Monday, January 26, 2009

He who takes medicine and neglects to diet wastes the skill of his doctors

Chinese Proverb

Setting Priorities in a Crazy Economy

By Eric Plasker, D.C.

The economy is affecting everyone. People are shopping more strategically, they are getting their financial affairs more organized, and they are cutting back on the “frills” in their life to hunker down in this economy. A lot of people are wondering what they should cut out, what they should cut back on, and what they should include in their budget so they can make ends meet. “I can’t afford it” is a common phrase that I hear people use as they try to make sense of the lifestyle adjustments that they need to make.

With all the uncertainty out there in the market, there is absolutely, positively one thing that you cannot afford in our country today. You cannot afford to get sick!

According to a recent Reader’s Digest article, 70 percent of those people who went into debt due to a medical condition had health insurance at the time. Forty-nine percent of the people surveyed say that they put off or refused medical treatment for a serious condition because of money. For example, a hip replacement costs in the neighborhood of $49,000, not including the rehabilitation, lost time off work, and lost quality of life. You should be crystal clear about the fact that in this economy you cannot afford to get sick and that keeping yourself healthy is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family.

So what should you do to keep yourself healthy, and what should your priorities be?

1. Don't diet.
Make healthy eating a part of your lifestyle. Too many people will eat healthy only when they get sick or get fat. They will starve themselves or force down healthy foods to lose weight, get in shape, or heal from their disease. Because they are, in their own mind, depriving themselves of the "treats" that they are used to eating, they suffer through their deprivation and bail out on their healthy eating plan the second their "skinny" jeans fit, only to repeat this roller coaster a few months later. Many of the foods we think are "treats" are really "tricks" in disguise. Are two minutes of pleasurable taste worth weeks of low self-esteem and frustration because you don't look or feel the way that you want? Make healthy eating a part of your lifestyle.

Make healthy eating a part of your lifestyle. The 5 Eats of a Healthy 100-Year Lifestyle are...

1. Eat a healthy breakfast.
2. Eat a high-fiber diet rich with live foods.
3. Eat healthy snacks.
4. Eat more slowly.
5. Eat with others.
2. Exercise, exercise, exercise.
When you look at the top 10 leading causes of death in this country, nine out of 10 of them are preventable due to lifestyle, and exercise in on the list for every one of them. Make exercise a part of your lifestyle. Get your more intense workouts in four times per week, and in addition to this, go for a 10-minute walk or do a 10-minute stretch after you’ve been sitting for an extended period of time. The three components of exercise that you must keep in mind for a healthy workout are your ESS, endurance, strength, and structure. All three of these components are essential to quality of life as you age, while also preventing injuries or sickness. Endurance is good cardiovascular exercise that can be done through running, swimming, power walking, or a game of basketball. If you have had any previous injuries, low-impact endurance training can be done on an elliptical, a bike, or a treadmill. Strength training is also important. A stronger body is “stronger” and more resistant to stress. You will need your strength to ensure quality of life as you age. Structure is also important because you’ve got to take care of your core, and you’ve got to take care of your spine. Americans spend nearly $90 billion looking for a solution to back-related health problems, many of which can be prevented with proper preventative care.

Be conscious of your posture and the alignment of your spine when you are sitting, standing, lifting, and moving.

Strengthen your core muscles in your front, your back, and your sides.

Maintain a healthy weight and body composition. Your body fat should be between 12% and 18% for men and between 14% and 22% for women.

3. Find relief money.
Many of us buy and take over-the-counter medications as if they were candy, not realizing that drugs are drugs and they usually have side effects. Begin looking for drug-free solutions through diet, exercise, and alleviating stress. Initially when you cut back on some of those over-the-counter drugs, you may go through a period of withdrawal because you are so used to taking them. Substitute stretching, deep breathing, or different types of foods in place of pill popping and see what happens. You may find that you can save $30, $50, or even $100 per month while eliminating your symptoms through these lifestyle changes.

4. Raise your deductible and invest in your health.
The lower the deductible on your health insurance policy, the higher your premium will be. On the other hand, the higher your deductible, the lower your premium. Many people have raised their insurance deductibles and lowered their premiums by $50 to $500 per month. It is worth looking into this savings. Then you can use a portion of the premium savings to buy healthier, more nutrient-rich foods, join a gym, get your teeth cleaned, or get an extra adjustment. Your choice.

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You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.

Harlan Ellison