Did you know that the word “wealth” comes from the Old English words “weal” (well-being) and “th” (condition) which taken together means “the condition of well-being”? Many of us associate good health (mental, emotional, and physical) with the term “well being” and perhaps the early English considered health to be one of their most valued assets.
Harvard Medical School, Harvard Law School, and Ohio University teamed up to conduct research on the correlation between illness and bankruptcy. Chart When their 2001 report showed that half filed due to illness rather than financial profligacy, and that 68% of those who filed had health insurance, I wondered how many of us cultivate good health as a key component of our strategy for future decades and accordingly pay as much attention to building long term optimization of our bodies as we do our 401K’s? Recently the study reported 62.1% of all bankruptcies in 2007 were medical. Think you’re immune? The study additionally reported the mean age was 44.9 years, 60.3% had attended college, and 66.4% were homeowners. More than 75% had health insurance yet were overwhelmed by medical debt.
While we all want to be healthy because we’ll feel better being so, when viewed in an economic light it is compelling to prioritize our health. Just as you wouldn’t pour inferior fuel into the gas tank of a car and think it will serve you well for years to come, what you put into your body can directly impact how much you’ll enjoy (or not) being in it later and what percentage of your finances you’ll need to spend on it.
Isn’t your biggest and most important project yourself? As professionals we often go to great lengths to excel in our fields, sometimes working late (dinner being whatever is in the vending machine) and gulping down caffeine to keep going. We prioritize our job performance- yet how can we also prioritize our health, given that we’ll still be living in our bodies long after we have left the jobs we are in?
Nourishing food and beverage choices are one way of showing yourself respect. If you purchased an expensive race horse you wouldn’t give him/her a bucket of fries and a diet cola. Of course you wouldn’t, because you revere the horse and desire good performance from your investment. Don’t you deserve this same level of regard for your “lap through life”? You approach the projects of your career strategically- with a comprehensive and long term vision in mind you develop a methodical plan to purposefully deliver your intended results. Isn’t your biggest and most important project really yourself?
In your eating choices consistency counts more than occasional volume because your cells are continually replacing themselves and they build with what nutrients are available at the time each new cell is constructed. If you’d like some health tips, such as suggestions for easy substitutions to increase your nutrition, click here. By being strategic in how you care for your body over several decades you set yourself up for the best chance of enjoying good physical, mental, emotional, and financial health in your later years.