It’s Tax time – again!! For some people, although the paperwork might be a hassle, tax time means a refund and happy thoughts about what to spend the extra funds on. For others, Tax time is dreaded. It not only means incredible paperwork but also means paying more money to the government! There can be associated stress with the deadlines, the paperwork, and coming up with the extra cash that must be paid, but what are the other connections. Let me elucidate.
Most of us, from our early to mid-twenties, were taught to save for our future. Many of us have been taught about the amazing effect of compounding interest—for good or for bad. As the adage goes, “Those that get it, earn it. Those that don’t, pay it.”
Have you ever thought about this principle as it relates to your health?
Years ago, my husband and I were sitting in our financial planner’s office, reviewing our fiscal or financial portfolio, when it dawned on me that I did the same thing for my clients. However, I help them understand the state of their physical “portfolio,” if you will.
I’m a Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist & Board-Certified Health Coach that worked for years in the crisis management end of healthcare. Repeat “roto-rooter” procedures (such as heart catheters and stents), multiple bypass surgeries, and even heart transplants were the norm. It was fun and exciting to practice in this fast-paced, high-tech specialty in the beginning. But after years of seeing the same patients come back again and again, I knew we were not getting to the root of the problem. In other words, it seemed these patients were still paying very high interest rates for their health, and they just could not get out of physical debt.
The rules of compounding were at play here too, but not in a good way. Years of poor choices were compounding in a negative way in my patients’ bodies: refined, fatty, sugary foods void of nutrition; long stress-filled workdays; sedentary lifestyles; sleep deprivation; toxic exposures creating inflammation; and on and on and on. These create a heavy “tax burden” on the body, indeed!
Now, as an Integrative Health Coach & Creation Coach that specializes in functional medicine, I typically see clients with this heavy tax burden or who are in “debt” physically but want help in turning it around. Many are overweight and have the habits and poor choices described above, and to make matters worse, are usually on a few prescription medications that are wreaking havoc with negative side effects. This indeed IS a heavy burden. This is not vitality!
The wise do put aside the funds needed for taxes throughout the year. Some go the extra mile to find ways to cut taxes. The wise also take the time, year after year, to sit down and carefully analyze their financial portfolios. However, they may never even think to take a serious look at what’s going on with their bodies. They spend years working to create a sum of money for retirement, only to spend their retirement debilitated, tired, out of shape, or battling a life-threatening disease, if they live to their retirement years at all.
A friend recently related a story of one of their colleagues, a very successful businessman who had a fabulous retirement party and was celebrated with honors by his friends and colleagues. Unfortunately for all, he never made it home that night. He suffered a fatal heart attack next to his car after the celebratory dinner. How tragic! Have you heard of similar stories?
I have learned over the years, both personally and professionally, that these words are oh, so true: “When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot manifest, strength cannot be exerted, wisdom is useless, and reason is powerless.” Ardomore Herophiless, 30 BC (Father of Anatomy).
Unfortunately, if you’re like most Americans, or even many in the Western world, health is absent. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, six in ten American adults have a chronic disease and four in ten have two or more.
The economics of these statistics are staggering. A 2007 study states that the economic burden is more than $1.3 trillion dollars annually, and that number can only have increased in the following years. According to the study, most of this cost is from lost productivity, not from the treatment costs of these diseases. And this exorbitant financial burden is from preventable diseases, such as heart disease, hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cancer. These are just some of the many diseases we know can be prevented and sometimes treated using interventions like good nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, and high-quality sleep.
But let’s bring this back to a very personal level. Regardless of what is going on with national politics or economics, you choose every day, day after day, what you will eat and drink, if you will move your body or not, if you abuse substances or not, and if you manage your stress or not.
Our natural instincts and generations of programming make it very easy for us to put off taking care of our bodies. In an evolutionary sense, men have long been conditioned to protect and provide for their tribe. Men’s brains have higher levels of testosterone, which can fuel their levels of competitiveness and protectiveness, and this can lead them to ignore what their body is telling them. Just imagine if our ancestors stopped chasing the proverbial beast that would feed his family when he stubbed his toe while chasing after it. Usually, men will put their physical needs on the back burner until the symptoms are screaming at them. We must work deliberately to override our basic human instincts to think about our long-term health.
Women’s brains have higher levels of estrogen than men’s brains, which may help women to pay careful attention to their bodies if they are focused on creating offspring. However, they too will completely shut off the alarms their body is sending while they nurture their children. Until the symptoms are screaming at them, they will sacrifice their own health for those around them. Only when we can see that caring for our own health is really helping our families will we take the time to care for our bodies and ourselves.
I realize taking care of yourself could require new habits. However, you could start by at least taking a trip to the doctor annually to get a physical and check lab work. When you schedule time to update your 401K plans or visit with your analyst, how about scheduling a visit to your doctor as well? When you review your weekly or monthly budget, perhaps you can also analyze your health parameters (such as your weight, your exercise, or your sleep). As the adage goes, “If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
So, how is your physical portfolio? Does it have the same level of vitality as your fiscal portfolio? What healthy habits do you have, and which are you perhaps lacking? Are you active on a regular basis? Are you eating a balanced diet with more than just easily accessible processed foods? Do you handle stress in healthy ways? Do you get enough sleep most nights? These healthy habits are the compounding interest in your physical portfolio that will help you to avoid health “debt” or “bankruptcy” in the years to come.
Even if you are already in physical debt or even bankruptcy, there is still hope. There is still help. Yes, it may be a long hard road to turn your health around, but it’s worth it! Get the support you need to find the root cause of your health problems so that you can make vitality your reality. It is fiscally responsible to take care for your physical health. There really is no greater wealth than health! Excerpts from this article were originally published on www.GrownUpCoach.com