Last week I was on the blue-line train from O'Hare to downtown Chicago to address a group of doctors on subclinical hypothyroidism. As I approached the city, I thought," What the heck?", and decided to connect with my friend Maddy, who lives downtown. To my surprise, Maddy was on the green-line train coming home from work and free to meet after my lecture. I was thrilled!
We had a wonderful time catching up on all aspects of our lives. She was upbeat as she shared that her career and finances were better than ever been and that she was beginning to date someone she really liked.
But there was one area of her life that she was quite frustrated with—her overall health.
She looked at me and said simply, "Hol, my body is doing funny things, and I don't like it." It was obvious that she had gained some weight, but I asked her to be more specific and look beyond the weight gain.
She told me that her annual blood work showed elevated cholesterol levels and the doctor had diagnosed her as prediabetic, with her blood sugar regularly running high and blood pressure measuring slightly high. I then asked her a myriad of questions regarding her lifestyle, diet, and habits—similar questions I would ask patients in my practice.
Maddy's responses were riddled with excuses.
She had stopped exercising; she had fallen into the comfortable trap of being wined and dined by her clients, so she was drinking and eating excessively during the week and on frequent business trips; she was also using alcohol to help her fall asleep and then unsuccessfully attempted to boosting her energy when she was hungover and lethargic by drinking too much caffeine; and at times, she was even having a cigarette to relax.
Even though I am a health practitioner, everyday I seem to have a conversation with someone about how concerned they are about money—how to make it, how to save it, and how to stop spending so much.
I think about health in the same way.
Health is like a bank account, and with almost everything you do; you are either making deposits or withdrawals, affecting your bottom line.
Maddy's actual bank account was in the black, but her health bank account was hemorrhaging. She was in "debt" and close to declaring "health bankruptcy." She was spending more than she was saving and totally neglecting the balance.
What's worse, besides the daily withdrawals she was admittedly making, with her dietary choices, she neglected to calculate the "automatic withdrawals" created by living in a high-paced, toxic world and the effects that this stress has on our bodies, organs, and cells. These withdrawals can really add up. She also neglected to calculate the natural aging process of a slower metabolism. Instead of respecting that and eating less, as she aged, she started to eat more.
My simple comment to her, as a friend, was a curt, "Well, if you don't like it now and you continue to behave like this, you are really not going to like it in a couple years, if you are even around." I was serious. As a 46-year-old woman, she needed to wake up and start the process of digging out of her health debt. Getting out of debt requires making more deposits than withdrawals over time, and she was not making any daily "deposits" to offset her frivolous spending and her body showed signs of "recession."
I recently came across a study suggesting that for the first time in modern history, average life expectancy in the U.S. is expected to fall in the coming years unless preventive measures are taken up aggressively. Preventative measures are deposits.
I was able to come up with a plan for Maddy's health solvency, understanding that she, like most of us, can't stop all the spending.
Maddy's Daily Savings Plan:
- Nourish: Be conscious that "diet" literally means "habitual nourishment" and choose whole, colorful foods over refined foods, limiting sugar and decreasing portions—all daily, doable deposits that will add up over time.
- Exercise: Getting in exercise doesn't mean having to get into the gym. Start taking the stairs at the office, airports, and hotels; pack a resistance band for strength training in your hotel room; and walk a minimum of 30 minutes each day while traveling.
- Supplement: Our modern-day living leaves us with increased nutritional needs and decreased nutritional intake. As a daily deposit, a prevention, or a way to pay off a debt already accumulated like Maddy's high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and prediabetes, there are nutrients and time-tested, natural plants that can create that wonderful "cha-ching" sound as a daily deposit. A multi vitamin and mineral as well as condition specific products are necessary daily deposit, especially if you are in debt.
For further incentive, I reminded her how good it feels to have a savings account.
Applying that to health means she can make withdrawals at times, the occasional night out, being wined and dined, the summer vacation where she eats more than usual but those withdrawals would be occasional and budgeted and not plummet her into the red.
I hope Maddy's plan helps you stop hemorrhaging health and start making daily deposits so you can maintain a hefty health savings account and truly live "whealthy."