Put good stuff in.
Keep bad stuff out.
I’m writing close to a dozen posts on preventing and containing health care costs over a two week period, but if you take nothing else away, let it be this: in order to keep your health costs down (before insurance comes in to play at all), you must:
1. Put good stuff in to your body (nutrition, healthy food, rest, sleep, water, clean air, exercise)
2. Keep bad stuff out (unhealthy food and drink, smoke, toxic chemicals, bacteria/viruses)
Sure, you should probably due your annual preventative physical exam. Under most health plans, they and many other preventative screenings are now free and without co-insurance or co-pay, thanks to the Affordable Care Act . And you might even get an HSA bonus incentive for going. But even that is secondary to what you can do in adopting a healthy lifestyle. By the time something has been screened, you’re already a step behind.
What you put in to your body and what you keep out are the two things that you actually have control over. Preventative health care at its most fundamental level.
How much more complicated does preventative health care need to be?
Personal finance has thousands of related component and subjects, but there are two themes always at the center – income and expenses. Health care is the same way. What you put in to your body and what you push your body to do is connected to everything health related, and greatly impact what you end up spending on health related products and services.
I don’t intend to diminish any genetic or disease related afflictions. There are those unfortunate cases when something completely rare and unpredictable happens to a person – even when they have done everything right.
And eventually age gets the best of everyone.
But before that happens, if you want to take preventative health care in to your own hands and limit future related health care expenses, good stuff in, bad stuff out.
This is backed up by the scientific community. The American Cancer Society (ACS) published its findings on preventative health measures that cancer survivors could take to prevent occurrence and recurrence of cancer, in a report called “Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines for Cancer Survivors”
The ACS found that to reduce the chance of cancer returning and increase the chance of surviving, cancer-free, after a cancer diagnosis, survivors should:
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
- Get enough physical activity (at least 150 minutes per week)
- Eat a healthy diet that emphasizes vegetables, fruits and whole grains
In other words:
1. Put good stuff in.
2. Keep bad stuff out.
Choosing the Healthier Alternative
For many, this is easier said than done. If you fall in to that category, my advice is: the more you can adopt behavior into your lifestyle, the more successful you will be in sticking with it. In other words, it has to habitually become part of who you are and not just something you occasionally do.
Have a dog? Guess what – the more you walk him, the happier and healthier he/she (and you) will be. When you start feeling guilty for not doing so, it’s become part of your lifestyle.
Have an opportunity to bike to work vs. sit in 4,000 lbs. of gas guzzling steel? Bike! When you start craving a bike ride home, it’s part of your lifestyle.
Push yourself through a workout, or put it off another day? Make it automatic that you’re going to do it, no matter how much willpower you have that day, and it will become part of your lifestyle.
Go kayaking for a few hours on the weekend vs. sit at home and watch sports? The desire to get outside can become part of your lifestyle.
Planning ahead and cooking at home or getting takeout? Lifestyle.
Grow your own organic veggies vs. buy pesticide doused veggies that were driven in from 3,000 miles away? Lifestyle.
Three healthy meals versus continuous snacking? Lifestyle.
Get enough sleep versus relying on sugar and caffeine to chemically get you through the day? Lifestyle.
You get the idea.
The healthier alternative is rarely the “easier” of the two. But once you’ve adopted it in to your lifestyle you don’t even question how easy it is or not. And the reward is that the healthier option is also more fulfilling, happiness-inducing, and success building.
The choice is yours.
What keeps you motivated to choose the healthier alternative? And what preventative health measures do you take?
I always make sure I eat 5 portions of fruit and veg per day, I take vitamins too and don’t drink alcohol. I’m healthy and hoping to stay that way!
Excellent advice. Too bad it took me 60+ years to adopt this strategy. But my fear of the Obamacare train wreck drove me to the decision that I had to be responsible for my own health and not depend on the inevitable rationing and cost inflation that will inevitably accompany this ill-founded legislation.
I now walk 4 miles a day, eat far more veggies, fruits, nuts, grains, healthy oils, and far less meat and saturated fat than before. In particular we focus on greens (kale, bok choy, spinach) and fish or fowl for protein. I have lost 25 pounds, reduced my blood pressure, gotten off Lipitor and usually get a thumbs up on my annual check-up. We just signed up for a bi-weekly veggies & fruit box from our local organic farm – first delivery July 12.
When trying to establish new habits I highly recommend the “Tiny Habits” method taught by Dr. BJ Fogg. I’m going to use it to start going on regular bike rides next.
Dude this is one of THE most important topics that people should pay attention to. Good finances and lots of money won’t do anyone any good if their body is being eaten up with cancer and other diseases.
Word of advice to everyone: Read and research what is in the foods and beverages you put into your body. Just the simple act of researching some of the unpronounceable ingredients in many of the “food” out there will be enough to cause you to never want to ingest them again.
Try reading some articles about what McDonalds food is made of – especially chicken nuggets and McRib o.O
Just because some company puts something on the grocery shelf does NOT mean that it’s ok to put into your body. Sure, it might not kill you immediately (they could never get away with that), but I assure you that over time they will break down your immune system and cause all sorts of major complications down the road.
No one would ever go out to their car and just pour in the tank any sort of random chemicals they find. Well, food is literally the fuel for your body, so please think carefully about what you put in it.
Good article bro!
Hey, I’m curious…what vitamins do you think are a good value? Do you buy the cheapest ones you can find or does “quality” play a role in your purchase? I feel vitamins could be an area I could potential save some money.