Rather, I am attempting to point out a common error in thinking, which is leading our country down a dangerous path when it comes to the topic of health and disease. Luckily, the choice is up to you....
Which path will you choose?
The first assertion (and the most dangerous), is that your health is something that is out of your control, so there's nothing you can do about it. I have heard this from many people - including some members of my own family (who shall remain nameless).
This one drives me absolutely crazy!
Whether it is the statement that some disease, ailment, or even degree of longevity "runs in the family," or the assertion that - "it's just my body type," all this victimhood mentality does is help you to abdicate any sense of responsibility for your chosen lifestyle, and its impacts on your health.
After all, if you can simply say, "high blood pressure runs in my family," then you're off the hook, and can merrily go on your way eating, drinking, and smoking whatever you want, since there's "nothing you can do about it anyway," right?
The truth is, as many, many recent studies have shown, most of today's modern diseases are actually lifestyle diseases, caused by our lack of concern for our own bodies - and our failure to take responsibility for our own health. The vast majority of diseases either have no hereditary link at all, or it is relatively small. Studies have shown that even many mental illnesses - such as depression - are only about 20% determined by heredity.
What does this mean, for a responsible, health-conscious individual?
It means that 80% of the outcome is up to YOU!
It means that while you may be predisposed towards a certain illness or disease, the odds are in your favor - IF and ONLY IF you choose to take steps to keep yourself healthy and live a healthy and self-aware lifestyle. (We have lots and lots of articles on how to do this on this blog, so please feel free to browse through our past posts for plenty of important health truths that you should know to stay healthy.)
If cancer or emphysema run in your family, for example, a responsible person who wants to minimize his or her risk of developing these deadly disease would choose not to smoke.
If you know that your grandfather and your father both had high blood pressure and suffered from heart problems, you would make sure to get regular exercise, consume healthy fats and avoid unhealthy ones, eat plenty of colorful fruits & vegetables, avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol use, and keep your weight down.
It's not rocket science, although it may take some research to separate the hype from the facts in some areas.
But isn't it worth it to take the time to learn about how to stay healthy and live longer??
If someone told you you would have to invest an hour or two a week for the rest of your life into learning about healthy living, and taking steps to implement what you learned, but in return you would live an extra 20 years - and those 20 years would be full of health, energy, and vitality, instead of pain and sickness, wouldn't that seem like a good return on investment?
(Or maybe not, and if that's the case for you, then why are you reading this blog?)
In my book, that's a win-win!
The second approach I've heard people take to abdicating responsibility for their health is a more subtle one, but it still has the same effect. I actually have an exact example of this in mind, which really kind of horrified me the first time I heard it....
I was listening to a Christian radio station a few years ago, and one of the DJs was joking about his lack of motivation when it came to going to the gym. He ended by saying something like, "God loves me anyway even if I'm fat - that's just the way He made me!"
To which, out loud, I responded, "No, it's NOT!!"
While I'm sure he was just joking around to some degree, the mindset that goes along with this statement is just as defeatist as the version above - and it's patently untrue!
God did NOT make you to be unhealthy! God made you perfect, and perfect = healthy. Health is your natural state. If you're not healthy, this is almost certainly a product of your own actions and behaviors - it's NOT the way God made you! God meant you to be happy, whole, healthy, energetic, loving, and filled with enjoyment for the life He blessed you with.
Now, let me just state a caveat for those who are protesting - what about people born with birth defects? What about those born with pre-existing conditions that affect their health and leave them in pain, or riddled with disease? Obviously I'm not referring to you if this applies to you, but it doesn't apply to the majority of people. And for those who are affected by these sorts of conditions, often there are still things they can do to maximize their health.
Remember that it still may not have been God's will that you be born that way, perhaps your parents - or even grandparents - participated in behaviors whose consequences they did not understand or intend - which led to your current state of health. One extreme example of this would be parents who participated in hard drug use while pregnant, leading to birth defects and health impacts which can affect the rest of their children's lives.
But there are many more subtle ways in which parental choices may contribute to the health of their children. Often it could be unwitting exposure to a particular toxin while pregnant, or a certain medication whose long-term effects are unknown (this happened to my grandmother).
Even something as simple (and avoidable) as smoking while pregnant - or simply being around secondhand smoke - can cause many ill effects to our offspring - from higher incidence of asthma and other respiratory problems, to increased risk of certain cancers.
There are many ways in which our decisions affect the health of our unborn children - some of which we will probably never fully know. I'm not saying we should obsess about these things, as that would be pointless, but it certainly is true that making healthy choices benefits more than just yourself - especially if you're planning to have children.
As I've said before, your health is up to you. You're not a victim - or you don't have to be. You were made to be healthy, and that's how God made you. However, it IS up to you to stay that way.
The choices you make throughout your life will determine whether you live up to your potential for health, or not.
Will you be healthy? Will you take responsibility and educate yourself on how to live the healthiest life you can? Or will you blame God, your father, your mother, the government, etc., for your state of health, and let the chips fall where they may?
The choice is yours.
To your health,