Although it wasn’t one of the 8 Lessons Lupus Taught Me that I wrote about directly; PREVENTION definitely feels like a topic that needs to be addressed because too many of us are lulled into complacency. I didn’t address it in the book because I had missed the proverbial boat and was in full blown crisis. I know I was complacent and thought I was doing ok when really I just didn’t realize that pain and fatigue ARE NOT NORMAL. Taking medications IS NOT NORMAL. 50% of adults have a CHRONIC condition. 80% of diseases are PREVENTABLE. Staggering facts that most adults would rather ignore than face…until they have to. Like I did.
My book 8 Lessons Lupus Taught Me: From Surviving to Thriving With Autoimmune Diseases was written for those like myself who are in crisis and need to reverse the disease process and heal their bodies. What I am now passionate about is all the rest of you who have the opportunity to PREVENT a crisis but you’re too complacent or arrogant to do so. Actually, I don’t do arrogant so if that’s you, rolling your eyes right now, you don’t need to read any further.
My experience is that it is more likely complacency and priorities are just in the wrong order. Now hear me out before you start thinking I have no business in your priorities. I do address why health MUST be the #1 priority in my book 8 Lessons Lupus Taught Me: From Surviving to Thriving With Autoimmune Diseases in Lesson #4 because I learned early on in my journey back to health that without your health you have nothing. It doesn’t matter if you have family responsibilities, they will be taking care of you! It doesn’t matter if you have an important, indispensable position at work; they will have to do without you because you are unable to work while you are sick in bed, or worse, at the hospital (or heaven forbid dead). It doesn’t matter if you have money to live out your dreams, because you are sick and will be spending it on medications, doctors and hospitals. It doesn’t matter if you have all the time in the world because you have no health to live your life with. I’ve both lived and watched others trapped in this priority lie over the past 25 years in health care. I know that most people, given the opportunity to turn back the clock and start over would make health priority #1. If they just knew how.
So this blog is specifically veering off my usual course from those who are already in crisis and looking for tools to reverse the negative health cycle to those of you who are healthy. First of all, yay! Healthy feels amazing! It’s fantastic to have the energy, flexibility, balance, stamina, and strength to do anything you want to do at any time. Our bodies are amazing machines that when running at optimal performance can create, perform, compete, and work with precision and ease. We have built-in systems to tell us when we are hungry, thirsty, tired, and in danger. We have built-in systems to rest, repair, and heal when necessary. These systems are all innate and require no specific programming or thought, until they do.
Have you ever had a cavity? Why? Did you have it filled or did you let it go because you couldn’t afford the cost or time to go to the dentist? Maybe you just didn’t realize you had a cavity until you had a roaring toothache and ended up in the dental chair being told you needed a root canal? That probably took a bit more time and certainly more money to repair than the cavity but at least you took care of it when you had to. What if you have enough decay and lost tooth integrity that you end up with dentures or implants? Waayyyyy more cost, time, and even pain! Could it have been prevented? YES! Brushing, flossing, regular dental care, and a healthy diet are all well-known and accepted practices to maximize oral health and integrity.
Would you agree that it makes more sense to buy toothpaste, toothbrush, and floss and make daily oral care a habit than avoiding the dentist and waiting until the damage is irreversible? Daily brushing and flossing are so easy! In fact, maybe for some, it’s just a hassle because it’s too easy. As a parent, I’ve used my own mouth as an example of what NOT to do for my children. Dental work has come a long way in the past 40 years. The dental hygiene I now understand and practice is far different than what I did as a child, and the dental care I receive is far different than what I received with my mouth full of silver fillings as a child. Could I have prevented the decay over years in my mouth? Yes. Did I receive early intervention so that I did not have to have any root canals? Yes. Can I do better now that I know better and prevent any further decay or deterioration in my teeth? Yes. Does it cost me less to prevent rather than treat? Always!
The hard thing for most cynics to see with prevention is that you never REALLY know what you prevented. Do some people who never smoked a day in their life get lung cancer? Most certainly they do, although it is not common. Do some life-long chain smokers live a long life well into their 90s? Most certainly they do, although it is not common. The problem is that you really don’t know what your life will bring but there are some truths that are timeless and documented through the ages.
I don’t know that I am going to get in a car accident but I buckle up myself and everyone in my car each time I get in to drive. Only a couple of times in my life have I been in an auto accident and never have I been injured, but still, I put on my seatbelt to maximize my safety. We take even more care with our infants and young children making sure their seats are secured a certain way and that they are secured within the seat properly. I have never been in a car accident with my children on board but I know plenty of parents who are grateful their little ones were secured in seatbelts and car seats when they were involved in a crash and were able to walk away from it or sustained injuries that were survivable because of the restriction that may have seemed unnecessary or excessive.
We know that our bodies need plants for optimal health. Ancient healing practices, and even many modern pharmaceuticals, are derived from plants and the therapeutic properties they give in support of our bodies. Food is the most common source of sustenance with all sorts of philosophies of which kinds and how much. What is not controversial is that plant foods are superior to all other foods in cleansing, fueling, and supporting our body’s systems.
Unfortunately, our food is not the quality that it once was both because we have too much processed food in our diets that come from labs and factories; and because the produce we buy generally has been grown and shipped with less nutrient benefit than that grown in your back yard. Most of us are not gardeners or farmers and those of us who are (I happen to be a crazy year-round gardener) still have a limited variety of foods that we grow and produce. So the conundrum we face is living in a world that has more toxins than ever, working under more stress than ever, and believing that our fortified food is better than ever. It is not.
So I ask you to get some clarity about prevention. Answer yes/no to the following questions.
1- Is health priority #1?
2- Do you practice daily habits that keep your mind sharp?
3- Do you eat 9-13 servings of produce a day? (More if you are an athlete)
4- Do you move your body with exercise every day?
5- Do you participate in some sort of spiritual activity every day?
6- Are you rested and energetic?
7- Are you a comfortable weight?
8- Do you have the energy, balance, strength, flexibility and fitness to do what you choose to do?
9- Do you detox your body, mind and spirit routinely?
10-Do you practice some form of gratitude or happiness daily?
Great job if you answered yes to each of these questions! You have a fantastic prevention program and will likely reap the benefits of good health throughout your life based on my review of the literature and study of healthy lifestyles.
If you have some no’s, I would encourage you to dive a little deeper to be sure you are not being complacent about the possible cavity or accident you may encounter around the corner. You will benefit from making health a higher priority and using our support and tools to increase your prevention practice.
If you answered no to more than 5 you are a time bomb. The question is not if, but when, you end up with a health crisis. You may be like me, headed for a major crisis and in complete denial of it. Even worse, you could be like my dad, my brother, and my friends dying in their 40s and 50s because they didn’t have time…
I would like to encourage you to get clear about where you are and where you could be. I would like to encourage you to join our community of thriving and living WOW. Truth is, it’s a journey for each of us, but the more we can surround ourselves with healthy habits, routines, and people the more likely we will be to do the daily work of prevention. 50% of adults have a chronic disease. 80% of disease is preventable. Why wouldn’t you pick up the proverbial toothbrush or put on the prevention seat belt every day? Because it costs too much? Because it takes too long? Because you don’t need to this time? Because your friends will think you’re weird? Because your family doesn’t want to? Is it really worth the price?
I believe you are worth it and I believe it is your responsibility to care for and maximize the machine you have been given. If you drive it recklessly or don’t do the maintenance you will have the consequences rather than excuses.
Please consider joining our community of Living Wow whether in person or online. If you are in Idaho we would love to have you join us at our Living WOW and Change Your Story events. If you are somewhere else in the US we would love an excuse to meet you as we inspire healthy living across the nation. Contact us to schedule an event in your area! When you are online you can friend and follow the Living WOW Center, join Supercharge, listen to the Living WOW Out Loud podcast, watch Living WOW Stonehouse Style You Tube channel, and get social on Facebook, Instagram, and Telegram (a new platform we just started on). We want to be where you are and hope that you will join our community of thriving!