Looking back and looking forward 10 January 2013 | Posted by Dr Duncan Jefferson Share by email Page shared successfully Share again? An error has occurred on the server is currently unable to send your message. Please try again later. Please try again Your name * Please enter your name Your email address * Please enter your email Your email is invalid Friend's email address * Please enter your friend's email Your friend's email is invalid Add a message Share Cancel Tweet Buffer The start of a New Year is often the time when people make plans or resolutions for the next 12 months. Personally, I subscribe to the comment that "if you want to make God smile, tell Him your plans!" Life always seems to throw up some amazing challenges of its own and often the best things that happen to us are way out of our control; but for many, the thought of committing to big changes in their lives can seem too hard to even contemplate, and going with the "flow" is the safer and easier option. That's why it's a good idea to review what you've done in the last year in order to discover how you've actually been very successful in some areas, and in others you have been perhaps even daring or courageous and often persistent. One false idea that many of us hold is that we have to be "the best" - in fact what you really have to be is the "best you"! There may be only one Olympic Champion, one Oscar for best actress, one biggest new talent: but there are 22 million unique individuals in Australia each of whom can be their own Champion in whatever filed they choose to take on. I was thinking about what to suggest for Resolutions for 2013 and decided to reflect on some things that happened to me in 2012 to see if I had in fact achieved anything - I was pleasantly surprised! In some ways all of the big achievements were related to health, even thought they were not focussed on eating the right "diet" and getting enough exercise. The biggest thing we did was to organise a home swap with a family in France! In the past we had been fortunate enough to go on holiday with our family to Bali and other places around Australia, but we'd always stayed in a hotel or rented accommodation. Swapping your home is more of an adventure, and as it turned out it's a wonderful adventure too. The family we swapped with were delightful, and our neighbours were welcoming and generous too, but the big thing for us was to spend time in a community where we didn't speak the language, had to drive on the wrong side of the road and yet have one of the best experiences of our lives. When I said that not everything we did was "health related", as it turned out it was because we cycled everywhere or took public transport - and both of these modes of travel are so easy to do even in the middle of a European winter - and the challenge of a new language certainly exercised our minds every minute of our days in that beautiful country, and mind exercises are probably the most underrated exercises of all! One of the outcomes of the trip that I plan to take into 2013 is to support public cycling initiatives back here in Perth wherever I can - and perhaps that means revisiting the issue of compulsory helmets for adults; the provision of better sited and resourced cycle tracks into, and within, commercial areas, and perhaps cycle hire stations dotted around our beautiful Swan river. When we got back we had to face a couple of personal health issues: one was back related and the other was a very unpleasant case of Shingles. Back problems affect a large percentage of all Australians and cost the community a huge amount in time lost from work and medical treatments, and yet there are some good preventative measures that could be taught from high school onwards that may help reduce the impact of this debilitating condition. As for Shingles, which is caused by a reactivation of the Chicken Pox virus within our spinal nerves, once it has appeared there is no consistently effective treatment (without side-effects) that helps with the dreaded "neuralgia" that can occur once the telltale rash has appeared, and which can last up to 6 months or longer. What I intend to do in 2013 is to see how I can improve the education of good "back health" and help reduce the burden of disease here in sunny WA. I intend to promote good posture and good "core stabilizer" strength through exercises such as Pilates, Yoga and other proven home based exercises. I'll also try to influence Business to create work stations that allow desk-based-workers to alternate between sitting and standing to perform their computer based duties so that employees can maintain healthy flexibility of their hips and lumbar spine. And for those over the age of 60 I really would like to champion better access to the one proven treatment that reduces the risks of getting shingles - and the consequent dread neuralgia - effective vaccination. These vaccines are available in other countries and should be available here too, but their price is currently prohibitive and no Pharmacy that I have spoken to had any in stock! These are some goals I have identified for me for 2013, for you the list will be different. My challenge for you is just to take a few minutes to review what you actually did in 2012, pat yourself on the back for all the good things you did or endured, and see how you can do it "differently" or better in the months ahead. Happy New Year to you all. Article written by Dr. Duncan Jefferson. More articles here. For more information on health care and private health cover, visit HBF Insurance at www.hbf.com.au. The content of these articles is not tailored for any particular individual's circumstances. The author does not take into account your physical condition, medical history or any medication you may be taking. Any advice or information provided by the author cannot replace the advice of your health care professional. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent those of HBF unless clearly indicated.