• January 20, 2021

STONE: COVID fight needs personal responsibility - Odessa American: Levi Stone

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STONE: COVID fight needs personal responsibility

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Posted: Sunday, November 29, 2020 4:30 am

While the rates of COVID19 continue to rise across West Texas, it’s drawn an intensely heightened sense of urgency in protecting ourselves and those around us. Wearing a mask, washing hands, and social distancing have become the “new normal” both now and in the unforeseeable future. In an age of instant gratification and immediate results, we might question why there hasn’t been a resolution to the COVID19 pandemic by now. All too often, the expectations of a quick fix to our problems falls squarely on the shoulders of others and not ourselves. Patience, consideration, and personal responsibility seem to be forgotten traits that once held us to higher standards and in reverence in respecting others. This is evident, as a whole, in how poorly we are managing our own health. Even in abidance to all the prevention standards, you can still contract COVID19. So aside from wearing that mask, washing your hands, and social distancing…you need to ask yourself, what am I doing to make myself stronger to fight COVID19 should I get it?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out adults of any age, with certain conditions, are at increased risk for severe illness caused from the COVID19 virus. While some conditions are non-modifiable, there are scores of them such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes that are. Like an athlete training well before the season starts, or a student studying and researching ahead of a test, the work they put in before, rather than during or after, dictates greater success rates. The same is true with our own health. Focusing on risk factors to prevent injury and disease improves the odds in beating many illnesses such as COVID19. Unfortunately, data reveals we should be doing a better job in safeguarding ourselves against a COVID19 diagnosis. This means not only reflecting upon, but taking initiative in doing something about the uncomfortable realization that many are doing little or nothing in managing and improving their existing state of health.

Ector County is a prime example when comparing its citizens’ health to those in other Texas counties. The collaborative 2020 County Health Rankings Report, from The University of Wisconsin and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, ranked Ector 164 in health outcomes (which weighs rates of premature death, poor/fair health, poor physical and mental health and low birthweight) 153 in health factors (which identifies several modifiable risk factors impacting overall health) out of 244 counties. While these ranks aren’t the worst, they certainly aren’t among the best either, leaving much needed room for improvement and further demonstrating action is required now rather than later. Type 2 diabetes, severe obesity, and serious heart disease are among the conditions known to have higher mortality rates associated with COVID19 related complications, including death. While the importance on wearing masks, social distancing, and practicing meticulous hand hygiene has been stressed over and over again, we need to place just as much emphasis on health prevention and preparation against COVID19 if and when people are infected with it.

We’re no longer at the point of contemplation on when a good time will be to start taking care of ourselves. If you aren’t actively doing something right now, as you read this column, you’re already behind and putting yourself in danger. The time is now to physically act upon doing something about your personal well-being. The following are things you literally need to start immediately to protect yourself and improve your odds of survivability against COVID19:

Stop tobacco in every shape form or fashion. Whether you smoke, chew, dip, or vape put it away and refrain from using it ever again.

Exercise and increase physical activity, even if you need to start slow. This will improve every facet of your physical, mental, and immune health, all of which are dependent on the other to fight disease and illness. Staying indoors DOES NOT mean being sedentary. Work with your healthcare provider to develop an exercise program that includes cardio and strength training activities and at a rate/frequency you can build upon. Whatever you do, stay active and quit sitting on the couch.

Quit eating refined foods, focus on whole foods, and QUIT OVEREATING. This means tossing the junk food and ditching the dependence of fast food chains as the primary source of meals. Instead replace them with home cooked meals using unadulterated ingredients such as fresh vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes.

Avoid overconsumption of alcohol. Limit to one drink a day for women and two for men. If you have a hard time doing this, stop drinking altogether.

Stay hydrated, drinking plenty of water and avoiding sweetened beverages. Sodas, sweet tea, and sports drinks should not be the primary method to hydrate.

Special Forces operators have a saying, which is…”make yourself hard to kill.” Make yourself just that by no longer thinking or talking about the efforts you need to make…but actually doing them, starting now! COVID19 is not going to wait on you.

Odessa, TX

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