colors present within the mole?), Diameter (is the mole lager than a pencil head eraser?), Evolving (have there been any changes in the mole?).

Most of us have associated the word audit with disgust and dread. Every April we expel large sums of time and energy to avoid a potential audit by the government. Yet an audit is done to make sure that all of you financial affairs are in order and if you have done everything by the book then there is no reason to worry. An audit doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In a perfect world all of us should go for an annual checkup that includes a physical, blood work and diagnostic imaging but just preforming a very basic audit like the one listed above can assist you in keeping your health in order. I have mentioned that most diseases don’t just magically appear overnight and a simple health audit once a year may help you prevent or detect many potential problems.

If any of the numbers fall outside of the normal boundaries or if you become aware of anything out of the ordinary during your little health audit then remember to schedule a doctor’s appointment just to be safe. It might just turn out that deciding to get audited was the smartest move that you ever made!

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