It has been a long and odd week. My husband has been out-of-town since Sunday (returning today!), I have missed two days of work, my mother-in-law spent the week in the hospital, and I am completely off on what day it is. Luckily, I have these two fellas to keep me company (and keep me sane!).
As I mentioned, my mother-in-law Mendie spent the better part of the week in the hospital. She is suffering side effects from a clinical trial medication. While I was visiting her on Tuesday, we were talking about the idea of taking care of yourself and valuing your health. We are a nation that doesn’t do much to stave off disease. Instead, we wait until we are already sick before we even think about making healthy changes. As such, we are the unhealthiest we have ever been and there is a great burden on our nation’s healthcare system. I have heard it said – and I completely agree – that we don’t have a healthcare system, we have a disease-care system and I completely agree. Instead of waiting to take care of your body after it is ill, why not do what you can today and everyday in order to maintain your health and vibrance. I believe taking a pro-active role in your health is the most important thing you can do to prevent future sickness and disease.
Is eating a healthy diet or exercising guaranteed to prevent future disease? No, of course not…nothing is guaranteed. Diseases can be environmental or genetic as well. However, a healthy lifestyle can greatly reduce your risk for cancer and other chronic diseases. When faced with this idea I know people who will say…well something is going to give me cancer, so why not do what I want?
First of all, I have to say this is a ridiculous cop-out!! However, on a more serious note, I liken the idea of prevention to driving a car. In your entire lifetime of driving, chances are you will have a wreck one day…be it a simple fender bender or something more serious. Does this mean you should throw caution to the wind and drive like a bat out of hell with no seatbelt and no thought to your own safety? NO. Because by obeying the speed limit and other laws of traffic as well as wearing your seatbelt, you will not only greatly reduce your risk of an accident in the first place, you can also reduce the likeliness that you will be badly hurt if an accident does happen. I look at health the same way…sure sometimes unfortunate situations occur and you could one day face cancer, heart disease, diabetes…etc…However, by eating healthy, exercising, managing your stress, and taking care of yourself, you can not only greatly reduce or eliminate the risk of disease, but also ensure that your body is in optimum health if disease does occur. Optimum health and well-being will greatly increase the odds that you can face disease and conquer it.
Ways to help prevent disease:
Healthy eating – I’m not saying that you should go vegan, but it would definitely benefit your body to eat more whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Perhaps you could consider reducing the amount of meat that you eat, as studies show that this helps reduce the risk of certain cancers as well as heart disease.
Move your body – you don’t have to run marathons or be a body builder to reap the benefits of exercising. Finding something you enjoy is more important than pushing your body to the limit because it will ensure that you actually stick with consistent exercise! Walk, bike, zumba, or yoga your way into a fit body. Check out this video on why just 30 minutes of exercise a day could be the best thing you do for your health.
Manage your stress – Stress wreaks havoc on your body and mind. Stress can change your hormone balance causing you to store fat in dangerous places. It can also affect your mental state and make you more likely to binge eat or treat your body badly. There are many ways to manage stress including meditation, yoga, or simply finding a hobby that helps you unwind. Perhaps painting or learning a musical instrument could help you relieve stress? If I need to unwind I enjoy dimming the lights and listening the to Spa Channel on Pandora! And don’t forget, animals are proven to reduce stress and increase life expectancy.
Think happy thoughts – Having a positive mindset will help you live positively in all aspects of your life. I believe in a mind-body connection and that what you think manifests itself in how you feel. If you are negative about your body or yourself, you will start living negatively. But if you are happy and respectful in your thoughts, then you will tend to be happier in your actions. Check out one of my earliest posts on positive affirmations. Even if you aren’t totally feeling it, fake it till you make it!
Don’t forget that small and gradual lifestyle changes will add up, so don’t feel the need to overwhelm yourself with a complete life overhaul. Eating a few more veggies each day, getting in a few more minutes of exercise, or just taking a few more minutes to unwind will all have great benefits to your health and well-being now and in the future. Happy Friday to all!