Monday, October 23, 2006

Heal Thy Self!

It's funny how people who strive for fitness, take an active role in their own health, disease prevention, diagnosis, and recovery/cures. The rest of the population does not seem to be that interested in the process.

I was killing time Friday waiting for my wife's car to get out of the shop. I was sitting next to a guy at the counter at Bob Evans restaurant, eating breakfast.
The guy appeared to be in his late 50s or early 60s. He was telling me about all of his latest ills, "and how all of these diseases just seem to creep up on you as you get older, without any warning." (In his case, diabetes, foot/leg issues, high blood pressure, heart disease and 10 other things). He has had two stays in a nursing home, since he turned 45.

He mentioned that he had just gotten back from his high school reunion. I assumed (but didn't say), his 40th or 45th. It was his 30th H.S. reunion! I said that I went to my 30th a year ago and had fun. He wouldn't believe that I was older than him until I showed him my license. "Holy crap, you're almost 50," he said.

He asked what I did to stay in shape and relatively healthy, and I told him a little of my routine. He said that he works out 2 times per week for 20 minutes. I told him that that wasn't sufficient to stay in decent shape and didn't even meet the minimum for cardiovascular fitness. He asked why a doctor hadn't told him that fact? I said that it was his body, and he should be the one who takes the initiative to find out more about his own body's intracacies and requirements.

He asked about what I was eating...wheat toast (dry), egg white omelet, etc. I told him that I was splurging, since I had the day off, and don't normally eat like that for breakfast. I normally juice my own veggies/fruit and add some omega oils and protein powder to make a smoothie for breakfast. It was 10:00 a.m., and he was on his 2nd breakfast for the day! He said that he felt hungry again, and was eating 3 eggs and biscuits and gravy to "hold him over" until lunch.

I don't hold out much hope for the poor guy attending his 40th H.S. reunion. He doesn't take an active role in his own health at all. It's like he's watching a bad, B-rated horror flick from the sidelines, when it comes to his body.

I'm definitely not perfect. I like drinking my own homebrewed beer, (sometimes to excess). I have a sweet-tooth, every now and then. I definitely drink too much coffee. I don't eat a perfect diet. I don't fill every possible spot in my schedule with running or excercise routines. In short, I don't do everything that I can do to get as fit and healthy as I possibly could be. BUT, I definitely strive to stay in decent shape and eat healthily, and am always surprised by the positive results.

For instance, I rarely need pain or anti-inflammatory drugs anymore. The last 50-miler that I did and also the 100-miler that I did in February, I didn't need any ibuprophen (during or after) the race. Fifteen years ago, after running (just) a marathon, I would have needed to take Advil for a day or two for the pain, swelling, and stiffness. Now, I only need it for REAL injuries and trauma, it seems.

Fitness is a personal journey. Along the way, you get to know your own body better than any health professional, dietician, or personal trainer ever will. Heal thy self! Or, at the very least, be intimately involved in the process.


Sarah said...

Its sad how many people are like that. And it really doesn't take that much extra effort to educate yourself about what it takes to stay in good health. Hopefully you had an influence on him. You never know when you might make a difference. : )

shliknik said...

Couldn't have said it better myself. For me, it's all about balance. I do eat healthy, but I'm not obsessed with it. I do work out - usually 3-5 times/wk, but I don't stress if I miss a day. I watch my weight and I don't cry if I gain a pound...probably cause I'll lose it the next week when I'm able to work out/eat better!

Balance...because even too much of a good thing is bad!

Ben, aka BadBen said...

That's right...BALANCE.
We've all seen Obsessive-Compulsive "workoutaholics," before. They are not healthy.

I know a couple of characters that fit that bill, and consider them longtime friends (of over 15 years). They tend to get severely injured and sick at least once per year, and occasionally have severe mental episodes. They can never live up to their own expectations.

Balance is the key to not being OCD. Hey, that rhymes!

Hunahpu said...

Sadly, one of the most important factors for being healthy is genetics. That is not to say that people shouldn't take care of themselves, but even if someone does, genes can still catch up with them if the cards are stacked that way. It is sad, but true.

running42k said...

Excellent post Ben. Imagine, taking responsibilities for our own actions.

As for having a beer or two, don't worry, that is half the reason we run (or cycle, weights, yoga etc). So we can enjoy fine meals, good wine and good beer and do it guilt free.

Lora said...

Amen....I care for these patients. Work on their diabetic wounds, explain their intensive combo of meds, attend to their amputations. Very few of them blame themselves, most don't change their terrible habits. Totally blows me away!

I'm so glad you mention how you hardly use Advil anymore. I took it for two days following this marathon and questioned if it's worth it. Now I realize I can all change with work and time. I'm inspired! Thanks!

Ben, aka BadBen said...

Hunahpu has a good point, also. Genetics. I've had to overcome (and stay on top of) some genetic issues myself.

1) No-arch flat feet, with weak ankles.
2) Terrible allergies, year-round. I swear that I'm allergic to my own snot!
3) Allergy & excercise induced asthma, (since I was a young kid). I've had very few major episodes since I started taking better care of myself, and realize the triggers to the condition.
4) Midlife-onset high cholesterol. It was like a switch was flipped when I turned 46 a few years ago. I went from a total count of 112 to 287 overnight. I currently have it controlled to below 105, with the right balance of LDL, triglycerides, etc.

I have other "family history" issues that I watch for, also. If I didn't stay on top of the genetic issues, I'd have every excuse to be just like the guy that I met at the restaurant.

D said...

I couldn't agree with you more on this post. At the risk of posting a way too long comment, something that comes to mind is the fact that our health insurance premiums keep rising considerably each year due to the many unhealthy and constantly sick employees that work for the company that employs me. I get no credit for the healthy lifestyle I lead, I have to pay higher premiums due to the unhealthy lifestyles of the majority of the rest.

Small world - I ran the first 3 miles of my 22-miler Saturday w/I think his name is Raul (the guy that was with you at your "Mirage" water station at your race.

robtherunner said...

Great post Ben! I am sometimes amazed at the naivety of people when it comes to their own health. I am a work in progress and could definately make some improvements, but I believe I am in fairly decent shape and for the most part a healthy individual.

olga said...

Great thoughts aloud. Amen to that, and when I don't follow my own advice - at least I am accountable and kick back into it. My body (and ultimately my life) is nobody's care but mine.

Barb said...

Hopefully you had a positive influence in that guys life!

Rae said...

What a great post!! It seems most people around us are like that. At our annual health insurance update meeting this week an extremely obese guy explained all of our 2007 benefits to us. It was so ironic, he's up there telling US what to do all the while explaining he's just been diagnosed with diabetes and instead of changing his lifestyle he has found a "wonder drug" on the internet!!! Geez!!!

I have to agree with him on one thing - you look about 15 years younger than your license!! I want people to tell me the same thing when I'm older so I'm sticking with the workouts!!

Ben, aka BadBen said...

Thanks, Rae.
I attribute my "youthful appearance" to "clean living," sponge baths in bovine stem cells, and healthy doses of bicarbonate of fig leaf.

Running Jayhawk said...

Well said, Ben. It sounds like you gave him something to think about. Hopefully you've motivated him to make a change, no matter how small, so his life can be better in the long run.

Deb said...

I cringed reading this blog. My husband passed away from Juvenile Diebetes and it can be ravaging. I do believe everyday is an opportunity to re-create yourself and I hope that guy does. great post!

Sam said...

Great post Ben and further evidence that ultras can push it and stay healthy too.
I have the worst vice any runner or so-called runner could have.
People ask me how I run marathons and smoke and I just have to confess that I run slow.
I have this fantasy of picking up the pace and qualifying for Boston but the cigs have to go.

Really glad Caleb hooked up with you folks. Always a twinkle in his eye when he talks about your escapades.

I wish you best of health and throw a little karma my way as I get off the smokes this fall and pick up the pace. Ah, sweet cardio!!!

Just Friends said...

I don't eat an ideal diet. I don't complete every possible identify in my routine with operating or practice workouts. {Tubal Ligation Reversal} In short, I don't do everything that I can do to get as healthy and balanced as I possibly could be.

oro tienda said...

As for having a alcohol or two, don't fear, that is half the reason we run (or pattern, loads, yoga exercises etc). So we can enjoy excellent foods, excellent bottles of wine and excellent alcohol and do it shame free.

perder peso said...

As for having a alcohol or two, don't fear, that is half the reason we run (or pattern, loads, yoga exercises etc). So we can enjoy excellent foods, excellent bottles of wine and excellent alcohol and do it shame free.

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