How YOU Can Be Your Best Insurance Policy – Part II
What Shapes Your Health? It starts with you!
Unlike a meal in your favorite restaurant, good health can’t be dished out by a doctor or naturopath, no matter how skilled they may be, or how much they’d love to serve it to you! Wellness is much more than a commodity we can buy or sell. Although it may appear that way, very few people live a long, happy and healthy life thanks to a lucky draw of genetics. The World Health Organization defines health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being.”
These days, however, very few people can claim they are living in an optimal state of health and, worse, most have no idea how to get there. Rest assured, there is an answer and just like the Time cover says, “It’s All About Prevention.”
Whenever my clients ask me about wellness and prevention, countless factors can affect our well-being, but these are the most important ones:
- Lifestyle and behavior
- Biological and genetic makeup
- Medical care
Of these four key factors, behavior is the one that is most within your control. Even with limited resources, educating yourself, then making the best choices, can pay big dividends when it comes to your health. It only makes sense that the better you treat your body, the better you’ll feel and, in the long run, the healthier you’ll be. So here are a few practical, affordable steps you can take today toward better health I recommend for all of my clients that are focused on Moderation & Balance:
- A truly balanced diet comes from consuming a live, plant-based diet with foods that are in as close to their natural form as possible. Skip the middle aisles of your grocery store or, better yet, visit a local farmers market. Not only will you save money, but you’ll have a fridge stocked with wonderful, flavorful foods!
- Add appropriate herbs and supplements, as recommended by a qualified natural health practitioner. With today’s modern food processing systems, the produce on store shelves has been often been shipped for days or weeks, pumped full of water or genetically modified, not to mention being exposed to all kinds of toxic chemicals like pesticides. Even if you do eat perfectly (not many can make that claim!), most of you still aren’t getting the nutrients your body needs to maintain optimum health. Supplementation can help to bridge the gap and, in my opinion, is needed for everyone to protect their health.
- A regular exercise program. Whether you choose to join a fitness club, take classes or simply take brisk walks around your neighborhood, exercise is an essential way to improve your health and maintain mobility as you get older.
- Cut back on or eliminate damaging habits, often referred to as the “New Diseases,” like smoking and drug and alcohol abuse.
Of course, changing habits is never easy. Mark Twain famously said, “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.” So if you’re struggling to change habits that have been deeply ingrained in your daily routine over the years, you are in good company. Keep in mind, however, each of these daily decisions has a big impact on your overall health and that taking positive steps will motivate you to improve. Remember, the healthier your lifestyle is, the better your chances are of living longer, and feeling better, even in old age. Is there any better way to spend your time and money?
Above and Beyond the Scope of Traditional Medicine
The growing field of Complementary Alternative Medicine offers many more ways to improve health and prevent serious illnesses. Combined with the lifestyle changes I described above, these therapies are affordable, effective and often much easier to follow for a lifetime than most options traditional medicine has to offer. Several of my health coaching clients have experienced dramatic improvements because they were finally able to address a range of symptoms that they could not cope with on their own or with the help of other medical practitioners.
As with all health products and treatments, alternative therapies need to be treated with respect, knowledge and balance. However, they offer a long history of safe and effective ways to cope with health concerns. From our earliest records of human history, natural and herbal remedies have been used to treat disease. Dating back to the 16th century BCE, the Ebers Papyrus compiled in ancient Egypt contains hundreds of remedies for various afflictions. Medical herbalism that is practiced in the Western world can be traced back to a first-century Greek physician Dioscorides, who wrote a text called De Materia Medica. It quickly become known as the world’s leading pharmacological text and was used for more than 1,600 years.
Whenever my clients ask me about the cost of naturopathic treatments, I explain that it’s still very common for traditional herbal remedies to be prescribed by medical professionals outside of the U.S. as a first line of treatment. In fact, many European health programs reimburse the costs of herbal prescriptions and supplements. Although the majority of providers in America don’t offer this type of coverage, the U.S. News & World Report says 13 of the 17 top-rated hospitals in America now offer “integrative” medicine.
These internationally renowned centers, including Johns Hopkins, UCLA Medical Center and the Mayo Clinic, have all taken steps to incorporate complementary and natural treatments into their traditional medical approach. Research performed during the past decade has shown time and again how therapies like acupuncture and massage, given in combination with traditional medicine results in faster recovery, improved pain management and better overall outcomes for patients. No wonder, the top medical centers in the country are changing their ways and in time, hopefully, insurers will follow suit.
So, with American health insurers not covering complementary treatments, you may be asking if it’s worth spending the money out of pocket. Just as you understand the necessary investment of time and money to maintaining your car, your health and wellness require constant upkeep. Put off maintaining your car (like forgetting to check the oil) and you’ll be spending lots of time (and money!!) visiting your local mechanic! Or, even worse, trading in a vehicle that you’ve invested thousands of dollars in for a newer more expensive model that may not work nearly as well.
When it comes to your body, there are no trade-in options! So investing a relatively small amount of time and money today will help you to avoid disastrous consequences down the road. If you “can’t afford” supplementation and natural health care, I’d argue taking a very honest look at your lifestyle and habits.
If you’re like most people, you probably spend much of your money on things like eating out, buying new clothes and entertainment (sporting events, movies, concerts, etc.) is long overdue. That $4-6 latte you’re buying at that national coffee shop chain conveniently located near you not only isn’t healthy, but can negatively affect your pocketbook. Fact is, those extra dollars you spend every week on lattes could be used to impact your health in much more important and positive ways, especially if you’ve got family history of disease and illness.
Imagine the difference it would make if more people start taking responsibility for their own health in small ways — like choosing a piece of fruit over a slice of pizza — instead of simply relying on an insurance policy or prescription drug to do the heavy lifting. Focusing on preventative care now will keep more people out of hospitals and doctors offices later in life. Not to mention, on a national scale, the more we each take care of our health collectively, the more we’ll reap the benefit of lower insurance claims by keeping premiums down overall.
Yes, it’s true that people in our part of the world are living longer than ever before. In addition to a longer life, however, it’s just as important to maintain a high quality of living that allows you to keep doing the things you love. In the big picture, all those seemingly small decisions really can add up to something good.
There’s no better time to get on the path to a healthy and well lifestyle than today. Giving your health priority now will pay off with years of feeling your best and enjoying life with people you love. If you’d like a personal consultation to help you learn more about the natural treatments that are available and how they can help, I’d love to hear from you. Please contact me today and let’s get started!