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On Being Labeled “The Healthy One”

March 17, 2014

Two women same ageThis past weekend, I was told by more than one person how not-fun I must be to live with, given how healthy I am. Hey, you know what? I am OK with that. I am in this thing for the long haul, and these are the choices I am making to get there. When I saw this meme a friend posted on Facebook, those sentiments came together and lightbulbs started popping!

I have no idea if the statement in this meme is true, because I do not know the women in the picture, nor do I know the picture’s origins. The image does, however, illustrate the role of  lifestyle in aging. 

Genetics obviously plays a big role in how we age, and some of us are blessed with good genes while others are born with an uphill battle. I am reminded of a conversation with my children’s dentist, however, when we talked about “bad teeth” running in some families. The doctor made a point to say, “Well, that may be true, but clean teeth don’t rot.” Touche.

The same goes for our bodies. We may come preloaded with some bad genes, but a clean lifestyle will play a larger role in our long term health.

As the deadline looms for enrolling in health care, long term health and the business of being sick is on a lot of people’s minds. While this topic is too big for one simple blog post, the bottom line is our health care system is treatment, not prevention, based. As such, it is incredibly expensive, and we all play a role in those high costs; such as when we call the doctor every time we get the sniffles, or when the uninsured hit the emergency room because of a fever. Doctors play a role, also. My old dermatologist is the person responsible for when I finally got sick of being sick and changed everything about the way I ate. After a lifetime of battling various skin conditions, here was a doctor waving her finger in my face when I asked if she was sure that a change in diet was not a better long term treatment than indefinite use of the various steroids and topical solutions she was prescribing.

Sometimes our bodies get really sick, and we are an advanced society with technology to get us back on our feet; and to that, I say, bring on the meds! Sometimes, however, we seek treatment for chronic conditions that cleaner eating and regular exercise would set right. What might happen to those health care costs if we sought less treatment, and instead switched to overall better living?

Let us be okay with being labeled the “healthy” one. When I visit my grandma in her independent living complex, I see examples of the two older women in the picture above, and it all comes full circle. Life is about living, and I would like to think that I will go out doing a yoga post on a mountain (or is that standing sit-ups in a bathing suit?), rather than leaning on a walker with tubes in my nose.

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