If you had plumbing work that needed to be done, would you call an electrician? If you wanted to get a haircut, would you go to the grocery store? To get what you want, it helps to get the proper professionals involved. It would be foolish to be upset that your plumbing wasn’t done properly by the electrician, and it would be crazy to throw a fit in the grocery store because there is no one there to cut your hair.
Patients regularly express disgust with their primary medical doctors, the local hospital systems, and the shortcomings of our current healthcare system. Many think that the system is broken and must be changed. My answer? That is the system. It isn’t changing. Many of the primary medical doctors have become mere soldiers for the pharmaceutical industry (this became super apparent during the pandemic), the hospital systems are slow, often disorganized and profit-driven, and the healthcare system as a whole is broken. Because people are making lots and lots of money, that system is not going to change.
So, what do you do? You choose a different system. It is up to you take charge of your own health, make better lifestyle decisions, seek alternatives, and choose a different way of managing your health.
The key is understanding that it all revolves around what I just wrote last… managing your health. Sounds simple enough, right? Almost too simple. But the reason our healthcare system is in shambles, and the U.S. is one of the sickest developed nations on the planet, is because the emphasis is not on health at all. Our healthcare system is a sick-care system. The focus is not on managing health, but instead is on managing conditions.
When you go to your medical doctor, they gather information through questions, physical examination, and diagnostic testing. The goal is to give a name to what it is that is plaguing you. It is important for them to name your “condition” because then they can look up what drug they can prescribe for that particular condition. The illnesses that most Americans suffer from these days are called chronic illnesses. They are also called diseases of lifestyle. They are called this because they result from the lifestyle choices we make. And because most people eat the wrong foods (and too much of them), do not engage in enough physical activity, have poor sleep habits, are under too much stress, and struggle with relationships, the body breaks down, wears out, and symptoms show up.
If the cause of your health problems is your lifestyle, then a drug can never solve that problem. What you end up doing is managing your condition… not correcting it. Diabetes medication does not cure or eliminate diabetes. Blood pressure medication does not correct your high blood pressure. Pain medication may cut down your pain, but does not correct what is actually causing the pain. This is why these medications have to be taken for the rest of your life.
So, you have a choice. Do you want to manage your conditions? Or manage your health. Managing your conditions means a lifetime of medication, side effects, and dependency on your doctors and hospitals. Managing your health means giving your body what it needs, eliminating what is bad for it, and allowing the body to heal, grow, and thrive the way it was designed to.
Here are five simple things you can do to ensure you are managing your health:
- Eat more real, whole foods, and less highly processed junk foods. Stay on the perimeter of the grocery store, where all the real food is located. Prepare meals and snacks at the beginning of the week so they are readily available. Avoid soda and energy drinks. Drink more water.
- Move your body more. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park further across the parking lot so you have to walk more. Get a stand-up desk. Hire a personal trainer. Lift weights.
- Improve your sleep environment. Make sure your bedroom is completely dark. Keep the temperature colder, between 65-67 degrees. Wind down prior to sleeping by reading, meditating, reflecting on what you’re grateful for, or doing breathing exercises. Avoid eating within two hours of going to bed.
- Manage your stress better. If you can eliminate a stressor, do it. If you can’t eliminate it, get better at managing it. Try to see stressful people, events, or things as challenges, not problems. If you cannot change something, don’t wallow in it. A good statement that I repeat often is… It is what it is. And know that being human comes with stress, it is part of this life.
- Make an effort to improve your marriage and friendships. Send or leave small notes with loving messages on them. Call or text out of the blue for no reason other than to express love and appreciation for that person. Carve out time for small trips, date nights, dinners or lunches, or events to reconnect with the ones you care about.
Managing conditions is futile. It doesn’t work. You will never have a full, healthy, and optimized life if you stay in that system. Managing your health leads to more energy, stronger immune function, more happiness, and greater fulfillment. Our current healthcare system is a condition management system. It’s up to you to embark on a health management system. Take charge of your health today!