September 29, 2010

Is Health Prevention Just a Pipe Dream?

I love my job.

I work (by day) as a health promotion educator for a very special population of Canadians. On good days, I'm busy facilitating and speaking on topics related to health prevention. Such (exciting) topics include; eating well, exercise, stress management, addictions awareness,  and even suicide intervention. When I'm busy, I am in love with what I do. However.....when those I serve are busy serving, you can hear crickets in my office and I start wondering if I should just become a barrista at Starbucks (something I've always wanted to try). So why is it that health promotion ebbs and flows?

Talking to a colleague yesterday (she is a health professional), we were both frustrated with the notion that until illness or injury strikes, the average person isn't really thinking "prevention". When we are busy with work, family, and other responsibilities of life, we put aside the workout, the healthy eating, and the sleep when - really - they are the most important things on our "to do" list when busy-ness strikes. Is it human nature to wait until we hurt or cough or hit rock bottom before we understand the concept of prevention?

In a perfect world, we would all foresee the future and make the necessary changes to our lifestyles to ensure the best for ourselves down the road. Retirement planning is a great example of this. Why are we so focused on investing our money when most of us won't have a body that works well when we retire? We won't be able to enjoy our money, our summer homes, our leisure time because our bodies will be hurting, sick, or just stopping due to a lifetime of stress, inactivity, and fast food.

Make your health your "retirement project"!
How and where do you see yourself at retirement? What do you want to do? How do you want to feel? It doesn't matter if you are 20 or 60, there is no time like the present to start investing in your health. It is the most important thing we have. Do you only really learn this lesson when it's gone? All I know is when I am sick or injured all I want is to have my health back. I am becoming more appreciative of this as I age and I am trying my best to ensure that I hold onto it as long as I can. I challenge you to do the same.

If you believe that to focus on one's health is to be selfish (I'm thinking of parents who put all others first without attention to their health needs...very admirable, but not very effective) you won't be any use to anyone if you don't put your health first. Get your 7-8 hours of sleep, eat more vegetables, get some daily physical activity, and lighten up on the seriousness. That is the best way to invest your time, energy, and money!

...and if anyone can help me understand why our "health-care" system is based upon reaction and not prevention (and I'm aware underbelly of it all) please let me in on it.

That's all I got...


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