Last week I attended a celebration of life for a former colleague. A teacher whom I worked alongside in my days as an Education Assistant several years ago. She was only 62 and passed away just 3 months after being diagnosed with cancer. Approaching retirement with plans already laid out to help and serve others, simply far too young. It's events like this that really make people wonder about their own lives.
Most often, the ones we consider to have died pre-maturely often made poor health choices and as a result, struggled with their health prior to any terminal diagnosis or sudden fatal episode. It seem to be much less of a shock to process news that your neighbour who is 50 pounds overweight and smoked for 20 years suffered a massive heart attack, than it is to comprehend how an otherwise-healthy gym teacher could be diagnosed with cancer and be gone inside of three months. And when things like this do happen, some people wrongly adopt the ”Why bother?” attitude. “Why should I bother, eating healthy/exercising/eliminating stress etc.? That teacher was pretty healthy and it didn't do any good.” Or did it?
Type 2 Diabetes, being overweight/obese, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, autoimmune disease, chronic stress, cancer, parkinson's, dementia, alzheimer's, heart disease, COPD, hypertension, stroke, arteriosclerosis are all known as lifestyle diseases because they are brought on by the way we live our lives. And while it's true that genetically speaking some people are more prone than others to some diseases due to their family history, make no mistake about it, our DNA determines only 30 percent of the outcome of our health. That leaves a whopping 70 percent we get to control. Why bother indeed.
Regardless whether we're only standing knee-deep in the family gene pool or treading water in the deep end, the fact of the matter is, we never really and truly know what's going on inside our bodies. But knowing you have that 70 percent control, I hope helps to shift the “Why bother?” to “It's no bother at all, I get to!” Those people we hear about, like the college student who had an aneurism on the basketball court or the marathoner who had a heart attack training for the big race, or even like my friend the PE teacher who got cancer, whether they knew about the 70 percent or not, consciously made healthy choices. But it's because of that 70 percent we know their healthy choices were not all for naught. Imagine how much shorter those lives would have been had they adopted “Why bother?” and not activated their 70 percent?
It's been said that there's a small demographic of people getting healthier as they age and I truly believe that. I also believe that it's not an exclusive club and anyone can join. The truth is, no one's getting out of this life alive so why not do as much living as you can while you're here.
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