It’s Easier to Stay Healthy Than to Get Healthy

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

So, yesterday my state announced a list of measures to re-open some businesses and give people the option to go back to work. That’s a welcome sign after all these weeks of sitting around the house. But it comes at a price. Social distancing will be enforced, and protective gear is required. No mask, no service. I’m still trying to figure out how that’ll work in banks.

I remember when getting into a bank meant walking past an armed guard and getting into school didn’t. Times sure have changed. Eight years ago, people were leery of teenagers in a hoodie, and now they have to cover their whole face. Wow! We may have to actually talk to people before we jump to conclusions. What is this world coming to?

Lots of things will change as we move ahead. Sadly, one thing that won’t change is our general approach to health. We’ve gotten so used to just filling the tank and running through life that we forget about preventive maintenance. Besides, that’s for old people and hypochondriacs. When something breaks, you go to the doctor, he gives you pills, and life goes on. Right?

There’s an entire industry devoted to nothing more than changing the oil in your car. And it’s there because people recognize the need. The book says change the oil every 5000 miles, so we change it. Okay, maybe after 7500 miles, but that’s better than nothing. Of course, while you’re there, they try to sell you everything from air filters to air fresheners. It’s all about money.

One time I told the guy I wanted an oil change – nothing more. I was clear about that. First he came back with the dipstick. “Sir, your oil is dirty.” Yep. That’s why I’m here. Then he told me my serpentine belt was worn. Not today. Then he came back with the air filter. I cut him off mid-sentence. “Is that mine?” He nodded. “Then put it back where you found it!”

Yet, when the mechanic points to the owner’s manual and says it’s time to change the transmission fluid or engine coolant, we start to pull back. I can honestly say I’ve never had a car break down because of old coolant or transmission fluid. And I can honestly say I’ve never heard of the brain wearing a hole through the skull. You know, until it happened to me.

Preventive maintenance is simply a practice of fixing things before they break. It’s based on the premise that a complete engine rebuild is costs a few dollars more than a few quarts of oil, or that being sick is more expensive than taking care of your body in the first place. One leaves you walking, and the other leaves you barely able to walk. Both pretty well suck.

For me, preventive maintenance was always a matter of necessity. The cars I could afford pretty much demanded it. A quart of oil leaks out the bottom, I add a quart in the top, and voila! Fresh oil! I wish I was making that up. Smart? No. Not even close. Yet, how many of us do that with our own body? We run and run, and only think about the essentials when the dipstick goes dry.

Right now, people are trying every kind or remedy imaginable, safe or not, to battle this virus. Yet those same people are going through the stores without a mask, reaching over complete strangers to get a can of soup. The hand sanitizer aisle is empty, but the vitamin aisle is fully stocked. You can’t find a box of macaroni, but the produce section is brimming with variety. Do we see a trend?

Which is why I say we won’t learn a lot from this, at least in terms of our overall health. We’re so focused on making the bad things go away that we don’t even consider keeping them away in the first place. We’re so busy trying to fix what’s broken that we don’t take care of what works. And we all know the inevitable result of that. More stuff breaks. Important stuff.

At some point, we all come face to face with the choices we’ve made. Preventive health isn’t something we think about too much until the “check engine” light comes on. And, while nothing we know of today will prevent any of us from getting this virus, we do know that it’s a whole lot easier to overcome if we’re in good health to begin with.

Hopefully we’ll come away from this with a more vibrant zest for living, a stronger love for family & friends, and a greater appreciation for life’s many blessings. Part of that appreciation is taking care of what we’ve already got. Don’t wait for the “check engine” light to come on. Take care of yourself before something goes wrong. You’re worth whatever it takes.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Good Health Doesn’t Just Happen – You Have To Want It

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

For the first day in a week, I woke up relatively free of back pain. That’s “relatively” in the sense that my first car was relatively free of dents. You know, after I hit the open tailgate of a parked pickup truck. Most of the car was fine, but that one headlight pointed to the stars. It didn’t hurt the truck a bit. Naturally.

I’ve got a condition doctors refer to as degenerative disc disease. I don’t think it’s a disease as much as the fact that the discs in my lower back are trashed. And every now and then one slips to the side enough to let my spine sit directly on a nerve. They say the Latin term is hurtus alotus maximus. I’m not so sure about that, but I do have some pretty juicy French terms for it.

I’m told it’s just part of aging. You know, in the sense that I packed on a bunch of extra weight and it’s been sitting on my spine for the better part of thirty years. It’s like driving around with sacks of concrete in the trunk of your car. Sooner or later, you’re gonna wear out the tires. Come to think of it, I need to check them. They’ve been carrying this weight a while, too.

Lose some weight, you say? Well, thanks! Why didn’t I think of that? I’ll just get right on it. By this time next week I should be in good shape. Maybe after that I’ll go run a marathon. Oh, how I wish it were that easy. Not the marathon. I don’t run unless somebody is chasing me with a snake. Then I could outrun Jesse Owens. Only until I find a stick big enough to knock them out.

Extra body weight is a problem in this country, and in most of the world. If you don’t believe me, take a look around. Just don’t stare. Fat people don’t like that, especially if you’re skinny. If you’re fat, too, they just think you’re flirting. And fat people don’t like that. Okay, we do. We just don’t say it out loud.

The problem with body weight is that it builds slowly, giving us time to adjust. We barely notice when we need pants that are one size larger. We just blame it on the brand. “These pants must run a little small.” No, your butt runs a little big. We can say it. You’d think by the time we’re six sizes larger we’d get the hint. But no. Even then it’s only one size larger than before.

The same thing happens with our general health. We don’t really notice when we find ourselves running a little slower or waking up more tired each day. “It’s just a normal part of aging.” Well, maybe. But I think we accept that excuse a little too easily. We compare ourselves to people who are much older and decide this is normal. “We’re all headed that way.”

Well, sure. We are all headed that way. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept it without a fight. Losing weight is harder as we get older. The same is true of maintaining our health. The difference is, one comes from how much we eat and the other comes from how much we don’t eat. Sure, the gas tank is full. But if it’s full of sugar, you won’t be going very far.

Doctors tell us to eat a balanced diet with all the right nutrients. Well, guess what? In order to get all the nutrients your body needs, you’d have to eat several pounds of the right foods every day. And that’s if you could even find those foods. Most of what we can buy in the supermarket is seriously lacking in nutrients. Even fresh produce. Ever heard of soil depletion?

That’s not to say we can’t make better choices, but even a strict vegetarian has vitamin deficiencies. On the other hand, vegetarians are more likely to use supplements, because they’ve done the research and they know. As a result, most of them stay reasonably healthy later in life than the rest of us.

Our bodies were designed to convert nutrients from a broad variety of foods into the chemicals we need to thrive. Not survive – thrive. And the longer we cheat ourselves of those nutrients, the sooner we’ll feel the effects of age. Meanwhile, we’ll probably get some bigger pants to go along with it. Kinda like that hidden surprise in your cereal.

It’s all about choices, compounded over time. And right now, I can imagine there are a lot of people wishing they’d done a little more to maintain good health. There is no vitamin or supplement that’ll keep you from getting sick. But starting off healthy can make a world of difference in your recovery.

We can’t lose weight overnight, and we can’t get healthy in a day. Choices compounded over time. The sooner we start making the right choices, the longer we’ll be able to enjoy a reasonably healthy life.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Don’t Let Illness Ruin Your Holidays

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

I’m trying to re-learn the art of breathing. The guy who almost never gets sick stumbled into a pile of germs somewhere, and they’ve taken up residence deep in my chest. I guess it’s time to see somebody better trained to deal with this. Too bad the liquor store won’t open for several more hours. They’ve got lots of experts in there.

I normally don’t get sick, so I can’t really complain when something like this catches me off-guard. I take the best vitamins you can buy, and normally when everyone else is in bed all day, I get by unscathed. Like anything else, you get what you pay for. I figure what I spend on vitamins in six months is less money than it would cost me to miss a single day of work. Food for thought.

But when something like this slips through, I’m a big baby. I didn’t know that until my wife informed me in no uncertain terms. And I guess she’s right. When you’re used to being sick, being a little sicker is no big deal. But when it only happens once every couple of years, it’s like slamming the car door on your middle finger. Trust me, the first aid for that one can get you in a bit of trouble. Hi boss!

This is a time of year when lots of people battle just about every imaginable kind of illness. And if you dare to see your doctor, the first thing they do is make you put on a surgical mask. Brilliant! I’m here because I can’t breathe, so let’s make it even harder. How about saving those masks for the people who are healthy and have the most to lose instead of trapping all the germs against my face?

And one more question while we’re at it. When did doctors decide it was a bright idea to stick a light in your ear and then immediately put the same light up your nose? Is this a prank they dreamed up at a frat party? “Hey Fred, watch this! Bet I can make him sneeze!” I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather have snot in my ears than ear wax in my nose. I’m just saying.

I’m trying to maintain a sense of humor about this. That’s how I approach most of life. Not all – just ask my wife. She can provide a pretty comprehensive list. But I try to look at things from a lighter perspective. It served me well when I stood on a stage in front of complete strangers who paid me to make them laugh. And it serves me well when my lungs are disintegrating from the inside.

For those who work where I do, a word of warning – I don’t waste my paid time off to save all of you from breathing the air I just exhaled. I’ve never been one to stay home sick unless I just can’t get up. Halfway through the day, the TV changes to shows I’ve never seen. If you don’t feel bad already, watch a little “daytime TV.” As the Stomach Turns, Mates of Our Wives … don’t get me started.

Okay, in fairness, nobody really sits close enough to me to make a difference. Every time they’ve put somebody next to me, they’re gone within two weeks. I’m starting to think maybe it’s me. But I’ve found that I recover faster if I just plow through instead of lying around in pajamas with a dozen used tissues in my lap. And the vitamins I take play a pretty big role in that. I may get sick, but not for long.

I hope you’ve made it through the season so far without illness, and if you have, I hope your luck holds out. There’s never a good time of year to be sick, but nobody wants to be sick through the holidays. Treat your body right when you’re not sick, and it’ll treat you a little nicer when you are. Meanwhile, enjoy the season and keep those germs to yourself.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Good Health Takes Time – So, What Are You Waiting For?

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a great start.

It’s hard to believe, with temperatures in the high 80s, that we’re just a few weeks away from bundling up every morning. Normally by this time of year, we would be seeing some signs of cooler weather. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining. Summer could last all year and I’d be perfectly happy. But here in Ohio, the reality is a little less perfect. Winter will come and it will be cold.

Winter is a time of year full of wonder and enjoyment. I love a snow-covered landscape, icicles hanging off the roof, and kids sledding down the hill.  In fact, I could sit inside a toasty house next to the fire with a cup of hot cocoa and stare at it for hours. But sooner or later, I have to go out in it. That’s when I start using words that are not pastor approved. Lots of ‘em.

I guess it’s a good thing that winter brings the holidays, because otherwise people like me would just sit around and sulk. And the more we sit around, the more we keep breathing the same germs that also don’t like the cold, so they just sit inside the house and breed more germs. It’s what doctors affectionately refer to as cold & flu season. And it affects most of us to some degree.

I’ve been lucky in that regard. When everyone around me is sick, I usually breeze through unscathed. If I do get anything, it just sideswipes me. I’ll get a bit of a scratchy throat or a runny nose and that’s about it. In the past few years, I’ve only had one good chest cold. That’s also about the same amount of time I’ve been taking a good plant-based vitamin. Coincidence? Maybe. But I’ll take my chances.

Lots of people start loading up on healthy foods and vitamins in the winter, because they know what’s coming. That usually starts at the first sign of a cold, and as soon as it’s over, the healthy stuff goes back on the shelf. A few weeks later, here it comes again. And we wonder why we can’t stay healthy.

How often do you take your car for an oil change? Do you wait until the engine starts making a funny noise and that flashing idiot light comes on? Or do you follow a schedule of routine maintenance? With colder weather approaching, you might want to have your furnace serviced. If you have a snowblower, now would be the time to crank it up and be sure it’s ready to roll.

We do these things because we anticipate the need, and don’t want to get caught in the cold (no pun intended) when the time comes. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We’ve all heard that, but do we really follow that advice? Is it easier to go to the store when you’re sick and stock up on cold medicine, or to start working on prevention now?

Unlike a car, where we can drain out all the dirty oil and replace it with something new in a few minutes, our bodies aren’t quite that simple. It takes about two months to completely replace your blood supply. Any changes you make that are intended to enhance your body’s ability to fight illness will require at least a couple of months to take full effect. Cold & flu season is two months away. You do the math.

If there’s something you’d do to prevent illness this winter, now is the time to get started. Give your body a head start so you don’t spend all winter fighting off colds and trying to get back to ground zero. Eat healthier. Exercise. Take some good vitamins. The changes you make today could have a profound effect on how you weather the storm.

And once the winter is over, keep up those good habits. If you slide back into your old routine, you’ll find yourself in the same position a year from now – racing the clock to see if you can build your body’s defenses before the first round of colds comes along. And we all know what happens when we try to beat the clock. Sooner or later, we lose.

Good health isn’t just for the winter. It’s not just for those summer vacations. It’s for life – every day, every week, every month, and every year. It’s about making the most of your days instead of spending them in bed. It’s about not only trying to live a little longer, but having the ability to enjoy those extra years.

Good health is the greatest asset to a long and enjoyable life. But like that dirty oil in your car’s engine, sooner or later it’ll demand your attention. It’s always easier and cheaper to avoid problems in the first place. Give yourself a fighting chance. Get started today. You’ll have the rest of your life to be thankful you did.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

We Change Tomorrow By the Choices We Make Today

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

I’ve found over the years that some things tend to change as we get older. I know, that’s no big secret, but it’s something I’ve tried to deny whenever possible. I think most of us do. But denying age is about like denying pregnancy. Sooner or later, it’ll catch up with you.

When we’re younger, we’re certain we’ll enjoy that youthful existence forever. We don’t think about getting old and the effects it’ll have on our body. We eat whatever we want, whenever we want it. We run, we play, we jump up and down, and that’s just during recess. If we get sick, we blow our nose a few times and all is well with the world.

But as we age, we begin to realize the impact of the choices we’ve made. We realize it in the way a skydiver realizes the ground is getting a lot bigger every second. It’s no longer a theory or old wive’s tale – it’s reality, in full living color. We can’t eat anything we want. In fact, we find ourselves eating a lot of things we don’t want. We do it because all of a sudden, health has become a priority.

Funny how that works. It’s like saving for retirement. If we’d all started at the age of 18 like the old folks told us to do, we’d all retire wealthy (and probably a few years early). But at that age, retirement is a lifetime away and other things are more pressing. Then the day comes when you find yourself talking like an old person – “If I could go back and change one thing in my life …” Yeah. Been there.

Well, we can’t go back and change our past, but we can change our future. If you’re suddenly realizing the ground is getting a lot bigger and you’re wondering how well you packed your parachute, you still have a backup in case the main chute fails. But you have to pull the cord on that backup early enough to break your fall.

This isn’t about skydiving. It’s about racing through life toward that age where we hope everything will slow down and bring us in for a nice, soft landing. It’s about hearing the music we never wanted to hear and having to pay the piper for playing it. And, it’s about doing what we can to negotiate a better deal before that music gets too loud.

Right now, all of us in the northern hemisphere are about two months away from cold and flu season. We’re also a few months from the holidays. Funny how those things seem to coincide every year. And few things can wreck the holidays like being sick.

Another thing to consider – the blood supply in our body lasts about two months. That’s how long it takes to flush out the impurities and replace the old cells with new ones. So, if we want to avoid sickness this winter, now is the time to do something about it.

A healthy diet is a good start, but the sad fact is most of us can never eat enough of the right foods to give our body all the nutrients it needs. That’s as much a factor of the junk we do eat as the declining nutrients in the foods we should eat. If you want to maintain your nutrient levels, supplements need to be part of your daily routine. Start with a good plant-based multivitamin and go from there.

Make no mistake – vitamins and supplements won’t cure any existing medical condition, and doctors disagree when it comes to prevention. But your body needs certain nutrients in order to fight these things on its own, so it only stands to reason that maintaining healthy levels of those nutrients will help you work through anything that does come along.

Physical health is a lot like financial health. Both take a certain amount of planning, and the choices we make today can shape our future in ways we can’t begin to imagine. I can’t go back and un-eat all those double cheeseburgers, but I can make better choices today. The ground is getting bigger, and I want to be able to enjoy my golden years instead of sitting on the sidelines.

We talk about the financial side of that equation a lot, but no amount of money can take the place of good physical health. If you’re like me, the choices we’ve made over the years are coming home to roost. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept them. Every coach knows the right play can change the outcome, even in the final seconds of the game.

Small changes, at any point in our lives, can make a world of difference. Run the right play. Make the healthy choice. The game is yours to win.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved