There are many things kids do not realize because they are too young. Most of them are related to knowing nothing about tomorrow and just living in the moment. One of these things is maintenance, particularly the need to maintain our physical and mental health. But maintaining our health is too important to ignore.
A few days ago, I went for a walk with Eden, who is a 22-year-old student of psychology. I was telling her about my previous day, when she asked me, “Dad, what’s with all these therapies and supplements and stuff? When will you be healthy and stop them already? When will it all end?”
She was referring to my visits to the chiropractor, kinesiologist and behavioral optometrist, which, admittedly, I was hoping would take a lot less time to get my spine straight, my body balanced and my eyes reading as quickly as I want them to. She was also referring to the various stretching exercises I now do and the occasional supplement I take to aide in those various treatments.
So I thought about it for a bit and realized that Eden was so healthy, fit and full of energy, it might be hard for her to imagine what it is like having the cumulative effects of years of stress, suffering from the mistakes of past “corrections” and generally, well, getting older. In fact, when I was her age, I felt invincible.
I asked her, “After you have a meal, do you want to eat?”
She said, “No, of course not”.
I said, “But a few hours later, you want to eat again, right?”
She waited for me to continue.
I said, “Basically, as you get older, besides eating, drinking and sleeping, you need to do some more maintenance to your body, like walking around the neighborhood every morning, stretching and making sure your body gets all the nutrients it needs to work properly”.
“Yes, but you’re doing things beyond just maintenance”, she kept going, “And you’ve been doing them for a while and they don’t seem to be stopping”.
“Well, actually, some things happened to my body over many years that needed to be corrected first, and since my lifestyle now isn’t all beneficial to my health (I spend most of my days sitting down), it takes a while to get them all fixed. Besides, my situation has been improving consistently and I’ve been going to treatments less frequently over time, so that’s good”.
She was still not sure. I cannot blame her.
There are a few things happening here:
- Generally speaking, kids grow bigger, stronger and smarter all the time and their bodies quickly repair most of the damage they sustain. Kids also play a lot and do not worry about the future much, so their stress levels are lower
- Adults, on the other hand, mostly specialize and deteriorate, getting worn down by stress and aging. Being used to good health, many wake up around the age of 40 and notice their bodies no longer function smoothly and their energy levels have dropped
- There are problems that stay with us, even if they appear to be fixed, sometimes causing us further damage that only appears later on in life. For example, skin cancer is typically the result of sun damage during childhood, but appears mostly in adults, because it spreads when the immune system is weakened by other things. This is how I got my skin cancer. I also had a cast put on my left leg when I was 15 that misaligned my spine without my knowledge
- The science and technology of healing advance over the years, which means we can discover and possibly fix things we did not know about when we were growing up
- Holistic therapies are now more accessible than ever, although they were practically nonexistent when I was a kid. They open up the possibility for maintaining a balanced body that needs fewer major treatments, increasing our quality of life and helping us live longer
- Stress is a massive factor in lowering the body’s defenses and causing all kinds of problems. It cannot be treated well without making serious lifestyle adjustments. I was a corporate employee, manager and consultant for many years and stopped a few years ago, but then we started a new business…
I got seriously spooked by my cancer. I had not been ignorant or careless before it happened, but the extent of it left me with immense motivation to make sure it, or anything remotely like it, would never happen again. I decided to do whatever it takes to get all the stress and all the imbalances out of my system and keep them out.
So that Eden could have someone to walk around the neighborhood with, among other things.
Think of health maintenance as a form of medical insurance, except better. You see, when you buy medical insurance, you get the benefits when you get sick or have some medical problem, but when you take good care of yourself, you get the benefits ALL THE TIME.
Sure, you have to spend some time stretching, meditating or walking. Sure, you compromise on what you eat. It might even cost you a few bucks here and there, but the rewards are huge!
You can have more energy and a clearer mind every day. You can have fewer medical problems and take a lot less time off just to be in bed or in the hospital. You can be more productive and feel better about yourself and your achievements. You can live long and prosper.
Your first and biggest challenge will be getting back into “baseline” shape and setting yourself up for the health maintenance period during the rest of your life.
Oh, yeah, your kids will not get it. They will think you are wasting your time on stuff that never ends.
In our family, the person who pays the least amount of attention to her body is Noff, who is only 9 and does her absolute best to make any sweets, cakes, cookies, Nutella and ice cream disappear before they can hurt anyone else…
Talking to her about how this will affect her life in 37 years is like talking to her about being married and having children of her own. She cannot relate to it. Right now, she is a little girl and that is that. She may worry about her adult life at some other time, just not today.
My challenge is to get to a point where my lifestyle choices work so well, I have to say nothing to my kids – they just see for themselves. I am getting there, little by little, with every stretch, every treatment and every day I spend time with them instead of being in some office in the city. I know there will come a time when all I will need to do will be maintenance and a good life.
I suggest you do the same before it is too late. Choose to live. Choose to be healthy and happy. Set a clear goal to get there and keep going until you make it. Live!