By Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD
A friend of mine recently passed away after a 6-year battle with cancer. He was only 37 and fought the good fight. While the state of his health had nothing to with his cancer diagnosis, his fight and ultimate death can teach us all a great lesson about health.
At the service, the priest noted how much we all take life for granted. The sound of waves crashing, a clock ticking, and children laughing — basically all the things we don’t notice when we are rushing around, focusing on problems that, when compared to life-and-death situations, aren’t really problems.
In matters of health, millions of people take their bodies for granted. We all forget, and I do too, that it’s a privilege to be able to move our bodies and exercise. In fact, the body was meant to move, something that was easy to do for most of the history of humanity. I think that’s why it feels so good.
There are bed-bound people all over the world who would give anything to be able to just get up, much less go to a gym or take a walk. They may not have felt this way before their health crisis, but it’s amazing how not being able to do something completely changes your perspective.
And what we put in our bodies is so very important. We often take great care of our cars, clothes and homes. When someone says they don’t have time to eat well or be active, they are saying their bodies aren’t as important as all the other stuff in their life.
Yet we live in a society that values appearance and weight over health and wellbeing. With crazy trends like the Feeding Tube diet, we miss the point. I recently visited a young lady who lost 50 pounds but she was unhealthy, tired and listless. But she still wanted to lose more weight — her poor quality of life wasn’t even a consideration.
For me, leading a healthy lifestyle is not about living to 100 or preventing every disease known to man. It’s about living well today and, above all, respecting our bodies. Moving more, filling up on the good stuff (most the time), and getting adequate sleep not only allows us to do all the things we want to do, it helps us do them well.
While I’ll miss my friend dearly, he reminds me how to value my life, because he fought so hard for his own. I won’t take my health for granted, and I will treat my body as well as I treat my other prized possessions — with care, compassion and reverence. When I start feeling like this is a chore, I’ll remind myself that it is truly a gift. The gift of good health.