Investing in Your Future Self

“The greatest wealth is health.” – Virgil


So, what’s your long-term game plan? Where are you going to be in 10 years? 20? 40? Are you investing now for a future of high returns, or are you over-drawn? And, yes, we’re talking about your health.

I’d argue that many people think more about their money than they do their general wellness, but at the end of the road, which would you really prefer?  What is good is all the money in the world if you’re too sick or in too much pain to really enjoy it?  In the end, your health is really your true wealth. Without it, disease becomes an unfortunate distraction that makes it much harder to provide for yourself and your family, harder to become prosperous, harder to achieve your dreams, and harder to enjoy retirement.

Investing in your health is like putting money in a bank. You’re saving for the future, and every choice you make is either a deposit or a withdrawal. That exercise you did – it’s a deposit. The donut you ate – a withdrawal. Unfortunately, too many people think of their health as out of their control, a byproduct of bad luck or bad genes. “It runs in my family,” some would say. But you have more power than you know.

Healthy aging isn’t just a matter of family history. The vast majority of the chronic health issues people suffer from really stem from the choices, deposits or withdrawals, they make in their life. And, essentially, disease occurs when you become overdrawn. The good news is, even with a health bankruptcy, your body has an amazing ability to heal, and climbing back out of that hole is often possible with the right decisions. It just requires a little savings, investing again in the promise of better health.
Of course, the best time to think about contributing to your health is when things are good. Start the funding for your future health with small deposits of good choices every day while you can. Sadly, when the good times are good is usually when people think about their health the least, and they crash when their balance is depleted.

It only takes a little time each day, though. Some vitamins. A thirty minute walk. Salad instead of a burger. Water instead of soda. Fasting if you’re not really in the mood to eat. An adjustment once every few weeks. Set aside those little amounts of attention and you’ll reap the rewards of better health as you age.

Be Well.

Does It Spark Joy?

“People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking.” – Marie Kondo

You may be familiar with the celebrity organizer, Marie Kondo. With a keen eye and clever folding skills, she is able to help people decrease the physical clutter in their life and bring them an improved sense of happiness.

The same can be done for our head space. What are you mentally hanging on to that does not spark joy? Above and beyond the physical possessions we tend to cling to for too long, what are there habits, beliefs, and rituals you continue to follow that take away from your inner peace?

The universe is a balance of opposites, we are either growing or shrinking, becoming more healthy or sicker with each day. And this same balance applies to just about every aspect of our lives from the clutter in our homes to the clutter in our minds.

Are you paying attention to what you’re focusing upon? In this age of limitless information, our minds are under constant bombardment. With television, computers, and cell phones, the constant assault of news and social media can be overwhelming. Then, we wonder why we’re unhappy, why we don’t sleep, and why we’re so stressed out all the time.

Think about what you fill your life with right now. Next, consider whether those things and ideas are truly making you happy or not.

2020 was a year of challenges to be sure, with the nearly nonstop drone of coronavirus news, lock downs, natural disasters, people getting sick and dying, and topped off by a fairly vitriolic election cycle. Moreover, we were stuck at home, unable to travel or even see our friends, yet we marvel at the fact that depression and suicide rates are on the rise.

So, here are a few simple tips to help improve your state of mind in 2021:

  1. Turn off the news – It’s very difficult, if not impossible to keep a joyful attitude and be positive when we are constantly bombarded by the details of a worldwide pandemic mixed with the civil strife of the past year. With the continuous news feed of people becoming sick and dying, riots, rises in crime, increasing unemployment, the West Coast on fire, election conflicts, and general uncertainty for the future, it’s hard to imagine that the news can contribute to your peace and joy in any way. Remember, it’s really a “bad news” business that profits on misery. Stay informed, but try to monitor your exposure.
  2. Limit your use of social media – What began as a great way to reconnect with old friends and share experiences over a distance has unfortunately become a platform for fear and hate. People will say things on social media they would never say to your face and post things that would be completely inappropriate in any other venue. For some, venting on social media feels like therapy, though often results in pointless, tense, and uncivil arguments with complete strangers who seem to go out of their way to belittle you and your ideas, and insult you personally, whenever the chance arises. So, just like sorting through the clutter in your home, sort through the clutter in your social media feed and limit your unnecessary interaction. Avoid the compulsion to respond to every negative comment you see. Perhaps even unfollow any pages which do not bring you joy and don’t make you feel at peace.
  3. Improve the environment around you – eliminate the things you no longer need or use. There is a general rule with personal organizers – if you haven’t used it in 6 months and it can be replaced in less than 20 minutes for less than $20, get rid of it. The cluttered space around you clutters your mind, and it’s nearly impossible to grow into a space that’s already full. If you truly wish to grow personally, you may have to begin by emptying your space. Remember, in the end it’s not how much we have, but who we’ve become that matters.
  4. Stop wasting time – If you don’t fill your day with high priority tasks, it will be filled for you with low priority chores. As a rule, completing high priority tasks will bring more joy, while low priority tasks bring little fulfillment or sense of accomplishment. Find useful and productive activities that bring you happiness, then focus on those tasks. Additionally, and more likely than not, your work probably isn’t as critical to your happiness as you think, at least not as important as your relationships and personal growth. Remember, every minute you trade for work takes away from valuable time you can’t get back with your family. You only have one life, and time is a dwindling commodity. You can always make more money, but you can’t make more time.
  5. Set time aside for exercise – The human body is not designed to sit at a desk or binge-watch television shows all day. We’re designed to be hunter-gatherers, roaming the countryside and searching for food – 12-16 hours of movement per day. Sadly, may of us get less than 12-16 minutes. Exercise not only improves your physical health, but helps boost those hormones which improve mood and deal with mental stress in a healthy way.
  6. Choose to be happy – Sounds simple, right? And sometimes the simplest option is the right one, but can be the hardest to really implement. Happiness is a ‘serious’ problem. Let it go. You don’t always have to be right or relevant. Live in the moment, concerning yourself only with the people you love and those things you can actually control. Meditate silently and alone, emptying your mind of stressful thoughts and the events of the world which do not really concern you. Find your faith and trust that the universe will sort out every problem for you. You have to first choose to be happy and allow your day to progress as it should, if you are to ever be truly at peace.

And there’s more – lifestyle, spinal adjusting, nutrition, sleep habits, whole body purification, and improved mindset can all help to help decrease your stress and bring a higher sense of purpose and joy. Be sure to do your research and speak with the people you trust about ways to find better physical and mental health through downsizing your life. Be well!

Ain’t No One Gonna Do It For You!

There’s something you should know.  The health you’ve lost, the health you’ve been looking for, is still there.  You just have to reach out and get it.  Just about anyone has the potential to live a long healthy life as long as they invest a little bit of time in themselves and do the work required to stay healthy.  But therein lies the conundrum.  Are you willing to work for it?  Are you willing to do what’s necessary to recover your health?  Are you even interested?  Or is it too much of a bother?

I once heard the great speaker Les Brown say, “The hardest part is getting the person to be an active participant in their own recovery.”  It’s so true and one of the most succinct observations about the state of America’s health, especially nowadays. People want health handed to them.  They want the benefits of good health, the energy, sleep, strength, and ability to enjoy life, but don’t want to do the work to get it.  So, they suffer through life with symptoms, making excuses for their bad health and habits, all the while passing up opportunity after opportunity to improve their lives and enjoy life.  Instead, they rely on pills to take the pain away, give them the energy they’ve lost, and even keep them alive.  I’ve even had patients in my office outright refuse to exercise, even when they know how much better they’ll feel.  So, I guess they prefer to suffer through the pain and disease potential, unwilling to make the simple changes required to get their health back and keep it.

Nothing in life is easy.  If you want a big house, you have to work for it.  If you want a happy marriage, it takes commitment.  If you want to live the dream, you have to invest in yourself.  So, why should health be any different?  I’m not sure why, but many people seem to have a separate set of rules for their well-being, a complete contradiction leading to their own destruction.

One of the things experience teaches is that anything worth having requires hard work.  Well, health is probably your greatest asset.  Your health is your wealth, as they say.  After all, if you had to put a dollar amount on the human body, if you actually had to pay to buy a new one, how much would it cost?  Millions?  Maybe more?  The problem is, you only get a single shot at this life and even a billionaire can’t buy new one.  Just ask Steve Jobs.

Sadly, we’re sold the lie during our lives that illness is inevitable and we’ve swallowed it, hook, line, and sinker.   We’ve been told that sickness is just an inevitable form of aging and there’s nothing you can do, that disease is just part of life.  “It’s just normal for your age,” is what they say.  Well, sickness is never normal.  Isn’t that the definition of disease, anyways?

Look at high blood pressure for example.  You can go 40 or more years without blood pressure issues then Boom! – hypertension.  So, you make the excuses that, “It runs in my family.  It’s genetic.”  The problem is, your genes are the same at 39 as they are at 40, so how do genetics explain that?  Is there a specific gene that codes for hypertension at 40?  Is it magic?  The answer is no.  You did this to yourself.

I encourage you to start taking responsibility for your health, before it’s too late.  Stop expecting it to come easily.  Stop waiting for some magic pill to improve your health or some chemical to ease your burdens.  Stop waiting for health to be handed to you on a gilded platter.  Stop waiting for external solution to an internal problem.  Worse, stop just waiting for the “inevitable.”  Get off your butt. Make the time.  Change your lifestyle. Do the work and collect your reward.  A small investment of effort now is much less costly than a lifetime of regret.

Remember, your health potential is still out there.  You just have to reach out and grab it.  I’ll say again, YOU have to reach out and grab it.  Being healthy isn’t a matter of luck or fate.  It’s a choice.  But you have to decide to become an active participant in your health.  You have to choose to be healthy, invest in yourself, and do the work.  It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

 

Be well.

Are You Paying Attention?

 

Watching television today, it’s no wonder so many of us are sick.  We’re literally bombarded by advertising for all sorts of different things that sabotage our health.  From fast food, to microwaveable meals, to prescription drug ads, and none of them are making us any healthier.  Have you been paying attention?

Let’s face it, we’re a nation of consumers driven by advertising.  The next time you’re watching your favorite show, count the number of commercials that showcase products which either specifically sabotage our health or promise better health with an alarming potential for side effects.  Have you ever marveled at the prescription drug ads that spend a few seconds (if at all) telling you about what the medication is for but then spend the bulk of the rest of add telling you about all the harmful effects of taking their product?  Sure, it may cure your hiccups, but when your teeth fall out it suddenly doesn’t sound like a miracle after all.

Just open your eyes.  First, there’s the commercial for frozen pizzas and fast food just before the ads for the bag of chips and soda come on.  Then there’s the alcohol commercials.  You know, the ones that make drinking hard liquor somehow glamorous and convinces you you’re a loser if you’re at a party and don’t have a beer in your hand.  I mean, who doesn’t want to be glamorous or sophisticated?  After all, I always drink my bourbon in a tuxedo with my tie undone…every night (kidding).  But wait, there’s more.

Next are the prescription drug adds…the advertising for chemicals to address the symptoms that came about from shoveling all that garbage into your mouth.  High blood pressure? Here’s a pill.  Diabetes?  Here’s a pill.  Can’t poop?  Here’s a pill.  Why take care of yourself?  Here’s a pill.  The problem is that the cause of all these problems is never really addressed.

Then, there are the insurance companies.  A product you’ll definitely need because your health has become a flaming dumpster fire that you keep fueling with bad habits and the treatment you need has become so expensive, you can’t afford to pay for it on you own.  I mean, who can afford to pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars for preventable diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer out of their own pocket?  But it’s really no problem because next, there are the attorneys and they’re itching to sue pretty much anybody, especially the medical companies, because they hurt you.  It’s a nuthouse in a nutshell and so the cycle continues.

So, here’s the translation.  First, you’re bombarded by ads for stuff that poisons you and makes you fat.  Those are followed by the drug companies trying to sell health in a bottle that turns out only to be empty promises of symptom control with a potential for side effects, so you need better insurance to pay for it.  Next, the attorneys are ready to sue just about anybody to get you some money so you can continue to eat more crap and drown your healthcare sorrows in a vodka and tonic.  Still paying attention?

You see, you may have no idea how much of your heath is controlled by the quest for profit.  Here’s a good example.  I would define someone who’s healthy as a person who does not depend on prescription medication or regular medical intervention.  In other words, drugs don’t make you healthy and a healthy person doesn’t need drugs.  A healthy person is pain free, can manage stress, sleeps well at night, and experiences general well-being.  Have you ever wondered how many of the patients that take prescription medications actually become healthier as a result?  Unfortunately, the answer is almost zero.  Remember, symptom control is not the same as health. Just because you’re taking a medication that keeps you blood tests within a certain range doesn’t mean you’re healthy at all. The fact that your symptoms need to be chemically altered to prevent you from dying, by definition, means that you are ill.  So, chew on this: Do you really think that the pharmaceutical companies have any vested interest in getting you well?  They wouldn’t want lose a good customer after all.  How much of their money is spent on advertising versus research after all?

The point is to open your eyes and become an active participant in your health.  Rather than being a sheep, the victim of the next ad or fad, do your own research.  Turn off the boob-tube, the advertising that brainwashes you into a product you really don’t need or want, and start thinking for yourself.  All the tools are there, after all, and most people already know what it takes to become and stay healthy.  They just don’t do it.  But, breaking out of the endless cycle of advertising and gimmicks may be a potent first step to better health.  Be well.

Are You In The Right Office?

A common question I frequently ask my patients is:  Are the people you’re trusting with your healthcare decisions really a ‘healthcare’ provider?  Seems like a pretty simple question, right?  The problem is that we’re living in a day and age where the lines between ‘healthcare’ and ‘disease management’ are terribly blurred.

For example, on my case history form, I have a section that asks:

What medications(s) are you currently taking?

Then, it asks about their vitamins and is followed by a question that asks:

How would you describe your overall health?     Excellent     Good     Fair     Poor

I’ve been in practice for nearly two decades and it still surprises me to see patients who may take a half dozen or more medications (and no vitamins btw) but describe their health as “Excellent.”  Why?  Because the commercials on TV tell them that if they want to be healthy, they have to take this or that medication.  Because the people that they trust tell them that if they don’t take the medication, they won’t stay healthy.  The problem with both scenarios is that medications are not vitamins.  Whether helping to marginalize your symptoms or not, they’re still toxic and have side effects.  Further, I propose that if you are taking medications, prescription or otherwise, to manage a chronic illness, you’re definitely not in “Excellent” health.  A healthy person doesn’t need medication.

Nowadays, advertising has sold you on the notion that medicine is health.  It’s not.  Medicine is disease management and disease management is not the same thing as healthcare.  Now, I’ll be clear.  Modern medicine is a marvel of crisis care and intervention saving countless lives every year.  But you have to understand that it really stinks for chronic illness.  That’s why so many chronic illnesses are on the rise like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, despite miraculous advances in medicine and technology.  The interventions we turn to in these illnesses just aren’t helping us to become healthier.

So, how do you know the difference between the two?  Here are a few clues:

You develop some sort of symptom and go to your doctor.  Your doctor performs all the tests, as appropriate, to determine the nature of your issue.  If he/she then:

 

  1. Gives you a pill (Disease Management). This is symptom control.  The pill does nothing to necessarily improve your health but it does at least manage your symptoms enough to make you comfortable and/or prevent you from becoming sicker or even dying.  That being said, all medications are toxic and have variability of side effects.  So, while you’re directly managing the symptoms of your disease, you may actually be compromising your general health in the long run.  So many meds are tough on your liver, kidneys, digestive system, heart, nervous system…etc.  Not only that, many medications breed dependency, meaning that if you take it long enough your own body chemistry may never recover.
  2. Hooks you up to some sort of gadget or gizmo (Disease Management). I run a chiropractic office and we routinely use passive therapies like electrical muscle stimulation and ultrasound to help decrease a patient’s pain.  But this type of intervention is also not healthcare.  It’s pain control.  It’s disease management.  A TENS unit, on its own, does nothing to improve your general health.  It just temporarily covers up your symptoms.  The same can be said for back braces, orthotics, and even hot packs.
  3. Tells you it’s “normal” for your age (Disease Management). Now, this is a total cop-out.  Not only is it false in too many cases, it steals a patients hope and gives them a crutch to justify their illness.  Your body is designed to be healthy.  It will fight with every fiber and molecule of your being to resist disease and stay alive.  So, at what point does “dis-ease” become normal?  Always be wary of anyone who tells you that.  In many cases, what it really means is:
    1. “I see this a lot but don’t have much experience with helping people with it.”
    2. “I don’t know what’s wrong with you. (Here’s an antidepressant.)”
    3. “I don’t know if a referral will help.”
    4. “I’m too busy to help you fix it.”
  4. “Pops” your back when you’re in pain (Disease Management). As a chiropractor, this one also strikes particularly close to home and so many of my peers operate their offices this way:  “Just give me a call when you’re have problems again.”  Seriously?  I thought as chiropractic physicians, our mission was to educate and keep the patient healthy, not just pick up the pieces after everything falls apart.  We should not be mimicking a failing model of disease management and you should expect more from your chiropractor.
  5. “Pops” your back when you’re doing well (Healthcare). Chiropractic care has been shown to help improve a patient’s health above and beyond just pain management.  The problem is that most patients who see a chiropractor for pain don’t maintain their alignment and functionality after the pain subsides.  How can you expect to be at maximum health when your pain levels are never truly stable?  You can’t have consistent health when your pain is in flux.  My experience has shown me that the patient gets the most health benefits from adjusting once they are out of pain.  And, ironically, it’s much easier to keep a person well than get them well.
  6. Tries to help you make meaningful lifestyle changes (Healthcare). Maintaining and restoring health is not mystery.  It’s largely about the choices you make, good or bad.  Truthfully, most people know what they need to do to stay healthy, but they still fail.  Why?  Because becoming sick is easy.  Anyone can do it.  But not everyone will stay healthy.  Additionally, most people don’t have a support system and they’re turning to the wrong people for healthcare advice.  Too many people turn to a disease management provider for healthcare advice.  That’s like asking an electrician about why your sink is backed up.  Listen, I’ve said it before.  Maintaining optimum health is about 6 things: Proper Diet, Exercise, Stress Management, Proper Sleep Habits, Limiting Toxic Exposure, and Healthy Nervous System Function.  But, you may not know how to do those things well.  You need a healthcare provider.  You need a coach.

If all you’re getting from your doctor is a pill or procedure and you’re trying to get your health back, I hate to break it to you: you’re in the wrong office.  If, however, your provider is spending time with you to council you on better nutrition, help you with exercising better, and work with you to better your lifestyle, then you’re on the right track and in the right place.  Think about it.  Almost all of us have a disease management provider, but how many of us have a healthcare provider?  If you can find a good one, you may even surprise yourself at how healthy you can become.