In this blog series, I’ve talked about why diets and exercise routines fail, which essentially comes down to discipline and goal setting. But recently I have realized there is a deeper issue. Why don’t we care more about our health? It’s an interesting concept to take a step back and objectively look at, so I’ll share my perceptions from a few different angles.
“We’re fighting for insurance. There is nothing wrong with this, it’s vital, but it is not healthcare.”
Most of you don’t know this, but I am very involved politically with chiropractic and health care in general. I served on a student national board for the American Chiropractic Association, I was the chapter president of the student California Chiropractic Association as a student, and currently serve as Secretary of the Nevada Chiropractic Association. I have lobbied congress members, Senators, and state legislators, and I have testified at our state Capitol before senate committees. I say all this to explain that I have seen the fervor in which we as Americans have fought for healthcare. It’s a passion for many people and arguably a selling point on which candidate we vote for or support the most. Never in history has healthcare been such a hot topic for Americans politically. But the irony to me is that what we are so fervently fighting for is not actually healthcare. We’re fighting for insurance. There is nothing wrong with this, it’s vital, but it is not healthcare.
I don’t care if you are for universal healthcare with a national single payer, state single payer, or if you’re for privatizing health care across the board, this is not meant to be a political post, ostracizing one side or the other. The reason I bring this aspect up is that we have become blind to what actual healthcare is. We have allowed insurance companies to dictate our care, we have allowed them to control how much we pay, we have allowed them to dictate how much a doctor can make (or not make), we let them tell us what we can and can’t see a provider for, and we have been told preventative care is not covered. We have essentially lost our understanding of healthcare.
“As we age, our bodies naturally just don’t respond like they used to without exponentially more effort.”
So, what is healthcare and why don’t we care more about it? Let’s back up and talk about what is health? I’d love to give you a great quote here, but it cannot be wrapped up into one sentence. To me, health is the ability to use your bodies’ fullest potential. As we age, our bodies naturally just don’t respond like they used to without exponentially more effort. A great example is Jaromir Jagr, whom is a 45-year-old professional hockey player. His ability to still play such an intense game at the highest level and still be incredibly effective, despite his age, is nothing short of amazing. But his ability to play at this level does not come at a small cost. His daily routine is incomprehensible for most people, even his teammates. He often works out 4 times a day, and will even skate or workout after games. He has a strict diet and ensures that his body is well taken care of. Some say he defies his age, I say he has figured out how to optimize his bodies’ output at any cost. Is this health? Technically speaking, absolutely! I am in awe of his dedication, it reminds me of Jack Lalanne whom was still doing instructional videos well into his twilight years.
Ok, great, now you feel even worse about yourself thinking about Jaromir Jagr who can still out work 18 year olds, and Jack Lalanne who was in better shape at 88 than you are at 40. Well, let’s not go that far and feel bad! I use these examples to show that our bodies are inherently capable of being pushed farther than we realize. You may be wondering where I am going with this, but I assure you it all ties together, bear with me!
“They Simply Care About Not Being Sick”
Health is in my opinion somewhat relative. Not all of us want to be a Jaromir Jagr or a Jack Lalanne. We just don’t have the time for one, and don’t have a purpose in pushing ourselves to that limit. But far too often, I see people on the far other end of the spectrum. They just don’t care about their health. They simply care about not being sick. Ah, the tying in moment… Let’s go back to the insurance topic, we are fervent in our fight to ensure that when we get sick, we have a way to get better. Again, 100% behind this concept. But we have lost sight of our actual health. Eating organic, eating at home, regular exercise, these are considered fads and unless you are posting pictures of it on Instagram does it even count? When did taking care of your body become a fad?
I encourage you to read the 2 part series “Why Do Diets and Exercise Routines Fail?” as I cover a lot of how to start getting healthy, so I won’t repeat myself here. But I want to delve just a bit further into this concept of healthcare. I am not one to say that if you just eat right and exercise all of your health issues will go away, or even be prevented. But let’s compare the odds. The number one killer in America is cardiovascular disease, best way to prevent it? Diet and exercise. Cancer is one that touches so many of our lives and is devastating in every way. Will diet and exercise cure or prevent cancer, or auto-immune diseases? Unfortunately, probably not for most cancers or auto-immune diseases. This is why we need insurance and why we are so passionate when it comes to fighting for healthcare insurance. But similar to not smoking to try and prevent getting lung cancer, why do we continue to neglect our bodies in every other way to prevent ailments we can prevent? Jaromir Jagr and Jack Lalanne needed to push themselves to the furthest limit in order to be healthy based on their chosen lifestyles. Most of us are not like that, but again why have we gone so far to the other extreme?
If you’ve been around me or read other blogs, you know I like to keep things simple, maybe even to a fault. I’m not naïve enough to say simple exercise and diet cures everything. It doesn’t. But let’s begin to shift our thinking. I hear so often, “I need healthcare because I have diabetes and can’t walk”, “I need healthcare because I have congestive heart failure”. Yes, you do if you have those things, but if you are lucky enough to not have those conditions or other similarly preventable conditions, why not start preventing them now! We have again been conditioned to wait until we are sick or on the verge of being sick to address our health, this is just a terrible idea for your health, and your wallet!
Let’s finish this topic off with how chiropractic can help. It’s my opinion that chiropractic care falls under both realms of healthcare we discussed. It absolutely helps with acute and chronic pain conditions, especially in the spine. But utilizing chiropractic care to ensure that your body is functioning at it’s best biomechanically as you delve into the exercise world, will help prevent injuries that can keep you from exercising! Those little tweaks and strains can lead to bigger problems if they’re not taken care of quickly, so make sure you take care of your body!
You’ve got one life to live, and one body to live it in. Make the most of it.
I hope this was somewhat educational and wasn’t to sporadic. The take home point is that we simply are not looking at health in the right way. We absolutely need doctors, hospitals, and even insurance. I am so grateful for my medical doctor colleagues as the truth is that we can’t prevent every illness, and we can’t turn back time. But let’s start looking at healthcare as a lifestyle, not something we simply pay an arm and a leg for and then wait until we are beyond natural repair to seek help. What is your health preventing you from doing? Do you wish you could keep up with your kids running through the house, wish you could play with your grandkids, wish you could still play softball or just wish you could climb the stairs without getting winded? Start taking action now! You’ve got one life to live, and one body to live it in. Make the most of it.
Dr. Jon Parham