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We Can Do Better

I think we can all agree that everyone should have access to healthcare. There is no valid reason for someone to be denied treatment for an ailment that can be treated. We should have a moral obligation to help people that need it, it’s one of the few qualifications of being a decent human being. I am all for a major healthcare reform (just not universal free healthcare because it causes a lot of major issues like a huge increase in taxes, lack of innovation in the medical field, decrease in the quality of care, lack of financial incentive to become a doctor, etc. and nothing in life is ever really free) with one huge condition. People need to be accountable for their own health. I’m not talking about performing surgery on yourself, diagnosing ailments, or anything like that, just simply controlling the two things that everyone can control. You are very much in control of what you eat and how much you move.

There are literally thousands of diets that you can find with a simple Google search and guess what? Most of them actually work, provided that you adhere to them. But how do you know which diet is right for you? Do carbs make you fat? What about sugar, sodium, artificial sweeteners, saturated fats, alcohol, cooking oil, red meat? I’m here to make this extraordinarily simple for you. Every single person that has lost weight on a diet has done so because their diet puts them in a caloric deficit. To make it simpler, they ate fewer calories. The thing is, I’m not advocating for everyone to go out and buy food scales and become experts in nutrition. I’m not going to break down each macro and micronutrient, what they do, and what percentage of your diet each should equate to. It would be a long and boring read, and as far as body weight goes (not necessarily composition) it doesn’t really matter. To be healthy, you really only need to know the absolute basics.

The first thing you need to know is the more calories you consume, the bigger you will be. Essentially, eat more to get bigger, eat less to get smaller. I’m going to take a leap of faith and assume that deep down, we know when we are too big or too small to really be healthy. The second thing you need to know is that not all foods are created equal. A serving of broccoli does not have the same number of calories as a serving of cake. You don’t need to know the macronutrient breakdown of a slice of cake to know that it is considered dessert for a reason, it is a treat. Now that we’ve covered the basic knowledge needed, here’s what you need to do with it: make good food choices most of the time. If you eat three meals a day seven days a week, that’s twenty-one meals a week (still with me?). If you make good food choices for let’s say eighteen of them, that’s almost 86% which is a solid B! That means, you get three meals a week where you are allowed to make a poor choice. Overly simplified, you only need to have enough discipline to not have a doughnut for breakfast more than three times a week. Now Brendawn, is this overly simplistic diet going to reveal my dormant abs? Of course not, but eating decently most of the time is doing it a heck of a lot better than most Americans currently do it.

Not everyone has the discipline to look like a stage ready bodybuilder, to complete an ironman triathlon, or deadlift a small car. These are the absolute extremes of exercise, going far beyond what is necessary for health and venturing deep into the human potential of the possibly chemically enhanced genetic .01%. To be healthy, you just need to stay in motion. The easiest way to do this is by finding some form of exercise that you like. Lucky for us, there are literally hundreds of choices available, far too many to list here.

Not all of us are wired to love exercising, that is simply human nature. Most of us will not be motivated to go out of our way to exercise every day either, but motivation isn’t actually necessary. Developing and maintaining good habits is far more sustainable than being consistently uniquely motivated. If you make a point of making exercise part of your daily routine, it will eventually become a habit. Do you really think I’m motivated to wake up at the crack of dawn to go lift weights five times a week? Uh no, but I’ve made lifting weights five times a week part of my routine and early morning is really the only time I can guarantee I won’t be too busy. Some days are better than others, but I always get it done. Also, exercising as early as I have been has made me understand how invalid the “I don’t have time” excuse is. One extremely easy way to move more is to walk for ten minutes after every meal. If you’re not a morning or late evening person and claim you don’t have time, I guarantee that you can at least do this. Again, not going to make you look like prime Arnold Schwarzenegger, but enough to be healthy.

Call me crazy, but it’s almost like diet and exercise go really well together. Doing one can even help with the other! Eating well gives you more energy to exercise and exercising frequently will allow you to consume more food. Sounds incredibly obvious, but there is a point here. Doing the bare minimum to be reasonably healthy is not a tough ask, but it is up to YOU to do it. No one can eat healthy for you, nor can anyone burn calories in your stead. Your health is and always has been your own personal responsibility. We all know that generally healthy people have better outcomes than generally unhealthy people when it comes to fighting off diseases. The last year and a half or so should have hammered that into your brain if you have been paying attention at all. I started this blog stating that I am very much in favor of healthcare reform, and that was not a lie. Our current system is unfair and far too expensive, but it is also overburdened with patients that have, well… very easily preventable conditions. There is no healthcare solution that will work efficiently for a population that does not take care of itself. Perhaps if we took it upon ourselves to drastically reduce the demand for treatment of preventable conditions, the cost for medical treatments in general would decrease (microeconomics 101 supply and demand). If the general price for medical care were to naturally decrease, government (cough taxpayer cough) subsidized insurance or FSA’s would be a far more palatable proposition. Healthcare in 2021 has a lot of room for improvement, but we need to hold up our end of the bargain as well.

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