As October meanders to a close, breast cancer awareness is at the top of my mind but this year I want to also include the topic of overall health and wellness. Here are four things we should know and remember:

We rejoice with breast cancer survivors and celebrate all the heroic efforts being made to eliminate this disease in our lifetime. Breast cancer awareness is critical because early detection and treatment may make the difference between life and death. While the discussion of what age and how often mammograms should be done is often confusing, ask your doctor for advice so you can be proactive.

As your good deed for the day, donate to breast cancer research and make sure all the women in your life perform monthly breast exams and have access to mammograms and screenings.

Second, pay attention now to your good health. It is much easier to maintain it than to regain it after a major setback. An old ad campaign from Methodist Hospitals, “We know what a miracle you are,” reminded us that our bodies are highly sophisticated and trying to explain how they operate is almost impossible.

I recently got a new toenail and while that is minor in the grand scheme of things, we often take our toes for granted. They provide balance for our whole body but the amazing thing about my new toenail was that it grew under the existing one and then a cute new one was there waiting to make its debut.

I am diabetic so my toes are of particular interest to me but it is important that you examine your toes weekly and wear properly fitting shoes at all times. As a young woman I believed that being cute was more important than being comfortable so I wore shoes that made me hurt all over. I know better now. Pedicures are a special treat but invest in them regularly to keep your feet healthy.

Third, do preventive maintenance on your body like you do your vehicles. You tune up your engine, change your oil, balance and rotate your tires because you know that neglecting these critical things will negatively affect your vehicle’s performance. The same goes with your body. PAIN IS INFORMATION. Your head is not just hurting just because it’s Tuesday. There’s a reason. Check your blood pressure regularly and watch your salt/sugar intake.

I love orange and grape Crush sodas, Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, Almond Joy, oatmeal raisin cookies, banana pudding, pound cake—you get the picture, but I know that I cannot, key word, cannot, indulge and maintain anything that looks like good health if I have this stuff too often. I must plan my daily intake carefully with restraint and thoughtfulness. Yes, we have to die with something but let’s not die because we ate ourselves into bad health.

Finally, Nashville Area United Methodist Bishop William McAlilly, often says “Get up off your blessed assurance and do something!” His words spoke to me. I discovered if I do 10,000 steps a day and watch what I eat, I can control my blood sugar and maintain a healthy weight.

You can, too. Plan your day with activity in mind—park at the far end of the parking lot and stop circling for the closest spot to the door. Instead of sending the children to fetch water and snacks, get them yourself. Instead of fast-forwarding through the commercials in your favorite television programs, get up and shake your shimmy!

Be proactive, triumphant, and healthy this month and all year. Do it for yourself and your family, and do it because it matters.

Do you have tested and tried health tips to share with the world? Send it over to me at #drbondhopson on Twitter and Facebook.

Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. All the way from Stanton, TN (you can’t get there from here) to 50 states, six continents and everything in between, she’s wise, witty and altogether wonderful. She enthusiastically invites you to slow down, sit a spell, and share a giggle or two.

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