Are You Investing in Yourself?

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You may be investing in your 401(k), your kids' college funds, or even perhaps a rental property. You may look at buying a quality suit as an investment. But when was the last time you invested in your health?

This question was raised by Brian Johnson and Chris VanBerg, who were presenting on the topic of Total Body Wellness last week at the LUX CHIX' "Create Your Successful Lifestyle" Entrepreneurs Conference at the Amway Grand Plaza—and it gave me pause. What does it mean to invest in your health? Are we talking about time? Are we talking about money? How much do I need to invest?

One simple solution posed by Johnson and VanBerg was to make an investment in your food. "If you put sugar into your gas tank, do you think it's going to run?" We all know the answer to that question when we're talking about cars, but it's a powerful analogy for the human body, as well. It's logical to assume that our vehicles will stall if we fill the gas tank with garbage, but for some reason, it's hard for many of us to make that leap in logic to our bodies.

WebMD reports that obesity has finally outpaced smoking as the leading cause of death in the United States. It makes me wonder if at some point, the junk food that saturates our grocery stores and fast-food restaurants will carry the same kind of warning labels, purchasing restrictions, and bans on advertising aimed at children that the tobacco industry has had imposed upon them. And while we often hear, "It's OK in moderation" when it comes to junk foods, I doubt anyone would make that argument about smoking, anymore.

Listening to Johnson and VanBerg speak about the amount of carcinogens in our environment and the health problems caused by what we're exposing ourselves to, internally and externally, made me consider my own choices. It's a no-brainer that I'm not going to smoke. That's always been an easy choice. But choosing what to eat is a slipperier slope—there are more shades of gray.

While Johnson and VanBerg mentioned many foods that they considered to be extremely beneficial to one's health, I noticed that they all had one thing in common: They were one-ingredient items. Strawberries, not strawberry-flavored something. Nothing they mentioned came in a cardboard box with a cellophane wrapper or a little plastic cup. None of this information about food choices was a revelation—I know what I should eat. But it's easy to find excuses as to why not: I'm in a hurry, on the road, the kids won't like it, and so it goes. But I would never use those excuses to put sugar in the gas tank of my car! I would never willingly ruin something that I've put all of that money into. So, why do I find it so easy to rationalize making poor fuel choices for myself?

Johnson and VanBerg made an excellent point: "Invest in yourself. If you don't make time for your wellness, you will make time for your illness." It is a point that I will try to remember the next time I think I don't have time to go for a walk, or when the vegetables at the farmers market seem outrageously expensive. After all, if I can feel good about taking money out of each paycheck for my 401(k), I should be able to feel good about taking care of myself so that I can enjoy it someday!

Written by Jennifer Reynolds, West Michigan Woman staff writer.


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