Your Health Choices: Careful or Careless?

Will someone please tell me why we don’t take better care of ourselves?

The other day I was at the checkout counter in a well-known home-supply store, and the cashier, a young woman, asked me to wait a minute. The problem I had, though, was that she took out from under the counter a very large bottle of a sugary, caffeine-laden soft drink. She told me, “I know that I shouldn’t be drinking this, but, like most of us, I’m long on knowledge but short on willpower.” Wow! And she thought she was speaking for all of us! Of course I engaged her in conversation. I asked her why she drank the beverage if she knew it was bad for her. She said she was hooked. I suggested she try water, which would satisfy her thirst, and she agreed it would be just as easy to have a tall bottle of water under the counter. Then she told me she was a borderline diabetic and smoked three packs of cigarettes a day! Well, that put it over the top for me.

Now, I am not one to tell others how to live their lives; but I wanted to know why an intelligent, beautiful woman would take those chances with her life. Do you know that she went on to tell me that she was a licensed dietician? That admission really got to me, because here is this woman who is all the things I mentioned earlier and, on top of it all, she knows better!

I started thinking. She’s not the only one. How many more of us out there aren’t taking care of ourselves and hurting ourselves? If it’s not you then perhaps it’s someone you know. Don’t tempt fate. It’s sometimes easy to forget that your body is a machine. Why treat yourself any differently than the car you drive? Why would you even consider treating a machine better than you’d treat yourself? The inattention you give your machinery—your body— will eventually catch up with you. There are some simple precautions you can take to ensure that things run more smoothly. Knowledge is power.

When was the last time you:

  • Had a mammogram or did a breast self-examination?
  • Had your blood pressure checked?
  • Asked your doctor to check your cholesterol level?
  • Had a test for colorectal cancer?
  • Were tested for glaucoma?
  • Checked your skin for unusual discolorations or growths?
  • Were screened for diabetes?

Before visiting your doctor, try to keep track of anything that’s been bothering you since the previous appointment, regardless of how trivial it may seem: Small things together are indications of something more significant. Most importantly, make a list of questions to review with her or him.

Encourage your family and friends to take good care of themselves, too. Don’t wait for Disease Awareness Month. It is your responsibility to take charge of your health. By the way, I’m not letting anyone speak for me— I’m calling my doctor. Take care of yourself! Think about it. See you next week.

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