I went to bed in November and woke up to a different election result than most had predicted. In the days, weeks and months that have followed media outlets, late night news pundits, politicians across the world and neighbours alike have asked the question “how did this happen?”. As I digested the news, I began to think of the questions and discussions I have every day with my patients.

I’m fortunate to work with many people from different backgrounds, professions and ages – as well as health complaints, needs and diagnoses. Some of my patients are infants, some are elderly and everyone else falls somewhere in the middle. The one discussion that I have with my patient’s on their first visit is the very difference between not being sick, and living an optimal life.

Donald Trump is the result of a long history of American experiments. For better or worse, he has come about as a result of ignoring some of the pulses of the American population. But he’s not a Stage 4 Cancer diagnosis, he’s a wake-up call. Donald Trump is our very blatant reminder that we shouldn’t be waiting for our health to decline before we do something about it.

Cardiologists will know, the first 10 days after a heart attack are the days when someone is most likely to take action; to change their diet, to commit to an exercise regime and to focus on their health. But what would your life look like if we didn’t wait for a heart attack to prompt a lifestyle change. The difference between not being sick and living optimally is at those first stages. Those blood work results that show our sugars are a little high, or when our cholesterol is starting to get a little off. The symptoms like needing an afternoon pick-me-up, not feeling rested when you wake up, gaining weight or craving sugar can be some of the first signs that our health is veering towards sick and away from optimal. Living an optimal life is minimizing those PMS symptoms so they don’t knock you out for one week every month, or dealing with those aches and pains as soon as they start to happen, instead of requiring pain medications or possible surgeries later on.

I work with people every day to ensure that they’re getting the most out of their health. When I’m looking at your test results, and listening to you describe your health history I’m not only looking to see where your body is doing a good job, I’m looking to see where it’s compensating. I’m looking for the small details that can change your health trajectory into the future, instead of trying to right something after the fact.

They say hindsight is 20-20, and as news of Donald Trump’s victory spread across the globe in November, many people started to see the signs that had been there since the very beginning of his campaign. It should come as no surprise the culmination of signs led to his eventual electoral college victory, but that same culmination of signs shouldn’t have to lead to a defined outcome for our health. Our health is a conversation that changes throughout our lifetime and our needs evolve as our requirements change, but there is never a one-size-fits-all approach to health. Let’s do our best to listen to the signs our body is giving us as soon as they start to appear, that way you’re growing old while playing with your grandkids, keeping that memory sharp and making the most out of every day.

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