In 2007, Americans spent $2.24 trillion on health care. An average American family of four spent about $16,700. What is even scarier is the fact that these costs are growing much faster than an average income. We can despair, move to Canada where the health care is free, or do something about it. And that is where the good news comes in: there is a lot we can do to cut these costs, if we remember the good old saying that ” “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” .
Paying for the lifestyle
According to the Forbes magazine, Americans spent $76 billion on heart conditions, $42 billion on high blood pressure and $34 billion type 2 diabetes. Medical costs linked to obesity cost Americans $147 billion, or about 9% of total medical costs. All of these expensive medical conditions are directly linked to our lifestyle. So, let”s change it. Instead of waiting for the government to decide the future of our health care and worrying if we are going to be able to pay for the doctor when we get sick, let”s do everything in our power so that we do not get sick. That means changing our diet, becoming more physically active and taking care of our mental and emotional needs. You can take the HealthStatus Health Risk Assessment to find out what specific lifestyle changes you should make to live a healthier life.
Changing to a healthy lifestyle takes time. If you were a couch potato your entire life, joining the gym only means that you will have another bill to pay and will probably use it once or twice. If your grandmother and mother deep fried everything, or if you think that the height of culinary delights is a quarter pounder with cheese, you will need to start with small changes if you want them to stick.
Before you start making big changes in your nutrition and lifestyle, you have to convince yourself that the changes are possible and that you can do it. It is in your power. Slowly but surely, one day by one, you can change life-long habits and start living healthy life.
If you are obese, this is going to be your most important change. Obesity affects every organ in our body, it causes many chronic disease including heart condition, diabetes and stroke. It makes you depressed, too heavy to move, too unhappy to socialize. Forget all radical diets that force you to starve yourself. Make sure that your nutrition is balanced and that it contains a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. Choose lean meats, drink water and fruit juice instead of sodas, yoghurt instead of ice cream. Try to prepare your meals at home so that you know exactly what is it you are eating. Buy smaller plates so that your portions look bigger. Drink a lot of water. And do not forget that it takes time for any changes to start showing. Be persistent and believe in yourself.
Starting exercising if you have never done it can be overwhelming, if you go to the gym and watch all those lean bodies pumping away. Think of exercising as Karate Kid did: turn your household chores into aerobics. Vacuum with music on, dust while dancing, run around with your kids, walk your dog around the block three times a day. Walk everywhere. Use stairs instead of elevators. Don”t forget sex, it can be a great calorie burner.
It is easy to be miserable. We often have too many responsibilities, we feel completely out of control of our own lives and it feels like there is no way out. The result is depression, abuse of drugs and alcohol and general sense of unhappiness. Our mental and emotional balance is as important as our physical health for our overall sense of well-being. And just like making changes with our physical health, changes in our emotional and mental lives should be small and gradual. Start by watching funny movies and hanging out with happy, positive people. If you hate your job, go back to school and then look for the job you always wanted to do. If you are miserable in your marriage, go see a marriage counselor. A good one will tell you that there are marriages that are not worth saving. Go to the park and look at flowers and trees. Catch a sunset. Volunteer at the shelter and do something nice for someone else. It will make you feel great about yourself.
However strange it sounds, one important part of your program of cutting your medical bills is going to see a doctor once a year for a general check-up. A check-up can catch a problem early on before it becomes serious or chronic. Many diseases can be prevented if caught early. Many cancers can be cured if detected early. And there is not price for the peace of mind you will have when the doctor gives you a clean bill of health.