blog Jul 22, 2015

For the most part, I believe the level of health a person either enjoys or suffers with is directly proportional to how well we take care of ourselves. Bottom line, it all comes down to the choices we make every day.  Many scenarios surface throughout the day and each time one presents itself we must make a choice; cook or eat out, exercise or watch TV, water bottle or coffee cup, natural healing or prescription drug as first choice, the list is endless.  There are many factors that influence those choices, many of them having to do with time, convenience, cost, etc., and how that will directly affect "me" in that moment. The problem is, it's not just about me. 

In the big picture, the choices you and I make regarding how we take care of our health impacts, often to a large degree, the lives of those around us, especially those closest to us like our families.  Granted the effects are rarely immediate. But make no mistake, negative health issues rarely give warning, never come at a convenient time, only serve to increase personal stress, and more often than not have devastating consequences.  Through personal experiences within my family and close friends, I have witnessed first hand how the ripple effect spreads, bringing with it either good or disastrous outcomes and I wholeheartedly recommend the former. Let's take a look at a few scenarios and see if any of these sounds familiar.

The retiree who believes retirement is all about relaxing with snacks in front of the TV has developed diabetes. He refuses to eat to balance blood sugar, chooses fast food over whole or single ingredient foods and doesn't exercise. “I'm retired now, I can do what I want.” This attitude and the actions that go with it is not only putting themselves at risk for severe complications arising from the diabetes itself (poor circulation, gout, amputation, vision problems), but at some point his family will have to decide who will take care of this person when (notice I say when, not if?) one or more of these complications manifests. Often it's physically too much for a spouse to take on, so the rest of the family gets called in to assist. 

How about parents who carry around an extra twenty pounds putting it down to "My metabolism is much slower now that I'm over 35..." yet makes little or no effort to increase that metabolism by giving up TV a few nights per week and getting some exercise.  This goes for either moms or dads by the way, and in some cases both parents are guilty of neglecting their health. Children do as they see, not necessarily as they are told and setting an example of acceptance of poor health (carrying just an extra 18 pounds causes internal inflammation to increase by 23 percent which increases the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, stroke, diabetes....The retiree had diabetes...I see a pattern) only serves to perpetuate a cycle of poor health within families.  What happens when one or both of the parents is afflicted with one of the conditions I mentioned and is unable to work or worse, passes away?  Huge ripple effect on the family.  Sometimes it's not so much that conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes runs in the family, it's that no one in the family runs. Change the behaviour, change the ripple effect, change the outcome.

And just in case you thought the younger generations are not affected, think again. What about the young twenty-something college student who hits the gym every day, works out like a fiend and looks to be in great shape, drinks plenty of water, only buys organic – for the one or two small meals she will eat that day combined with several cups of coffee or cans of energy drinks to fuel the endless late-night study sessions.  The negative effects of this scenario on the body can be downright frightening, including damage to the kidney, liver, heart and brain.  Imagine the worry this would bring to her parents and close friends and the increase in stress that would follow.  

The sad thing about all of these scenarios is that they were all created or exacerbated by choice.  What's even worse is that those who must pick up the pieces and provide the care needed, didn't have a choice.

So today when choices around health present themselves and you are faced with deciding whether or not you really want to make the better choice, think long term and how your choices today will affect your family and friends tomorrow.  After all, if you don't take care of your body, where will you live? 

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