Prevention is cheaper than cure.
We all know what is necessary to get healthy. Yet so few of us do it. What is the impetus that causes some people to take matters in their own hands and be active about their health?
Fear of disease motivates some, but for some that causes a return to old ways. They are worried about their health, but the only tool they have for dealing with worry is bad for them. So they eat the wrong things or smoke or drink. The reason for their ill health is from too much of bad things, and too little of good things. The things that they use for comfort are the very things that are causing the problem that they need comfort about. It is a horrible cycle.
Then some people have spent so much time being miserable that they are afraid of change. They would rather continue to be miserable than try something new.
Change is scary.
If you are walking on a road with no cars on it, you don’t realize that you need to move over to the side of the road. You’ve never seen a car. You might have heard stories about cars, and about how dangerous they are, but you’ve never seen one yourself, so you don’t know for sure.
They won’t run you down, certainly.
So then you walk along a little further. You see a person on the side of the road. She’s been hit pretty badly before, but she’s limping along. She’s got a cane, and she’s still walking.
She tells you about the car that hit her. She got away with just a broken leg.
You may think, boy, she is unlucky, but that won’t happen to me.
Then you walk a little further, and you see someone who is in a wheelchair. He tells you about the car that hit him. Maybe you start to think there might be something to this car thing that you should take seriously – but you still haven’t seen one yet.
Then you walk a little further, and you start to see someone on the side of the road. He’s dead. And you look ahead, and you see more and more people who are hobbling, and in wheelchairs, or dead.
Way up ahead you see people who are OK. They are not only walking, but they are running. They are enjoying this road. They are on the side, out of the path of the cars. They decided to take the warnings seriously.
You can’t get off this road. But you can stay out of the way of the cars.
The cars are cancer. Diabetes. Heart disease. They are coming. They are big, and they hit hard.
Our society suffers from way too many preventable diseases. We are number one, alright, in obesity. We eat too much, and too much of the wrong thing. We gorge ourselves on doughnuts out of our desperation. We drown our sorrows with our friend Jack.
We were sold the image of the Marlboro Man, all tough and rugged. He didn’t look so tough in the cancer ward, hooked up to oxygen and chemo drugs. He died, telling people that they needed to know how dangerous cigarettes are.
A car is coming. Get out of the way.
You know what is necessary. We know all the don’ts.
Don’t smoke, don’t eat too much meat (if at all), don’t eat fried foods. Drop caffeine and processed sugar. Avoid alcohol and drugs.
But what do you do? Those are things we use to comfort ourselves. We self-medicate with food.
Learn anger management. Breathe deeply and consciously. Take yoga. Go for a walk. Take up a hobby. Journal. Practice compassion and forgiveness – towards yourself and others. Eat vegetables. Have a rainbow on your plate. Get enough sleep. Make time to spend with friends.
This stuff that is stuck in your head has to get out somehow. There are safe ways to get it out.
Perspective is important.
There is a story about a person walking towards a town. He sees another man walking away from the town and asks him about it. He says it is terrible. The people are mean, the houses are small, and the food is bland. He walks on a little further. He sees another man walking away from the town and asks him the same question. The man says that the people are nice and the food is amazing. It is the same town.
This can be a wonderful journey or a terrible one. The choice is yours.
The car is coming. Choose wisely. You aren’t special, and you aren’t lucky. It will hit you if you aren’t mindful. Be mindful. Don’t wake up 10 years from now and wonder how you got so sick and out of shape. Take the time now.
It isn’t easy. It is OK to take baby steps first. Ease towards the side. Start walking a little. Start eating better. Nobody changes overnight. But head that way.
Get out of the way.