Good health is something we take for granted until there’s a problem. It is often something we ignore by making poor choices. It is also something that is quite difficult to regain, if not impossible, once it is lost. I’m talking about good health.
Our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made (see Psalm 139:14), and if we exercise proper care and live thankfully, we can usually enjoy good health and a good quality of life. It takes a little more effort and determination as the years go by, but with health one usually reaps what one sows.
Americans should be healthy, right? We have access to some of the best medical facilities, good food, plentiful water, and education. Unfortunately, even with these blessings, we are decidedly unhealthy as a nation. Click here to learn more about America’s health rankings (state by state).
Obesity is the number two cause of preventable death in the U.S. (Get America Fit Foundation). 60 million Americans age 20 and older are obese. Nine million children ages 6-19 are overweight. This dangerous trend is related to increases in many diseases and conditions including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type II diabetes, breast and colon cancer, gall bladder disease, sleep apnea, coronary disease, stroke, and osteoarthritis.
As a nation we are both overfed and undernourished and over-stressed and under-active. We have moved from an active agrarian and manufacturing economy toward a nation of couch potatoes who would rather drive two blocks than walk and who choose highly processed foods over simple healthy options. Despite the plethora of gyms, home exercise equipment and DVDs, and diet programs, we can’t seem to keep the weight off and our good health intact.
I’m a seven year breast cancer survivor. There is no direct history of this disease in my family. At the time I was diagnosed, I was a full-time graduate student working three part-time jobs and rearing two children as a recently-divorced single parent. My stress level was through the roof, my sleep and eating habits poor, and regular exercise was not a choice I made. The aggressive cancer was a big wake-up call to me. If I was going to live to see both girls launched to adulthood, some things had to change and change fast.
I still tend to work too hard, but I am eating healthier, trying to remain active through walking and yoga, and striving to get adequate rest and hydration. I don’t smoke, and communion wine is about all the alcohol that passes my lips. It is still a struggle, but I continue to work at it.My weaknesses are too much coffee and a craving for salty snacks like pretzels and tortilla chips. I’m trying to blend in green tea daily and choose popcorn or fruit and veggies over the salty snacks.
I’m lucky; as an ELCA pastor, I have access to amazing health care, including strong health education, incentives, and preventative care. This is a good thing because clergy are among the most unhealthy segment of our population. We are the ones who should be setting a good example for parishioners and modeling good stewardship of self-care and solid health. Lucky for me, I have a spouse who shares similar values and who is trying to keep himself healthy for the long haul. It helps to have a partner in accountability!
How about you? Are you tending to your own health? Do you realize the importance of making good choices in food, exercise, and stress reduction? Do you know your risks? Are you doing all you can to minimize them?
Remember, you have this one precious life. Be sure to tend to your health, doing the best you possibly can to be a good steward of the gift of life with which you are entrusted. Ask yourself what one small step you can take this week that will either lead you to better health or augment the positive steps you are already taking. It’s your life; make the most of it, and remember to give thanks for the gift of good health!
Photo by Samuel Sharpe used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!