Publisher - August 2019
From the bitterness of disease,
man learns the sweetness of health. —Catalan Proverb
I have a friend who was “pre-diagnosed,” with cancer, meaning the doctor was fairly certain, but tests were needed to confirm. After weeks of waiting and then a full day of pokes, blood draws, and scans, the results were clear—no cancer! News can hardly get any better than this. It’s like a windfall filled with a second chance at life.
I hate that she had to go through such a scare, but on the bright side, sometimes a scare can be a tremendous motivator. It’s like speeding down the interstate, and surprise, a patrol car pulls out, flips on the blue lights, races to catch up to you… and then passes you to stop the car in front of you—one giant whew!
But just like after a close call of being stopped for speeding scares you to immediately start obeying the speed limit (at least temporarily), a traumatic health scare does the same to start incorporating a healthier lifestyle. However, a health scare is way more powerful, as it is far more than just a ticket at stake, it can be a life sentence.
Most of us take our good health for granted until something major happens and then we instantly regret, pray, and panic. I’m not saying my friend did this; however, it’s human nature at play, and it’s a risky way to live that inevitably sets us up for health woes.
I recently had a scare myself. One relaxing Sunday morning, I had a sudden headache that was beyond any pain I’ve ever felt—like my head was going to explode off my body. After exhausting the internet with desperate searches, in between not being able to hold up my head, I called my daughter home from having breakfast with her friends to take me to the hospital. The pain, along with nausea and blurred vision, was so unusual and severe, I thought I was having a stroke or an aneurism. I was scared and sad and mad for not taking better care of myself. The whole way to the hospital, I thought life as I knew it was over, and now I was going to have to pay for all the years I didn’t put my body first. (Please read more thoughts on going to the hospital in my Hissy Fit column on page 62.) Just the thought of having to live life with major health obstacles made me want to start negotiating with God. “If you let me be OK, I promise I will…” You know the drill.
Take care of your body; it’s the only place you have to live. The Bible states the body is our temple. And yet, many of us are the leaders of our own demolition. Then, when we get ill, we feel we’ve been wronged and don’t want to acknowledge that it had to do with all the ice cream, fried chicken and fast food, or all the alcohol and sugar-filled sodas, or all the couch-sitting, binge-watching and inactivity—in a nut shell, our life-long bad-habits.
We are warned every single day of the health risks we face when we make poor choices, whether it’s in regards to consuming processed foods, too much sugar, too much alcohol, or being overweight. Take smokers, for example. It states right on every single pack of cigarettes that smoking causes cancer. However, most don’t stop until they get the cancer, and then they want to blame the tobacco companies. It’s crazy how we operate.
I’m not here to beat you, or myself, up. My goal is to assure you that every baby step you take to improve your health, is a step in the right direction. If you smoke 20 cigarettes a day, cutting back to 19 a day is an improvement. If you haven’t exercised in years, and you take a walk around your yard, excellent. Every little bit makes a difference. Like the camp song says, “It only takes a spark to get a fire going.”
Your body will give you an A for effort! The human body doesn’t need heroic measures to begin curing itself. It uses every morsel of positive steps-in-the-right-direction you give it. You can lower your weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, triglycerides, or inflammation with the smallest of changes. You can reduce your risk of all the big, bad and scaries—cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes—with every pound you lose and healthy habit you incorporate. None of these diseases came on overnight, so DO NOT expect it to go away overnight. Your body will no doubt reward you slowly, but surely, for your efforts.
Get up. Right now. And yes, you have time. The more you move, the better you feel. Sedentary begets more sedentary; active begets more active. Many people don’t move more because it hurts. Reality is, for most, they hurt because they went sedentary. Just start. If all you can do is walk to your mailbox, then do that, and celebrate. After a week or so, walking to your mailbox will be much easier. Get a FitBit. It points out just how active, or inactive, you are and motivates you to move more. The other night I did 1500 steps in my driveway at 11:00 pm. I wasn’t going to be so close to my 10,000 steps for the day and not make it put in the small amount of effort, that over time equals longterm results.
Being healthy is not as complicated as it seems. It boils down to eating healthy, exercising, staying hydrated, and getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. It’s just that easy and yet so hard. Disease may still come, but when you’re healthy, you have a way better chance of feeling better throughout treatments and winning!
As for me and my crazy headache, it turned out to be a thunderclap headache. The CT scan revealed a beautifully, healthy brain. I am fine, but I anxiously cataloged all the things I could do better, while I thought my brain was bleeding-out in the hospital. I came to this conclusion: Health provides me the ultimate freedom. Without it, I can no longer be who I want to be, or do what I want to do, and I have a vast amount of “being me” left to do! I do not want to cut my my one wild and precious life short, nor do I want to go to my grave being unspent. This is the most important thing to me, thus I am willing to put in the work it takes. I want to be healthy every day for the rest of my life for a million reasons, especially for the people I love.
What’s important to you? Whatever it is, you can achieve it by taking one baby step forward. This is not a new concept. Lao Tzu (604 BC-531BC) said almost 1,600 years ago: The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Are you ready to step out? Let’s do it!