Why Do We Ignore Our Health?

By Dennis Coughlin

In the classic movie “The Princess Bride” from 1987, two of the more dubious characters are having a chat at the end of a long day.

Prince Humperdinck: [sincerely] Tyrone, you know how much I love watching you work, but I’ve got my country’s 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; I’m swamped.

Count Rugen: Get some rest. If you haven’t got your health, then you haven’t got anything.

Count Rugen might be a bad guy, but he does share some wisdom worth hearing. If you haven’t got your health, then you haven’t got anything.

I was ignoring that blatant fact up until a couple weeks ago. Why is that?

The first reason is that we are bombarded by that message so often, that it has lost its impact. We are surrounded by adverts for diets, diet books and weight loss reality TV programs. It is endless.

The other reason I tended to glance over that sentence is because it is just that; a simple sentence. Words on the screen. Words that may or may not resonate with you until you are forced to learn from experience.

Here’s mine.

Three weeks ago my wife and I were sitting in the hospital. A health issue, that was beyond her control, had appeared out the blue and it required a minor operation. I was waiting for her when the nurses wheeled her bed back through the doors and said “Everything’s fine. It all went as planned.” You can imagine my relief.

An hour later I was feeling so terrible that I had to rush out of those same doors to get some fresh air. A nasty stomach bug that had began its life somewhere inside our children’s primary school had worked it’s way through our family and had now found its home with me.

Against all my instincts to stay, I had to leave my wife’s side. I couldn’t risk staying in the same room where she was recovering from surgery. I went home and laid down until the room stopped spinning. We were both out of action. Thankfully, grandma was still healthy and able to look after the kids.

At the same time all this was happening, we were waiting on news about my father who had become ill while on holiday down in Florida. Turns out the initial cause was pneumonia, which then led to a general deterioration of his health. He was inside another hospital 4,000 miles away and he was getting worse. While the family rallied around my wife during the day, we were making calls at night about my Dad.

Fast forward a few weeks. My wife has recovered from her surgery and she has resumed her normal life of chasing around after the kids. My Dad is still in hospital, but his condition is no longer critical and he’s growing stronger with each day.

As for me? Well, I’m on a health kick! Do you know what chia seeds are? I do now! I’ve learned about all sorts of weird and wonderful food, finished a book on healthy eating and I’ve taken up cooking again. I’m trying to avoid unhealthy food at least 90% of the time. It’s not easy, but it is happening.

Before all these health emergencies kicked off, I had been waiting on some important information related to my job. Ironically, the news broke at the exact moment when my wife and I were driving to the hospital. Do you know how important that news was in that moment? The news we had waited to hear for years? Yeah, you guessed it. Not at all.

This morning I read an email from a popular fast food chain. They were letting me know that my “loyalty card” still had some unused rewards. The bold title at the top said, “Your reward is waiting!”. The only problem was that this fast food chain and I now had different opinions on what constitutes a reward.

I have made the decision to eat healthy foods every single day for the rest of my life. Will I fail some days? Sure. If you’re going to tackle anything worthwhile, then you’re going to fail at some point. The important bit is that I’m going to keep trying. My wife and I are going to teach ourselves and our kids to eat a healthy diet.

If you are reading this and you have always thought that you should pay more attention to your health, then please start right now. Everything else can wait. Seriously. If you are a novice like me, then read one of the links that I’m going to leave at the bottom of this article.

Share this goal with at least one other person. If you join forces with your spouse or with a friend, you are more likely to succeed. You’ll be able to cheer each other on and pick up the slack when one of you wants to quit.

The other reason that you should share it with someone else is to simply help them. We are stuck in a culture of unhealthy eating, despite the mound of evidence that tells us to change our ways. Help someone change their life for the better today.

I told one of my friends about chia seeds the other day and he asked what they taste like. “They don’t taste like anything to be honest,” I said. “But they do make your salads crunchy!”

My sales pitch could use some work.

Maybe he’ll try them and maybe he won’t. I’m just glad he’s thinking about a healthy option.

I wish him and you all the health and happiness that life has to offer. Your reward is waiting.

Don’t you realise that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
(1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

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